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The disciples of Chaldeans (1)

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05 Scientific knowledge and scholarly lore

11 Language, communication, libraries and education

11 Language, communication, libraries and education

Hellenistic Empires
Roman Empire
Hellenistic philosophers and scholars

The Chaldeans entered into close relations with the learned men who came to Asia in the train of their conquerors, and proceeded to carry their precepts throughout the land of Greece. A priest of Bel, Berossus, established himself about the year 280 BCE in the island of Cos, and there revealed to his hearers the contents of the cuneiform writing accumulated in the archives of his country, annals of the ancient kings and astrological treatises. Another Chaldean, Sudines, invited to the court of Attalus I, king of Pergamus, practiced there, about the year 238, the methods of Babylonian divination, such as inspection of the liver (hepatoskopia), and he continued to be an authority frequently quoted by the later “mathematici”. On the other hand, Greek savants of repute, Epigenes of Byzantium, Apollonius of Myndus, Artemidorus of Parium, declared themselves the disciples of these same Chaldeans, and boasted of being instructed in their priestly schools. At the same time centres of Greek science were established in the heart of Mesopotamia, and in the ancient observatories of Bel learners were initiated into the methods and discoveries of the astronomers of Alexandria or Athens. Under the Seleucids and the early Arsacids Babylon was a hellenised city, as is proved by the epigraphical discoveries which have been made there. Of this interpenetration of oriental and occidental learning we have some striking proofs. It has been shown, for example, that the Greek Brontologia and Selenodromia were literally translated from Assyrian texts.


Bezold and Boll 1911Bezold, Carl and Franz Boll. Reflexe astrologischer Keilinschriften bei griechischen Schriftstellern. Sitzungsberichte der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-historische Klasse, 1911/7. Heidelberg: Universitätsbuchhandlung 1911.
Cumont 1912, 56-57Cumont, Franz. Astrology and Religion among the Greeks and Romans. American Lectures on the History of Religions 8. New York, London: G. P. Putnam's Sons 1912.

Amar Annus

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