Sunday, August 12, 2007

A literary milestone

Last night, I read the last words of Phaedrus, a Latin fable writer. Tonight, I have opened the pages of Babrius, a poster boy for ancient diversity if there ever was one. He is believed to have been born in Italy, but spent his life in Syria, writing his magnum opus in Greek, dedicated to a great grandson of King Herod, an Idumean Jew. Yes, that nasty Herod you read about in the Bible.

It's a milestone for me. After ten years of reading all the extant literature of ancient Egypt, Babylon and Israel, all the extant writings of classical Greece and all the authors of early Rome -- from Plautus through Seneca -- I have reached, in Babrius, the second century of the Common/Christian Era.

Why do this? Because each book in the library of humanity builds upon the books and the culture that has gone before. Shakespeare in literature and the US Founding Fathers, built upon the Rennaisance, which built upon the Greek and Roman world, which built upon earlier worlds in the East.

As I move further into history, eventually I shall reach a wonderful point where music and art is much better preserved, to add to the learning ambience. Why not read Shakespeare with music of his era playing in the background, art from his time period fresh on my mind or displayed (cheap computer printed copies, of course) on my study room walls; and a menu typical of his era on my kitchen table?

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