Philosophy

Custom, right or wrong?

Herodotus in his Histories recounts a story:

‘When Darius was king of Persia, he summoned the Greeks who happened to be present at his court, and asked them what they would take to eat the dead bodies of their fathers. They replied that they would not do it for any money in the world.

Later, in the presence of the Greeks he asked some Indians, of the tribe called Callatiae, who do in fact eat their parents’ dead bodies, what they would take to burn them. They uttered a cry of horror and forbade him to mention such a dreadful thing.’

So who has got it right, the Greeks or the Callatians?

In the end we should agree with Herodotus when he quotes the poet Pindar: ‘Custom is king of all’.

50 Philosophical Ideas, p. 52

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