This appears to have been the real name of a real place. In 1900 Sir Arthur Evans discovered a great palace at Knossos, , on Crete -- so large that it would have seemed maze-like to unsophisticated visitors from the mainland. This was part of the great pre-Greek "Minoan" civilization in the Aegean. Their language, written in an undeciphered hieroglyphic form and in the syllabic Linear A, has been tentatively identified with Luvian, an Indo-European language spoken in Asia Minor [cf. David Abulafia, The Great Sea, A Human History of the Mediterranean, Oxford, 2011, p.27]. A version of the script, Linear B, was used to write the Greek of the Mycenaeans, who inherited and perpetuated much of Minoan culture. A derivative syllabary continued to be used to write Greek on Cyprus.
After it was unearthed, the civilization of Crete was soon identified with one known to the Egyptians. Traders from , who appear in Egyptian tombs, wear costume that then was found in images at Knossos and other Aegaean sites. So the identification with the Egyptian references was certain. More intriguing is that the Egyptian word apparently also occurs in Hebrew, as , Caphtôr. In the Book of Amos, 9:7, God says that he brought "the Philistines from Caphtor" [The Interlinear NIV Hebrew-English Old Testament, John R. Kohlenberger III, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987, p.521]. If the Philistines indeed came from Crete, this confirms the growing understanding that the Philistines were in fact Mycenaean Greeks, some of whom were even accepted into Israel as the Tribe of Dan, who then get their name from the Homeric , Danaoí, i.e. Greeks.
A great volcanic explosion on the island of Thera, perhaps around 1500 BC, which sent ash as far away as Egypt, damaged some of the centers of the civilization; but it is less clear why the Cretan sites, like Knossos, were burned and abandoned later, around 1450. Inthos is a suffix that does not occur in Greek words proper. It is found in pre-Greek place names (like the name of the city of Corinth). Lábrys, , is known from the non-Greek languages of Asia Minor (like Lydian) as the word for a double-bladed axe -- just the kind of axe often pictured in the palace at Knossos -- which also tends to support the identification of the language of Linear A with those languages. Labyrinthos thus may simply mean "the place of the double-bladed axe." What the palace was was confusedly remembered, like Troy, long after the real place was buried and lost.
The destruction of Mycenaean civilization in the Aegean, the Doric invasion which reached across to Crete itself and Rhodes, the appearance of a derivative of Linear B in Cyprus, and the descent of Greeks in Palestine were all part of a vast movement of peoples at that time that erased old Empires, such as the Hittites and Mitanni, and troubled the Egyptians with several waves of invasion by the "Sea Peoples" and then the Libyans. One of the last great moments of Egyptian military might was when Ramesses III of the XX Dynasty (early 12th century BC) repulsed these invasions. This era, which ushered in the Greek Dark Ages, troubled or annihilated all these old Empires, and apparently involved a vast Völkerwanderung of migrating peoples, begins to look like the later, more famous, and better documented Dark Ages of the 4th and later centuries AD, when the Huns bounced across Central Asia and Germans overran the Western Roman Empire. Now it is beginning to look like there was a similar natural cause for both sets of events, a climatic cooling of the proposed "Bond Cycle," 1,470 � 500 years, named after geologist Gerard Clark Bond (1940�2005). The cooling that subsequently would occur in the Little Ice Age, beginning in the 14th century, which also affected Ming Dynasty China, however, does not seem to fit with the periodicity of this cycle. What does, on the other hand, are the events at the end of the Old Kingdom in Egypt. We know from Egyptian records that bad things were happening in the First Intermediate Period. The references are vague enough that they don't give us much of a picture of exactly what was going on; but from the geological record it looks like the Faiyum, a vast lake in a depression fed by the Nile, dried up, so the element of climate change is evident. We are given no weather information for the Greek Dark Ages by ancient sources, but we are, by the historian Procopius, for the cooling of the 6th century AD. It would be remarkable if the distruptions of the First Intermediate Period, the Greek Dark Ages, and the Mediaeval Dark Ages can all be linked by comparable forms of climate change.
In the Labyrinth the Minotaur needed feeding. Minos required that Athens send seven youths and seven maidens every year to feed it (not unlike the sacrifice to the Capitol demanded in The Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins -- although neither the books nor the 2012 movie draw any parallel with the tribute to the Minotaur). To end this, Theseus, the son of the King of Athens, volunteered to go and kill the beast. Once there, he befriended Ariadne, daughter of Minos. She agreed to help him and provided a ball of thread so that, paying it out behind him, if he killed the Minotaur, he could find his way back out. He did kill the Minotaur, and then he and Ariadne fled back to Athens. Some versions of the story are that he abandoned her on the way (to be found by the god Dionysus), but the Odyssey itself says that she was slain by the goddess Artemis on the island of Dia. In any case, on his way home Theseus forgot an agreement with his father to hoist white sails if he had survived. When the King saw the ordinary black sails instead, he committed suicide out of grief. Theseus thus returned to become King of Athens. Later the Athenians kept a ship on display that they claimed was Theseus's ship. During the Hellenistic Period it was realized that the replacement of rotting planks had, over time, resulted in every bit of wood in the ship being replaced -- so philosophers began arguing whether it was really still the same ship!
