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Worth a smile
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Having run out of magazines at dinner, I opened The Martyrdom of Man at random, and read:

These Canaanitish men are fairly entitled to our gratitude and esteem, for they taught our intellectual ancestors to read and write.  Wherever a factory trade is carried on it is found convenient to employ natives as subordinate agents and clerks.  And thus it was that the Greeks received the rudiments of education.  That the alphabet was invented by the Phoenicians is improbable in the extreme; but it is certain that they introduced it into Europe.  They were intent only on making money, it is true; they were not a literary or artistic people; they spread knowledge by accident like birds dropping seeds....

By Winwood Reade (1872); barely in print.  Orwell put me on to him.  He doesn't half take care of the Christians!  A sort of late imitation Gibbon.

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So who does he think invented the alphabet? The Phoenicians, I believe, are the best guess anyone has. He's pretty arrogant about assessing a long-dead people like that.

One note: Cecil Rhodes said this book "made him what he is." Not exactly a recommendation in my book!

Orwell gives a balanced view of the book at
http://archive.tribunemagazine.co.uk/article/15th-march-1946/18/-the-martyrdom-of-man-by-george-orwell-
Certainly, in my childhood, we were all told that the Phoenicians invented the alphabet. I don't know what the state of scholarly opinion on the matter was, or is. I was tickled by Reade's metaphor, tho.

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