Freud thought that he had identified our triple
misfortune, "the superior power of nature, the feebleness of our bodies,
and the inadequacy of the regulations which adjust the mutual
relationships of human beings in the family, the state and society." -
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents Vol. 12 of
Pelican Freud Library, page 274
Ancient versus Modern Mindset
We should understand that the culture of myth
building that is almost universally practiced by all
people certainly enhanced the history that we often
take as fact when it is actually not as portrayed. Even in America we see
this in the legends of George Washington, Jefferson,
Lincoln, etc. These legends pale in comparison to
those of Daniel Boone, Davey Crocket, Buffalo Bill,
Wyatt Earp, Anne Oakley and more recently Audi
Murphy and many others. This being true does not
negate that these were real people who lived in a
fairly well known chronology and actually did
accomplish to some degree, at least partially, those
things that were attributed to them.
Herein is raised an important premise that seems clear enough. The examples above are all modern
figures which have been chronicled within the modern
mindset. The modern mindset in western culture is one where we—rightfully or wrongly (in my
opinion)—think that we HAVE established a sensible paradigm of reality, whether that is the
Judeo-Christian one, the more modern one of gradualism, uniformism and evolutionism,
or one of several others. Other cultures and especially sub-cultures generally settle on a
commonly held paradigm as well. Either way, we have come to the position of TRYING to elucidate
the facts generally in a chronological way. Of course, we don’t always do a good job of it, and
embellishment and distortion confuse the final product.
On the other hand, the post Saturnian breakup ancients were COMPLETELY unsettled in their
understanding of reality, and were—although intelligent and talented—PSYCHOLOGICALLY UNHINGED.
They had to deal with the DEVASTATING end of the Golden Age with the loss of its significantly
benevolent or benign environment compared to ours today. We have developed
strategies, tactics, and technologies over the ensuing few thousands of years to deal with
the harsh seasonal differences and climate changes, established food and clothing production
techniques, etc. The ancients essentially had to go through a stone age
and work their way up to a level of comfort and safety in their existence. Being semi-insane people, they
universally anthropomorphized the planets into quasi-human gods and demigods. You and I know how ridiculous
that is, and so we should start our understanding of the ancients there, with that fact.
The Hebrew people, such as they were—some think that they were
not prominent at all but just a loosely held culture
of nomadic shepherds—are no exception. They DID
develop into an exceptional culture eventually, but
that does NOT mean that they didn’t fabricate their
early history and chronology. As far as theology
goes, they DID develop a somewhat beautiful understanding of
God with their romantic model—as expressed in the Song of Solomon, Hosea, the
Book of Esther and some other beautiful Old Testament
allegories—but they amalgamated this with their God of vengeance and
violence. They were obsessed with their legalism and their primitive sacrificial system, and made
absolutely NO progress in understanding the creator to be a human being.
Not that "enlightened" Western culture has achieved full-blown
saneness, but we CANNOT legitimately project back upon the ancients the same general level of
sanity, mindset, and thinking that civilization has today.
And that, in this context, means that we cannot
compare our level of myth creation and legend making to
what they did back then.
I wonder if very many educated people
that you and I would be associated or classed with
understand that there are cultures existing today—in
the orient, not to mention those more primitive ones
in the large southern continents—where logic is a
foreign concept because truth and wisdom always come from
what the elders say, or the priest, or comes from what is sometimes called
"dream time". Maybe the MAJORITY of people in
the world today think of truth as coming in one of these ways!
"The notion of a uniformly law-abiding natural
world is so familiar to ourselves that we are apt to forget how recent a
thing it is in the history of thought, how hardly it was won by Renaissance
thinkers—for example, with what difficulty sixteenth-century thought gave up
Aristotle's doctrine that the law of gravitation holds good only in the
sublunary sphere—and how dramatic was its verification by one scientific
discovery after another. This philosophical conception of nature has played
the part, in relation to scientific research, of a constant stimulus to
effort, a reasoned refutation of defeatism, a promise that all scientific
problems are in principle soluable. - R. G. Collingwood, "The Present Need
of a Philosophy", 1934.
