If any philosopher had been asked for a definition of infinity, he might have produced some unintelligible rigmarole,
but he would certainly not have been able to give a definition that had any meaning at all.
The researchers are constantly behind unraveling the mystery of time. Was there a beginning of time, and will there be end of time? The riddle of time has fascinated our ancestors as well. Many ancient civilizations believed in the concept of infinity and they had different ideas how to explain the nature of infinity.
What Is Ouroboros?
The concept of the nature of infinity has its roots in ancient Greek and Indian philosophy. Anaximander, a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher who lived in Miletus, shows the first recorded idea of infinity, using the word apeiron which means infinite or limitless. A study of various ancient texts revealed that they had one thing in common, the depiction of infinity, the ouroboros.
During the course of history, a lot of civilisations have used ouroboros as a symbol for infinity. This word means ‘oura’ – the tail and ‘boros’ – eating, and the symbol depicts a snake eating its tail.
There are a few interpretations regarding the meaning of ouroboros symbol. One of them suggests that the serpent in the symbol represents the cycle of life and death that the Universe maintains.
The snake eating its own tail simply represents the recreation of life through death by the Universe. It is interpreted as some kind of a rebirth of the dead reaching an immortality of sorts. Therefore, it is assumed that the infinity symbol was derived from the original symbol of ouroboros.
Ancient Records For Usage Of The Infinity Symbol
First known appearance of this symbol is in the Enigmatic Book of the Netherworld, used around 1600 BC, as a symbol for sun, believed to have represented Aten’s travels. Aten is the sun disk in Egyptian mythology.
From here, it was passed on to the Phoenician culture and then was moved to the culture of Ancient Greek people, who named the infinity symbol in their language as it is used in the present day.
Apparently, Plato described ouroboros as the first living thing; a self-eating, circular being, however, the origin of this symbol is not much clear. Some claim that it possibly depicts the cycle of birth and death. Ancient alchemists used this symbol for mercury, which can run through any matter, while in the middle east, the god Mithra was also depicted with this symbol encircled around his waist or whole body.
This symbol was used in ancient India to depict an animal halo often in the form of a snake or lizard god or goddess, such as Shiva, representing duality of creation and destruction. This symbol is also a representation of circular nature of time and universe.
In China, people believed that the universe is created by the union of Earth and Heaven. In the Norse mythology, the infinity symbol appears to be a serpent who grew so tall that it could encircle the whole world and grasp its tail in its teeth.
The infinity symbol was seen in some carvings in the ruins left behind by the Aztecs, in the North American culture. This ancient symbol is encountered by the researchers in almost every primitive culture. According to pages of history, apparently the Milky Way was the source of inspiration for this symbol. In the myths, the milky way galaxy that is circular in shape, was apparently considered as a serpent. All this fascinates the researchers all the more to discover where infinity exists in the physical universe.