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By Jean Bottero, Clarisse Herrenschmidt, Jean Pierre Vernant, Francois Zabbal, Teresa Lavender Fagan

With Ancestor of the West, 3 wonderful French historians show the tale of the delivery of writing and cause, demonstrating how the logical spiritual buildings of close to jap and Mesopotamian cultures served as precursors to these of the West."Full of topic for an individual drawn to language, faith, and politics within the historic world."—R. T. Ridley, magazine of non secular History"In this obtainable creation to the traditional international, 3 best French students discover the emergence of rationality and writing within the West, tracing its improvement and its survival in our personal traditions. . . . Jean Bottero makes a speciality of writing and faith in historic Mesopotamia, Clarisse Herrenschmidt considers a broader heritage of historical writing, and Jean-Pierre Vernant examines classical Greek civilization within the context of close to japanese history."—Translation evaluation

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Additional resources for Ancestor of the West : Writing, Reasoning, and Religion in Mesopotamia, Elam, and Greece

Sample text

It might be somewhat difficult to admit that writing had to be invented, and therefore that there would have been a time when it was unknown, so integral a part of our everyday lives does it seem to us now. And yet (not even to mention the centuries during which in our own civilization reading and writing were a sort of privilege) when we think about it, it becomes obvious that, after all, writing is not something inherent in our nature, like seeing or eating, but, like art or cooking, it is a cultural phenomenon, just like everything humans have gradually superimposed on their basic animal nature in order to improve their existence.

There was, however, one more thing: it was not possible to represent the gods as pulling the world out of nothingness, which was unimaginable. In order to cre­ ate the world, the gods always began with a preexisting matter: the enormous chaotic mass, or clay to shape, or yet an already created part of the world. The ancient Mesopotamians never asked them­ selves the insoluble que�tion of the absolute origin of things. Per­ haps we must see in this the effect of their perspicacity and their intelligence: What was the use of losing oneself in the meanderings of complicated myths and of multiplying the most confused imagi­ nations in the single goal of providing specifics, judged to be futile and supererogatory, especially given the difficulty of imagining ev­ erything?

Naturally, it is not out of the question that a few individuals who were not immersed in manual labor might have (as in China) learned a handful of signs and acquired the ability to decipher and stumble through them. But even among rulers and notables this was highly unusual, and the only people who wrote and read cunei­ form were the scribes, the lettered, the copyists, and the secretaries, who began their training at a very young age and continued it for many long years with masters at school (it was called "the house of tablets").

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