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Angie Hobbs talks about Plato's Atlantis

A critical commentary on three of her talks

Thorwald C. Franke
© 19 October 2022

Angie Hobbs is a very well-known speaker at all sorts of conferences and a sought-after interview partner on radio programmes, internet podcasts, and TV documentaries on all things ancient and ancient philosophy. There are two reasons for this: First, Angie Hobbs is Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield. This means that it is simply her job to communicate science to the public. The other reason is that Angie Hobbs is an enthusiastic and very likeable person who is a pleasure to listen to.

So, Angie Hobbs is not a scientist in a quiet chamber (though she has written several remarkable books), but she rather wants to present the research of her colleagues in science to the public. Angie Hobbs therefore expresses herself less in subtly elaborated scientific publications which would remain hidden from the public, but mainly in talks. And of course Angie Hobbs by no means refrains from expressing her own opinion, with verve and based on principles. Recently, Angie Hobbs engaged in the project Philosophers for Ukraine with a very personal statement: "If human life is to be worth living for any of us, then we must stand up for liberty, honesty and decency, ..."

In her many presentations, interviews, and podcasts available on the internet, Angie Hobbs talks time and again about Plato's Atlantis. And where Atlantis is not the focus of consideration, she is asked about it by the audience. It is worth listening to her opinion about Atlantis and we will do this with three of her talks in the following.

(We cannot refrain from pointing out that Angie Hobbs once had a relationship with the novelist David Gibbins. David Gibbins has written a whole series of novels in which Atlantis is a real place. By her own admission, Angie Hobbs has never read these novels, and of course these novels are all pure fiction ...)

The three talks are:

  1. "Plato and Atlantis", talk held on Wednesday, 19 Februar 2014 5:30pm (UK time), as part of the series Medieval and Ancient Research Seminar 2013-2014 at the University of Sheffield, available on the university's youtube channel on 25 April 2014.

  2. "Decline and Fall: Plato on the Collapse of Empires and States", talk held on Saturday, 21 August 2021 8:30pm (UK time), as part of the Classical Wisdom’s Symposium 2021 (online), available on Classical Wisdom's vimeo channel on 13 October 2022.

  3. "Is the Myth of Atlantis TRUE?", Angie Hobbs interviewed online by Anya Leonard, founder and director of Classical Wisdom, available to the members of Classical Wisdom on 14 December 2021, publicly available on Classical Wisdom's youtube channel on 09 February 2022.

How do we proceed? We concentrate on the central factual arguments in the first talk in the order these arguments are mentioned in the talk. For the following talks we add what is said in addition or in deviation to that. We omit unimportant aspects.

It is recommended to watch at least the first talk – which is the best of all three – completely, before reading the following critical comments. This will prevent you from developing a biased judgement.

1. "Plato and Atlantis" 2014


Right at the beginning, Angie Hobbs makes a very correct distinction: She talks of Plato's Atlantis story as a "legend" as a more neutral word than "myth". But soon after, she moves without circumstance to using the word "tale", which is a story of rather questionable reliability. – Since Plato does not present the story as a mere "tale" but explicitly as a supposedly reliable historical tradition in explicit opposition (!) to mere tales, this is inappropriate. For even if the Atlantis story is an invention, it is still not a "tale", but an invention that masquerades as a reliable tradition.

Interestingly, Angie Hobbs says in the introduction that there would also have been a great debate about Atlantis in the Middle Ages, because the Latin Middle Ages had only the dialogue Timaeus by Plato, in which the Atlantis story also occurrs. That is correct! But in 2014 all scholars were still writing that the Middle Ages were silent about Atlantis. It was only in 2016 that Thorwald C. Franke refuted this error on the basis of numerous sources. Where did Angie Hobbs get this knowledge from? What is she referring to?

The introduction of the Atlantis story in the dialogue Timaeus is misrepresented. Angie Hobbs reports Socrates' desire to see the ideal state in motion, and then says: "Fortunately – usually an indication of Plato as being ironic – his great friend Critias happens to remember a story ..." – But it is quite different. First Socrates suggests that the dialogue participants freely invent such a story on the basis of their competences. But then things take a turn: Critias proposes a real story as a basis instead. And Socrates agrees: a real story is better than an invention. This turning point is very often left unmentioned by Atlantis sceptics.

