Thankfully, scientific tests of racial superiority never took the form of my novel’s imagined experiment. Even by past standards, such a planned neglect of the human subjects would most likely have been considered abhorrent and unethical. Yet, scientists have flirted dangerously with the idea of a “pure” test, pitting two types (races, language groups, genders) of humans in a contest. Herodotus wrote about the Egyptian emperor Psammetichus, who wished to discover which race was older than the other, the Egyptians or the Phrygians. He ordered two infants to be raised as feral, with a herdsman spying on them to determine which language they’d utter naturally. Two years later, the herdsman found the children wandering around with the word “becos” on their lips – “becos” is bread in the Phrygian tongue. In consideration of the experiment’s findings, the Egyptians conceded the greater antiquity of their rivals.
Then ... in the health section of the New York Times:
These dilemmas bring to mind the ancient Greek belief that three Fates measured out the length of each human life, and that oracles foretold the future. But the predictions of the oracles were rarely either simple, or what was sought. Misinterpretation was always a danger.
The Oracle at Delphi predicted that Oedipus would kill his father and marry his mother. Oedipus thought he could escape this destiny. But in the end, he willingly performed both these acts, without knowing at the time that he was doing so. Herodotus tells of King Croesus in Asia Minor, who, when consulting an oracle, was told that if he mounted an invasion, a mighty empire would fall. He attacked, and in the end, as Herodotus writes, "the Oracle was fulfilled; Croesus had destroyed a mighty empire - his own."
Since the Renaissance, literature and art have presented the Greek fates ambivalently, either as divine beings fulfilling the work of God or old hags mercilessly dashing human hopes.
Then the (ever-questionably-accurate/motivated) PRWeb press release on auctions:
The history of auctions extends back to 500 B.C. when Herodotus used auctions to sell women under the condition that they be married following purchase. Reports indicate that less attractive women were sold with monetary compensation given to the bidder.
Someone doesn't quite get the marriage practices of the Babylonians quite right. Oh well, two for three ...