I have just finished this scholarly work and I know I will have to re-read it because, not being scholarly myself, some of the concepts and wording went way over my head. However, `reading up' definitely educates the mind and the parts of the book that I have been able to integrate make for fascinating knowledge about the world around us. The late I. P. Couliano is thorough in the grounding of this subject matter. He lays out the history of the practice of using early psychology to influence the masses. He talks about how the early Roman Catholic church used icons and pictures to fill the minds of the masses and so control the imagination. Advertising still uses the same techniques today. Ioan Couliano delves into all sorts of occulted practices and shows us who were some of the early practitioners of these techniques. At the heart of the subject is the race to control man's desires. There is plenty of scope to let the philosophers amongst the readership really fly with ideas. In the early chapters he talks about the spirit, the soul and the pneuma. These words and terms are quite confusing because what do any of them mean? I understand that the pneuma is the soul which is simply the breath. Spirit is the mind; this conflicts with Couliano's references. I am still struggling with trying to be fully cognisant of the concept of Art of Memory. I found that Couliano did not explain this clearly enough - or perhaps nearer the truth is that I simply do not have enough background. I do wonder if it is the technique of storing meaning within mnemonics that spell a word that appears to mean something else - a sentence within a word.
dumezil, jung, eliade, culianu. these are few of the 20th century's pundits of religion. culianu, a student and disciple of eliade, wrote a great book. besides the broad coverage inherited from his maestro, he comes with a great power of analysis, lucid reasoning and new theses. he operates surgically with both new and old concepts.
i rated this book with 9 because it is quite difficult to have more than one 10-rated book.