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33 Pages

Eros and Thanatos, Change and Loss in the Ancient World

Because the f u l l texts f o r a l l G r e e k prose a u t h o r s before H e r o d o t u s

(c. 4 8 5 - c . 425 B C ) , a n d a l l p h i l o s o p h i c a l w r i t i n g before P l a t o (c. 4 2 8 -

c. 348 B C ) , are lost , w e k n o w the ir w r i t i n g s o n l y t h r o u g h q u o t a t i o n s ,

reports a n d paraphrases i n later l i terature w h i c h s u r v i v e d the co l lapse

o f anc ient c i v i l i z a t i o n . T r a c e s , m u t a b i l i t y , the o b s c u r i t y that comes

i n t i m e : o f these the G r e e k s of ten w r o t e , *and these n o w character ize

the G r e e k s ' h i s t o r y , despite the best efforts o f scholars . E v e n the act

o f h i s t o r i c a l recovery - m o s t especia l ly a r c h a e o l o g i c a l recovery -

h a u n t i n g l y c o n f i r m s the m u t a b i l i t y o f c u l t u r e . E v e r y success i n get t ing

c loser — p a r t i c u l a r l y the m o s t spectacular — o n l y c o n f i r m s the r e m o t e -

ness, the i n a c c e s s i b i l i t y o f that w h i c h is gone f o r ever.