November 26, 2009

History of Philosophers Prior to Alexander of Greece

"As to what thou didst ask regarding the history of the philosophers: history, prior to Alexander of Greece, is extremely confused, for it is a fact that only after Alexander did history become an orderly and systematized discipline. One cannot, for this reason, rely upon traditions and reported historical events that have come down from before the days of Alexander. This is a matter thoroughly established, in the view of all authoritative historians. How many a historical account was taken as fact in the eighteenth century, yet the opposite was proven true in the nineteenth. No reliance, then, can be placed upon the traditions and reports of historians which antedate Alexander, not even with regard to ascertaining the lifetimes of leading individuals. …..

The histories prior to Alexander, which were based on oral accounts current among the people, were put together later on. There are great discrepancies among them, and certainly they can never hold their own against the Holy Writ. It is an accepted fact among historians themselves that prior to this time history was transmitted by word of mouth. Note how extremely confused was the history of Greece, so much so that to this day there is no agreement on the dates related to the life of Homer, Greece's far-famed poet. Some even maintain that Homer never existed at all, and that the name is a fabrication.”
(‘Abdu’l-Baha; Authorized translation of unpublished Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Baha to Ethel Rosenberg in 1906 in reply to her questions about the Tablet of Wisdom. Research Department, Baha'i World Centre. Published pp 78-81 in Ethel Jenner Rosenberg, the Life and Times of England's Outstanding Baha'i Pioneer Worker, by Robert Weinberg (George Ronald,Oxford, 1995).