Last week I was in Greece, and one of the highlights of my trip was a visit to Delphi. Inscribed, in ancient Greek, at the entrance to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi are the following “maxims”:
- Know thyself
- Nothing in excess
- Certainty brings ruin
In addition to these three, another 147 Delphi maxims provide a framework for an honest, worthy way of living. These “maxims,” short, pithy statements expressing a general truth or rule of conduct, are intended as guidelines and advice, not absolutes, and speak to the following:
One hundred years later, Confucious teachings were remarkably similar to those found at Delphi. Did Confucious travel to Delphi and copy them down? Doubtful. And, of course, modern religions are also based on these principles.
A few days after visiting Delphi, we visited Akrotiri, where archeologists uncovered a town from the 16th century BC. What was most stunning about this town was the level of sophistication of the inhabitants, including indoor plumbing!
As I left these two historic sites, it occurred to me that the only difference between humans today and in the past, no matter how far back in the past we go, is our technology.
We have and probably always will strive to understand the motivations of ourselves and others and seek to understand the meaning of life.