Plato at the Earth’s Core

WarlordI’ve been a big fan of Mike Grell’s Warlord since I was eleven. But I do have a gripe about a line in the latest issue (new series #3): “Plato had it wrong. Atlantis was no utopian society.”

Plato never portrayed Atlantis as a utopian society. In the Timæus and Critias – the only two places where he mentions Atlantis – Plato describes Atlantis as a wicked, arrogant, imperialistic society that fought a war against the utopian society of the Republic, here transposed to an antediluvian prototype of Athens.


2 Responses to Plato at the Earth’s Core

  1. Grabrich June 13, 2009 at 6:32 pm #

    Hi Roderick,

    Indirectly related to Warlord’s center-of-the-Earth home of Skartaris, I was just reminded of Neal Adam’s theory of a growing Earth (some others refer to an “expanding” Earth), which also encompasses the other planetary bodies. Are you familiar with this theory? Note, I’m not referring to “hollow” Earth theories that some “slightly askew” people believe in. Any thoughts?

    Richard G.

  2. Joel Schlosberg June 24, 2009 at 11:32 am #

    In addition, wasn’t *the whole point* of the sinking of Atlantis, in Plato’s version, that it was a well-deserved punishment for the Atlanteans’ evil ways, not the tragedy befalling an innocent people as it’s often portrayed in later versions?

    And Atlantis isn’t the only imaginary society to become sanitized in later versions; another example that comes to mind is the divergence between the Ruritania in Anthony Hope’s original books and later versions. As Wikipedia explains, one of the unusual aspect of the books is that, despite their being seminal in the genre of swashbuckling romance, the country in which they take place was far from an idyllic place one might expect:

    “Hope’s novels give the impression that Ruritania would not be a pleasant place to inhabit, with its feckless, autocratic king, police surveillance of suspected subversives, and society deeply polarised between rich and poor. However, stage and film versions sanitised and romanticised the setting, ignoring Hope’s references to the poverty and political unrest in Strelsau’s Old City, and depicted instead a picturesque fairy-tale kingdom.”

    Another point that’s closely related to the sharp class divisions in Ruritania, and that’s quite jarring while reading The Prisoner of Zenda from a modern point of view, is that one of the main reasons we’re supposed to hate the villain Michael is that he sympathizes with the common people of Ruritania, rather than with the aristocracy and the privileged classes! Wikipedia again:

    “Ruritania is, like Germany and Austria-Hungary at that time, an absolute monarchy. Rudolf Elphberg, the crown prince, is a hard-drinking playboy, unpopular with the common people, but supported by the aristocracy, the Catholic Church, the army, and the rich classes in general. The political rival to this absolute monarch is his younger half-brother Michael, Duke and Governor of Strelsau, the capital. Michael has no legitimate claim to the throne, because he is the son of their father’s second, morganatic marriage: there are hints, from his swarthy appearance (he is nicknamed Black Michael) and Rassendyll’s elliptically referring to him as a “mongrel”, that he may have Jewish ancestry. Michael is regarded as champion of Strelsau’s working classes, both the proletariat and the peasants, and of what Hope refers to as the criminal classes. The novel seems sympathetic, however, with those who would support the dissolute despot, King Rudolf.”

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