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Astrology and Religion Among the Greeks and Romans (1912)

by Franz Cumont

Buy the book: Franz Cumont. Astrology and Religion Among the Greeks and Romans (1912)

Release Date: March, 1997

Edition: Paperback

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Buy the book: Franz Cumont. Astrology and Religion Among the Greeks and Romans (1912)


An awful reprint of a great book.

The editors of this reprint can perhaps clean the glass of their scanner, or (maybe even) retouch their scans before printing.
This is a great book, but you better buy a used copy of the original edition instead of this grimy reprint.

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Essential Reading for the Ancient History Buff

This is a great work. Unfortunately taken from a speach in1912, it might be considered by some to be old scholarship.Nevertheless, Cumont stands out as a luminary in the field of ancient history. So few scholars have since dealt with the detail and breadth of his work on these subjects. "Astrology and Religion among the Greeks and Romans" is important in that, at the beginning, it establishes the date at which Babylonian astrology can be said to have emerged. This is an important point seeing as there have been so many spurious allegations as to its exact age. According to Cumont, based on the fact that such knowledge was simply unavailable earlier, it can be demonstrated to have emerged only in the sixth century BC.

The subsequent course of the book is the study of the large influence that Babylonian astronomy has exerted on Greek and Roman religion. The subject of Near Eastern influence on ancient Greece has been receiving increasing attention, particularly the works of M.L. West, "The East Face of Helicon," Burkert's The Orientalizing Revolution" and Momigliano's Alien Wisdom", but few have explored the relationship between Greece and Babylonia to the extent that Cumont has, a relationship without which Greek culture cannot be fully understood.

An examination of these connections is critical to understanding the nature of Greek culture, and its later influence on Western thought, since it had been universally recognized by ancient authors that Greek philosophy was born, not in a vacuum, but as a result of Greek contact with the teachings of the Magi. To quote Bertrand Russell, in The History of Western Philosophy. "it was the Babylonians, or the Chaldeans, who most impressed the imagination of the Greeks." See also F.M. Cornford, From Religion to Philosophy. Another important work of Cumont's, which has unfortunately not been translated into English, as far as I know, is the "Les Mages Hellenisees" (The Hellenized Magi), which explores further the exact nature of the contact between ancient Greece and the Persian Magi. According to Cumont, the early Greek philosophers were not in contact with the orthodox Magi, but with the unorthodox Maguseans of Asia Minor, whose creeds later formed the basis of all the mysteries and occult doctrines of the Hellenistic Age...

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