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This webpage reproduces two articles in the
American Journal of Theology
Vol. 4 (1900), p152 and Vol. 5 (1901), pp124‑125.

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!

from Vol. 4, No. 1, p152:

p152 Researches into the Origin of the Primitive Constellations of the Greeks, Phoenicians, and Babylonians. By Robert Brown, Jr., F.S.A., M.R.A.S. Vol. I. London: Williams & Norgate, 1899. Pp. xvi + 361. 10s 6d.

Mr. Brown has devoted himself to this and kindred subjects for years, and in the work the first volume of which is before us the ripest fruits of his years of study will be presented. An enthusiastic student of Greek literature, deeply imbued with Semitic learning, the author has endeavored to show in his various works the Semitic influence in Greek mythology and life. His services in this field commend him to the regard of a wide circle of scholars. The book before us increases their debt to him.

Of the eight chapters of this first volume, seven are devoted to the Greek side of the subject. The Hipparcho-Ptolemy star-list is examined and its Phoenician antecedents traced; then the constellations are traced through Greek literature from Eudoxos to Homer; next the early coin types of Greece and the unnumismatic art of the Aigaion seaboard and of Asia Minor are made to bear their witness to the primitive constellations. The concluding chapter treat so Babylonian astronomy after Alexander. The astronomy of the earlier Babylonian period will fall to the second volume.

It is Mr. Brown's habit in both these works to give ancient proper names in an exact transliteration of their original spelling, from whatever language they may come. This leads at times to curious effects: thus Borsippa appears as Barsipki.

Of the Greek side of this work I am not able to speak. The chapter on Babylonian astronomy makes good use of both Greek and cuneiform sources, and gives extent promise for the rest of the work, which Semitic scholars will await with interest.

George A. Barton

Bryn Mawr College,

Bryn Mawr, Pa.

from Vol. 5, No. 1, pp124‑125:

p124 Researches into the Origin of the Primitive Constellations of the Greeks, Phoenicians, and Babylonians. By Robert Brown, Jun. F.S.A., etc. Vol. II. London: Williams & Norgate, 1900. Pp. xx + 261, with two Star-Charts. 10s 6d.

The first volume of this work was noticed in the issue of this Journal for January, 1900. The present volume completes the work. The first volume was devoted to the Greek material and the Babylonian material after Alexander; the present one treats the earlier Babylonian material. Chap. IX, the first of this volume, is devoted to the constellations in the Babylonian creation-scheme. With the aid of three fragments of planispheres from the library of Assurbanipal it is shown that this scheme contemplated thirty-six constellations arranged in three concentric circles of different diameters. After a discussion of constellation subjects in Euphratean art, chap. XI discusses the tablet of thirty stars, V. R. 46, No. 1. Here Brown takes issue with Hommel (Astr. der alt. Chal.), and makes out a good case for the view that these thirty stars were a lunar cycle representing the stations of the moon for each day in the month. The next chapter discusses p125three stellar groups of sevens, the Tiksi-Tipki, the Lu-mâsi, and the Mâsi stars. A chapter is then given to the celestial equator of Arâtos, on whose astronomical poem Mr. Brown published a book some years ago. He shows here that the Cilician poet was turning into Greek verse Babylonian material 1,800 years older than his time. A chapter is devoted to the Euphratean celestial sphere, in which, among other topics, the heavenly spheres of Anu, Bel, and Ea are described, and another sums up the technical results of the discussion by giving a list of all the Babylonian names of stars which the author has identified, together with their modern equivalents. Two chapters in conclusion are devoted to the psychological conceptions which found expression in the constellations and the manner of their formation. The work is illustrated with a number of cuts reproducing Babylonian figures.

The author's task was a difficult one, and he does not pretend to have reached in all cases absolutely sure results. His arguments are very often convincing, and many of his identifications seem most probable. The volume nevertheless produces on one a feeling of disappointment. Mr. Brown is a disciple of Professor Sayce, and an admirer both of him and Professor Hommel. His method of work is their method, and, as some of us believe, it is not a method which it is safe to follow. Nevertheless, students of ancient astronomical systems cannot ignore Brown's work.

George A. Barton

Bryn Mawr College,

Bryn Mawr, Pa.

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Page updated: 1 Jun 07