Since the age of the Druids, bees have been a symbol of wisdom. The Greeks and the Celts used the symbolism as well, as did cultures in India and Egypt, Sumerian mythology, and Christianity. Bees were the symbols of sun gods, earth goddesses, and the Virgin Mary. In the Jewish story, Deborah — whose name means "bee" — was a prophet who saved her city from invaders. In English, Welsh, Irish, Greek, and assorted other languages, the word "bee" is caught up by sound or by root with the word for "to live" or "alive." Even Charles Darwin was scared of the knowledge to be found in the bee hive, afraid their cooperative, altruistic lives could disprove his theory of evolution, perched as it was on that vicious idea of survival of the fittest.
Wisdom: From Philosophy to Neuroscience by Stephen S. Hall. 352 pages. Knopf. $27.95.
It seems Stephen S. Hall was struck by the millennia-long connection between bees and wisdom, as he bumps up against the hive in his research, remarking "the bees again!" in Wisdom: From Philosophy to Neuroscience.
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