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The new names of planets as Greek gods corresponded loosely with the astral deities of Babylonian astrology, such as the identification of ruling Olympian, Zeus, with the planet Jupiter, replacing the principle Babylonian god Marduk. While Plato himself would never place the heavenly gods in direct control of a person's destiny, the distinction between the fatalism of such a control measured by astrology and an astral piety that permitted some intervention of gods in human affairs was not sharply drawn.

While we do not yet see a clear distinction between astral piety and practical astrology, later texts on mystery cults, Gnosticism, Hermeticism, and magic demonstrate that someone who either worships stars, or is concerned with their ontological status, need not be technically proficient in astronomy.

Nor must they believe that life is fated by astrally determined necessity. Likewise, the technical Hellenistic astrologers who calculated birth charts and made predictions did not necessarily practice rituals in reverence to planetary gods. While there is no clear evidence for a unified school in which technical astrologers were indoctrinated into both technique and theory of the craft, the fact that the Hellenistic techniques barring the basic foundation of Babylonian astrology had developed in a variety of conflicting ways speaks to the possibility of several schools of thought in theory, practice, and perhaps geographic distance.

As each astrologer contributed their own techniques or variations on techniques, the technical material quickly multiplied, and students of astrology had many authoritative writers to follow. The most likely scenario is that the practicing astrologers possessed a variety of viewpoints about the life and "influence" of the planets and stars, based on available cosmological views in religion and philosophy.

While borrowing freely from Stoic, Pythagorean and Platonic thought, the astrologers who would soon emerge varied theoretically on issues such as which aspects of earthly existence may or may not be subject to Fate and the influence of the stars, and whether or not the soul is affected by celestial motions and relationships.


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Xenocrates and Epicurus both penned lost works of the same title prior to his Diog. Later Stoics such as Boethus, Posidonius and Philopator, dedicated works to fate, a topic that would become a critical issue for all Hellenistic schools of thought. The development of Hellenistic astrology is placed in the context of these theories.

Stoic theory of fate involves the law of cause and effect, but unlike Epicurean atomism, it is not a purely mechanistic determinism because at the helm is divine reason. Logos , for the Stoics, was the causal principle of fate or destiny. This principle is not simply external to human beings, for it is disseminated through the cosmos as logos spermatikos seminal reason which is particularly concentrated in humans who are subordinate partners of the gods. Individual logoi are related to the cosmic logos through living in harmony with nature and the universe.

This provided the basis of Stoic ethics , for which there is the goal of eupoia biou or smooth living rather than fighting with the natural and fated order of things. By its nature, a pot made of clay can be shattered, but the actual events of the shattering of a specific pot are due to the sum total of external causes and inner constraints.

Fate, in general, encompasses the internal causes, though to be fated does not exclude the autonomy of individuals because particular actions are based on internal considerations such as will and character. Some events are considered to be co-fated by both external circumstances and conscious acts of choice. Diogenianus gives examples of co-fatedness, e. Character or disposition also plays a part in determining virtue and vice. Polemical writers such as Alexander of Aphrodisias characterize the Stoic position as maintaining that virtue and vice are innate.

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Though morally neutral at birth, a human being is not a tabula rasa , but has potentialities which make him more or less receptive to good and bad influences from the environment. An individual cannot act contrary to his or her character, which is a combination of innate and external factors, but there is the possibility of acquiring a different character, as a sudden conversion.

Since character determines action the ethical responsibility rests with the most immediate causes. An often cited example is that of a cylinder placed on a hill — the initial and external cause of being pushed down the hill represents the rational order of fate, while its naturally rollable shape represents will and character of the mind Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae , 7.

Cultivation of character through knowledge and training was thought to result in "harmonious acceptance of events" which are governed by the rational plan of the cosmos , whereas lack of culture results in the errors of pitting oneself against fate Gellius, 7. Berossus, a Babylonian priest who settled on the island of Cos and the author of Babuloniakos , is often credited for bringing Babylonian astrology to the Greek-speaking world.