As for the "Fortunately" (ἔκ τινος τύχης; Timaeus 25e), translators have struggled with the passage and translated it very differently. The ironic effect of "Fortunately" does not exist in every translation. We will come back to the same passage in Timaeus 25e in a moment, where we will see that there is no irony involved. Nor is it true that there are other passages in Plato's dialogues where the same phrase occurs and would indicate irony as one might assume from Hobbs' statement "usually an indication".

According to Hobbs, the West was a realm of fantasy for the Greeks. – But it is very questionable whether the traditional Greek mythology associated with the West should be understood as a product of free "fantasy". The Atlas Mountains, the Gardens of the Hesperides, the Islands of the Blessed are not freely invented figments of the imagination of novelists, but established concepts in a mythology that has been handed down over many generations. It is quite unusual to add an island of Atlantis there. What is more, this island was by no means located in an inaccessible west, but is said to have been situated directly in front of the Strait of Gibraltar, because there the mud left behind by the sinking island is said to have blocked the way west into the Atlantean sea. Aristotle still believed in this mud. Atlantis was therefore not located in a mythical far-away distance.

Returning to the passage Timaeus 25e, Angie Hobbs translates on her slide from Critias' story of Athens and Atlantis: "As 'by some miraculous chance', it matched the ideal state of the Republic in every detail." On a later slide she translates slightly differently: ".... in all particulars." – This is doubly wrong. First, Plato says nothing about matching "in every detail", but only "in most" or "in many points" yet not in all points. Most translators have seen that correctly. And in the end, Critias does have to insert the citizens of the ideal state into his historical story, as he himself says, which means nothing other than that the supposed historical basis cannot have been the full ideal state. – The second mistake is the translation "by some miraculous chance" (ὡς δαιμονίως). It is wrong. It is not a "miracle" but a reference to the daimonion of Socrates. However, hardly anyone has got this right to this day which is an excuse for Angie Hobbs. The daimonion of Sokrates may not seem very credible to us moderns, but in Plato's dialogues it is always to be taken seriously. – Angie Hobbs wants to see irony in this statement, which she repeats several times in the talk. On the basis of her translation, this interpretation is completely understandable. The ironic-sounding translation "Fortunately" from above also belongs to this passage. This translation, however, does not fit the daimonion of Socrates. In short: nothing remains of the alleged irony of the passage Timaeus 25e.

Angie Hobbs speaks of "tsunamis" in connection with the sinking of Atlantis. But Plato nowhere speaks of tsunamis. Plato speaks of earthquakes and a flood caused by rain. It is of course permissible to infer tsunamis from earthquakes, but please note that a tsunami does not cause an island to sink, but only to be temporarily flooded.

At the very least, it is a great exaggeration to describe Atlantis as "fabulously wealthy, powerful and technologically advanced". After all, Atlantis had a lack of rain in summer and cold north winds, and the technology of Atlantis corresponded to the normal technology of the Bronze Age: water constructions and chariot armies. There is no reason to speak of "fabulous". There are neither monsters nor magic in Plato's Atlantis story. Only elephants and an unkonwn metal described as orichalc which simply means "mountain ore".

It is false that the kings of Atlantis met "every 5 and 6 years". They met "in every 5th and 6th year", and that means in plain language "every 4 and 5 years". It is also completely unclear what this is supposed to mean. It is not possible to simply want to recognise a Pythagorean pattern here.

It is wrong to interpret the Apaturia festival as a deception festival in the sense of our April Fools' Day. Fortunately, this argument is only used by a few scholars (who, however, are not corrected by their colleagues who do not use the argument; but why only don't they correct their colleagues in this and many other respects? Is Atlantis considered not so important, so it doesn't matter then?!).

