This word has given much unnecessary trouble to the commentators on the old Records of Freemasonry. In the legend of the Craft contained in all the old Constitutions, we are informed that the children of Lamech "knew that God would take vengeance for sinne, either by fire or water, wherefore they did write these sciences that they had found in two pillars of stone, that they might be found after that God had taken vengeance; the one was of marble and would not burne, the other was Latres and would not drown in water" (Harleian Manuscript. No. 1942). It is the Latin word later, a brick.
The legend is derived from Josephus (Jewish Antiquities I, ii), where the same story is told. Whiston properly translates the passage, "they made two pillars; the one of brick, the other of stone." The original Greek is _Sos, which has the same meaning. The word is variously corrupted in the manuscripts. Thus the Harleian Manuscript has latres, which comes nearest Who the correct Latin plural lateres; the Cooke has lacerus; the Dowland, laterns; theLansdowne, latherne; and the Sloane, No. 3848, getting furthest from the truth, has letera. It is strange that Halliwell, Early History of Freemasonry in England (second edition, page 8), should have been ignorant of the true meaning and that Henry Phillips, Freemasons Quarterly Revieto, 1836 (page 289), in commenting on the Harleian Manuscript, should have supposed that it alluded "to some floating substance." The Latin word later and the passage in Josephus ought readily to have led to an explication.
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