In the Path of the Moon: Babylonian Celestial Divination and Its Legacyby Francesca Rochberg (Studies in Ancient Magic and Divination: Brill Academic Publishers) Celestial divination, in the form of omens from lunar, planetary, astral, and meteorological phenomena, was central to Mesopotamian cuneiform scholarship and science from the late second millennium BCE into the Hellenistic period. Beyond the boundaries of ancient Mesopotamia, the ideas, texts, and traditions of Babylonian celestial divination are traceable in Hellenistic sciences and philosophies. This collection of essays investigates features of Babylonian celestial divination with special focus on those aspects that influenced later Greco-Roman astronomy, astrology, and theories of signs. A multifaceted collection of philological, historical, and philosophical investigations, In the Path of the Moon offers Assyriologists, classicists, and historians of ancient science a wide-ranging series of studies unified around the theme of Babylonian celestial divination's legacy.
An increasing historical interest in the interaction between the ancient Near East and the western Mediterranean, both in the classical and especially the Hellenistic worlds, has taken hold in the fields of both Classics and Assyriology. The current generation of Classicists and Assyriologists has established a dialogue, but there is much more to be done. The purpose of collecting this series of interrelated essays in Babylonian celestial divination, horoscopy and astronomy, is to make available a body of work which will be useful to readers with an interest in the intellectual cultures of Near Eastern and Mediterranean antiquity. These papers have been written over a long period of time, but their consistent involvement in one way or another with the question of Babylonian celestial sciences and their legacy in the Greco-Roman world argues for bringing them together in one place.
A coherence and continuity throughout these essays is found in two ways. On a descriptive level they are all concerned to explore some of the many facets of the development and practice of the astral sciences in ancient Mesopotamia. In cuneiform texts there was no language to differentiate between what from a modern viewpoint would be called astrology and astronomy, two disciplines for investigating the heavens, one for the prediction of the phenomena themselves, the other for the prognostication of mundane events. In the western Mediterranean, the recipient of much Babylonian material in both domains of learning, the terminology was also not differentiated in a consistent way until late antiquity. Even then the use of astrologia versus astronomic is not always in accord with our modern distinction. The epistemological separation in the modern age between astronomy as legitimate knowledge produced by a certain method of inquiry (empirical, quantitative and predictive) and astrology as illegitimate belief that human and mundane concerns are reflected in the stars has no equivalent in Near Eastern antiquity. When demarcation criteria such as can be argued for modern science are carried over into antiquity, the results are anachronism and misunderstanding. The evidence for a mode of thought supposed to be unique and endemic to science alone and a culture that represents and maintains that way of thinking is not only highly problematic in any historical period, including the present one, but is also not found in the practice of science in the cultures that come within the framework established by the papers collected here, that is, either the ancient Mesopotamian or the Greco-Roman. Therefore, cuneiform sources for astronomy and astrology alike are accepted throughout these studies as evidence of an integrated and distinctive ancient intellectual culture, one that defined the goals of knowledge and of cognitive inquiry in a particular way.
The essays are presented in chronological order and, with the exception of minor changes, have not been edited to bring them up to date. Some additional bibliographical references have been added in the footnotes to the older essays which were published before certain significant volumes appeared. I feel that an occasional bibliographical anachronism is outweighed by the value of having certain publications acknowledged in appropriate places. The legacy of Babylonian celestial divination, within its own culture and history as manifested in the development of astronomy and horoscopic astrology, as well as outside of its cultural and historical boundaries, west into the Western Mediterranean and further to Western Europe and east beyond the Zagros to Iran and India is a field of vast proportions. It is hoped that the papers collected in this volume cast a few spots of light on some parts of that rich and varied field.
The Phoenicians, Chaldeans, and Orchinians' have familiarity with Leo and the sun, so that they are simpler, kindly, addicted to astrology ... Ptolemy, Tetr. 2.3
Written evidence of the activity of cuneiform scribes involved in the celestial sciences of astronomy and astrology together span nearly two millennia of ancient Mesopotamian cultural history. The focus on celestial phenomena over the course of this history gave rise to the development and use of astronomical concepts and methods of predicting the phenomena, as well as eventually of a consistent and accurate calendar that served the astronomers until the end of the cuneiform tradition in the first century C.E. The Babylonian celestial sciences, astronomy, as we would call it, celestial divination and, later, horoscopy would remain interconnected and even interdependent. Celestial phenomena were objects of inquiry on several levels, as ominous signs of the future, as the focus of regular empirical observation, and as the goal of mathematical prediction. This feature of cuneiform scribal culture exerted a profound influence upon neighboring as well as farther flung regions, crossing the geographical and historical boundaries of ancient Mesopotamia. The process was already begun during the second millennium B.C.E. with the spread of celestial divination. Later, astronomical parameters, methods, and the idea of genethlialogy, or birth astrology, entered the ambit of Hellenistic culture. The legacy of Babylonian traditions concerning the moon, planets and stars in the Greco-Roman world after the second century B.C.E. is not per se the focus of each paper collected here, but throughout, an explicit or implicit awareness of the importance of transmission establishes a broader historical and cultural context for the ancient Mesopotamian celestial sciences.
Scholarly interest in the legacy of Babylonian celestial divination and astronomy is almost as old as our knowledge of the sources themselves. Already in the early 20th century, C. Bezold and F. Boll explored then recently edited cuneiform astrological texts for parallels in Hellenistic Greek. David Pingree expanded the investigation of the transmission of ancient Near Eastern astral sciences to include astrological and omen literature not only in Greek and Latin, but in Aramaic, Hebrew, Syriac, Arabic, Persian, Demotic, and Sanskrit as well.' He further defined the historical dimension of this transmission, focusing on the texts and their parallels within distinct periods, especially the Neo-Assyrian, Persian and Hellenistic periods, and traced such parallels through complex manuscript histories well into the Greek Byzantine and Arabic Middle Ages.
The survival of scientific traditions beyond the local social contexts that first produced them, and their transmission across diverse cultures, for example from ancient Greece to India (as in the case of mathematical astronomy) or ancient Mesopotamia to the Medieval West (as in the case of astrology), once seemed to argue for the propensity of science to universality, to transcend both culture and history. Even such long lived traditions as Western astronomy and astrology experienced adaptation through reception adaptation which is itself determined by local social and conceptual differences. Transmission and borrowing did not produce a homogeneous scientific tradition, but rather an even greater diversity in the use of astronomical and astrological knowledge during the Greco-Roman period.
Knowledge of the ancient Near Eastern cultural ancestry and scientific lineage of European astronomical science remained extremely limited until the rediscovery and decipherment of cuneiform astronomical texts in the 19th century. With the archaeological recovery of the architectural, artifactual and inscriptional remains of the ancient states of Babylonia and Assyria, cuneiform texts opened a major and previously unaccounted for new chapter in the history of Western astronomy and astrology, revealing and clarifying what was from Greco-Roman antiquity to the Renaissance already embedded in the Western astronomical tradition, and until the Middle Ages and later in Indian astronomy as well.