Angie Hobbs is relatively successful in her presentation of the reception of the Atlantis story by ancient authors. The reason can be found in the sentence with which she introduces the relevant slide: She would have written this a few weeks ago and now no longer fully believes it herself because she has done some research on it in recent weeks. She says: "Because the crucial point is, don't believe what you read in encyclopedias and dictionaries and even in very scholarly works, like this one ... full of scholarship but also some mistakes in it." A remarkable sentence. The research on Atlantis is anything but settled.

Crantor, Posidonius and Strabo considered Atlantis possible, even probable, she says, while Aristotle seems to have thought that Plato invented Atlantis. Thus, there would already be a difference of opinion among Plato's early successors – Crantor and Aristotle. But then she goes into more recent research on Crantor and Aristotle and says that it is not entirely certain about either of them. This is a surprisingly honest opinion on the subject. She of course alludes to the theses of Thorwald C. Franke and Harold A. Tarrant, without naming these authors. Unfortunately, Angie Hobbs tends to believe in Aristotle as the author of the doubts about Atlantis after all, and yet to believe that Crantor may not have believed in a historical tradition at all. But at least: she has openly stated that there are doubts. That is very commendable. It is also very true that Proclus believed in a historical tradition. That Plutarch was rather sceptical is not quite right. Plutarch saw a mixture of a real historical tradition and additions from Plato. Eusebius did believe in the historicity of Solon's encounter with the Egyptian priest, as Angie Hobbs rightly says, but he almost certainly did not believe in the existence of Atlantis for chronological reasons, because the 9,000 years of Atlantis contradicted the (supposed) biblical age of the world of only 6,000 years. There was a dispute between the Platonists and certain Christians over this question.

The thesis about the ancient reception of the Atlantis story ("All we can say for sure is there was huge interest") is not entirely correct. There were indeed some debates in antiquity around Plato's Atlantis story, but they were rarely about Atlantis as such, for Atlantis was considered submerged and inaccessible, but always about issues connected with the Atlantis story, such as Plato's reputation or the question of the correct chronology.

It is certainly true that Plato was capable of inventing the Atlantis story, but neither the alleged "utopian fantasies" in the Republic and the Laws, nor the so-called Platonic Myths are examples of such inventions. For all these stories were not simply invented by Plato! – The Republic and the Laws are political theories based on rational considerations. And Plato writes that approximations to the ideal state existed in the past and will exist again in the future. The term "utopian fantasy" is simply not appropriate for political theories, even if Plato's theories sound very utopian from a modern perspective. – And the so-called Platonic Myths are subtle combinations of mythical traditions, of historical traditions, of analogies, and also of rational considerations. The Platonic Myths are not simply inventions plucked out of thin air. Plato even has his Socrates say in explicit terms that he is simply incapable of inventing anything out of the blue.

Angie Hobbs' account of the statements that the Atlantis story is true is more or less correct. But it is not correct that the Egyptians were generally "untrustworthy" in Plato's eyes. Plato believed that Egypt, too, once had been a full-flegded ideal state in his sense.

It is false that some elements are "clearly fantastical": Of course, foundation stories involving the gods are mythical, but please note that many real ancient cities had such mythical foundation stories. That does not make Atlantis a "fantastical" invention. The orichalc is also no mythical material at all, but in the end simply an unknown "mountain ore". It is not even worth as much as gold. One could have expected more from a mythical material.

Then Angie Hobbs proceeds with some theses about the tradition of the Atlantis story, which are popular among Atlantis sceptics but nevertheless wrong. For example, the thesis of oral tradition, which leaves much room for error. But Solon made records that Critias still possessed (or Plato in the same family, as one can assume). It is true, however, that typical errors and misunderstandings may have occurred in the transmission of information from Egyptians to Greeks. If there are such typical errors, that would be a strong indication that it is indeed a tradition from Egypt. – Then follows the thesis of the alleged confusion around the 8,000 and 9,000 years, and whether the Egyptian priests did not simply cheat. Underlying this confusion is the confusion of Sais and Egypt. Egypt was considered 11,000 years old and older in Plato's times. The thesis of the priests' betrayal is actually no longer held by anyone today.