Because he is thought to have flourished around B. Kidinnu and Soudines, two Babylonian astronomers mentioned by second century C. Vettius Valens, also contributed to Hellenistic astronomy and astrology. Although many of the technical and theoretical details of pre-Hellenistic Babylonian astrology in Greece are lost in all but a few tablets, the doctrine of apokatastasis or eternal recurrence is attributed to Berossus by Seneca Quaest.

One scholar of the history of astronomy P. Schnabel, Berossus und die babylonisch-hellenistische Literatur , Leipzig argued that Kidinnu possessed a theory of "precession of the equinox" prior to Hipparchus. Precession occurs due to a slight rotation of the earth's axis resulting in a cyclical slippage of the vernal point in reference to the stars. See section on Ptolemy for more on precession From this was concluded an eternal recurrence based on the precession of the vernal point through the constellations.

Schnabel's theory, however, had been refuted by Neugebauer. Whatever the case may be, it is likely that Babylonian cosmological theories influenced the founding Stoics, particularly Chrysippus. Each age would end in Fire, the purest of elements and the irreducible cosmic substance, and would be followed by a restoration of all things. This fire, for the Stoics, was a "craftsmanly fire" pur tekhnikon identified with Zeus and of a different nature than the material fire that was one of the four elements. In the reconstitution of the world, the fiery element would interact with air to create moisture, which then condenses into earth.

The four elements would then organize in their proper measures to create living beings SVF , 1. By Necessity, the principle cohesive power of the cosmos, the same souls which existed in one cycle would then be reconstituted in the cosmos and would play the same part in the same way, with perhaps an insignificant variation or two.

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This concept from the early Stoa is sometimes known as the "eternal recurrence. This is not to be understood as an "afterlife" of human souls, as one would find in Christianity, for example. God, then restored in his own completion, assesses the lives of the previous cycle and fashions the next great age of the world that will contain an identical sequence of events.

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Heraclitus , whom the Stoics claimed as a precursor, possessed an earlier doctrine of conflagration, though it is not to be assumed that his generation and decay of the cosmos was measured by the planetary circuits, for its movement, to him, is a pathway up and down rather than circular Diog. As reported by Philo , the only Stoics to have rejected the eternal recurrence include Boethus of Sidon, Panaetius, and a mature Diogenes of Babylon De aeternitate mundi , Astrological configurations were specified as part of the Stoic-Babylonian theory of eternal recurrence.

According to Nemesius,. Once again the world returns anew to the same condition as before; and when the stars are moving again in the same way, each thing that occurred in the previous period will come to pass indiscernibly. SVF, 2. Long and Sedley, Hellenistic Philosophers V. The celestial position of "length and breath" latitude and longitude is more specifically identified by second century C.

A variation of this theory of apokatastasis includes an antapokatastatis , which is an additional destruction by water which occurs when the planets align in the opposing sign, Capricorn. Such destruction by a Great Flood during this alignment was also attributed to Berossus by Seneca. Fourth century astrologer turned Christian, Firmicus Maternus, associated apokatastasis with the Thema Mundi or Genesis Cosmos , which is a "birth chart" for the world consisting of each planet in the 15th degree of its own sign.

For the sake of consistency with the Stoic eternal cosmos, Firmicus claimed this chart does not indicate that the world had any original birth in the sense of creation, particularly one that could be conceived of by human reason or empirical observation. The Great Year contains all possible configurations and events. Because it exceeds the span of human records of observation, there is no way of determining the birth of the world. He claimed that the schema had been invented by the Hermetic astrologers to serve as an instructional tool often employed as allegory Mathesis , 3.

A more common Genesis Cosmos mentioned in astrological texts is a configuration of all planets in their own signs and degrees of exaltation hupsoma , special regions that had been established in Babylonian astrology. The eternal recurrence doctrine in Stoicism entails justification of divination and belief in the predictability of events. While their physical substance is destroyed, they maintain an existence as thoughts in the mind of Zeus.

