Nonfiction > Francis Bacon > Of the Wisdom of the Ancients
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Francis Bacon (1561–1626).  Of the Wisdom of the Ancients.  1857.
 
XXI. Deucalion
Or Restoration
 
THE POETS relate that when the inhabitants of the old world were utterly extinguished by the universal deluge, and none remained except Deucalion and Pyrrha, these two being inflamed with a pious and noble desire to restore the human race, consulted the oracle and received answer to the following effect; they should have their wish if they took their mother’s bones and cast them behind their backs. This struck them at first with great sorrow and despair, for the face of nature being laid level by the deluge, to seek for a sepulchre would be a task altogether endless. But at last they found that the stones of the earth (the earth being regarded as the mother of all things) were what the oracle meant.  1
  This fable seems to disclose a secret of nature, and to correct an error which is familiar to the human mind. For man in his ignorance concludes that the renewal and restoration of things may be effected by means of their own corruption and remains; as the Phœnix rises out of her own ashes; which is not so: for matters of this kind have already reached the end of their course, and can give no further help towards the first stages of it: so we must go back to more common principles.  2
 
 
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