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FW: [CLASSICS-L] Fwd: Quote: Our earth is degenerate in these latter days (antedating attrib Assyrian tablet 1922)

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  • James Spinti
    Forwarded with permission of the author. I will forward your replies to him. James ________________________________ James Spinti Marketing Director, Book Sales
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 9, 2010
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      Forwarded with permission of the author. I will forward your replies to him.

      James

      ________________________________
      James Spinti
      Marketing Director, Book Sales Division
      Eisenbrauns, Good books for more than 35 years
      Specializing in Ancient Near Eastern and Biblical Studies
      jspinti at eisenbrauns dot com
      Web: http://www.eisenbrauns.com
      Phone: 574-269-2011 ext 226
      Fax: 574-269-6788

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Classical Greek and Latin Discussion Group [mailto:CLASSICS-L@...] On Behalf Of John McChesney-Young
      Sent: Thursday, September 09, 2010 11:14 AM
      To: CLASSICS-L@...
      Subject: [CLASSICS-L] Fwd: Quote: Our earth is degenerate in these latter days (antedating attrib Assyrian tablet 1922)

      Research on the origin of this passage might be of interest here and
      seems like the sort of inquiry that will keep the hubcaps of
      Classics-l members' neighbors safe a little longer. --John


      ---------- Forwarded message ----------
      From: Garson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole@...>
      Date: Thu, Sep 9, 2010 at 8:08 AM
      Subject: Quote: Our earth is degenerate in these latter days
      (antedating attrib Assyrian tablet 1922)
      To: ADS-L@...


      ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
      Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L@...>
      Poster:       Garson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole@...>
      Subject:      Quote: Our earth is degenerate in these latter days (antedating
                   attrib Assyrian tablet 1922)
      -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      The reference work "Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations
      (1989)" contains a passage attributed to an "Assyrian stone tablet of
      about 2800 B.C.":

      Our earth is degenerate in these latter days; there are signs that the
      world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common;
      children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book
      and the end of the world is evidently approaching.

      A 1953 citation is provided together with a 1949 cite for part of the
      quotation. The companion commentary states "Both of the above
      quotations would seem to be spurious."

      http://www.bartleby.com/73/456.html

      Were there any cultures in 2800 B.C. with a literacy rate high enough
      that a comment such as "every man wants to write a book" makes sense?

      The above quote is quite popular because it furnishes strong evidence
      for a story that is "too good to check" about the time invariant
      preoccupations and trepidations of mankind. Here is an example in 2008
      in The Sunday Times UK:

      Predictions of the world's end are nothing new though. We've picked
      out 30 of the most memorable apocalypses that never, for one reason or
      another, quite happened.

      1: 2,800BC: The oldest surviving prediction of the world's imminent
      demise was found inscribed upon an Assyrian clay tablet which stated:
      "Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that
      the world is speedily coming to an end. Bribery and corruption are
      common." Wherever more than two people over 30 are gathered together,
      expect to hear remarkably similar sentiments.

      http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article4717864.ece

      Google Books archive has many instances of this quote and several are
      in publications that are incorrectly dated. Misleading information
      suggests dates of 1914, 1916, and 1917. But the earliest cite I have
      found so far is in 1922:

      Cite: 1922, Report of the State Librarian to The Governor, State of
      Connecticut: Public Document No. 13, "Librarian's Report, 1920-22",
      Page 93, "Report Submitted November 18, 1922 by State Librarian George
      S. Godard", Published by the State of Connecticut, Hartford,
      Connecticut. (Google Books full view)

          HUMAN NATURE THE SAME

      A tablet (Assyrian) 2800 B.C. says:
       "Our earth is degenerate in these latter days; there are signs that
      the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are
      common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to
      write a book, and the end of the world is evidently approaching."
       Tablet preserved in Constantinople.

      http://books.google.com/books?id=9bQYAQAAIAAJ&q=degenerate#v=snippet&

      Another instance of the quotation appears in 1923.

      Cite: 1923, Nineteenth Century Evolution and After by Marshall Dawson,
      Page 76, Macmillan Company, New York. (HathiTrust)

      The reading of what these ancient records had to say on this point
      provoked only humor, a decade ago. The expressions used are, indeed,
      quaint. An Assyrian tablet, dating from 2800 B. C., preserved in
      Constantinople, says:

      [The target quotation is repeated here.]

      http://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015001674079

      In 1926 the California State Board of Education uses the quote. Note,
      the Google Books archive contains a document with an incorrect 1914
      date. President Lyndon Baines Johnson used the passage in a speech in
      1967.

      I would appreciate any help in tracking this quote. Thanks.

      Garson

      ------------------------------------------------------------
      The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org



      --
      John McChesney-Young ** Berkeley, California, U.S.A.
      JMcCYoung~at~gmail.com ** http://twitter.com/jmccyoung **
      http://jmccyoung.blogspot.com/
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