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Greatest Minds and Ideas of the Western World

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Will Durant's "Shower of Stars"

The philosopher and historian, Will Durant (1885-1981) is best known for his monumental cultural history of the Western World entitled The Story of Civilization.  In Volume One of that work, entitled Our Oriental Heritage (first published in 1939), Mr. Durant uses the term "Shower of Stars" to refer to the 6th Century B.C.  He tells us, at page 422, that:

"It has often been remarked that this period was distinguished by a shower of stars in the history of genius; Mahavira and Buddha in India, Lao-tze and Confucius in China, Jeremiah and the Second Isaiah in Judea, the pre-Socratic philosophers in Greece, and perhaps Zarathustra in Persia.  Such a simultaneity of genius suggests more intercommunication and mutual influence among these ancient cultures than it is possible to trace definitively today."

I first read the above words when I was a high school student in the late 1950's.  At that time I made a mental note to, someday, make a detailed investigation of the intellectual history of the 6th Century B.C.  My web page at this site, concerning the 6th Century, is just a beginning of that study.