Because the gods are indestructible, they maintain memory of events that take place within a Great Year and know everything that will happen in the following cycles SVF , 2. Divination, for Stoicism, is therefore possible, and even a divine gift. The presupposition that divination is a legitimate science was also used by Chrysippus as an argument in favor of fate. Cicero , however, argued for the incompatibility of divination and Stoicism De fato , , particularly the incompatibility between Chryssipus' modal logical which allows for non-necessary future truths and the necessary future claimed by divination's power of prediction.

The example argument presented by Cicero, "If someone is born at the rising of the Dogstar, he will not die at sea," would not, by his account, fall under the category of non-necessary truths since the antecedent truth is necessary as a past true condition. Therefore the conclusion would also be necessary according to Chrysippus' logic.

Cicero mentions Chrysippus' defense against charges of such contradictions, but regardless of the success or failure of Chysippus' defense against them, the issue for the possibility of divination, for the Stoics, was not considered a logical contradiction between fate and free will. Because human beings are by nature the rational seeds logoi spermatikoi of the Godhead, their choices will correspond to the cosmic fate inherent in the eternal recurrence, and would not alter that which is divined. For Chrysippus, at least, the laws of divination are accepted as empirically factual or proto-science and not as a matter of logical connectivity between past, present, and future.

Since divination occurs as a matter of revelation though signs , the idea that there can be knowledge of a necessary causal antecedent leading to a future effect is not the principle behind it cf. Bobzein, p. The Stoic argument for divination through signs would be as follows: if there are gods, they must both be aware of future events and must love human beings while holding only good intentions toward them. Because of their care for human beings, signs are then given by the gods for potential knowledge of future events.

These events are known by the gods, though not alterable by them. If signs are given, then the proper means to interpret them must also be given. If they are not interpreted correctly, the fault does not lie with the gods or with divination itself, but with an error of judgment on the part of the interpreter Cicero, De divinatione , 1. Another theory in support of divination and by extension astral divination, is that of cosmic sympathy. Cosmic sympathy was already prevalent in Hipparchean medical theory, though Posidonius is credited for its development in the Stoic school.

Posidonius, though, claimed to have drawn this notion from Democritus, Xenophanes, Pythagoras and Socrates. Stoic physical theory holds that all things in the universe are connected and held together in their interactions through tension. The active and passive principles move pneuma , the substance that penetrates and unifies all things. In fact, this tension holds bodies together, and every coherent thing would collapse without it. Pneuma as the commanding substance of the soul penetrates the cosmos. This cosmos, for the Stoics, is both a rational and sensate living being Diog.

The Stoics thought that the cosmos is ensouled and has impulses or desires hormai. Whereas in Platonism these impulses are conflicting and need the rational part of the soul to govern them, in Stoicism desires of the cosmic soul are harmoniously drawn toward a rational though not entirely accessible to human beings end, which is Logos, or Zeus' return to himself through the cosmic cycle of apokatastasis. So the idea of cosmic sympathy supports divination, because knowledge of one part of the cosmos such as a sign is, by way of the cohesive substance of pneuma , access to the whole.

In contrast to Plato's disparaging view of divination that it is not divinely inspired but based on the artless fumbling of human error, the Stoic view, for the most part, is that rational means of divination can be developed. The push to develop a scientific meaning systematic and empirical knowledge-based divination finds its natural progression in mathematically based astrology. Stoic-influenced astrologers went a step further than Stoic philosophers to define innate potentials of character by assigning them to the zodiac and planets. Virtuous and corrupt characteristics are identified as determined by the potential of the natal chart, while external circumstances are indicated by the combination of this chart with transits of planets through time and certain periods of life set in motion by the configurations in the natal chart.

For instance, in his list of personality characteristics for individuals born with certain zodiac signs on the horizon, Teukros of Babylon near Cairo includes character traits that are not morally neutral. For example, those born when the first decan of Libra is ascending are "virtuous" enaretous , while those born when the third decan of Scorpio is ascending "do many wrongs" or are "law-breakers" pollous adikountas. While it is clear that Stoic philosophy influenced the development of astrology, the attitude of the Stoa towards astrology, however, varied on the basis of the individual philosophers.