Angie Hobbs then concedes that the Atlantis narrative is presented as a logos, "but clearly in a lot of its details it is some kind of mythos". Angie Hobbs thus feels justified in applying Plato's statements about mythos to the Atlantis story. This is to be contradicted. – Moreover, Angie Hobbs does not make a clear distinction between mythos and myth. They are not the same thing. She herself notes that the cosmology of the Timaeus is also called mythos. However, it is certainly not a myth. Angie Hobbs claims that the ancient Greeks generally did not distinguish sharply between logos and mythos. This is completely wrong, especially in relation to Plato. Also completely wrong is the interpretation that Plato was playing a game with the readers by saying that it was a "true logos". One cannot simply declare every statement that contradicts a preferred interpretation to be irony.

Hobbs sees in the Atlantis story allusions to the Persian Wars and a critique of Athenian imperialism in the Peloponnesian War. Above all, she sees a warning against the expansion of Macedonia. The latter is not a common opinion among scholars, but admittedly: This interpretation is not worse than the many other interpretations that exist. No word is spent on the fact that there is no unity in science how to interpret these allusions, to say it cautiously. Sicily is not mentioned.

Plato's representation of history is – according to Hobbs – not interested in details, but only in the major developments. Angie Hobbs writes on her slide: "Plato [was] simply not particularly concerned with a precise factual recovery of the past. He is always happy to mix historical and mythological sources (as we would distinguish them) and embellish them with his own fertile imagination." – No! Plato was certainly not "happy" to do such a thing. On the contrary. Plato always makes a clear distinction: What is an analogy, what is a mythos, what is a logos. These things are combined under the guidance of reason, but their distinctions are not blurred. To claim this is simply wrong. And even more wrong is that Plato embellished anything with "fertile imagination". Plato added conclusions that he himself believed in, or he carried out an account in the sense in which it was meant, but he did not just imaginatively add things to an account that had nothing to do with the matter. And as far as historical representations are concerned: Glenn R. Morrow has written a whole book in which he proves Plato's "loyalty to history".

Angie Hobbs thinks that literature about the Golden Age would have flourished at that time. – We know nothing of such a literature, and even if we did, the Atlantis story would not have fitted into such a literature.

Angie Hobbs concludes that the Atlantis story would essentially be an invention of Plato, perhaps incorporating memories of the Minoan civilisation and the eruption of the volcano Thera. Plato would make his readers philosophise through his story.

Interesting the question on the final slide: "Would we be elated or disappointed if Atlantis were ever actually found? Do we need it to remain a myth?"

Statements in the discussion at the end of the talk

When asked about the written nature of the tradition, Angie Hobbs says that Plato's dialogues also often have a (supposedly) similarly nested setting of handing them down, and that Plato was opposed to writing. – This is to be disagreed with. Above all, she overlooks the difference between the form of the dialogues and the content of the dialogues. The dialogues are of course fictional, but their contents are not necessarily. It is also false that Plato was generally opposed to writing. It is precisely the written tradition from Egypt that is expressly praised, in contrast to a merely oral tradition.

Angie Hobbs sees no reason why Egyptian priests should have told Solon such a story. – But there are a lot of reasons! First, to demonstrate the superiority of their culture. But then also to underpin the alliance with Athens against the Persians. This theory has been pursued by Herwig Görgemanns, for example, who refers to an Egyptian legation in Athens.

The later reception history is not correctly presented by Angie Hobbs. She thinks that until the 19th century there were serious thinkers who saw some truth in the Atlantis story, but she knows of none who took it seriously in every detail. This is not so. Until the 19th century, the Atlantis story was overwhelmingly believed to be true, and quite literally so. It is also false that interest in Atlantis rose at the end of the 19th century because the theory of Thera and the Minoan culture emerged at that time. There are other reasons for the rise. One reason is that science had left the question of Atlantis as a real place to the pseudoscientists once it became clear that it cannot be literally true. It would have been better not to do that.