Hebrews and Christians have worked long and hard to “clean up”
the accounts in the Old Testament and to make them
palatable to generations going back prior to the Reformation. Of course, these canons of
Old and New Testaments aren’t even translated properly in some important instances, and people would be
staggered if they were. People that take them seriously today generally have to keep quiet about
it in public—so to speak—, and there is significant lessening of focus on them in the Christian
denominations, even in the fundamentalist ones. The
percentage of Jews that take theirs literally are in a dwindling minority.
Bottom line? The pre-flood mythologies/histories/chronologies are
largely fabrications done by post flood cultures,
and the process of fabrication became somewhat
endemic. Just consider the dinosaurs and where they
fit—or don’t—in the mythology of the Jews.
Some of the largest distortions are caused by attributing to
one of our "heroes" one or more accomplishments that
someone of lesser importance did. This is especially
true when the actual person doing the "great" thing
was of no other significance. We can see this as
to things attributed to Newton and Einstein. Newton became England's icon
and Einstein became the American media darling. (See: The
Establishment Myth of
Albert Einstein) We should not be surprised
if it also applies to most all famous historical
figures. In this light we should have no problem believing
that, except for the early towering figures like Adam and Noah, etc., most of
the ancient historical "heroes" were
real but with many types of distortion, a lot of which was undoubtedly
added by those who copied the stories as they were handed down. With
this in mind I would add that we can understand why people give
credit as well as blame to the wrong people. It is
usually the heroes themselves who want credit
and to avoid blame. Truth is very
rarely the popular choice as we well know.
However, the above doesn’t rise to the level of fabrication and myth making that it all
started with in ancient times.
Some of the things which we do know. There are Jews living today that are
obviously descended from ancestors with a rich history embedded in their
writings whether those writings are quasi-mythical or not. The same can be
said as well for other cultures with their "histories" in the respective
writings of the Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, Egyptians, etc. The challenge
that we are faced with is the monumental job of trying to sort it all out
fairly and make some sort of sense of it. The magnitude of the historical
and/or chronological distortions is seriously underestimated, given that, among
other things, large blocks of time have been added to the true, shorter chronologies.
It seems undeniable that cometary catastrophes
certainly occurred, as overwhelming evidence for such exists, and
we should be VERY comfortable with this catastrophic aspect. A respected
Oxford Don and astrophysicist, Victor Clube made a
very convincing case for cometary catastrophes
having devastated cities and areas of Europe in the
C.E. pre-modern times. He has authored a book with
Bill Napier called The Cosmic Winter,
and has lectured a couple of times at early Kronia or
Significant recent changes to the northern coastline of the Mediterranean Sea inundated
and/or otherwise destroyed major cities in pre-Roman, Roman, and post-Roman
times, and the evidence is even now being excavated on a wide scale, but
some of it lies beneath the sea. This area has now become somewhat the new
fashion of focus in archaeology.
Just the one global cometary catastrophe, that ended the Roman Empire, and other
prominent or controlling cultures around the world, has been buried to the
point of being denied and "forgotten". The evidence is there, but it is
being studiously ignored, and a HUGE modern mythology has been unconsciously
built up to keep it suppressed.
In contemplating the ancient mindset, imagine living in an unsafe world at the
mercy of periodic cometary disasters delivered from above with no good way
to predict the scale and location of the devastation. For consideration of a
"small" modern cometary disaster that destroyed an
area almost half the size of Oregon, see: Great Chicago Fire I,
Great Chicago Fire II
and Great Chicago Fire III.
The modern mindset has the advantage of time and experience built up over the millennia
to insulate us from the memory of physically and psychologically devastating
catastrophes. In contrast to the early ancients, we have the tools of mature
languages and of information collection, storage and sharing with our writings and
libraries and now electronic media, and we have science and technology built up to further insulate
us from the exigencies of life on earth.
All of the above factors and more need to be taken into consideration when
contemplating the mindset of ancient people.