Cicero stated that Diogenes of Babylon believed astrologers are capable of predicting disposition and praxis one's life activity , but not much else. Diogenes, though, is said to have calculated a "Great Year" in his earlier years Aetius, De placitis reliquiae , His turn to skepticism changed his view on Stoic ekpurosis and likely modified his view on astrology. Middle Stoic Panaetius is said to have rejected astrology altogether. That an astrological example is used by Cicero to illustrate a contradiction in Chrysippus' logic and divination does not necessarily mean that Chrysippus himself had much exposure to or took an interest in astrology.

Cicero's example is, "If someone is born at the rising of the Dogstar, he will not die at sea. De fato , In Chrysippus' time, Hellenistic astrology had not yet been formulated systematically. However, given that the example is based on a consideration of importance to Babylonian astrology, the rising of the fixed star Sirius, the possibility exists that Chrysippus or one of his contemporaries discussed astrology in the context of logic and divination. Posidonius was alleged by Augustine to have been "much given to astrology" multum astrologiae deditus and "an assertor fatal influence of the stars" De civitate dei 5.

His actual relationship to astrology, however, is more complicated, but there are several reasons to think that he supported astrology. For one, in his belief that the world is a living animal, he followed Chrysippus in identifying the commanding faculty of the world soul as the heavens Diog. Cleanthes considered it to be the Sun. Secondly, Posidonius had a strong research interest in astronomy and meteorology.

He was the first to systematically research the connection between ocean tides and the phases of the Moon. His research in this area possibly led him to his doctrine of cosmic sympathy, as he considered natural affinities among things of the earth. Cosmic sympathy allows for an association between signs within nature that can extend to planets and stars and future events without direct causality. If the higher faculty of the cosmos is located in the heavens, then it is more likely that these signs would carry weight for Posidonius. Thirdly, Cicero, who can be given more credibility than Augustine by having attended Posidonius' lectures, mentions him in connection with astrology in De divinatione 1.

However, given that Posidonius is flourishing at the same time as the earliest textual evidence for Hellenistic astrology first century B. Because he was widely traveled, he may have gained exposure to one or more astrologers or schools of astrologers. This observation would not have necessarily been considered an astrological one, though it is schematized according to characteristics of the zodiac rather than lunations and seasons, and such schematizations were quite common in Hellenistic astrology.

It cannot be said with certainty whether Posidonius' advocacy of cosmic sympathy lent support to the development of astrology or if this development itself reinforced Posidonius' own theories of cosmic sympathy and fate. The importance of astrology in politics of first century Rome was aided by its alignment with Stoic fatalism and cosmic sympathy.

Balbillus, son of Thrasyllus and astrologer to Nero, Seneca, and a certain Alexandrian Stoic, Chaeremon, were all appointed tutors to L. Chaeremon who Cramer, p. Seneca, too, wrote a work on comets Book 7 of Quaestiones naturales , in which he portrays some as good omens for the Empire cf. Cramer, p. So far in this account of the theoretical development of Hellenistic astrology, the pre-Socratic thinkers contributed a deep concern for fate and justice.

Plato contributed an orderly and rational cosmos, while those in the early Academy displayed an astral piety that recognized the planets as gods or representations of gods. The Stoics contributed theories of fate and divination, that already had an astrological component with the Babylonian contribution to the Eternal Recurrence. Cosmic sympathy, present in Greek medicine and popularized by the middle Stoic Posidonius, provided astrologers with a theoretical grounding for the associations among planets, zodiac signs, and all other things. One notable Stoic contribution to Hellenistic astrology which distinguishes it from the Babylonian is the incorporation of Chryssipus' principle of two forces, active and passive, manifest in the activities of the four elements.

