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Hellenistic Astrology

  • Dorotheus of Sidon, Carmen Astrologicum ed David Pingree (Leipzig, B.G.Teubner, 1967).
    This is a publication of an arabic text of the Carmen Astrologicum collated with the existing greek fragments, and translated by David Pingree. As part of the Teubner Library it is probably the authoritative text. Hellenistic astrology is my term for what Tester calls Byzantine astrology. I like it because it allows us to distinguish between the astrology of the classical (stoic?) period (ie C. Ptolemy) and the somewhat different astrologers of Syria, separated not so much in time, as in cultural characteristics, less "scientific", more inclined to pseudepigrapha, to "revelations", to post neoplatonic mysticism and magic, and so forth. It is important to note that Dorotheus of Sidon was an almost exact contemporary of Jesus of Nazareth in the same part of the world. Beirut is only about 147 miles from Jerusalem.

  • Ibn Ezra, Abraham The Beginning of Wisdom, eds Raphael Levy and Francisco Cantera, (Baltimore MD, The Johns Hopkins Press, 1939).
    A seminal work for Renaissance astrology. In some ways a typical example, though far from the key one, of the transmission of arabic astrological methods to medieval/renaissance europe. Ibn Ezra was Jewish, and in another department of his life, a distinguished commentator on the scriptures, who left an enduring legacy as an exegete. He lived in Spain, an example of "Moorish" transmission of arab culture to the west.

  • Maternus, Julius Firmicus Mathesis; Ancient Astrology, Theory and Practice trans. Jean Rhys Bram, (Park Ridge, Jew Jersey, Noyes Press, 1975.
    Firmucus Maternus has the distinction of being the only serious writer on astrology who was also a Father of the Church, hence his works were not destroyed. He was a Senator from the time of Constantine, and a supporter of Imperial policy. HIs writing is influenced by a high minded stoic/neoplatonic sort of point of view, and he is paraticularly concerned in his Christian writing, with matters of public policy; though this is not particularly evident in the Mathesis. He achieves almost no astrological influence in his own day, but his works directly transmit late hellenistic astrological methods to the reniassance practitioners, by-passing arab influence,( and also in another sense paving the way for them). He is the best (most complete) source for the doctrine of the Antiscia, See p. 58 and on, of the work. The Mathesis also contains a copy of the famous Thema Mundi, the horoscope of the creation. Firmicus Maternus is essentially a literary astrologer, and only a few of his charts really represent attempts to record the heavenly positions at a particular time. His horoscope of Plato for example, is clearly not authentic.

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