Whereas some pre-modern European heirs of Mesopotamian science were well aware of their astronomical and astrological inheritance, cognizance of specifically Babylonian as opposed to what was thought of as other "Oriental" sources was limited and often inaccurate. Priority in the astronomical sciences had been attributed to both Egypt and Babylonia in a vague sort of way by Greeks of the Hellenistic period and this tradition persisted into late antiquity, as, for example, with Firmicus Maternus, who, in 336 C.E., introduced his Mathesis by explaining to his patron, Mavortius, that "that was the point at which I dared to make the rash, impromptu offer to write out for you what the Egyptian sages and Babylonian priests, who are so knowledgeable about the force of the stars, have handed down to us in their teaching about astrology."' The traces of this association are even to be seen in European classicists of the Renaissance, such as Scaliger, where in his edition of the 1st century Astronomica of Manilius, he said, "Eudoxus was the first to bring astronomy from the Egyptians to his Greek fellow-countrymen."' Though a number of Babylonian elements, such as the division of the circle into the 360 units we call degrees, the convention of measuring time as well as arc in the sexagesimal system, the zodiac, and a number of parameters such as the length of the mean lunar (synodic) month (29;31,50,8,20d), were embedded in Greek astronomy from the beginning of the Greek's adoption of Babylonian quantitative methods in the 2nd century B.C.E., the specific Babylonian sources of these elements remained unknown until the late nineteenth- and early twentieth century decipherment and elucidation of late Babylonian astronomical cuneiform tablets from the Hellenistic Babylonian cities of Babylon and Uruk.
The Hellenistic transmission of Babylonian celestial sciences (astronomy and astrology in our terms) is historiographically complex. It refers both to the Hellenistic period account, how Greco-Roman writers saw their astronomical heritage from the East, and the modern revision, based on cuneiform texts. The modern account itself has two distinct aspects, which have emerged sequentially. First, the recovery and exposition of cuneiform astronomical texts allowed modern scholars to gauge ancient Greek and Roman claims about the history of astronomy against original sources. Second, the reconstruction of a broad intellectual context consisting of the ancient Mesopotamian celestial sciences and even astral theology (for lack of a better term) and their Greek and Latin counterparts, showed that a rich medium existed within which astronomical knowledge and methodologies had meaning and use throughout the entire Mediterranean and Near Eastern region. As J. Evans and L. Berggren said in the preface to their edition of the Hellenistic treatise on astronomy, the Isagoge of Geminus, astronomy had "vital links to nearly every other aspect of the culture," that it "had links to ancient religion, for the planets were widely held to be divine, and the celestial phenomena commanded the attention of the poets, who from the time of Hesiod had sung of the celestial signs and of the revolving year."'
The questions of why this transmission and how it occurred are difficult and it is not just because our sources do not address them directly. How the Greeks came in contact with Babylonian celestial sciences likely had to do with their contact generally with Near Eastern peoples, texts, and culture in the period following the fall of Persia, including their discovery of the Jews, who, as vividly discussed by A. Momigliano,(Alien Wisdom: The Limits of Hellenization) were sometimes lumped with other priestly wise men from farther East. The work of J.C. VanderKam, Enoch and the Growth of an Apocalyptic Tradition (Washington, D.C.: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1984), pp. 83-106.) H.S. Kvanvig, Roots of Apocalyptic: The Mesopotamian Background of the Enoch Figure and the Son of Man (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1988), pp. 17-242.11and more recently M. Albani, Astronomie and Schöpfungsglaube: Untersuchungen zum astronomischen Henochbuch (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1994). U. Glessmer, "Horizontal Measuring in the Babylonian Astronomical Compendium mul.apin and in the Astronomical Book of 1 Enoch," Henoch 18 (1996), pp. 259-282.'2; J. Ben-Dov and W. Horowitz, ''The 364-Day Year in Mesopotamia and Qumran," Meghillot 1 (2003), pp. 3-24 (in Hebrew), and "The Babylonian Lunar Three in Calendrical Scrolls from Qumran," ZA 95 (2005), pp. 104-120 has cogently demonstrated influence from early Mesopotamian astronomical tradition, and even some later, e.g., the Lunar Three of the non-mathematical astronomical texts of the period after the 7th century B.C.E., upon Jewish apocalyptic literature.
The Aramaic astronomical material from Qumran is known from Cave 4. And the astronomical and calendrical Enoch, the Astronomical Book, is preserved in the Ethiopic Enoch, I Enoch ch. 72-82. See O. Neugebauer, Ethiopic Astronomy and Computus (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1979), and Maxwell" Davidson, Angels at Qumran: A Comparitive Study of 1 Enoch 1-36, 72-108 and Sectarian Writings from Qumran (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1992).
In an overview of the scholarship on the calendrical texts of Qumran and the Pseudepigrapha, J. Ben-Dov and S. Saulnier remarked that "it is now acknowledged that the divinatory-scientific literature from Qumran—which is somewhat later than the calendrical texts can be fruitfully studied in light of scientific texts from Mesopotamia and the Hellenistic world."J. Ben-Dov and Stéphane Saulnier, "Qumran Calendars: A Survey of Scholarship 1980-2007," Currents in Biblical Research 7 (2008), pp. 124-168. Cf. M. Popovic, Reading the Human Body: Physiognomies and Astrology in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Hellenistic-Early Roman Period Judaism (Leiden: Brill, 2007). While the question of the legacy of cuneiform astronomical and astrological culture on Qumranic and Enochic astronomy seems clear, the physiognomic-astrological compendium 4QZodiacal Physiognomy and the related text 4QZodiacal Physiognomy ar, according to Popovié, appears less directly reflective of Mesopotamian astrological and physiognomic texts and more at home in a Greek Hellenistic context.
Elements of Babylonian astronomy discernible in Enochic and Qumranic traditions and the fuller picture of an intellectual cultural bridgehead from Mesopotamia to the Hellenistic Jewish world are part of the medium, just mentioned, for the transmission of astronomical, calendrical, and divinatory or astrological knowledge and methodologies within the region of the Near East and Eastern Mediterranean and with which the Greeks came in contact.
