On this day in 585 BC, time began. No, really! Sorta. I mean dating happened. You see, Thales of Miletus was one of the greatest of the Greek philosophers — born in 624 BC. He was also, in a sense, the first Greek philosopher. He tried to explain the world without mythology. This is at a time when the Jews were wandering around the desert trying not to worship golden calves. (Just kidding! That’s all mythology — the Jews never wandered the desert for forty years.) Because of his early thinking, he is widely considered the father of science. And think about it: there are many people today who find Thales’ ideas threatening.
In addition to his many other accomplishments, Thales is known for predicting the 28 May 585 BC solar eclipse that apparently caused the two sides in the Battle of Halys to call a truce. As a result of this, ancient events can be dated, because we know when this one thing happened. Of course, nothing is ever that clear. For one thing, we only know about this prediction from Herodotus, who wasn’t born until a century after the eclipse. What’s more, there are some historians who claim that we are misreading Herodotus and that he really meant a lunar eclipse and that the time was anywhere from a couple of years to a couple of decades earlier.
Ain’t that always the way with time! And dates. And science. But it sounds really cool, “This is the date time started!” And there are far worse ways of determining the truth than basing it upon the Coolness Factor (CF). Take for example: ancient dogmas. Does stoning to death adulterers sound cool? No it doesn’t. The CF strikes again!
Happy anniversary time!