Hamlet's Mill: An Essay Investigating the Origins of Human Knowledge And Its Transmission Through Myth

Paper Book, 1981



Call number

BL304.D43 1969


Godine (1981), Edition: 2nd Paperback, 505 pages


Ever since the Greeks coined the language we commonly use for scientific description, mythology and science have developed separately. But what came before the Greeks? What if we could prove that all myths have one common origin in a celestial cosmology? What if the gods, the places they lived, and what they did are but ciphers for celestial activity, a language for the perpetuation of complex astronomical data? Drawing on scientific data, historical and literary sources, the authors argue that our myths are the remains of a preliterate astronomy, an exacting science whose power and accuracy were suppressed and then forgotten by an emergent Greco-Roman world view. This fascinating book throws into doubt the self-congratulatory assumptions of Western science about the unfolding development and transmission of knowledge. This is a truly seminal and original thesis, a book that should be read by anyone interested in science, myth, and the interactions between the two.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Porius
Zounds what a tangle. It would take a team of Robert Graves' to sort out all of this information. Books like this and THE SIRIUS MYSTERY make me feel that I should have stuck with my childhood football watching buddies. Puts too much strain on my poor little brain.
LibraryThing member miketroll
This extraordinary book is subtitled: "An Essay Investigating the Origins of Human Knowledge and its Transmission Through Myth".

This is what the book is about, more or less, but it is hard to tell. This essay is both virtually unreadable and amazingly erudite. There is scarcely any document more
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than 1000 years old that these scholars have not read. What we get is a digested compendium of their knowledge.

From a welter of literary reference an astonishing thesis slowly emerges. It may have helped if the authors had explicitly advanced it at some point, but they give no sign of wishing to make any kind of case at all, merely letting their knowledge speak for itself.

The major lesson we learn here is that vast swathes of ancient literature displayed an obsession with an astronomical phenomenon known as the precession of the equinoxes.

There is not space here to explain precession and my thoughts on why the ancients found it so important are speculative. However, their interest in this matter convinces me that their scientific knowledge was vastly more advanced than most are prepared to credit.

Fascinating stuff if you can bear it. Best skimmed through quickly and dipped into randomly later.
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LibraryThing member millsge
Amazing scholarship combined with exceptional thought and analysis make this an essential work. The book is marred however by the lack of an hypothesis as to the reasons why our ancestors went to so much pain to pass on the knowledge encoded in the myths. It uncovers many mysteries but it does not
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offer any answers.
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LibraryThing member laurencejude
Cannot possibly say what this book is, finding science in myth would be a lot of understatment. Have read this about five times and have dipped into so often.Yet I totally disagree with the premise.
LibraryThing member jwhenderson
This is a book that reminds me of the mythological discourses by Joseph Campbell. It is an anthropological detective story that traces the origins of myths throughout the world and finds common elements in their origins. One finding is that the geography of myth is not that of the earth but rather
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is celestial. For anyone who is familiar with Greek mythology this is not a surprise, but we find here again that mythological language transcends cultural and geographic boundaries. The author explores myths unfamiliar and familiar. For example he discusses the Epic of Gilgamesh in "The Adventure and the Quest". In it he finds connections with myths from India to Greece and beyond linking the symbols to constellations in the sky. The chapter concludes with a reference to knowledge:

"The notion of fire, in various forms, has been one of the recurring themes of this essay. Gilgamesh, like Prometheus, is intimately associated with it. The principle of fire, and the means of producing or acquiring it are best approached through them." (p 316)

The essence of human knowledge seems bound up in these mythological origins. A difficult read, but worth persevering, Hamlet's Mill should be of interest to all who are interested in the origins of man's mind and his images of the world.
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LibraryThing member PallanDavid
First, this is not formatted very well on the Kindle. This problem made it difficult at times to read. Footnotes, etc., showed up in the middle of text. If I had the hard copy it may have been easier to follow. Also, with a hard copy I would more easily be able to flip back and forth to re-read
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and/or compare ideas that are presented.
This is not a book if you have no background on comparative myth. I have a little so I could follow on a basic level.
If I were younger (I'm 66) Id have gotten texts and papers referenced and gone much more in-depth with this reading. But I just don't want to take the time that would entail.
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LibraryThing member ritaer
A very comprehensive view of world myth with the aim of demonstrating that seemingly nonsensical tales are actually encoded with knowledge of the procession of the equinoxes and other astronomical lore. I understand why Hamlet was dragged in, though I think it is a bit of a stretch. Interesting but
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very long and lots of footnotes.
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LibraryThing member Paul_S
Fascinating and almost hypnotising in its treatment of mythology but the theory it proposes is rather meaningless. Let's say you're right and the ancients were super smart and had knowledge that was since lost. You've shown there is no way to recover it beyond knowledge we already have and can
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recognise fragments of in the myths. In my opinion all this is completely unsubstantiated, seeing patterns in toast, like bible code. Still fascinating, shame about how obtuse the writing is. Would read more.
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Original publication date


Physical description

505 p.; 8.43 inches


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