The Sumerian evidence would be, probably, Gilgamesh, which has all the
characteristics of a western epic and comes from the same sources as
the Jewish tradition, in that Avram came from the same region (Uruk and Ur
were quite close).
You might study PREFACE TO PLATO by Havellock Ellis,
and THE GIFTS OF THE JEWS by Thomas Cahill.
If you see Eliot as looking at the major thought structures
behind European Civilisation then it's pretty accurate to say
he doesn't seem to have been much interested in the pre-Greek,
except of course for etymologies coming from the sanskrit, and
there he his back in touch with his original Hindu studies.
As far as the Greek goes, you need to look at the plays.
Everyone ignores the plays, but there he identifies social
patterns of today with the oldest social patterns our civilisation
presents. In Murder in the Cathedral he even gets great universality
through the Noh influence.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Vishvesh Obla" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, November 15, 2004 6:20 AM
Subject: Re: (OT) Roots of Western Civilization
I consider Eliot and D.H.Lawrence to be two great
critics of Western Civilization, and it is precisely
their remarks on its development that made me question
the roots of the Western Civilization. On a different
context I came to know that the School books in the
West trace the history as early as the Sumerian and
the Egyptian. I was surprised since I haven't seen
any recognition, let alone any acknowledgement, of the
pre-Christian civilizations among many of the
Americans and the Europeans that I know. But what
has baffled me is that Eliot and Lawrence who took a
few parallel and diametrically opposite stands to life
as well, have a bearing on this subject which I
believe, is vital for anyone who wants to have a grasp
of civilization and a sense of one's past.
Let me quote from Eliot's 'Notes.' (From the Appendix)
"Those countries which share the most history, are the
to each other, with respect to their future
literature. We have our
common classics, of Greece and Rome; we have a common
classic even in
our several translations of the Bible."
"It is in Christianity that our arts have developed;
it is in
Christianity that the laws of Europe have until
rooted. It is against a background of Christianity
that all our
thought has significance.Only a Christian Culture
could have produced
a Voltaire or a Nietzche.To our Christian heritage we
owe many things
beside religious faith."
I am very well aware that those quotes when read in
isolation and not in the larger context of the book,
could acquire a different meaning. But then, I think
I can safely quote here, since we all know the
affiliation towards Christianity that Eliot had. I
believe that Eliot didn't attach much importance to
his roots earlier to the Christian beginnings.
On the other hand, D.H.Lawrence has made very
important observations as to how the European mind
turned its course leaning more and more towards the
'mental' from the Greek period onwards. In his
'Apocalypse' and 'Fantasia.' (and of course in his
major novels in different degrees), he traces this
My interest in this question here lies in the fact
that this group has a learned audience well versed in
European traditions. I will be thankful for any input
on this subject by anyone. I will also try to expand
my take on this subject within the limits of my
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