I love that book! Haven’t read it in a while, but I’m sure it was a distant influence on my decision to write this article. I’m fascinated by the idea of the so-called “Axial Age” — that century or so (around the 400s BCE) when Socrates, Plato, Ashoka, Chuang Tzu, and dozens of other groundbreaking philosophers all seemed to appear at once.
I’ve often wondered what it was about the world at that time that made conditions so ripe for Classical Athens, Achaemenid Persia and Mauryan India; and the blossomings of culture they all produced. I don’t have an answer, and (as with most historical questions) I’m sure there’s not a single simple one. But it’s still fascinating to think about.
Thanks for reading, Nick, and for taking the time to share your thoughts! By the way, since you enjoy historical fiction, I hope you’ll take a moment to check out my novel The Cradle and the Sword, set in ancient Mesopotamia, which is currently crowdfunding on Inkshares: http://www.inkshares.com/books/the-cradle-and-the-sword