The Shallows


Nicholas Carr

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The Story of Thoth Symbol Analysis

The Story of Thoth Symbol Icon

The Egyptian god Thoth is credited in the ancient pantheon with inventing the intellectual technology of writing. In the story told by Socrates in Plato’s dialogue The Phaedrus, Thoth brought the invention of writing to King Thamus, but found that his gift was unwelcome. King Thamus thought writing would weaken man’s memory. He feared that writing, as a form of outsourcing, would wither natural abilities in men rather than enhancing them. In The Shallows, the story of Thoth is repeatedly mentioned as a reminder that new technologies always come at a price. A new tool, though it may help enhance our natural functions, may engender dependence and actually dull and weaken our inborn skills. Thoth is, at the same time, a reminder that all new technologies, no matter how helpful they ultimately become, initially strike fear and mistrust into the hearts of many people.

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The Story of Thoth Symbol Timeline in The Shallows

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Story of Thoth appears in The Shallows. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
The History of Technology Theme Icon
Value, Depth, and Intelligence  Theme Icon
...Phaedrus, a famous work by the philosopher Plato. In the Phaedrus orator Socrates tells the story of Thoth , Egyptian god and inventor of writing. In the story, Thoth’s invention is rejected by... (full context)