Solon and anachronism issue
Updated: Apr 1, 2021
I am reading your book Atletenu and I must first say that you did a great job: the Atlantis = Avaris equation really seems the solution to the enigma! I have a question for you: if Solon archonship is dated to 594 BC, how can he possibly have visited Egypt and the court of king Amasis II of Egypt whose reign started in 571 BC? Isn’t this an anachronism as many Plato’s commentator have noted before?
Ernst from Germany.
Thank you for your kind message and thank you to provide me with an opportunity to address this issue about Solon and the date of his travel to Egypt: as you correctly point out, one would expect Solon to have travel to Egypt sometimes around 585/580 BC or approximately 10 years before the start of reign of Amasis II but a lower date for his travel to Egypt is possible and probable, let me explain it. Diogenes Laertius in his “Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers” (book 1 paragraph 2) dates Solon’s journey abroad during the tyranny of Peisistratos:
“…When Pisistratus was already established, Solon, unable to move the people, piled his arms in front of the generals' quarters, and exclaimed, "My country, I have served thee with my word and sword! Thereupon he sailed to Egypt and to Cyprus, and thence proceeded to the court of Croesus…”.
If you consider that Peisistratus was first accepted as tyrant by the Athenian assembly in 561 BC than you have a plausible low date for Solon’s travel to Egypt and a good synchronism with Amasis II’s reign. Solon probably decided to travel abroad with the rise of Peisistratus. Moreover Solon is said to have died approximately around 559 and 558 BC when he was 70 or slightly older: the late date of his travel to Egypt just 2 or 3 years before his death is an information coherent with the fact that Solon could not complete his poem about Atlantis because he was too old and beacuse he died before completing it as we can read in Plutarch’s “life of Solon”.
“…Now Solon, having begun the great work in verse, the history or fable of the Atlantic Island abandoned it because of his age..."
So there is definitely no anachronism and the fact that many commentators keep saying that Solon could have not met Amasis II is just because they refuse to accept these facts for their bias against Plato’s Atlantis story.