The ancient evidence that Greek intellectuals came to learn about Near Eastern scientific traditions is extensive, albeit vague and often misleading, for example, in contexts concerning their cognizance of Babylonian (and Egyptian) celestial observation. Aristotle said the Egyptians and Babylonians "made observations from a very great number of years" and had provided "many reliable data for belief about each of the planets."' In his Bibliotheca Historica, Diodorus of Sicily in the 1st century B.C. assigned a value to this "great number of years,"" saying "as to the number of years which, according to their statements, the order of the Chaldeans has spent on the study of the bodies of the universe, a man can scarcely believe them; for they reckon that, down to Alexander's crossing over into Asia, it has been four hundred and seventy-three thousand years since they began in early times to make their observations of the stars."' Roughly a century later, Pliny, in his Natural History, invoked Epigenes as an authority on the antiquity of Babylonian astronomical observations, saying they went back 720,000 years." He (Pliny) also claimed that Critodemus, a name associated with Greek horoscopes of the 1st and 2nd centuries of our era, had direct access to Babylonian sources. In Bk 7 of the Natural History he mistakenly placed him in the 3rd cent. B.C.E. on the assumption that he was a student of Berossus, the Hellenistic writer of the History of Babylonia, who was associated with astrology and with a school on the Island of Cos. Pliny's claim was that Critodemus agreed with Berossus that Babylonian astronomical observations went back 490,000 years. It is not the inaccuracy of the figures that needs comment. They are, as Momigliano put it, "impossible data with which the historian of antiquity has to learn to live." But to Greeks, whose astronomical inquiry before contact with Babylonian science was not equipped with an empirical foundation of lunar and planetary observations, the idea of keeping many centuries of records of nightly observation of the skies was new and important. B.R. Goldstein and A.C. Bowen have shown that before Hipparchus' time (2nd century B.C.E.) reports of dated Greek observations are severely limited and they concluded that the introduction of empirical data to Greek astronomy was a phenomenon of the 3rd century and not before." This fits within the more general picture of the exposure of Greeks to Near Eastern learning as a result of the aftermath of their political entry into the region.
The exaggerated Greco-Roman attributions of ancient scientific knowledge to Babylonians came to the attention of the 16th century historian and classicist Joseph Scaliger, whose historical reach extended beyond Greece and Rome to the ancient Near East. In his edition, Anthony Grafton describes Scaliger's finding an account of the Greek acquisition of Babylonian science in a 6th century commentary of Simplicius on Aristotle's De caelo. From Simplicius Scaliger constructed a story of Aristotle's requesting records of astronomical observations from his son-in-law, Callisthenes, who had allegedly accompained Alexander on his campaign to Asia and was supposedly present at Gaugamela. Simplicius's story included the report that Porphyry claimed Babylonian astronomical observations were preserved for 31,000 years. As Grafton points out, by the time Scaliger dealt with the passage, it was already corrupt, because the fragment of the NeoPlatonist Porphyry from which Simplicius derived his story had been mistranslated back into Greek from a 13th century Latin translation of Moerbeke. Grafton explains, "Porphyry clearly described Callisthenes as looking for and finding astronomical information. This is only reasonable: Simplicius quoted the fragment, after all, in a discussion of the history and character of Greek astronomy. Scaliger, however, paid no attention to the literal sense or larger context of the words ... and thus manufactured a description of Babylonian historical records in a text that never referred to them." After centuries of this kind of second hand and third hand reconstruction and attribution, one can well understand why the discovery of contemporary cuneiform astronomical texts was of critical importance for the history of astronomy.
Strabo, the Greek geographer, who flourished from the mid-first century B.C.E. to some time in the first century C.E., mentions several Babylonian mathematikoi by name: Sudines, Kidenas and Naburianus. For the authenticity of Sudines, alleged to have been in the court of King Attalus I (Attalos Soter) of Pergamon, no cuneiform evidence is extant." Evidence that a Sudines wrote on the properties of stones comes from Pliny's Natural History, where he claims that this Sudines knew of the provenance of onyx," rock-crystal" and amber" and commented on the color of pearls" and "astroite" or the "star stone." Further mention of Sudines is found in the Natural History as a "Chaldean astrologer."" Consistent with this designation is a papyrus fragment written in the 3rd century C.E., purportedly summarizing a commentary on the Timaeus by the Stoic Posidonius from the 2nd or 1st century B.C.E. Here the influences of the five planets, sun and moon are enumerated in terms of Aristotelian qualities (warm, moist, dry) and further indications are given for the planets Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and Venus as the "destroyers" of men and women, young and old. The planet Venus as the destroyer of women is given "according to Sudines." Ca. 160 C.E., the astrologer Vettius Valens lists parameters for the length of the year according to Greek and Babylonian astronomy." There Sudines is associated with a year length of 365+ 1/4 + 1/3 + 1/5 days, which makes no astronomical sense. Valens adds that he used Sudines (and Kidenas and Apollonius) to compute lunar eclipses and that he normed the equinoxes and solstices at 8° of their signs." Aries 8° is in fact a legitimate Babylonian norming point for the vernal equinox in a zodiac in which degrees are not counted from the vernal point, but from sidereally fixed zodiacal signs beginning with Aries ("The Hired Man" in the Babylonian zodiac). The norm 8° Aries as the vernal point underlies many Hellenistic astrological texts and continued in use throughout late antiquity.
The name Kidin(nu) appears in the colophons of two cuneiform ephemeris tables, where they are designated as "tersetu of Kidin(nu)."" The term tersetu refers to the tables of dates and positions of the moon and planets computed by linear arithmetic methods characteristic of late Babylonian astronomy. Each of these computed tables mentioning Kidinnu concerns new and full moons for the years mentioned, in one case for 104-102 B.C.E. Valens said he used "Hipparchus for the sun, Sudines and Kidinnu and Apollonius for the moon,"36 though he makes no specifications about the methods associated with these names. Kidenas is also mentioned by Pliny when he gives values for the maximum elongations of the inner planets from the sun." He says his authorities for these values are Timaeus for Venus (46°) and Kidenas and Sosigenes for Mercury (22°), but what such attributions really mean is impossible to determine.
The third Babylonian named by Strabo, Naburianus, has been interpreted as the Greek version of the Babylonian name Nabû-rimannu that appears in broken context in the colophon of an astronomical tablet from Babylon." The colophon designates this tablet too as a tersetu or "computed table," and like the tables of Kidinnu is a table of dates and positions of new and full moons, though later in date, for the years 49-48 B.C.E., putting it among the youngest of extant cuneiform lunar ephemerides.
The contents of such tables were known to Greek astronomers by at least the first century B.C.E. and by the first century of our era were in use as evidenced by Greek papyri from Oxyrhynchus in Roman Egypt. Greek awareness of the Babylonian inheritance is indicated in one of the 2nd century Oxyrhynchus papyri concerning lunar periods (No. 4139), which not only contains the earliest reference in a Greek text to a lunar parameter of the Babylonian System A lunar theory (6695 anomalistic months in the period relation for lunar anomaly), but also mentions the (Orchenoi) "people of Uruk," the same (Orchenoi) identified by Strabo as Chaldean astronomers in Geog. 16.1.6." Uruk is indeed one of the two principal Mesopotamian cities from which archives of mathematical cuneiform texts have come. The Orchenioi, i.e., the people of Orchoe named by Ptolemy in the Tetrabiblos Bk. 2.3 concerning the astrological effects on peoples of various regions, is certainly the same demonym referred to by Strabo, and which has the equivalent Urukayu in cuneiform texts.