On the question of whether scientists took Atlantis seriously after that, Angie Hobbs says unhelpfully: "I don't think any ancient philosopher or Plato specialist thinks it is literally true." – Of course, no one reads the Atlantis story literally anymore. But here she could have gone into historical-critical interpretations, e.g. the theories around the Minoan civilisation, from John V. Luce to Herwig Görgemanns, a renowned specialist on Plato. But she remains silent on this.

It is to be welcomed that Angie Hobbs at no point says that "the Nazis" believed in Atlantis. She speaks correctly of Himmler and only Himmler. However, it is wrong that the Tibet expedition was an Atlantis expedition. The expedition leader Ernst Schäfer successfully fought off an attempt to take the author and pseudoscientific Atlantis believer Edmund Kiss with him on the expedition: Then it would have been an Atlantis expedition, even if only an unofficial one. But without Kiss it was "only" a racist expedition, not an Atlantis expedition. Only in Himmler's mind might it also have been an Atlantis expedition. – Angie Hobbs is also wrong with this statement: "Himmler had, probably, a few tame academics who said, it is true, is it not, that descendants of Atlantis can be found in Tibet". For during the reign of National Socialism, German philologists and philosophers continued to call Atlantis an invention. Atlantis was not a topic in school textbooks. And Adolf Hitler even uttered a mocking sentence about Atlantis believers in one of his speeches.

2. "Decline and Fall: Plato on the Collapse of Empires and States" 2021.


This talk puts Plato's political considerations into a broader context. While this is a valuable perspective in itself, the Timaeus-Critias with the Atlantis story are treated here only as one of several dialogues of Plato. Important are especially the last 10 minutes of the discussion, which are devoted to the question why Angie Hobbs believes that Atlantis is an invention of Plato.

In the talk and in the discussion, Angie Hobbs repeats many of the theses we had already seen in the previous talk, partly reusing some of her slides from 2014. However, there are also some new or modified theses:

Statements in the discussion at the end of the talk

The audience wants to know why Angie Hobbs believes that Atlantis is an invention of Plato – Angie Hobbs puts on her glasses, picks up a prepared manuscript and says: I knew this question would come ...

Angie Hobbs begins with the correct observation that modern adaptations of the Atlantis story overlook the fact that Atlantis was the "bad guy" and that it says something about ourselves that "we" like to identify with the "lotus-eating" society of Atlantis. This is a very valid question. – Please note, however, that "lotus-eating" is an exaggeration, for Atlantis is not a wonderland and no lotus is eaten there. That only exists in Homer's Odyssey. One could ask the additional question why "we" actually always have to inflate Atlantis into a wonderland, even though it is not one at all?

Strangely enough, Angie Hobbs says: "Socrates never ever says that Atlantis exists, only his friend Critias who says this", only to say a little later: "Socrates says that a great point in the favour of the tale of Atlantis is that it is not a fiction, not a myth, but true history, a true logos." – A clear self-contradiction.

She goes on to say that Critias "mentions ... the imperfections of an old man's memory". – But in truth, it is not the "imperfections" of an old man's memory that are mentioned in Plato's Timaeus, but on the contrary, the fact that in old age one can remember one's childhood particularly well.

Angie Hobbs continues: "Critias even tells us that all the statements we make are inevitably pictures or images, he actually says that, when dealing with images and metaphors here." In Jowett's translation, the passage reads, "All that is said by any of us can only be imitation and representation." (Critias 107b) – But contrary to what Angie Hobbs thinks, this is not a reference to invention, and the word "metaphor" does not occur at all. For Plato, any representation of reality is only an image and a representation, and the aim is to make the image as similar as possible to reality, that is, to speak as true as possible. By these words of Critias not only the Atlantis story but also Timaeus' cosmology is meant, which is by no means meant to be an invention out of thin air. Even more: Timaeus is even called a "poet" in connection with his cosmological exposition. How to understand this? For Plato, a good poet is not an inventor of untrue stories. The good poet speaks the truth and comes as close to reality as only possible. That is the point. Therefore, Angie Hobbs' interpretation of Critias' statement as a reference to an invention out of thin air is wrong.

