The Wisdom of the Ancients, A Series of Mythological Fables



Description The Wisdom of the Ancients, A Series of Mythological Fables


"Now I suppose most people will think I am but entertaining myself with a toy, and using much the same kind of licence in expounding the poets’ fables which the poets themselves did in inventing them; and it is true that if I had a mind to vary and relieve my severer studies with some such exercise of pleasure for my own or my reader’s recreation, I might very fairly indulge in it. But that is not my meaning. Not but that I know very well what pliant stuff fable is made of, how freely it will follow any way you please to draw it, and how easily with a little dexterity and discourse of wit meanings which it was never meant to bear may be plausibly put upon it. Neither have I forgotten that there has been old abuse of the thing in practice; that many, wishing only to gain the sanction and reverence of antiquity for doctrines and inventions of their own, have tried to twist the fables of the poets into that sense; and that this is neither a modern vanity nor a rare one, but old of standing and frequent in use; that Chrysippus long ago, interpreting the oldest poets after the manner of an interpreter of dreams, made them out to be Stoics; and that the Alchemists more absurdly still have discovered in the pleasant and sportive fictions of the transformation of bodies, allusion to experiments of the furnace." - Summary from Bacon's Preface

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