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By Francesca Rochberg
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Extra resources for In the Path of the Moon: Babylonian Celestial Divination and Its Legacy (Ancient Magic and Divination, 6)
C. 19 He (Pliny) also claimed that Critodemus, a name associated with Greek horoscopes of the 1st and 2nd centuries of our era, had direct access to Babylonian sources. In Bk 7 of the Natural History he mistakenly placed him in the 3rd cent. E. on the assumption that he was a student of Berossus, the Hellenistic writer of the History of Babylonia, who was associated with astrology and with a school on the Island of Cos. 20 It is not the inaccuracy of the figures that needs comment. They are, as Momigliano put it, “impossible data with which the historian of Aristotle, De caelo 291b34–292a9.
Nonetheless, in our terms, the “religious” aspect of celestial divination and astrology (and even astronomy) would have to do with the role of the divine in the conception of these disciplines by those who practiced them. This gets to the root of the Mesopotamian scribal notion of knowledge, which is what unites divination, horoscopy, and astronomy in the learned cuneiform tradition. , systematized, even to some extent codified, knowledge, was connected with the gods from whom it was claimed such scholarly knowledge was derived in the days before the Flood.
Mat) ili, see CAD sub šīmtu. , to decide the nature of things. Possession of the tablet by the rightful holder conveys order in the world, while its unlawful possession, such as in the epic poem Bin šar dadme, symbolizes complete cosmic catastrophe, evoked in the text by description of the gods’ apoplectic shock following Anzû’s act of thievery. The illegitimate seizure of the insignia of power throws the universe into a chaos which is only set to rights by means of a “Chaoskampf” and the victory of the hero god, Ningirsu/Ninurta in this case.
In the Path of the Moon: Babylonian Celestial Divination and Its Legacy (Ancient Magic and Divination, 6) by Francesca Rochberg