Ancient roman astrologers




The Greeks are Introduced to Astrology

He must have the astrological books of Hermes, which are four in number, always in his mouth. Greek overtook cuneiform script as the international language of intellectual communication and part of this process was the transmission of astrology from cuneiform to Greek. With this, what historican Nicholas Campion calls, "the innovative energy" in astrology moved west to the Hellenistic world of Greece and Egypt. By the 1st century BC two varieties of astrology were in existence, one that required the reading of horoscopes in order to establish precise details about the past, present and future; the other being theurgic literally meaning 'god-work' , which emphasised the soul's ascent to the stars.

While they were not mutually exclusive, the former sought information about the life, while the latter was concerned with personal transformation, where astrology served as a form of dialogue with the Divine. As with much else, Greek influence played a crucial role in the transmission of astrological theory to Rome. The first definite reference to astrology comes from the work of the orator Cato , who in BC composed a treatise warning farm overseers against consulting with Chaldeans.

One of the first astrologers to bring Hermetic astrology to Rome was Thrasyllus , who, in the first century CE, acted as the astrologer for the emperor Tiberius. While doing so, he coined the term "geography". Even though some use of astrology by the emperors appears to have happened, there was also a prohibition on astrology to a certain extent as well. In the 1st century CE, Publius Rufus Anteius was accused of the crime of funding the banished astrologer Pammenes, and requesting his own horoscope and that of then emperor Nero. For this crime, Nero forced Anteius to commit suicide.

At this time, astrology was likely to result in charges of magic and treason. Astrology was taken up enthusiastically by Islamic scholars following the collapse of Alexandria to the Arabs in the 7th century, and the founding of the Abbasid empire in the 8th century.

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Timeline of Ancient Astrologers - The Hellenistic Astrology Website

Zael , whose texts were directly influential upon later European astrologers such as Guido Bonatti in the 13th century, and William Lilly in the 17th century. Amongst the important names of Arabic astrologers, one of the most influential was Albumasur , whose work Introductorium in Astronomiam later became a popular treatise in medieval Europe.

The Arabs greatly increased the knowledge of astronomy, and many of the star names that are commonly known today, such as Aldebaran , Altair , Betelgeuse , Rigel and Vega retain the legacy of their language. They also developed the list of Hellenistic lots to the extent that they became historically known as Arabic parts , for which reason it is often wrongly claimed that the Arabic astrologers invented their use, whereas they are clearly known to have been an important feature of Hellenistic astrology.

During the advance of Islamic science some of the practices of astrology were refuted on theological grounds by astronomers such as Al-Farabi Alpharabius , Ibn al-Haytham Alhazen and Avicenna. Their criticisms argued that the methods of astrologers were conjectural rather than empirical , and conflicted with orthodox religious views of Islamic scholars through the suggestion that the Will of God can be precisely known and predicted in advance.

Avicenna considered that the movement of the planets influenced life on earth in a deterministic way, but argued against the capability of determining the exact influence of the stars. By the 13th century astrology had become a part of everyday medical practice in Europe.

Category:Ancient Roman astrologers

Doctors combined Galenic medicine inherited from the Greek physiologist Galen - AD with studies of the stars. By the end of the s, physicians across Europe were required by law to calculate the position of the Moon before carrying out complicated medical procedures, such as surgery or bleeding. Influential works of the 13th century include those of the British monk Johannes de Sacrobosco c. His astrological text-book Liber Astronomiae 'Book of Astronomy' , written around , was reputed to be "the most important astrological work produced in Latin in the 13th century".

In medieval Europe , a university education was divided into seven distinct areas, each represented by a particular planet and known as the seven liberal arts. Dante attributed these arts to the planets. Medieval writers used astrological symbolism in their literary themes. For example, Dante's Divine Comedy builds varied references to planetary associations within his described architecture of Hell , Purgatory and Paradise , such as the seven layers of Purgatory's mountain purging the seven cardinal sins that correspond to astrology's seven classical planets.

Chaucer's astrological passages are particularly frequent and knowledge of astrological basics is often assumed through his work. He knew enough of his period's astrology and astronomy to write a Treatise on the Astrolabe for his son. He pinpoints the early spring season of the Canterbury Tales in the opening verses of the prologue by noting that the Sun "hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne". One of the earliest English astrologers to leave details of his practice was Richard Trewythian b. His notebook demonstrates that he had a wide range of clients, from all walks of life, and indicates that engagement with astrology in 15th-century England was not confined to those within learned, theological or political circles.

During the Renaissance, court astrologers would complement their use of horoscopes with astronomical observations and discoveries. Many individuals now credited with having overturned the old astrological order, such as Tycho Brahe , Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler , were themselves practicing astrologers. At the end of the Renaissance the confidence placed in astrology diminished, with the breakdown of Aristotelian Physics and rejection of the distinction between the celestial and sublunar realms , which had historically acted as the foundation of astrological theory.

