356
BC

Human Nature

Human nature doesn’t really change. It is fascinating to me how similar we are to the people who lived hundreds or thousands of years ago.  The fact that we have civilization simply makes us more civilized, but we are fundamentally the same. Here is a tale that shows this well.

You have probably heard of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. One of these was the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, located in modern day Turkey. The Temple was burned down by an arsonist in 356 BC. You may ask how one burns down a marble temple. It turns out that the roof was supported by wooden beams.

When asked why he burned the temple down, the captured arsonist replied that he wanted to guarantee he would be remembered in history and that this was his plan – to burn down the Temple of Artemis. He was executed and it was ordered that his name be erased from all records and that no one could ever mention his name again, under penalty of death. However, his plan worked, for we do know his name: Herostratus.

From this we have the term “herostratic fame,” meaning fame at any cost, which we see much of still today, not the least of which is in the form of reality TV.

Legend is that Alexander the Great was being born that day and Artemis, knowing of Alexander’s destined greatness, was too preoccupied with the birth to save her burning temple.

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