One of the more reliable references to Babylonian astronomy comes in chapter 18 of Geminus' Introduction to the Phenomena, where he discusses lunisolar period relations. This work has been variously dated, but Evans and Berggren convincingly argue for a date between 90 and 35 B.C.E., contemporary, therefore, with Diodorus. In chapter 18.9 Geminus says "the mean [daily] motion of the Moon has been found by the Chaldeans to be 13;10,35°." And although he does not identify the other lunar parameters mentioned in this chapter as such, they too are parameters of a typically Babylonian zigzag function for the progress of the moon in degrees per day (= column F of System B lunar theory in 0. Neugebauer's terminology). In this same chapter Geminus discusses a lunar cycle used in the prediction of eclipses called the exeligmos, or "revolution." The period governs the return of the occurrence of eclipses to a particular time. Geminus' value (669 synodic months = 717 anomalistic months = 19,756 days) for the period is consistent with Babylonian period relations and his entire discussion of the exeligmos is in line with Babylonian lunar theory.
Other Greco-Roman authors, from the first century B.C.E. to the 3rd century of our era make mention of the Chaldeans: Vitruvius (1st century B.C.E.) in connection with Berossus, Theon of Smyrna (1st-2nd century C.E.) in connection with "saving the phenomena," Ptolemy (2nd century C.E.) in connection with the calendar, and Sextus Empiricus (2nd or 3rd century C.E.) in connection with astrology. Without the ballast provided by cuneiform texts we would have no means of judging these associations and very little idea of the place of Babylonian astronomy in its own or any other intellectual culture. As suggested before, it is through a broader account of the context for thinking about the heavens, on both sides of the Mediterranean, that we can understand some of the reasons why Babylonian technical astronomy became of critical importance in Hellenistic Greek science.
Babylonian celestial science's continuing influence on Greek, Indian, Arabic, Jewish, Byzantine, and mediaeval European astronomy, astrology, and celestial divinatory traditions, made it one of the more long-lasting elements of Mesopotamian civilization. After the Parthians established rule over Babylon in 250 B.C.E. the cuneiform scribes carried on with their astronomical activities in that city until nearly the end of the 1st century of our era, as we know directly from dated astronomical cuneiform tablets from 75 C.E. Testimony to the existence of Babylonian astronomers at this time also comes from the Elder Pliny (23-79 C.E.), who claims to have seen these astronomers in Babylon in the "Temple of Jupiter-Bel" and how the city had crumbled in ruins around it.' Much later, Pausanias in the 2nd century of our era also reported on the existence of the temple of Bel in the midst of a deserted city." The connection between astronomy and the late Babylonian temple is a function of a number of factors, such as the apparent discontinuance of the use of astrology and astronomy by the reigning monarchs of the region after the fall of Assyria at least there is no good evidence that later royal courts did continue the practice resulting in a gradual shift of workplace for cuneiform scribes specializing in this knowledge to the preserves of ancient Mesopotamian learning and culture that were the temple of Marduk in Babylon and the Anu temple at Uruk.
As just discussed from the evidence of Geminus' Introduction and the Oxyrhynchus papyri, detailed astronomical knowledge, i.e., units, parameters, and methods were transmitted from Babylonian to Greek astronomy by at least the first century B.C.E. The astronomical units and calculations that developed within the framework of the Babylonian sexagesimal number notation system were fundamental to all later astronomical science in the West. The convention of the 360° circle, along with the use of sexagesimal notation, is attested in Greek astronomy by the mid 2nd century B.C.E., and associated with Hipparchus and Hypsicles (ca. 200 B.C.E.)," and can be considered to be the point from which Greek astronomical science took on a quantitative dimension. The cubit (KUS = ammatu), with its subdivision the finger or digit (S' U.SI = ubanu), was another common unit of distance in Mesopotamia, having an astronomical application. Distances in the heavens between, e.g., fixed stars and the meridian, or between planets and ecliptical stars were measured in cubits, and eclipse magnitudes were measured in fingers. The cubit is used in two of the earliest observations recorded in the Almagest, from years 245 and 237 B.C.E." Ptolemy cites Babylonian eclipse reports, giving time of eclipse begin, statement of totality, time of mid-eclipse, direction and magnitude of greatest obscuration in digits, in the manner of cuneiform eclipse reports.' Ptolemy also refers to historical observations of distances in cubits from Mercury to certain ecliptical stars at dawn and distances of Saturn in digits from ecliptical stars in the evening.49 These are important data not only for testifying to the influence of Babylonian metrology well into the late Greco-Roman period, but also to Greek awareness of the Babylonian archive of astronomical observations now termed astronomical diaries and a number of other related observational and predictive texts. Outside of Greek astronomy, the Babylonian cubit was also used by Strabo in his Geography.
One of the fundamental tools of Greek astronomy, and also astrology, was the zodiac. The dating of the Greek reception of the Babylonian zodiac was certainly sometime in the Hellenistic period. The treatises of Autolycus and Euclid (ca. 300 B.C.E.) already assume the ecliptic and the zodiac, though a reference in Pliny's Natural History claims that a certain "Cleostratus" was responsible for introducing the concept to the Greeks around 500 B.C.E." Firm evidence of a 360° zodiac in Greece, however, comes only in the 2nd century B.C.E. with Hypsicles and Hipparchus. In addition to the fundamental elements of astronomy such as the zodiac and the 360° circle, numerical parameters in the form of period relations were also transmitted from Babylonia to the Greek astronomers, as attested in Geminus' Introduction, such as the so-called "Metonic cycle," the luni-solar cycle (19 years = 235 months) and the Saros (and exeligmos), the cycle that brings the return of eclipses of similar nature. There are so-called "Saros Cycle Texts" dating to the Achaemenid period which tabulate the months of eclipse possibilities arranged in cycles of 223 months or roughly 18 years. Ptolemy refers to the existence of an earlier estimate of the 18-year eclipse period known as the Saros, giving the value in days as 6585 1/3 days, whereas the Babylonian formulation did not give the length of the period in days.
F.X. Kugler was the first to recognize that underlying the eclipse period attributed by Ptolemy to Hipparchus (126007d) is the Babylonian value for the mean synodic month of System B (29;31,50,8,20d).' He also identified the reduction of Hipparchus' relation to 251 synodic months = 269 anomalistic months as the relation at the basis of the columns in the system B lunar ephemeris dealing with lunar velocity (column F, giving lunar velocity in degrees) and the variation in the length of the lunar month (column G, giving a first approximation of the variable length of the synodic month assuming constant solar velocity of 30° per month). Hipparchus' use of these lunar parameters as well as the period relation for the moon's motion in latitude (5458 synodic months = 5923 draconitic months) further imply Greek knowledge of the Babylonian relation 1 year = 12;22,8 synodic months.