Then Angie Hobbs points to the words of the Egyptian priest that a myth could symbolise a cosmological process or a historical event, and that Plato says something similar in the Phaedrus. – All this is true at first. However, the Atlantis story is presented with great emphasis as a logos and not a mythos. In addition, a mythos is not the same as a myth in our modern understanding of the word.

Angie Hobbs suggests that historians such as Herodotus and Thucydides would not have been interested in a precise depiction of the past as we are today, and that the line between factual account and myth would have been much more blurred than it is today. – This is quite wrong. Herodotus and Thucydides were very interested in distinguishing truth from falsehood. It can be said, however, that their methodology and consequence was not yet as mature as the methodology and consequence of modern historians. But the intention of a clear distinction was fully present. There was in the ancient historians, as in Plato, a very strong awareness of the difference between facts and myths and the need to distinguish the two. – In fact, there are tendencies in academia, starting from the idea that the Atlantis story is a fabrication, to conclude that then Plato and the ancient historians did not take it all that seriously either. But this is a dangerous development and a wrong direction of conclusion. It would be fatal to base the interpretation of all ancient authors on the assumption that Atlantis must necessarily have been an invention. Because what if it wasn't? Angie Hobbs also believes this only with the words "almost certainly", i.e. not "completely certainly".

Then Angie Hobbs interprets the Egyptian priest's statement "O Solon, Solon, you Greeks are always children" with the words: "You Greeks are gullible, you'll believe any story. Who is Plato writing for? He is writing for Greeks." – This is not an acceptable interpretation and clearly wrong. Angie Hobbs completely overlooks the context of this statement: the context is Plato's assumption that the Greeks only know myths about the past because their civilisation was repeatedly destroyed by cyclical catastrophes, whereas the Egyptians were spared the catastrophes in each case and have written records of times of which the Greeks no longer know anything. The point is not at all that the Greeks were gullible. The point is the contrast of oral myth vs. written history. The Atlantis story, the written history of the Egyptians, is contrasted as trustworthy logos to the myths of the Greeks. It is completely false that the Atlantis story would be presented as a tall tale that only naive Greeks would believe.

Angie Hobbs has a tendency to interpret everything that points to the truth of the Atlantis story as irony. She even sees "layers upon layers of irony". Even Socrates' clear statement that it is not mythos but logos is dismissed as irony without further ado. – But what if there is no irony at all, but everything only seems to be ironic because of the wish to interpret Atlantis as an invention at any cost? Aren't "layers upon layers of irony" raising a big question mark? What if these "layers upon layers of irony" are actually the result of a completely wrong approach of interpretation, which is in need to see irony everywhere to interpret a historical story into a fictional story? What if the Atlantis story is actually a distorted historical tradition? Scholarly research has generally moved away from the romantic opinion of the 19th century of seeing irony everywhere in Plato's works, even more so in his late works. These "layers upon layers of irony" remind very much of the Ptolemaic theory of epicycles which tried to explain the movement of the planets in a very complicated way, until Copernicus found a much easier explanation. The much easier explanation in case of Atlantis is that it is really meant as a true story by Plato.

Lastly, Angie Hobbs suggests that memories of the Minoan civilization may be a vague historical basis for the Atlantis story, "but that's not what Plato is interested in." – Really not? Plato had a theory of history, that history always repeats itself. Why would Plato not be interested in history to confirm his theory? After all, we also find the idea in Aristotle, who sees in ancient myths dark traditions of a civilisation before the last flood. Doesn't Plato say in the Republic that the ideal state (in approximation) existed in the past and will also exist in the future? Isn't Plato doing the same thing with the Atlantis story as modern political scientists do who try to confirm their theories on the basis of historical events? And isn't it the case still today that thanks to the Egyptian records we know about many events that would otherwise have inevitably fallen into oblivion?

