dijous, 23 de juny de 2011

Inconclusive

Now, Egypt had long been closed to foreigners, and alien vessels were banned from entering any of the Nile’s mouths. But Psammetichus, having employed thousands of Greek mercenaries to drive off the Assyrians, granted these men free movement to and from their homeland. And so it was that the trade between Greeks and Egyptians grew, and Greek temples were erected, and Egypt sent alum and corn to Greece, and Greece sent back philosophers in turn. Now, these men, rather than teaching the king Truth, as he had desired, could not agree on anything. Thus Psammetichus had a new wing of the palace built beside the seraglio so that they might resolve their differences. And day in and day out the philosophers spoke of the question of whether men were good or evil, but they did nothing.

At last Psammetichus, tiring of such womanly lassitude, devised an experiment to answer their question once and for all. This time, he selected three newborn children from boatmen and gave them to a swineherd with the following instructions: One child was to be raised as normal and taught to do good, while the second was to be taught the reverse, that one must murder and steal and lie and engage in all other sorts of filth that is shocking to the gods. The third child would be raised wild among the pigs. And so it happened that when the children were three years old they were all brought to the palace, where one by one they were placed in a room with a kitten, a coin, and a piece of bread. As had been foreseen, the child raised in good stroked the little kitten, fed it the bread (even softening it with the moisture of his own mouth), and made gentle inquires as to whom the coin belonged. Next, the child raised against the law was brought into the room. Immediately, he killed the kitten, stole the coin, and ate the bread. When he was asked as to the fate of the coin and bread, he said they were eaten by the kitten. Finally the last child, the wild one raised by pigs, was summoned. He ate the bread, tried to eat the coin, and played with the kitten. From this Psammetichus learned that the answer to whether man is good or evil is: Inconclusive.

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