Philosophical Dictionary, by Voltaire


Our questions have but little to do with geography, but we shall, perhaps, be permitted to express in a few words our astonishment respecting the town of Bourges. The Trévoux Dictionary asserts that “it is one of the most ancient in Europe; that it was the seat of empire of the Gauls, and gave laws to the Celts.”

I will not combat the antiquity of any town or of any family. But was there ever an empire of Gaul? had the Celts kings? This rage for antiquity is a malady which is not easily cured. In Gaul, in Germany, and in the North there is nothing ancient but the soil, the trees, and the animals. If you will have antiquities go to Asia, and even there they are hardly to be found. Man is ancient, but monuments are new; this has already been said in more articles than one.

If to be born within a certain stone or wooden limit more ancient than another were a real good it would be no more than reasonable to date the foundation of the town from the giants’ war, but since this vanity is in no wise advantageous let it be renounced. This is all I have to say about Bourges.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01