Because of the preponderance of precise and legitimate Babylonian parameters associated by Ptolemy with Hipparchus, he (Hipparchus) has been credited by G. Toomer for introducing these Babylonian parameters into Greek astronomy." In so doing he (Hipparchus) would be responsible for uniting the empirical and the theoretical to establish a quantitative basis for kinematic models of the moon and planets, which until that time had been purely qualitative and without predictive power. The native Greek astronomical tradition was characteristically kinematic as it was based on philosophical dispositions about the spherical perfection, eternity, and beauty of the cosmos. It was, as a result, deeply connected to astral theological conceptions of the divinity of the heavenly bodies (from Plato onward, the stars were viewed as ensoulled) and even (with Stoic philosophy) the idea of the cosmos itself as divine. The adoption of quantitative methods from Babylonia changed the nature of Greek kinematics, giving it a predictive dimension, but, as the late antique astronomical papyri from
Oxyrhynchus have shown, and as a direct result of the Hellenistic transmission from Babylonia, Greek astronomy came to consist not only of kinematics but also of a non-geometrical but mathematical and predictive astronomy that was essentially Babylonian in content.
Astrology and the importance of the zodiac for Babylonian and later astronomy have already been mentioned. Indeed, astronomical methods, units, and parameters all had a place within an astrological context. The use of astronomy, as a body of knowledge and a method, was as much as matter of astrological prognostication in ancient Mesopotamia as it was later in the Greco-Roman period. Babylonian astrology, that is birth astrology or the construction of horoscopes, had roots in celestial divination. As known from the Neo-Assyrian period (7th century B.C.E.), celestial divination was a highly developed scholarly practice of reading omens in celestial phenomena and interpreting their significance for the general welfare of king and state. A compendium of celestial omens, entitled Enuma Anu Enlil, was used as a reference by the Neo-Assyrian scribe-scholars of the royal court, who were in close communication with the kings Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal about what the stars indicated in matters of "national security." But sometime in the fifth century, celestial divination turned its attention to the individual and a new sort of heavenly prognostication was developed in the form of genethlialogy. During the period from ca. 500 to ca. 300 B.C.E., genethlialogical astrology became dependent upon computational astronomy because the goal was to determine the situation of the heavens at the moment of a birth." This required the calculation of the positions of all seven planets (sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn). A fine control of the periodicities of the planets was the key to the preparation of a horoscope and this is precisely the basis and structure of Babylonian astronomical texts.
The modern study of late Babylonian astrology and the assessment of its cultural legacy has lagged behind that of astronomy. The seeds of Western astrology have already been identified in cuneiform omens and horoscopes, beginning with the very idea of prognostication by heavenly phenomena and including more concrete borrowings such as planetary aspect (especially the trine aspect that relates three planetary bodies found in zodiacal signs 1200 apart), dodekatemoria, hypsomata, and the association of planets and parts of the body in the style of the melothesia, as we have in the scholia to an omen: "if a man's kidney hurts him, (the disease comes from the god) Nergal, as they say: 'the kidney-star is Mars.' "58 Further specific influences remain a subject of potential investigation on the basis of late Babylonian horoscopic omens. Greek astrology, however, developed a system of stellar influences within a cosmological framework which was a clear departure from Babylonian celestial divination and horoscopy.
The horoscopus, or rising point of the ecliptic at the moment of birth, as it is known from Greek horoscopy has thus far not appeared in cuneiform so-called "horoscopes." Nor was the conceptual basis for the horoscopus, i.e., the sphere and the continuously moving great circle of the ecliptic, at home in Babylonian astronomy. The physical theory by which Ptolemy explained stellar influence in terms of the power of the aether that is "dispersed through and permeates the whole region about the earth"" is equally absent from Mesopotamia. In the Babylonian magical corpus, physical influence from the stars has been suggested by Erica Reiner," but stellar irradiation of substances does not find its way into celestial divination, nor is it the same as the Greek physical theory of astrological influence as the physical substance of the aether is absent from Babylonian physics. Indeed, celestial divination in ancient Mesopotamia seems to have functioned without benefit of a physical theory, its causality being tied to the agency and manifestation of divine will, and not the action of celestial matter upon the mundane. But by the 2nd century B.C.E., the period when Babylonian astronomy made significant inroads into the Hellenistic world, various threads of cuneiform astrological traditions, including omens, horoscopes, astral magic and zodialogical medicine were woven into astrological systems beyond Mesopotamia. Of course it is well to repeat here that the two domains, astronomy and astrology, while differing in their goals, methods and content, were not differentiated along the same lines we draw in our modern classification of sciences. Nor were they well into the Middle Ages.
Even further behind the study of Babylonian astronomy than astrology is that of the religious dimension in Babylonian celestial sciences. Of course to define a "religious dimension" is problematic because it introduces categorical distinctions that are not part of Babylonian discourse. Nonetheless, in our terms, the "religious" aspect of celestial divination and astrology (and even astronomy) would have to do with the role of the divine in the conception of these disciplines by those who practiced them. This gets to the root of the Mesopotamian scribal notion of knowledge, which is what unites divination, horoscopy, and astronomy in the learned cuneiform tradition. And this way of identifying the elements of knowledge, i.e., systematized, even to some extent codified, knowledge, was connected with the gods from whom it was claimed such scholarly knowledge was derived in the days before the Flood. Much research remains to be done to further penetrate the legacy of Babylonian astral theology in Greek and Greco-Roman cultures.
Clearly, throughout the Hellenistic period there was a widespread if not ubiquitous general association of heaven with the divine across the ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean cultural arena. Bk 10 of Plato's Laws already expressed the belief that heavenly bodies are propelled by a soul whose nature is wise, true and good and that this is the divine in nature which affects all things, including humankind." Aristotle also said "there is a very ancient tradition in the form of a myth, that the stars are gods and that the divine embraces the whole of nature."" As far as the stars being gods, such an idea is abundantly attested to in cuneiform texts, though the expression of the divine embracing "nature" would be a difficult one in ancient Mesopotamia where "nature" had no separate status as such. Certainly the gods, or their effects on the physical visible world, were thought to be observable in celestial phenomena, as the many omens listed in Enuma Anu Enlil attest.
Cicero in the 1st century B.C.E. said that "contemplating the heavenly bodies the mind arrives at a knowledge of the gods," and that from this knowledge, "arises piety, with its comrades justice and the rest of the virtues, the sources of a life of happiness that vies with and resembles the divine existence and leaves us inferior to the celestial beings in nothing else save immortality, which is immaterial for happiness."" Why the contemplation of the heavenly bodies was thought to confer the virtues of piety and happiness is much later explained by Ptolemy in the introductory section of the Almagest. There he places the celestial bodies with the eternal and unchanging, hence divine, part of the universe, and claims that "from the constancy, order, symmetry and calm which are associated with the divine, it makes its followers lovers of this divine beauty, accustoming them and reforming their natures, as it were, to a similar spiritual state."