3. "Is the Myth of Atlantis TRUE?" 2021


In this interview with Anya Leonard, Angie Hobbs is freed from the formal shackles of an academic lecture, so that all her enthusiasm is unbridled and unrestrained by any slides or manuscript that would have ensured a minimum of form and structure. What is quite sympathetic on the human level unfortunately leads to a loss of quality on the factual level.

Of course, Angie Hobbs also says things which are correct. At the end, for example, she says that Plato's Atlantis story also contains a warning against modern forms of empires, e.g. "social media empires" and other forms of imperialism in our time, and that "the eager pursuit and worship of these goods not only causes the goods themselves to diminish but makes virtue also to perish with them," as Plato wrote (Timaeus 121a). Very true.

Conspicuous silence in all three talks

Most strikingly, Angie Hobbs does not draw attention, not for one moment, towards a historical-critical interpretation of Plato's Atlantis. The Atlantis story is interpreted purely literally. Interpretations like the Minoan civilization are admitted only as a vague inspiration for Plato from the Greek collective memory, not as distorted historical tradition from Egypt. No thought is wasted on the fact that practically everything Plato wrote was completely credible in his time. Only we moderns know better. But that does not mean that anything was invented here, on the contrary: our better knowledge gives us the opportunity to trace the ancient errors back to what was truly meant or misunderstood!

On the other hand, it is striking that Angie Hobbs does not cite Plato's 9,000 years as an argument for the invention of Atlantis. Of course, Angie Hobbs mentions the 9,000 years and makes it seem like a fantastic statement to the less educated listener – but she does not explicitly make this argument at any point. Obviously she is aware of the historical-critical interpretation because of which the argument "fantastic statement" does not work for the 9,000 years. For the ancient Greeks generally lived under the misapprehension that Egypt had an age of 11,000 years and more. If one interprets the 9,000 years in this historical context, they point to a date after the founding of Egypt, which in reality was around 3,000 BC. And this is true even if the Atlantis story is an invention of Plato. Several scholars have pointed this out in the meantime. Unfortunately, Angie Hobbs does not explain these historical-critical backgrounds. That is an omission.

Strangely enough, essential parts of the Atlantis story that are important for its moral interpretation remain unmentioned by Angie Hobbs: the original Athenians preserve their ideal state by carrying the god-given constitution in their hearts and passing it on through education. The kings of Atlantis, however, become decadent in that the divine element in them diminishes more and more through progressive mingling with mortals. But Angie Hobbs remains unclear as to why the Atlanteans become decadent, and what the virtue of the Athenians is. The virtues we find in Plato are, on the one hand, rather conservative, and on the other hand, truthfulness is very high on Plato's list. Neither of these seems to fit Angie Hobbs' concept of Plato as an anti-authoritarian inventor of myths.


Angie Hobbs is a professional science communicator and as such she reflects opinions as they currently exist in science. This is what she has done with her talks and interviews. It goes without saying that this includes opinions that are questionable. Considering that the invention hypothesis is currently prevailing in science, it is very understandable why Angie Hobbs in her enthusiasm for an invention came to her conclusions, though wrong they are in parts. In the end, Angie Hobbs is a victim of the currently prevailing invention hypothesis put forward by Plato researchers who have not done their homework on Plato's Atlantis.

In any case, Angie Hobbs is a real scientist. For she does not say that the Atlantis story is certainly a complete invention of Plato, but only "almost certainly", and partially, and with reservations. And on some aspects she prefers to remain silent altogether rather than to say anything wrong.

Moreover, Angie Hobbs thinks beyond the mere question of existence, which is a very valuable approach: What is Plato trying to tell us? Shouldn't we rather search for the lost virtue instead of the lost Atlantis? And what does our interaction with Plato's Atlantis reveal about ourselves: Why do we so easily identify with decadent Atlantis and forget about virtuous Athens? And especially beautiful is her question: "Would we be elated or disappointed if Atlantis were ever actually found? Do we need it to remain a myth?"

The latter question is especially interesting for Atlantis sceptics. What would they loose, if Atlantis was not an invention but a distorted historical tradition? Would it change their interpretation of Plato? In which way?        Contents Overview
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