Item Details

“Star-Talk”: A Gateway to Mind in the Ancient World

Issue: Vol 1 No. 1 (2014)

Journal: Journal of Cognitive Historiography

Subject Areas: Ancient History Cognitive Studies Archaeology

DOI: 10.1558/jch.v1i1.90


In my book, The Religion of the Mithras Cult in the Roman Empire (2006), I postulated as the idiom of the Mysteries of Mithras the language of contemporaneous astronomy and astrology, “star-talk” for short. Star-talk, so conceived, was not only an actually existing language spoken/written by ancient astronomers and astrologers (this part of it is also a specialist discourse in Greek and Latin) but also an imagined language thought to be spoken by its own signs. For the latter, imagined dimension of star-talk (stars understood as both signs and speakers, the heavens as texted book) there is much evidence in ancient literature, which I discussed in my book and do not need to repeat here. Instead, I shall start to explore something of star-talk’s implied structure and grammar.

Author: Roger Beck

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References :

Beck, Roger. 2006. The Religion of the Mithras Cult in the Roman Empire: Mysteries of the Unconquered Sun. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lawson, E. Thomas, and Robert N. McCauley. 1990. Rethinking Religion: Connecting Cognition and Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sperber, Dan. 1975. Rethinking Symbolism. Translated by Alice D. Morton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.