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

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  299 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Ever since the Greeks coined the language we commonly use for scientific description, mythology & 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 & what they did are but ciphers for celestial activity, a language for the ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published December 1st 2014 by Nonpareil Book from David R. Godine Publisher (first published 1969)
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Hamlet by William ShakespeareOphelia by Lisa M. KleinRosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom StoppardThe Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David WroblewskiMr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies by William Shakespeare
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 955)
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Jeremy
Utterly brilliant, groundbreaking, necessary book, which overturns many flawed and biased assumptions about the "primitive" past. The mere 450 pages are so densely packed that it took me almost three stinkin' weeks to read, but it was worth every frustrating minute.

The fundamental narrative structures of popular stories are clearly derivative and based not on a convergence of psychological archetypes but rather on older forms which have been widely diffused throughout seemingly-unrelated ancien
...more
Clay
I read this book long ago, and just as with Calazzo's "The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony", it made a lot more sense when I read it the second time. (Thus inspired, I will soon try Robert Graves' "The White Goddess" again.)

There is really no way to summarize this book, as Giorgio de Santillana wants to tease out how preliterate human beings viewed the universe. One of his basic assumptions (which is hard to argue with) is that a human being from 20,000 years ago had the potential to be just as i
...more
David Montaigne
This is a dense analysis of ancient mythology in which the authors explain that most myth is not about the adventures of historical human characters but of astronomical bodies. There are similar stories and themes in myths around the world, not necessarily because there was an Atlantis providing a cultural heritage for everyone on earth, but because everyone observes the same skies. The sun always appears to make the same annual journey through the background stars, and ancient cultures were als ...more
James
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 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 explore ...more
Phred Padgett
Jul 26, 2008 Phred Padgett rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Patrick
Recommended to Phred by: Many references to it in other works.
This is my favorite book of all time. An essay on worldwide myth and legend. He is an MIT professor; 2/3 of the essay is his, the last 1/3 is the appendix by Hertha von Dechend, Hamburg U. I used two bookmarks and always read her remarks. Simply boggles the mind that ancient stories could be so similar while so geographically distant from one another. The "Mill" of the title represents the earth's wobble, which takes nearly 26,000 years to complete, and the ancients knew this. How could they? Th ...more
John Henry
Oct 08, 2008 John Henry rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: ANYONE
This book is essential for anyone wishing to learn about the links between mythology, zodiac, precessional cycles, and transmission and creation of knowlegde in pre-industrial and ancicent civilizations. An absolute classic and opus magnus of the archaeo-astrology and mythology genres.
Jönathan
I would give this book six stars if that were possible.
Christy
Fascinating, if somewhat dizzyingly presented and unsystematic. The project is to show that mythic ideas about cyclical time, world ages, their characteristics and dominant players, were actually based in close observation of the heavens and the complex apparent movements of planets and constellations, and particularly the precession of the equinoxes. Since the whole universe was thought to be ruled by the same living, volitional forces, it was by no means a simple “primitive” or childlike fanta ...more
Anne Hamilton
Six stars at times. One star at others.

Brilliant but so discursive. Full of shining gems of thought, encrusted with all but impenetrable allusions. Without a knowledge background in half a dozen different mythologies, there are many sections here so difficult to understand. There are paragraphs with references to five different myths (for example, American Indian, Finnish, Hindu, Greek and Egyptian) and, although I have a passing acquaintance with some, I was often lost.

It's like walking in on a
...more
the Skrauss
It's all connected! In more ways than one. Myth continues to open its vastness to me, yet withholds its secrets. Why are all myths all over the world so similar? Because they contain astronomical and mathematical knowledge and are the vehicles used to transmit this knowledge to the future.

Brilliant thesis. It raises the question, why do we stop looking? Why stop there? Where ever "there" happens to be, it is not the final answer and ceasing investigation stifles human growth. Yet here we are be
...more
Gavin White
This is one you have to work at. The second time I read it I started to understand the thesis and the mode of argument. It presents an important thesis - that ancient cultures encoded the skies in their mythologies.
The book is dense, has endless digressions, and doesn't quite prove its case. However it presents enough of the picture to show that the heavens and their architecture are fundamental aspects of traditional lore. In this it provides a valuable alternative to the ideas of Carl Jung an
...more
Rochelle
I was probably too young when my dad recommended this book to me as a "must-read." Slogged through diligently only to feel deflated and relieved that it had come to an end. Although, who knows, it may have altered my brain, and thus explain my current obsession with Joseph Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces, and other such books. I am wary of recommending it to others.
Frank
The subject matter was very dry reading until I started seeing the linkages,. The basic idea is that our pre-history is recorded in the myths and legends passed down to present day, and further that all cultures are passing down the same historical information.
It is fascinating book if you are interested in the material and an impossible read for those who are not.
Robert Snow
Giorgio de Santillana a Professor at MIT looks at mythology, astronomy, precession of the axis and of the Zodiacal stages of precession. Now... take all this and maybe the ancient myths have been misconstrued. I found it interesting but somewhat dry and laborious. This is along the notions of Joseph Campbell's works.
George Mills
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 offer any answers.
Jeff
I only understood about a quarter of this book, but I found it fascinating and remarkable.
Manda
Jan 07, 2015 Manda marked it as to-read
Shelves: books-on-my-desk
I might have done some trick-sy things to obtain a personal copy of this book. Yet, every time i sit down to read it i can't focus. I guess its cursed =/ I promise i will get through it eventually. For now, i wait.
David R.  Godine
"A book wonderful to read and startling to contemplate. If this theory is correct, both the history of science and the reinterpretation of myths have been enriched immensely."
Washington Post Book World
Mary
An intense overview of the common origins of science and myth. One example being the European myth of Hamlets (Ahmlodhi's) Mill and the scientific concept of the precession of the equinoxes. A facinating read.
Paola
Allora, io ci ho provato, non una ma diverse volte, risultato:
non ci capisco un tubo.
Forse, chissà, se schivo la demenza fisiologica o l'Alzheimer eventuale fra qualche anno ci riprovo.
Peggy
difficult to rate this book.. The subject matter is well researched and fascinating, but all the references and footnotes made it difficult at best
J
The inspiration for Fingerprints of the Gods.
Difficult read. I skimmed it while reading F of the G's.
Trevor Luke
A thesis that is ultimately dubious, but a fascinating read.
Sally
Fascinating account of the relation of mythology to astronomy.
Dave
Sep 21, 2008 Dave rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Dave by: Geary
Full of ideas I have not encountered anywhere else.
Nathan Miller
This one took me about two years to read.
Arefin
Mar 26, 2008 Arefin added it
A study of human imagination beyond the science
Julie
Just started this book..... more later
Dusty Hope
Jul 25, 2009 Dusty Hope is currently reading it
am rereading. immense.
Wm
Great book, neat thesis.
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