Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: [ANE-2] Fwd: Quote: Our earth is degenerate in these latter days (antedating attrib Assyrian tablet 1922)

Expand Messages
  • David Lorton
    Message 1 of 4 , Sep 15, 2010
    • 0 Attachment
      -----Original Message-----
      >From: David Lorton <davidlorton@...>
      >Sent: Sep 15, 2010 6:46 PM
      >To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
      >Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Fwd: Quote: Our earth is degenerate in these latter days (antedating attrib Assyrian tablet 1922)
      >
      >My response to James Spinti's query regarding the possibility of a high literacy rate in Mesopotamia would be: almost certainly, no.
      >
      >In "apocolyptic"-style literature, the motif of a topsy-turvy world would seem to be a common one among various cultures. It appears, for instance, in an Egyptian text often called "The Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage" or "The Admonitions of Ipu-wer," and Jan Assmann cites other examples from Egypt in _The Search for God in Ancient Egypt_ (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001), pp. 72-73): Prophecies of Neferti, Potter's Oracle (written in Greek), and Asclepius (a Hermetic tractate that's survived to us in Latin).
      >
      >I've never read Lucan's poem on the civil war in Rome in the late republican period, but it's my understanding that he, too, speaks of an upheaval in social norms, including the motif of sons killing their fathers (a violation of the Roman ideal of "pietas").
      >
      >I could write something more, but I happen to have pneumonia just now, so my strength is running far behind my ambition. Perhaps other list members would care to cite some other instances of the theme of the overturning of social norms in "degenerate times."
      >
      >Anyhow, though I'm not an Assyriologist, I'm willing to suggest, on the basis of the brief context supplied in the posting, that this is yet another instance of the motif. For my own part, I would feel disinclined to take it as a factual report on literacy rate.
      >
      >David Lorton
      >Baltimore, Maryland
      >
      >-----Original Message-----
      >>From: James Spinti <jspinti@...>
      >>Sent: Sep 15, 2010 3:44 PM
      >>To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
      >>Subject: [ANE-2] Fwd: Quote: Our earth is degenerate in these latter days (antedating attrib Assyrian tablet 1922)
      >>
      >>Since this got lost in the discussion about scribal writing the first time around, I am reposting.
      >>
      >>Thanks for any responses,
      >>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: James Spinti
      >>Sent: Thursday, September 09, 2010 4:22 PM
      >>To: 'ANE-2@yahoogroups.com'
      >>Subject: FW: [CLASSICS-L] Fwd: Quote: Our earth is degenerate in these latter days (antedating attrib Assyrian tablet 1922)
      >>
      >>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/
      >>
      >>
      >>------------------------------------
      >>
      >>Yahoo! Groups Links
      >>
      >>
      >>
      >
      >
      >
      >------------------------------------
      >
      >Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      >
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.