Philosophical Dictionary, by Voltaire

A.

The letter A has been accounted sacred in almost every nation, because it was the first letter. The Egyptians added this to their numberless superstitions; hence it was that the Greeks of Alexandria called it hier’alpha; and, as omega was the last of the letters, these words alpha and omega signified the beginning and the end of all things. This was the origin of the cabalistic art, and of more than one mysterious folly.

The letters served as ciphers, and to express musical notes. Judge what an infinity of useful knowledge must thus have been produced. A, b, c, d, e, f, g, were the seven heavens; the harmony of the celestial spheres was composed of the seven first letters; and an acrostic accounted for everything among the ever venerable Ancients.

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 18:25