The Alphabet Abecedarium: Some Notes on Letters

The Alphabet Abecedarium: Some Notes on Letters

The Alphabet Abecedarium: Some Notes on Letters

The Alphabet Abecedarium: Some Notes on Letters

Synopsis

"Drawing from mythology, cosmology, history, the Bible, literature, and esoteric and conventional sources, this book takes the reader on a tour of each of the twenty-six letters that comprise one of civilisation's greatest inventions, the Roman alphabet. In chapters that are descriptive, illustrative, and diverse, we are shown the history and development of every letter, how its shape evolved, how its characteristics were encoded, and how its history, attributes, and meanings were reflected in myth, literature, science, and religion." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

"At the Egyptian city of Naucratis, there was a famous old god, whose name was Theuth; the bird which is called the Ibis is sacred to him, and he was the inventor of many arts, such as arithmetic and calculation and geometry and astronomy and draughts and dice, but his great discovery was the use of letters."

With those words, recorded in Plato dialogue Phaedrus, Socrates begins to relate an ancient legend. The greatest of many great inventions, the use of letters or invention of writing seems to be worthy of a god, being the foundation for the recording and transmitting of all thought and speech.

The legend continues with Theuth (Thoth) showing his inventions to the great king Thamus, "desiring that the other Egyptians might have the benefit of them." Thamus listened, commenting upon the merits of each until they came to the letters. "This, said Theuth, will make the Egyptians wiser and give them better memories." But Thamus disagreed, maintaining that "the parent or inventor of an art is not always the best judge of the utility or inutility of his own inventions to the users of them. And in this instance, you who are the father of letters, from a paternal love of your own children have been led to attribute to them a quality which they cannot have; for this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of Many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient . . .

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