Hellenistic intellectual and religious culture with its multiplicity of ideas about the cosmos, especially the heavenly regions, its luminaries, and their relation to the divine, produced a climate in which it made sense for the celestial sciences of ancient Mespotamia to penetrate the linguistic and cultural boundaries of Hellenism. The legacy of Babylonian celestial divination includes the internal developments within cuneiform scribal culture of astronomy and horoscopic astrology as well as a complex set of surrounding ideas ranging from the divine nature of the heavenly bodies to the idea that a reciprocity between heaven and earth manifested in celestial signs, to models for calculating the appearances of celestial bodies. Traces of each of these ideas, albeit adapted to suit different world-views, other philosophical aims, and changing scientific methods, continued in later ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean cultures within various currents of astronomical, astrological, or astral theological thought.
Francesca Rochberg, Ph.D. University of Chicago, is Catherine and William Magistretti Distinguished Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She has published widely on Babylonian divination and science, including Babylonian Horoscopes (American Philosophical Society, 1998)
The Heavenly Writing: Divination, Horoscopy, and Astronomy in
Mesopotamian Culture by Francesca Rochberg (Cambridge University Press,
2004). Celestial phenomena in ancient Mesopotamia was observed and interpreted as signs from the gods as well as physical phenomena. Relating the various ways the heavens were contemplated and understood, this study traces the emergence of personal astrology from the tradition of celestial divination and how astronomical methodology developed for horoscopes. Its importance lies in its treatment of Babylonian celestial sciences (celestial divination, horoscopy, and astronomy) as subjects relevant to the history of science and culture.
The subject matter of this book consists of the various ways the heaven were studied and understood in ancient Mesopotamia, namely, celestial phenomena observed and interpreted as signs from the gods as well as observed and studies as physical phenomena in their own right. It discusses the emergence of personal astrology from the tradition of celestial divination and the way astronomical methods were employed for horoscopes. Its importance lies in its treatment of Babylonian celestial sciences as a whole (celestial divination, horoscopy, and astronomy) as a subject for the history of science and culture.
Babylonian Horoscopes by Francesca Rochberg (American Philosophical Society, 1998) Interpretations of heavenly phenomena as signs of the future was a Mesopotamian tradition of great antiquity. The practice of Babylonian celestial divination, spanning a period from ca. 1800 B.C. to Hellenistic times, is known in the form of celestial omens portending the life of the king and the stability of the state. Emerging for the first time in the fifth century B.C., horoscopes reflect the application of the ideal and practice of celestial divination to the life of the individual. This is the first complete edition of the extant cuneiform horoscopes--with transcription and philological and astronomical commentary. It is the first study to offer a systematic description of the documents as a definable class of Babylonian astronomical/astrological texts.
Horoscopes and Public Spheres: Essays on the History of Astrology Edited by Günther Oestmann, / H. Darrel Rutkin, / Kocku von Stuckrad (Walter de Gruyter) examines the specific role of horoscopic astrology in Western culture from antiquity to the nineteenth century. Focusing on the public appearance of astrological rhetoric, the essays break new ground for a better understanding of the function of horoscopes in public discourse. The volume's three parts address the use of imperial horoscopes in late antiquity, the transformation of doctrines and rhetorics in Islamic medieval contexts, and the important status of astrology in early modern Europe. The combination of in-depth historical studies and methodological considerations results in an important contribution to religious and cultural studies.
"A savoir, qu'on ne perd pas son temps en recherchant a quoi d'autres ont perdu le leur"—with these words Auguste Bouché-Leclercq (1842-1924) justified his pioneering monograph on the history of Greek astrology (Bouché-Leclercq 1899, ix). For a classical scholar of his time, astrological sources were obviously somewhat offensive. In the nineteenth century only a very few scholars called for an unprejudiced assessment, such as the mathematician and historian of science, Siegmund Gunther (1848-1923). He argued for thorough research into the history of astrology and astronomy as part of a general cultural history already in 1876 (Gunther 1876a, 124 and 128; 1876b, 306). Astrology, left behind by modern astronomy and astrophysics, was generally looked upon condescendingly as a curious aberration of the human mind undeserving of serious consideration. But only a short time later, at the beginning of the twentieth century, there was notable progress. Aby Warburg's (1866-1929) legendary 1912 lecture on the fresco cycle in the Palazzo Schifanoia and the pictorial tradition of its astrological motifs was a milestone (Warburg 1998ff.; see Bertozzi 1985). With his study Heidnisch-antike Weissagung in Wort and Bild zu Luthers Zeiten (1920, see Warburg 1999), Aby Warburg broke new ground for a serious assessment of the role of astrological iconography in the Renaissance, which he interpreted as a conscious revival of ancient paganism. Subsequently other Warburg scholars, notably Ernst Cassirer and Eugenio Garin, paved the way for a fuller understanding of astrology in Renaissance culture (Cassirer 1964 ; Garin 1983 ).
Ancient astrology saw similar progress. Franz Cumont (1868-1947) and Franz Boll (1867-1923) systematically edited the corpus of Greek astrological texts (Corpus codicum astrologorum Graecorum) during the first half of the twentieth century (Cumont et al. 1898-1953). A classical philologist, Boll devoted his research activities almost exclusively to the history of astrology. The same is true for Wilhelm Gundel and his son, Hans Georg (see particularly Gundel and Gundel 1966). And for the history of science, Lynn Thorndike (1882-1965) laid new textual and bibliographic foundations with his encyclopedic History of Magic and Experimental Science (1923-1958), which surveyed no less than seventeen centuries. Thorndike unearthed a great wealth of original sources—mainly in manuscripts—that were hitherto neglected or completely unknown. Nevertheless, historians of science (including Thorndike) often had trouble accurately interpreting and assessing astrological evidence, which, in 1951, George Sarton (1884-1956) universally dismissed as "superstitious flotsam of the Near East." This remark provoked Otto Neugebauer's (1889-1990) famous reply, "The Study of Wretched Subjects," in which he emphasized the importance of astrological concepts for Hellenistic and Arabic astronomy, and the fact that astrological sources provided crucial evidence for reconstructing (inter alia) the transmission of ancient astronomy to India (Neugebauer 1951).
We should no longer need excuses or apologies. The history of astrology as an important element of western science and culture has received much scholarly attention in recent decades, some of the highest quality. Nevertheless, scholars writing on astrology today still encounter numerous problems and prejudices. The reasons are manifold, but two elements stand out as particularly important from an analytical point of view: problems of ontology (concerning astrology's ontological status) and strategies of `othering.' As far as ontological issues are concerned, historians of astrology are asked time and again, "do you believe in these things?," a question with which historians of alchemy, mathematics, or Christianity are not usually confronted. Although the personal opinions of historians of astrology are not unimportant—as they might influence historical interpretations—the ontological status of the planets and their presumed influence and meaning, as well as whether astrology actually 'works,' are not directly addressed in historiographical research.' Historically meaningful and interesting are questions such as: Why and how have people used astrological methods and assumptions to interpret the past, present, and future? How and why do normative views about astrology change over time?
