Discover more from On Stories Newsletter
The Story of Civilization - Our Oriental Heritage 📖
In the image above, you can see the number million or the word “many” in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, and according to Wikipedia, it was pronounced as “Heh” or "Huh” in English. I learned this from the book, and I felt this “Huh!” multiple times while reading it.
Last year after reading the book Sapiens (If you didn't read it, highly recommended!), I wanted to read more history books, and the book series The Story of Civilization was on my list for a long time.
The series is eleven volumes (including subseries), and Our Oriental Heritage is the first one published during the 1950s. You can consider it a panoramic view of the history or, as one commented on it in Goodreads, a gift to humanity!
Will Durant did a fantastic job of drawing a detailed picture of the story of civilization, from the pre-history and how primitive tribes lived, ate, slept, married, etc.
Then went throw Egypt, and several areas in the middle east, then to Persia, India, China, and finished the first volume in Japan.
Across all of these civilizations, you can see a complete (or almost complete) picture of how people lived, how the social structure looked like, internal and external politics, and how they saw and tasted culture, literature, and art.
In between speaking about collective societies, the book detours great characters who lived in these civilizations. I especially liked the parts about Gautama Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, and Confucius. I plan to also read more about them in the future.
Worth mentioning that since the book is almost seventy years old, some facts became outdated, and new discoveries corrected them. However, if you aren't a specialized historian, it wouldn't matter that much to enjoy it still.
I would definitely continue the series. The next volume is The Life of Greece 🏛⛵️
Several quotes from the book that I added to my quotes list:
Fasting is like the eyes but for the internal — Mahatma Gandhi
The aim of learning is not merely to widen knowledge, but to form character.
Don’t let a day slip by without enjoyment, don’t allow yourself to be tormented by the stupidity of others, remember that from its earliest beginnings, the world has never been free from fools. Let us then not stress ourselves or lose our pleasure.