Keith Thomas writes that although heliocentrism is consistent with astrology theory, 16th and 17th century astronomical advances meant that "the world could no longer be envisaged as a compact inter-locking organism; it was now a mechanism of infinite dimensions, from which the hierarchical subordination of earth to heaven had irrefutably disappeared".

By the 18th century the intellectual investment which had previously maintained astrology's standing was largely abandoned. Astrology in seventeenth century England was not a science. It was not a Religion. It was not magic. Nor was it astronomy, mathematics, puritanism, neo Platism, psychology, meteorology, alchemy or witchcraft. It used some of these as tools; it held tenets in common with others; and some people were adept at several of these skills.

But in the final analysis it was only itself: a unique divinatory and prognostic art embodying centuries of accreted methodology and tradition. The only work of this class to have survived is the Vedanga Jyotisha , which contains rules for tracking the motions of the sun and the moon in the context of a five-year intercalation cycle. The date of this work is uncertain, as its late style of language and composition, consistent with the last centuries BC, albeit pre- Mauryan , conflicts with some internal evidence of a much earlier date in the 2nd millennium BC.

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The documented history of Jyotish in the subsequent newer sense of modern horoscopic astrology is associated with the interaction of Indian and Hellenistic cultures in the Indo-Greek period. The oldest surviving treatises, such as the Yavanajataka or the Brihat-Samhita , date to the early centuries AD. Indian astronomy and astrology developed together. The earliest treatise on jyotish, the Bhrigu Samhita , dates from the Vedic era. The sage Bhrigu is one of the Saptarshi, the seven sages who assisted in the creation of the universe. Written on pages of tree bark, the Samhita Compilation is said to contain five million horoscopes comprising all who have lived in the past or will live in the future.

The first named authors writing treatises on astronomy are from the 5th century AD, the date when the classical period of Indian astronomy can be said to begin. Chinese system is based on astronomy and calendars and its significant development is tied to that of astronomy , which came to flourish during the Han Dynasty 2nd century BC to 2nd century AD. Astrology was traditionally regarded highly in China, and Confucius is said to have treated astrology with respect saying: "Heaven sends down its good or evil symbols and wise men act accordingly".

Oracles bones have been found dating from that period with the date according to the year cycle inscribed on them, along with the name of the diviner and the topic being divined about. One of the most famous astrologers in China was Tsou Yen who lived in around BC, and who wrote: "When some new dynasty is going to arise, heaven exhibits auspicious signs for the people".

The calendars of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica are based upon a system which had been in common use throughout the region, dating back to at least the 6th century BC. The earliest calendars were employed by peoples such as the Zapotecs and Olmecs , and later by such peoples as the Maya , Mixtec and Aztecs. Although the Mesoamerican calendar did not originate with the Maya, their subsequent extensions and refinements to it were the most sophisticated. Along with those of the Aztecs, the Maya calendars are the best-documented and most completely understood.

The distinctive Mayan calendar used two main systems, one plotting the solar year of days, which governed the planting of crops and other domestic matters; the other called the Tzolkin of days, which governed ritual use. Each was linked to an elaborate astrological system to cover every facet of life. On the fifth day after the birth of a boy, the Mayan astrologer-priests would cast his horoscope to see what his profession was to be: soldier, priest, civil servant or sacrificial victim. Venus was seen as a generally inauspicious and baleful influence, and Mayan rulers often planned the beginning of warfare to coincide with when Venus rose.

There is evidence that the Maya also tracked the movements of Mercury, Mars and Jupiter, and possessed a zodiac of some kind. The Mayan name for the constellation Scorpio was also 'scorpion', while the name of the constellation Gemini was 'peccary'. There is some evidence for other constellations being named after various beasts. The Aztec calendar shares the same basic structure as the Mayan calendar, with two main cycles of days and days. The day calendar was called Tonalpohualli and was used primarily for divinatory purposes. Like the Mayan calendar, these two cycles formed a year 'century', sometimes called the Calendar Round.

Cambridge University Press. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Main article: Hellenistic astrology.


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Balkh , Khurasan. Further information: Astrology in medieval Islam. Further information: Renaissance magic.


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  • Main articles: Indian astronomy and Hindu astrology. Main article: Chinese astrology. Main articles: Maya calendar and Aztec calendar. The cosmic perspective 4th ed. Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union. Bruno Meissner, Leipzig, , v. Also quoted in A. Paris, Journal of the American Oriental Society. These first civilisations were more concerned with using stars for divination than with natal astrology, which had not then been established. His library also contained the first known star catalogue, the Mul Apin, dating from c.

    Traces of the Enuma Anu Enlil have also been recovered in Eastern Turkey, dating back to before BCE, indicating that astrology had already begun to spread beyond Mesopotamia. The Assyrian King Nabonassar purportedly began keeping detailed astronomical records around BCE; although this is not a concrete assertion, some form of record keeping did begin during this period. Between the 7 and 5 Centuries th th BCE, the first important step was taken with the subdividing of the path of the Sun into twelve separate sections, each indicated by a constellation, which would later become the Zodiac.