On a deeper level of analysis, the question of astrology's ontological status reveals a strategy of cothering' and a discourse of inclusion and exclusion that has had significant impact on the academic study of astrology. While astronomy and astrology had both been part of the canon of legitimate bodies of knowledge (artes liberales) for centuries, epistemological and disciplinary transformations (reconfigurations) associated with the eighteenth-and nineteenth-century Enlightenment encouraged a dismissive attitude that distinguished legitimate from illegitimate knowledge in different ways than they had previously been distinguished, framing the debate polemically in terms of (e.g.) 'science' vs. 'pseudo-science' and 'rationality' vs. 'superstition.' These terms, which became instruments of analysis in subsequent academic disciplines, reflect the socio-professional identities and conceptual perspectives of 'modern' people who view themselves as progressive, rational, and enlightened, against which the 'other' was constructed as a necessary counterpart. In the wake of the 'cultural turn' in the humanities, however, scholars have turned their critical attentions toward analyzing and articulating the strategies of distancing that underlie these processes of identity formation. For example, Charles Zika argues that, with the help of such scholarly models of interpretation, Europe exorcised her demons to the margins of power, subsequently endeavoring to ensure their distance: "We exorcise them [the demons] to the geographical, cultural and chronological margins—to the underdeveloped, the poor, the disadvantaged, the colonized; to the primitive, the savage, the uncivilised; to the medieval imaginary of magic and mysticism and dark age barbarism" (Zika 2003, 4). Martin Pott analyzes the construction of 'superstition' with reference to the Enlightenment movement that was at the same time a "battle community" (Kampfgemeinschaft).
When approached from contemporary critical perspectives, the impact of these processes becomes visible: the discourses of inclusion and exclusion that fostered identities of 'modernity' and 'science' during the last two centuries have contributed to distorting the scholarly understanding of astrology and other 'wretched subjects' (see also von Stuckrad 2000, 55-68). In a discourse of power, not only the themes but the scholars engaged with them have been marginalized and 'distanced,' tinged, as it were, with their subject's lunacy. The production of scholarly historical knowledge is by no means an innocent or neutral endeavor.3 Consequently, every serious academic study of astrology has to include in its historical analysis an element of reflection that is aware of the precarious—often polemical—status of its instruments of analysis. Instead of fixating on underlying ontological commitments in favor of or against astrological truth claims, discourse analysis addresses the negotiation of identities that these competing statements reflect.
2. The Status of Astrology in European Culture
The discourses of inclusion and exclusion that accompany processes of modern identity formation have also affected the way scholars describe the status of astrology in western cultural history. Besides labels such as 'pseudo-science' or 'superstition,' astrology has often been called an 'occult science.' This term seems to have originated in the sixteenth century (Secret 1988, 7), along with notions of occulta philosophia. 'Occult,' in this context, refers to hidden or secret powers that inform a substantial part of the disciplines lumped together under the rubric 'occult sciences'—notably astrology, alchemy, and (natural) magic.5 Twentieth-century scholars turned this rubric from an emic (an "insider's") into an etic (an "outsider's") category, indicating a 'unity' of these various disciplines. While Keith Thomas (1971, 631f.) believed that astrology formed the basis of the occult sciences—and that consequently the 'decline' of astrology would inevitably lead to the decline of magic and alchemy—Brian Vickers (1988, 286) encouraged this tendency by arguing that all 'occult sciences' share a common "mentality" that is clearly distinguished from a rational 'scientific' mentality (see also Vickers 1984).
Such a distinction is problematic for several reasons. First, although these disciplines overlap in varied and complex ways, all of them have distinct histories with quite different and complex, multiply branching and mutually interacting trajectories. "Even during the heyday of Renaissance neoplatonism, astrology and alchemy lived independent lives, despite the vast inkwells devoted to the rhetorical embellishment of occult philosophy" (Newman and Grafton 2001, 26; see the whole passage pp. 18-27). Second, there are other disciplines and practices that had direct and longstanding links to astrology, notably, mathematics, philosophy (natural and moral), medicine, historiography, theology, and politics. Configuring astrology with the other so-called 'occult sciences' as a first interpretive move (consciously or unconsciously) tends strongly to distort our understanding of its relationship with these other (and to many scholars more legitimate) areas of knowledge. Third, the analytical notion of 'hidden powers' continues to remain important within the 'legitimate sciences' from the 'scientific revolution' to the present. One could even argue that contemporary science, from quantum mechanics to string theory, is still trying to understand invisible powers that are difficult or impossible to apprehend and/or demonstrate directly.6
As Wouter J. Hanegraaff notes:
[Tin a context that insisted on science as a public and demonstrable rather than secret and mysterious knowledge, the very notion of "science" came to be seen as incompatible ex principio with anything called "occult". As a result, any usage of the term "occult science(s)" henceforth implied a conscious and intentional polemic against mainstream or establishment science. Such polemics are typical of occultism in all its forms. (Hanegraaff 2005, 887)
Hence, relating astrology closely to magic or other 'occult sciences' is a quite modern configuration, reflecting again a discourse of identity formation through strategies of distancing. Against this, some scholars have recently pointed out that astrology is more accurately configured with mathematics, natural philosophy, and medicine (Rutkin 2002; see also Monica Azzolini's contribution to the present volume), and that 'esoteric discourse' transgresses the boundaries between science, theology, and other cultural systems of knowledge (von Stuckrad 2004, 100-159).
3. Horoscopes and Public Spheres
Despite these difficulties, the scholarly study of the history of astrology has taken enormous strides during the last century. Scholars have become increasingly aware that "[t]rying to understand the society and culture of early modern Europe without taking astrology into account is exactly as plausible as trying to understand modern society without examining the influence of economics and psychoanalysis" (Newman and Grafton 2001, 14). A similar case can be made for the ancient, medieval, and modern eras. Perhaps surprisingly, however, the particular role of horoscopes in public and private discourse has only rarely been explicitly addressed by historians.? The present volume intends to cast new light on this issue, combining historical case studies and methodological reflections. Although every author of this volume shares the opinion that astrology is a significant feature of western cultural history, the fourteen chapters reflect a variety of approaches and perspectives, ranging from in-depth philological analysis to cultural criticism. Indeed, the editors themselves represent three different but complementary approaches. We believe that a multidisciplinary approach is more beneficial than problematic, however, revealing as it does both the richness of the topics addressed and the range of roles astrology played in western culture. In this light, some preliminary remarks will be useful to help orient the reader.
As the title Horoscopes and Public Spheres indicates, this volume approaches astrology as a key element of public discourse. Such an approach is not as self-evident as it might seem. It responds to recent developments in the academic study of religion that abandon older concepts of 'religion' as 'belief and 'inner states of mind' in favor of 'religion' as a communicational, public, and processual positioning (see Kippenberg and von Stuckrad 2003). With regard to astrology in general, and horoscopes in particular, this leads to new questions: Although the analysis of concrete astrological sources in precise historical contexts remains fundamental, these analyses are carried out not only for their own sake, but also to gain accurate access to the functions and roles astrology played in a given cultural context. The communicative aspect of horoscopes, their public presentation, and the discourses of identity that attach to them are given greater emphasis.
