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Ancestor of the West

Writing, Reasoning, and Religion in Mesopotamia, Elam, and Greece

With Ancestor of the West, three distinguished French historians reveal the story of the birth of writing and reason, demonstrating how the logical religious structures of Near Eastern and Mesopotamian cultures served as precursors to those of the West.

"Full of matter for anyone interested in language, religion, and politics in the ancient world."—R. T. Ridley, Journal of Religious History

"In this accessible introduction to the ancient world, three leading French scholars explore the emergence of rationality and writing in the West, tracing its development and its survival in our own traditions. . . . Jean Bottero focuses on writing and religion in ancient Mesopotamia, Clarisse Herrenschmidt considers a broader history of ancient writing, and Jean-Pierre Vernant examines classical Greek civilization in the context of Near Eastern history."—Translation Review

208 pages | 12 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2000

History: Ancient and Classical History

Table of Contents

Foreword by François Zabbal
Translator’s Note
PART ONE: RELIGION AND REASONING IN MESOPOTAMIA
Jean Bottéro
1. The Birth of Civilization
2. First Writing
3. The Intelligence of the World
4. The Gods: A Reasonable Religion
PART TWO: WRITING BETWEEN VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE WORLDS IN IRAN, ISRAEL, AND GREECE
Clarisse Herrenschmidt
5. Elamite Civilization and Writing
6. Consonant Alphabets, the Greek Alphabet, and Old Persian Cuneiform
7. Old Persian Cuneiform: Writing as Cosmological Ritual and Text
Writing—and Some Thoughts on Hebrew and Greek
PART THREE: WRITING AND CIVIL RELIGION IN GREECE
Jean-Pierre Vernant
9. Myths and Reasonings
10. The Polis: Shared Power
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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