Fire and air were active, earth and water passive. The astrologers later assigned these elements and dynamic qualities to each sign of the zodiac. Further philosophical developments by the Middle Platonists and the Neopythagoreans would then lead to astrology as a system of knowledge due to its systematic and mathematical nature. The systematic nature would make it plausible to some and a worthy or dangerous foe to others. These developments set astrology apart, epistemologically speaking, from other manners of divination such as haruspicy study of the liver of animals , or dream interpretation.

The union between Pythagorean theory and Platonism should come as no surprise given Plato's late interest in Pythagoreanism. From the early academy onward, elements of Pythagorean theory became part and parcel of Platonism. Speusippus wrote a work on Pythagorean numbers Fr. He and Xenocrates both offered cosmic hierarchies formed from the One and the Dyad. The One, or Monad, is a principle of order and unity, while the Dyad is the principle of change, motion, and division. The manner in which these principles are related was a critical issue inherited from the early Academy.

Xenocrates Fr. We see in Xenocrates both the identification of Gods with stars as we saw in Phillip of Opus and the notion that Gods are forces of Nature, thereby creating an important theoretical issue for astrology, namely what is the domain of influence of the planetary gods, as the Olympians are identified with the planets. He also believed that the world soul is formed from Monad and Dyad, and that it served as a boundary between the supralunary and sublunary places.

Xenocrates' cosmology would be highly influential on Plutarch, who elaborated on the roles of the world soul, the daimons, the planets and fixed stars.


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  • The middle Platonists, many of whom believed themselves to be true expounders of Plato, were influenced by other schools of thought. The physical theories of Antiochus of Ascalon are very Stoic in nature. The unity of things is held together by the world soul much as it is held together in Stoic theory by pneuma. He also accepted the Stoic Pur Tekhnikon Creative Fire as the substance composing the stars, gods, and everything else. There is little to indicate that Antiochus held in his cosmology the notion common to some other Platonists of transcendent immateriality; his universe, like the Stoics, is material.

    On the subject of fate and free will, he argues against Chrysippus if he is in fact the philosopher identified as doing so in Cicero's De fato and Topica by accepting the reality of free will rather than the illusion of free will created simply by the limitations of human knowledge in grasping fated future events. Antiochus' view on other beings in the cosmos, particularly the ontological status of stars and planets, may be found in his Roman student Varro who stated that the heavens, populated by souls the immortal occupying aether and air , are divided by elements in this order from top to bottom: aether, air, water, earth.

    From the highest circle of heaven to the circle of the Moon are aetherial souls, the stars and planets, and these are not only known by our intelligence to exist, but are also visible to our eyes as heavenly gods. Dillon, Middle Platonists , p. Daimons and heroes, then, were thought to occupy the aerial sphere. The importance of Antiochus for the development of Hellenistic astrology may be his break with the skepticism of the New Academy, one which allowed the Middle Platonists to espouse more theological and speculative views about the soul and the cosmos while anticipating Neoplatonic theories.

    In Alexandria, which, not by coincidence would become a hotbed for astrological theory and practice, Platonism incorporated strong Neopythagorean elements. Eudorus of Alexandria, who wrote a commentary on Plato's Timaeus , contributed to the importance of Timaean cosmology in middle and Neoplatonic thought. Achille used Eudorus as a source for this work that also contains references to Pythagorean theories of planetary harmonies. We know from Achilles that Eudorus followed the Platonic and Stoic belief that the stars are ensouled living beings Isagoga , This intellectual climate is likely the immediate context for the development of systematic astrology — with its complex classifications of the signs, planets, and their placements in a horoscope, and the numerological calculations used for predicting all sorts of events in one's life.

    The revival of Pythagoreanism by the mid-first century B. The Neopythagorean texts just mentioned are significant for the development of Hellenistic astrology. They represent cosmological theories that likely were used as justification for astrology. By appealing to the empirical rationale that we cannot perceive the universe coming to be and passing away, but only its self-identity, he concludes the eternity of the whole, including its part.

