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Customer Review

on 29 May 1999
I have to admit that I am an avid fan of Michael Baigent, and would purchase any book of his, even if it were on gardening. This book is a highly readable, lucid venture into the history of this ancient land, its customs, religion, astrology, government, etc.
It is sad, indeed, as Mr. Baigent writes, that the possibility of new discoveries in Harran are sadly impossible today, and may remain so for decades to come because governmental strictures and religious bias keep the light of knowledge dimmed.
Because of his chapter "From Babylon to Botticelli", I have become quite interested in George Gemistos, aka "Plethon", of whom I had not learned about in other books I have on Marcilio Ficino. I am now pursuing that further, thanks to Mr. Baigent.
I have one question: on page 202, regarding the Corpus Hermeticum, there seems to be a discrepancy whether it was just the Poimandre that Ficino was able to translate for Cosimo, or the whole collection. Some authors write as if the entire work was translated, while others write that it was specifically the Poimandre. Mr. Baigent is not clear on this.
The chapter dealing with Sumerian astrology demonstrates the similarities between their observations of the sky as a portent of possibilities, and the Egyptian knowledge of precession of the stars. Does this mean that the Sumerians also had knowledge of precession?
From the Omens of Babylon makes it clear that ancient knowledge is extremely important if we are to understand ourselves, and how we have been influenced by that history - not just in a mundane sense. It raises questions of how knowledge could have been disseminated. Did the ancient Sabians feel it was important to finally write their oral knowledge, and was that knowledge taken to Constantinople just before it fell into the hands of the Turks, and thence taken to Europe, influencing the Gnostics there? I find it interesting that the Corpus Hermiticum was delivered into Cosimo d' Medici's hands at the advent of the printing press.
Even though Isaac Casaubon (in1614) criticized the Gnostic writings' of the Hermetica as dating from the post Christian era, the knowledge contained therein is obviously far older; a point Casaubon seems to have missed. And that knowledge has its roots in ancient Babylon.
I have since purchased a new English translation of the Hermetica, and I think other readers of From the Omens of Babylon will be compelled to read further. Thank you, Michael Baigent.
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