    Around BCE the Greeks also began to study astronomy. Pythagoras is believed to have spent time studying in Greece, between and BCE, where it is likely that scholars followed his example. After the Persians invaded Babylon c. A History of Astrology Part I: Origins to the Romans Mesopotamian lands in BCE, heralding an astrological revelation, as both Greek and Mesopotamian cultures merged resulting in the birth of contemporary astrology. Astrology developed rapidly following this period, with little evidence of exact details however certain dates can be identified that give an idea of its progress.

    The Zodiac

    Natal astrology grew in popularity but the use of an Ascendant and the houses were still quite rare. The first known ephemeris dates back to c. The last known cuneiform horoscope to be written dates from 68 BCE and there is evidence to suggest that the Greeks were also casting horoscopes from around this time.

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    The first such horoscope dates from 61 BCE, which was actually an event chart for Antiochus I, a Mesopotamian Greek ruler who had the chart carved into a cliff on Nimrud Dagh. And finally, the first known natal chart to use an Ascendant dates from 4 BCE, around the same time as the birth of Jesus Christ. Probably the earliest references to astronomy and astrology are from the works of the poet Hesiod, c.

    Thales, the founder of Greek astronomy BCE , was most famous for predicting an eclipse, probably around BCE, which apparently signalled the end of a war between the Medes and Lydians in Turkey. More importantly he founded the Ionian school where many great philosophers studied. Thales began looking for natural th causes of celestial phenomenon rather than just accepting mythology as an explanation. Around BCE the human race benefited greatly from such prominent figures as Confucius of China, Lao Tzu of India and Zoroaster of Persia, each bringing their own unique wisdom and philosophies to the world.

    In Palestine, Ezekiel established the systems of thought that still dominate major world religions today. Pythagoras - BCE , undoubtedly one of the greatest thinkers of all time, has continued to influence the minds of many for centuries and is still famous for his Pythagoras Theorem today. He successfully combined science and religion and even formed his own order, the Pythagoreans. He also contributed a significant theory on how the Universe could be explained by numbers and their relationships, e.

    From this comes the concept of polarity and balance found in the Feminine or Receptive Zodiac Signs versus the Masculine or Active, which also has similarities to the Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang. This was an important turning point in the thinking behind the reasoning of astrology because it raised questions about whether the planets caused events to happen themselves or simply acted as mediums for the will of a Divine greater intelligence.

    The next notable character in Greek history concerning astrology was perhaps Empedolces, c. The Zodiac Signs were divided under these elements, with three attributed to each. Hippocrates, c. Hippocrates believed that the patient should be treated and not the disease, a concept which is once again growing in popularity with Holistic therapies. Plato c. His own work and followers have always been fervent supporters of astrology, although they continued to believe in the geocentric model, which Plato insisted upon. He described the stars as divine beings created from the same material as humans and that it was our destiny to return to be amongst them.

    In his work Timaeus he stated that periodic conjunctions and oppositions of planets sparked fear and anxiety amongst people, suggesting that there must have been astrologers capable of calculating such movements at the time. Instead, he saw a Creator existing outside the Universe, which was more acceptable to those who later raised the issue of free will. Aristarchus BCE first suggested the idea of the Sun being at the centre of the solar system with all the planets and Earth in orbit. This theory was initially rejected and had it not been for the Roman writers, who made his work available to the Arab and European worlds, it may have been forgotten altogether.

    Astrology rapidly caught on amongst the Greeks and many philosophers proudly studied at the school on Cos, although no official records exist until around years later. Hipparchus c. The Sidereal was more commonly used in Asia, based on the perceived constellations, while the Tropical Zodiac remained popular throughout Europe based around the Seasons — the basis of Western astrology today. Hipparchus also invented latitude and longitude, the co-ordinates that allow geographical measurements to be made; it would be impossible to calculate natal charts without this development.

    Towards the end of the last century BCE, astrological texts vastly outweighed astronomical texts, a reversal from the time of the Assyrians. This emphasis on astrology helped to develop it further, with houses and different branches, such as natal and mundane. There is little evidence of who is responsible for this period of major growth but by the time of Claudius Ptomley, c. The Egyptians did possess some astronomical knowledge before this time and were aware of the importance of the stars, most notably the rising of Sirius, which appeared to coincide with the annual flooding of the Nile.

    Other debateable theories suggest that the construction of the Giza Pyramids and Sphinx aligned with certain constellations, namely Orion and Leo respectively. Regardless, Egyptian mathematics and astronomy were not as advanced as in Mesopotamia and this is perhaps why they did not develop their own astrology. The most significant contribution from Egypt was the introduction of decans, 36 star groups used for time measurement since 1, BCE. These were incorporated into the Babylonian zodiac, resulting in the 10 divisions of each Sign, which is depicted in the impressive Dendera Zodiac.

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