Having no record of the intellectual and scientific

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Having no record of the intellectual and scientific heritage of the culture thatpreceded it, the new civilization was obliged to begin again and retrace the entireroute that had been lost.But because of its geographical and climatic peculiarities,Egypt had escaped this otherwise general rule:But in this country the water does not fall from above on the fields either then orat other times; its way is always to rise up over them from below. It is for thesereasons that the traditions preserved here are the oldest on record… Any great ornoble achievement or otherwise exceptional event that has come to pass, eitherin your parts or here or in any place of which we have tidings, has been writtendown for ages past in records that are preserved in our temples.It was thus in Egypt that the Greek historians could find the best sources ofinformation. But this was not the only branch of knowledge that the priests of Egypt87
could teach to their foreign guests. Thus Thales of Miletus visited “Egypt to conferwith the priests and astronomers,” according to one of his biographers, and heseems to have “learnt geometry from the Egyptian.” Geometry and astronomy arethe two disciplines most often mentioned by Greek writers in connection with thepriests of Egypt. To these, they sometimes added theology, when the priestsconsented to reveal its mysteries to their guests, which was not often. The priestsdid not always receive these inquisitive tourists with enthusiasm; they found themoften annoying and always indiscreet, too rigorously logical in their thinking andsometimes not easily convinced, and more inclined to lend credence to thedeductions of reason than to the fantastic tales of a millennia-old tradition. Havinglearned from previous experiences with the intellectual tendencies of these curiousHellenes, the priests attempted to rid themselves of Pythagoras when, following theadvice of Thales, he came to them in search of scientific and religious revelations.Porphyry (233-304 C.E.) records Pythagoras’ journeyin these terms: Having beenreceived by Amasis (king of Egypt, 568-526 B.C.E.), he obtained from him letters(of recommendation) to the priests of Heliopolis, who sent him to those ofMemphis, since they were older – which was, at heart, only a pretext. Then, for thesame reason, he was again sent from Memphis to the priests of Diospolis (i.e.Thebes). The latter, fearing the king and not daring to find false excuses (to excludethe newcomer from their sanctuary), thought they would rid themselves of him byforcing him to undergo very bad treatment and to carry out very difficult ordersquite foreign to a Hellenic education. All that was calculated to drive him to despairso that he would give up his mission. But since he zealously executed all that wasdemanded of him, the priests ended by conceiving a great admiration for him,treating him respectfully and even allowing him to sacrifice to their deities, which

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Term
Fall
Professor
N/A
Tags
religious tolerance, African Traditional Religions, African contribution, egyptian problem

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