On a theoretical level, the general topic "Horoscopes and Public Spheres" has at least four different and overlapping dimensions: Horoscopes as historical sources addresses the question of how the study of nativities can enrich historical research. Horoscopes can be regarded as a highly specialized genre of historical narrative that needs to be applied by historians in different ways than other source material (see Oestmann 2004, 16-29). How can horoscopes be scrutinized in order to understand and reconstruct historical events? In addition, the importance of horoscopes for the history of mathematics, medicine, and other modes of natural knowledge is at issue here. Moreover, horoscopes as astronomical sources refers (inter alia) to the astronomical parameters which underlie nativities. Any astrological interpretation relies on astronomical data, from which certain techniques for predicting (e.g.) the development of the native and future events have been derived. How are these parameters deduced and interpreted, and how are they employed in specific astrological techniques and calculations? Horoscopes as rhetorical devices considers the role of horoscopes in political and public discourse. Publishing imperial nativities and publically debating the horoscopes of religious leaders were two ways representatives of social elites used horoscopes to claim superiority over political and religious opponents. Likewise, annual prognostications published in almanacs were often used on both sides of political power struggles (see, e.g., Curry 1989). Finally, horoscopes and biographical narrative is closely related to the other approaches but stresses the role of horoscopes for constructing coherent and meaningful individual biog- raphies. From the fifteenth through the twentieth century, nativities have been used as powerful means for biographical (and medical) emplotrment and identity formation.
The present volume aims to explore the role of horoscopes in historical research and to apply these considerations to concrete case studies in different cultural contexts. The contributions cover a broad period of time—from classical antiquity through the nineteenth century. Part I engages astrology's eminence in Roman antiquity. Nativities of high-ranking individuals—particularly the emperor—played a crucial role in political and religious discourses. In their respective contributions, W. Milner, J.-H. Abry, and St. Heilen focus on the rhetorics involved in interpreting imperial nativities. At the same time, they demonstrate how important astrological sources can be for gaining new insights into significant episodes in ancient history. N. Campion then casts an interesting (perhaps controversial) light on Babylonian astrology's influence on Christianity's quarrel with paganism. Taking the coronation horoscopes of the rebel pagan emperors Basiliscus and Leontius as his point of departure, Campion argues for a surviving tradition of Babylonian astrological practice, linked to astral religion, that flourished within a Neoplatonic philosophical context in the fifth century CE.
In part II, four chapters address the influence of astrological interpretive techniques in medieval Islamic and Jewish discourses. While D. Pingree outlines the importance of Masha'allah as a link connecting eastern and western astrological traditions, E. Orthmann and A. Caiozzo break new ground for understanding the dynamics of astrological argumentation in medieval Muslim public spheres, as well as the cosmological visions that astrology inspired and enhanced. J. Rodriguez-Arribas then demonstrates that important Jewish authors of the Middle Ages interpreted biblical chronology in terms of mundane astrology, thus indicating that biblical narrative and scientific exploration were seen as mutually informative and complementary means of constructing a coherent Jewish identity.
Part III investigates various aspects of horoscopic astrology in early modern Europe. Focusing on Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, and Francis Bacon, H. D. Rutkin provides an integrated portrait of various uses horoscopes had in Renaissance culture, indicating both technical aspects and socio-political contexts. M. Azzolini explores the strong bonds between astrology and medicine in the Renaissance and, in particular, the political dimensions of courtly medical practice. St. vanden Broecke analyzes the place of evidence and conjecture in Girolamo Cardano's horoscope collection, and thus offers a fresh approach to practical and social aspects of early modem astrological interpretation. Both he and Azzolini insightfully discuss the medical theory of critical days. K. von Stuckrad also takes Cardano as his point of departure, but now examines literary and rhetorical functions of horoscope interpretation in autobiographical narrative from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries. Finally, G. Oestmann describes J. W. A. Pfaff s remarkable career in German Romanticism and the changing attitudes toward astrology in nineteenth-century scholarly debate.
The volume concludes with P. Curry's theoretical reflections on the historiography of astrology. Even if some of his positions—particularly the claim that experiencing "the truth of astrology in action" is a precondition of good historiography—will perhaps provoke controversy, Curry's considerations remind us once again of the many complex discursive problems that challenge and inspire the academic study of astrology.
Star Lore: Myths, Legends, and Facts by William Tyler Olcott (Dover Books on Astronomy: Dover Publications) unabridged republication of Star Lore of All Ages published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1911. New introduction by Fred Schaaf. 58 black-and-white illustrations. 56 unnumbered plates. Generations of readers, stargazers, and fireside dreamers have delighted in this guide to the myths and legends surrounding the stars and constellations. Originally published in 1911, William Tyler Olcott's beloved classic offers captivating retellings of ancient celestial lore from around the world.
Star Lore recounts the origins and histories of star groups as well as the stories of individual constellations: Pegasus, the winged horse; Ursa Major, the Greater Bear; the seven daughters of Atlas known as the Pleiades; the hunter Orion, accompanied by his faithful dogs, Canis Major and Canis Minor; the signs of the Zodiac; and minor constellations such as the ship Argo, the Giraffe, and the Unicorn.
Fifty-eight black-and-white images include photographs of the actual stars as well as scenes from their related myths portrayed by Michelangelo, Rubens, Veronese, and other artists. This edition features a new introduction by astronomer Fred Schaaf, in addition to an extensive appendix and index.
Matrix of Creation: Sacred Geometry in the Realm of the Planets by Richard Heath (Inner Traditions International) Reveals the ancient mathematical principles refuting the notion of the solar system as an accidental creation.
Humanity's understanding of number was deeper and richer when the concept of creation was rooted in direct experience. But modern sensibility favors knowledge based exclusively on physical laws. We have forgotten what our ancestors once knew: that numbers and their properties create the forms of the world. Ancient units of measurement held within them the secrets of cosmic proportion and alignment that are hidden by the arbitrary decimal units of modern mathematical thinking.
Sacred numbers arose from ancient man's observations of the heavens. Just as base ten numbers relate to the fingers and toes in terms of counting, each celestial period divides into the others like fingers revealing the base numbers of planetary creation. This ancient system made the art of counting a sacramental art, its units being given spiritual meanings beyond just measurement. The imperial yard, for example, retains a direct relationship to the Equator, the length of a day and a year, and the angular values of Earth, Moon, and Jupiter.
The ancients encoded their secret knowledge of the skies within mythology, music, monuments, and units of sacred measurement. They understood that the ripeness of the natural world is the perfection of ratio and realized that the planetary environment--and time itself--was a creation of number.
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