What Daedalus was the most famous for, however, was what happened when Minos became angry with him for all the aforementioned goings-on and he fled from Crete with his son Icarus. Daedalus made wings for the two of them, with feathers set in wax. This worked, but then Icarus was so exhilarated with flying that he flew higher and higher. Today we would fear hypoxemia (lack of oxygen) from this, but what happened to the mythic Icarus was that he flew too close to the sun, the wax melted in his wings, the feathers fell out, and he fell to is death. Icarus falling from the sky is still one of the most striking images from Greek mythology.
Philosophy of History
John Burnet, FBA (; 9 December 1863 – 26 May 1928) was a Scottishclassicist. He was born in Edinburgh and died in St Andrews.
Life and work
Burnet was educated at the Royal High School, Edinburgh, the University of Edinburgh, and Balliol College, Oxford, receiving his M.A. degree in 1887. In 1887 Burnet became an assistant to Lewis Campbell at the University of St. Andrews. From 1890 to 1915, he was a Fellow at Merton College, Oxford; he was a professor of Latin at Edinburgh; from 1892 to 1926, he was Professor of Greek at the University of St. Andrews. He became a Fellow of the British Academy in 1916. In 1909, Burnet was offered, but did not accept, the Chair of Greek at Harvard University.
In 1894, he married Mary Farmer, the daughter of John Farmer, who wrote the Preface for a collection of essays published after his death, Essays and Addresses.
Burnet is best known for his work on Plato. His interest in philosophy and in Plato in particular seems to have begun during his service as assistant to Lewis Campbell at St. Andrews. Burnet was known for defending novel interpretations of Plato and Socrates, particularly the view that the depiction of Socrates in all of Plato's dialogues is historically accurate, and that the philosophical views peculiar to Plato himself are to be found only in the so-called late dialogues. Burnet also maintained that Socrates was closely connected to the early Greek philosophical tradition, now generally known as Pre-Socratic philosophy; Burnet believed that Socrates had been in his youth the disciple of Archelaus, a member of the Anaxagorean tradition (Burnet 1924, vi).
Burnet's philological work on Plato is still widely read, and his editions have been considered authoritative for 100 years, as 5 voll. OCT critical edition of Plato works and spuria (1900–1907). His commentaries on Plato's Euthyphro, Apology, and Crito and on the Phaedo also remain widely used and respected by scholars. Myles Burnyeat, for example, calls Burnet's Plato: Euthyphro, Apology of Socrates, Crito "the still unsurpassed edition".
Early Greek Philosophy
See also: Neoplatonism, Neopythagoreanism, and Pythagoreanism
John Burnet noted in his 1892 publication Early Greek Philosophy (p. 88)
- The Neoplatonists were quite justified in regarding themselves as the spiritual heirs of Pythagoras; and, in their hands, philosophy ceased to exist as such, and became theology. And this tendency was at work all along; hardly a single Greek philosopher was wholly uninfluenced by it. Perhaps Aristotle might seem to be an exception; but it is probable that, if we still possessed a few such "exoteric" works as theProtreptikosin their entirety, we should find that the enthusiastic words in which he speaks of the "blessed life" in theMetaphysicsand in theEthics (Nicomachean Ethics) were less isolated outbursts of feeling than they appear now. In later days, Apollonios of Tyana showed in practice what this sort of thing must ultimately lead to. The theurgy and thaumaturgy of the late Greek schools were only the fruit of the seed sown by the generation which immediately preceded the Persian War.
The University of St Andrews hall was named in his honour John Burnet Hall.
- Early Greek Philosophy. London and Edinburgh: A. and C. Black, 1892. 2nd edition, 1908. 3rd edition, 1920. 4th edition, 1930.
- Greek Philosophy: Thales to Plato. London, MacMillan, 1914.
- Platonism. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1928.
- Higher Education and the War, 1917.
- Essays and Addresses, 1930, includes a memoir by Godfrey Rathbone Benson.
Editions edited and annotated by Burnet
- The Dictionary of British Classicists, ed. Robert Todd, Bristol: Thoemmes Continuum, 2004.