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.
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
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.
"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.
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.