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Introduction to Mythology


 

Giorgio de Santillana (1902-1974)

 

This phenomenon is called the Precession of the Equinoxes, and it was conceived as causing the rise and the cataclysmic fall of ages of the world. Its cause is a bad habit of the axis of our globe, which turns around in the manner of a spinning top, its tip being in the center of our small earth-ball, whence our earth axis, prolonged to the celestial North Pole, describes a circle around the North Pole of the ecliptic, the true "center" of the planetary system, the radius of this circle being of the same magnitude as the obliquity of the ecliptic with respect to the equator: 23 ˝ degrees. The time which this prolonged axis needs to circumscribe the ecliptical North Pole is roughly 26,000 years, during which period it points to one star after another: around 3000 B.C. the Pole star was alpha Draconis; at the time of the Greeks it was beta Ursae Minoris; for the time being it is alpha Ursae Minoris; in A.D. 14,000 it will be Vega. The equinoxes, the points of intersection of ecliptic and equator, swinging from the spinning axis of the earth, move with the same speed of 26,000 years along the ecliptic.

Giorgio de Santillana, Hamlet's Mill (1969), page 59

 

Giorgio de Santillana in 1968 Giorgio de Santillana in Late 60s Precession Diagram

 

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Born in Rome in 1902, he was educated at the University of Milan and the University of Rome.

 

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Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science at M. I. T. from 1954 until his death in 1976.

 

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Principal Idea:  The great myths of most of the world's major cultures provide, in coded mythological terms, an explanation of the structure of the Cosmos.

 

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This Cosmic structure, long forgotten except in "symbolique" form, was mathematical in nature and derived from many years of meticulous astronomical observation.

 

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The most important element in this structure was the so-called Platonic Year - approximately 25,772 ordinary years required for one complete precession of the equinoxes.

 

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The implication, never explicitly stated: in the distant past there existed a world-wide Ecumene that collapsed and is only vaguely remembered in the myths of the major world cultures.

 

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Principal Book: Hamlet's Mill (1969).

 


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