Ernest G. McClain was Professor Emeritus of Music, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, retired since 1982, in Washington, D.C.. Clarinetist, band director, author of three books and more than thirty related essays in various professional journals, his degrees from Oberlin, Northwestern, and Columbia are in Music Education. He chose to make these newer essays freely accessible to anyone who finds them useful, with appropriate acknowledgement. Particular attention is given to graphics essential to understanding ancient habits of thought, for mythological narrative often proves to be verbal commentary on matrix arithmetic, and many stories are best understood as straightforward musical allegory. It should be understood that the author is neither a mathematician nor a linguist, working mainly from secondary sources available in English translation as an interested observer on current developments in other disciplines. Attention is on arithmetical details not likely to be understood except by musicologists.
The interpretations offered here should be considered speculative adventures of ideas in the spirit fostered by Alfred North Whitehead in his book of that title, for they concern matters which preclude certainty about the intentions of early authors. After more than three decades of work in this area it seems plausible to propose that most of the numerology in ancient mythology, and all theology in advanced civilizations–is musically inspired and disciplined. Thus interpretation falls into the general category of Pythagorean studies for it pursues a plausible numerical logic based on the quantification of tuning theory. Foundations appear to have been laid down in the fourth millennium BC before the invention of writing, so that for five thousand years musicians have employed essentially the same fossil science. A fairly primitive arithmetic is handled with great ingenuity, ironic humor, endless word play, and considerable arithmetical elegance. Decoding is great fun when it appears convincing, and a pocket calculator takes all the labor out of ancient multiplication, so that many of these adventures become accessible to children. And because much ancient literature has never been studied carefully from a musical perspective, this adventure is just beginning.