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Grecco Roman influences 
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I Should Be Bronzed

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Post Grecco Roman influences
As ancient history is an interest of mine, I thought I'd begin a thread to explore any Greekyness within Atlas Shrugged.

The title was the first thing of note. Atlas, a Titan who sided against Zeus.


From Iapetos + a trim-ankled oceanid nymph named Clymene = Atlas and brothers Prometheus, Menoitios, and Epimetheus

Who is Atlas? From Hesiod: "Atlas, under strong constraint, holds up the broad sky with his head and tireless hands, standing at the ends of the earth, away by the clear voiced Hesperides, for Zeus the resourceful assigned him this lot."

Although his original function was to hold the sky from uniting with the earth, today he's seen as being responsible for holding up the earth itself. Originally standing at the ends of the earth, he's now thought of as standing under the earth and carrying the weight of it on his shoulders. His service and punishment have changed.

From reading Rand's book, it becomes apparent that she knew and read Aristotle and very possibly Homer. I don't know if she read Hesiod's Theogony but if she did the idea of Atlas in her title may differ slightly than the Atlas that is currently pictured on most of her reprints.

This got me thinking of what the title actually meant. If Atlas was known by Rand as the true Atlas - the one that was responsible for separating the heavens from the earth - then it could mean quite a number of things relating to those who belong to heaven and those who belong to the earth. Rand has not used the true Atlas. She has used a different Atlas but shouldn't be criticized for it too much. Atlas was seen carrying the globe as early as the 2nd Century. What it does say is that she did not use the true Atlas, the Atlas from Hesiod (late 8th century b.c.) and may not have read his work.


The book is chopped up into 3 different sections.

Non-Contradiction, Either-Or, and A is A taken from Aristotle's Metaphysics

Non- Contradiction: The breakdown of this philosophy is that the same thing condition cannot exist and not exist at the same time. Time is very important here.
Either-Or (Law of exclude the middle): which states that there cannot be an intermediate between contradictories, but of one subject we must either affirm or deny any one predicate.
A is A (Law of Identity): Whatever is, is. A thing cannot be one thing and be another simultaneously. Reality is knowable and definable.

Although Rand admits, "The only philosophical debt I can acknowledge is to Aristotle." She also says, "I must emphatically disagree with a great many parts of his philosophy."

She doesn't need to say this explicitly as she as fought against them in her novel. She agrees strongly with Aristotle's laws of logic but most likely disagrees with him about his politics, virtuosity of craft/tradesman, reward for work, and his view on women.


Incitatus

Incitatus is mentioned. This was Caligula's horse. The one he supposedly wished to make into a Consul. The reference is about Cheryl. She is a simple, wretched horse made into something she should never be allowed to become and causes the same distaste among the aristocracy as Caligula and Incitatus did among the Senate.

[ my notes for later
Atlantis
Rand's rant about greek assessment of Tradesman/Craftsman]



Mon Oct 01, 2012 8:23 pm
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Post Re: Grecco Roman influences
On Greek Tradesman and Craftsman and social acceptability.

There's no doubt that Ayn Rand was educated somewhat in the lessons of ancient Greece. As a philosopher she attempts to tackle what is the good and what is the bad, what is the beautiful, and what is the life best to be lived.

She agrees with some ancient Greek philosophies and objects to others. When it comes to a constitution she takes a rather more extreme view than Aristotle and I believe she truly departs from him with regard to what value should be placed on certain people regarding their occupation and sex.

Whereas Aristotle tries to learn and to predict the best course for a people to take with regards to their government - Ayn Rand sets one path and provides a single answer. Where Aristotle investigates multiple forms of government, mixes of democracies, aristocracies, and different forms of tyrannies; Rand really doesn't. Her argument doesn't consider as much as Aristotle does. Her philosophy is by no means comprehensive.

Why does she stress the single point of production=happiness? Precisely, in my opinion, because it's such a huge departure from Aristotle and ancient Greek thought. Something she wants to see put right. In an age where might equaled right and was celebrated as such, the pirate and bandit were much more esteemed than the vulgar craftsman or the merchant. The ridicule of these 'producers' was very, very common. Noble men and aristocrats put as much light between themselves and these pursuits as possible while still engaging in them.

It goes all the way back to Homer. When Odysseus is among the Phaeacians, Odysseus is asked to compete in athletic competition. When he responds that he's tired from his long voyage the Phaeacian responds, " I gather, then, that you are unskilled in any of the many sports that men generally delight in. I suppose you are one of those grasping traders that go about in ships as captains or merchants, and who think of nothing but of their outward freights and homeward cargoes..."

Sound like something Rand is fighting against?

How does Odysseus respond? Does he educate the man on the righteousness of business and the benefit it brings to all? Of course not! He is a man! He competes by picking up a larger, heavier disc than anyone else uses and launches it into outer space.

Rand sees the same problems happening in ancient Greece as they happened today. That business men contributed more than they were appreciated for. I don't have enough of a philosophical mind to even come close to understanding it all but I do know that men needed money and nearly all were involved in trade in some way. Everyone was after money, everyone was grasping as they are today, and innovations were constantly being brought about much like they are today. Men needed to produce and production meant money which meant they could have a vote (be counted as a person and really be 'free'!!!) and could have money to afford armor or a horse so that they were honored in battle.

Only those who fought for their country deserved to run it. Only those who produced could rise above the level of a thete and have a vote.

So this is Rand's effort in my opinion. She wants to correct the idea that producers/craftsman/traders are vulgar or slavish in any sense. She wants to make them the acknowledged good, noble, etc... something the Greeks and many since have refused to do because the Greeks MOST valued benefit from muscle and force.



Fri Oct 19, 2012 10:32 am
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