Monday, January 16, 2012

World History

Like the Energizer Bunny I'm still going on J.M. Roberts's, A Short History of the World, which I began reading back in November, 2011.  But the book, as one might expect, is anything but short.

Having entered the world of the Egyptians, the Babylonians and Assyrians, the Persians and Phoenicians, I am finding myself in familiar territory, having succumbed to the stacks of the Duke University library some thirty years ago while consuming large doses of Ancient Near Eastern history, lore, and art.  The Phoenician language--regarded as one of the earliest written--is a distant cousin to other Semitic tongues like Assyrian and Hebrew and is the language from which we get the word "Alphabet" . . . a phonetic rendering of the first two letters, Aleph and Beth.  (And much akin to the later Greek rendered as Alpha & Beta.) 

I may never finish A Short History of the World in a short period of time.  This is the type of book that requires snatches of concentration snuggled in between other reading and writing.

Considering such a long history of existence, one wonders why we even bother to consider ourselves of much importance.  Thousands of generations have come and gone, and like the writer of Ecclesiastes once observed, "A generation comes and a generation goes, and the latter do not remember the former.  They are soon forgotten and pass away."

Depressing thought for a Monday . . . but then one also has to remember that the ancient Babylonians didn't have a Dunkin' Donuts nearby.  It's amazing how encouraged one can become after a short walk for a donut and cup of coffee.  Dunk 'em if you got 'em.    

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