The Ancient World

"I am…" From this simple dictum comes the history of human experience. If ever there were more powerful words defining the creation of man they've not been discovered. From procreation to defecation man is remarkably similar to any common beast. But on this uniquely formed ability of consciousness man is elevated to a special status in the world that even the primitive noticed. Perhaps it is more simply put, that his noticing was the very point. Pictures scratched into a cave wall, songs sung to the gods, no other creature on earth possesses the self-awareness to create. To study the arts, is to study the very thing that makes us human.

The ancient civilizations in turn each addressed the ramifications of their humanness. If "I am…" then so must there be another, and so "you are…" required laws and mores if the world was going to be more than a constant series of conflicts. Whether the city be Uruk or Athens, civilizations required civilized behavior. For all the power of man's reason there always remained the unknowable just beyond his reach, and it's this "wonder" that brought forth philosophy. And where better to look for the ultimate answer to "why I am…" than to the transcendence of god: "Thou are." To seek god was to acknowledge the existence of something beyond man…which is to say, the essence of humanity.


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