In the course of my life, there are several instances where I have hit setbacks that in the moment
, led me to doubt not only the value of goal I was striving for, but even the possibility
that I would achieve it. Such moments are when perserverance and dedication are most important, when the world seems to be falling apart. It is in this light that I was impressed when I read the following:
The decipherment of Babylonian baffled students for centuries; their final success is an honorable chapter in the history of scholarship. In 1802 Georg Grotefund, professor of Greek at the University of Gottingen, told the Gottingen Academy how for years he had puzzled over certain cuneiform inscriptions from ancient Persia; how at last he had identified eight of the forty-two characters used, and had made out the names of three kings in the inscriptions. There, for the most part, the matter rested until 1835, when Henry Rawlinson, a British diplomatic officer stationed in Persia, quite unaware of Grotefend's work, likewise worked out the names of Hystaspes, Darius and Xerxes in an inscription couched in Old Persian, a cuneiform derivative of Babylonian script; and through these names he finally deciphered the entire document. This, however, was not Babylonian; Rawlinson had still to find, like Champollion, a Rosetta Stone-in this case, some inscription bearing the same text in old Persian and Babylonian. He found it three hundred feet high on an almost inaccessible rock at Behistun, in the mountains of Media, where Darius I had caused his carvers to engrave a record of his wars and victories in three languages-old Persian, Assyrian, and Babylonian. Day after day Rawlinson risked himself on these rocks, often suspending himself by a rope, copying every character carefully, even making plastic impressions of all the engraved surfaces. After twelve years of work he succeeded in translating both the Babylonian and the Assyrian texts (1847). To test these and similar findings, the Royal Asiatic Society sent an unpublished cuneiform document to four Assyriologists, and asked them-working without contract or communication with one another-to make independent translations. The four reports were found to be in almost complete agreement.
- Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, pg. 249
The next time you find yourself doubting your purpose, remember Henry Rawlinson, dangling from those ropes as he rigorously copied down three ancient inscriptions.
POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 1:12 AM