I was watching some show on the History channel about Alchemy and how there was (still is) a lot of very serious search for the “sorcerer’s stone” (yes, the one made famous by the Harry Potter book) that would turn “base metals” into gold and provide for long lasting life.
It got me to thinking… how do we know that all these books we find weren’t just the new age quacks of the day? Go into a bookstore right now and I can pretty much guarantee that you will find plenty of books that describe how you can… make amazing amounts of money by doing no real work and live “forever” through some vague medicines or diets. The average person would not take these things seriously, yet we assume that “back then” this was all completely mainstream. I’m just not so sure.
There’s certainly the argument that today it is significantly easier to get a book published, but having money doesn’t mean that you’re sane. If anything, it’s often the nutters who have managed to mass enough money to publish whatever pops into their whacky brains.
Same goes for a lot of historical stuff that we take as being just how people thought back then. Who knows, perhaps the majority of Greeks and Romans though it was pretty ridiculous to think (as we do now) that there were a bunch of gods living up in the mountains who would come down in the guise of humans (and animals). Perhaps it was just the totally zealous ones who put mosaics and floor coverings and wrote poems on it.
It’s only the people with strong opinions that generally feel the need to talk about it.