248 STUDY OF HISTORY accustomed was quicker. He came up the stairs rather hesitantly. When he saw Blondi, he rushed towards her, wagging his tail. Next day, it was indescribable. A dog gets used to a new master more quickly when there's already a dog in the house. It's enough even if he learns from the scent that his new master has recently had a dog; he feels himself trusted. The dog is the oldest of the domestic animals. He has been man's companion for more than thirty thousand years. But man, in his pride, is not capable of perceiving that even between dogs of the same breed there are extraordinary differences. There are stupid dogs and others who are so intelligent that it's agonising. I once possessed a work on the origins of the human race. I used to think a lot about such matters, and I must say that if one examines the old traditions, the tales and legends, from close up, one arrives at unexpected conclusions. It's striking to realise what a limited view we have of the past. The oldest specimens of handwriting we possess go back three or four thousand years at most. No legend would have reached us if those who made and transmitted them hadn't been people like ourselves. Where do we acquire the right to believe that man has not always been what he is now? The study of nature teaches us that, in the animal kingdom just as much as in the vegetable kingdom, variations have occurred. They've occurred within the species, but none of these variations has an importance comparable with that which separates man from the monkey—assuming that this transformation really took place. If we consider the ancient Greeks (who were Germanics), we find in them a beauty much superior to the beauty such as is widespread to-day—and I mean also beauty in the realm of thought as much as in the realm of forms. To realise this, it's enough to compare a head of Zeus or of Pallas Athene with that of a crusader or a saint ! If one plunges further into the past, one comes again with the Egyptians upon human beings of the quality of the Greeks. Since the birth of Christ, we have had scarcely forty successive generations on the globe, and our knowledge goes back only a few thousand years before the Christian era.
ANCIENT CIVILISATIONS — COSMIC THEORIES 249 Legend cannot be extracted from the void, it couldn't be a purely gratuitous figment. Nothing prevents us from supposing —and I believe, even, that it would be to our interest to do so— that mythology is a reflection of things that have existed and of which humanity has retained a vague memory. In all the human traditions, whether oral or written, one finds mention of a huge cosmic disaster. What the Bible tells on the subject is not peculiar to the Jews, but was certainly borrowed by them from the Babylonians and Assyrians. In the Nordic legend we read of a struggle between giants and gods. In my view, the thing is explicable only by the hypothesis of a disaster that completely destroyed a humanity which already possessed a high degree of civilisation. The fragments of our prehistory are perhaps merely reproductions of objects belonging to a more distant past, and it's by means of these, doubtless, that the road to civilisation was discovered anew. What is there to prove to us that the stone axe we re-discover in our parts was really an invention of those who used it? It seems to me more likely that this object is a reproduction in stone of an axe that previously existed in some other material. What proof have we, by the way, that beside objects made of stone there were not similar objects made of metal? The life of bronze is limited, and that would explain that in certain earthy deposits one finds only objects made of stone. Moreover, there's no proof that the civilisation that existed before the disaster flourished precisely in our regions. Three-quarters of the earth are covered by water, and only an eighth of the earth's surface is in practice accessible. Who knows what discoveries would be made if we could explore the ground that is at present covered by the waters? I'm quite well inclined to accept the cosmic theories of Hörbiger. It's not impossible, in fact, that ten thousand years before our era there was a clash between the earth and the moon that gave the moon its present orbit. It's likewise possible that the earth attracted to it the atmosphere which was that of the moon, and that this radically transformed the conditions of life on our planet. One can imagine that, before this accident, man could live at any altitude—for the simple reason that he