    This whole though is divided into two worlds, the supralunary and the sublunary. The heavens down to the Moon comprise a world of unchanging harmony that governs the sublunary realm of all changing and corruptible activity. In Platonic manner, the unchanging the Monad governs and generates the changing the Dyad. In Pythagorean manner, the divine beings in the unchanging realm are in perfect harmony with one another through their regular motions.

    Visible signs for the unchanging harmony and self-subsistence of the universe are found in the harmonious movements of things in relation to one another. This list comprises the primary factors by which astrologers would assess the strength and qualities of planets in a given horoscope as the basis for the formulation of predictive techniques and statements. Temporal periods were assigned by astrologers in a variety of ways, though usually based on the "lesser years" of the planets, the time it took for one planet to complete its revolution with respect to a starting point in the zodiac.

    The former notion of intervals was used for determining various time periods of one's life assigned to each planet cf. Valens, Anthologiarum , 3. Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos , 1. Ocellus goes on to name these powers as hot, cold, wet, and dry, and he contrasts them with the "substances" ousiai or elements of fire, earth, water and air. The powers and substances, or "qualities" and "elements" as they are more commonly called, were used in horoscopic astrology to describe the natures of the planets and zodiac signs.

    In Ocellus' explanation of astral causality, the powers are immortal forms that affect changes on the sublunary substances 2. Whether or not Ocellus and other Neopythagoreans are at the forefront of formulating these particular astrological rules, he provides a metaphysical basis for the notion that the planets and stars effect changes on earth. He is further described as saying that the Moon is the locus where immortality above and mortality below meet.

    He also says the obliquity of the zodiac, the pathway of the Sun, is the inclining place at which the supralunary generates activity in the sublunary realm. The Sun's seasonal motion conforms to the powers hot, cold, wet, and dry that bring about changes in the substances elements ; the ecliptic path inclines these powers into the realm of strife and nature. In his discussion on the generation of men, Ocellus argues, in more of an Aristotelian than Platonic sense as found in On Generation and Corruption , that the only participation of men in immortality is through the gift by divinities of the power of reproduction.

    Following rules of morality in connubial relations results in living in harmony with the universe. Immoral transgressions, though, are punished by the production of ignoble offspring. A manner of cosmic sympathy as found in Greek medicine plays a role in determining that the circumstances of conception such as a tranquil state of mind will reflect upon the nature of the offspring.

    This notion is in keeping with the fact that astrologers studied charts not only for the moment of birth, but for conception as well. The only major difference is that for the astrologers, the circumstances of the birth appear to be reflected universally at a given time and not the direct result of moral or immoral actions as it is for Ocellus.

    The moment of birth or conception for the astrologers is reflected in all things of nature and in any activities initiated at that particular moment, as reflected in the positions of the planets and signs. The technical astrologers typically did not include reflections on moral retributions in their manuals of astral fate. They were primarily concerned with detailing knowledge of fate for its own sake, though speculation about such matters as retribution and rebirth is not excluded by astrological theory. The Hellenistic text attributed to Timaeus Locrus, On the Nature of the World and the Soul, purports to be the original upon which Plato drew for his dialogue of his name.

    For the most part, it consists of a summary of the material by Plato. The circles of the Same and the Different carry the fixed stars and the planets respectively. The sphere of the fixed stars containing the cosmos is granted the Pythagorean perfect figure of the dodecahedron. One addition of note for the theory of astrology is the doctrine of the creation of souls.

    The four elements are made by the demiurge in equal measure and power, and Soul of man is made in the same proportion and power.

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    Individual souls of human beings are fashioned by Nature who has been handed the task by the demiurge of creating mortal beings from the Sun, Moon, and planets, from the circle of Difference with a measure of the circle of the Same that she Nature being hypostasized as the female principle mixes in the rational part of the soul. There appears in this to be a difference in individual souls reflecting different fates based on the composition. While this merely reiterates what is found in Plato's Timaeus 42d-e , the supposition that one could read this account straight from Timaeus Locrus gave authority to these notions.

    Perhaps what they were seeking in the horoscope was one of the "young gods" whose task it was to fashion the mortal body of each soul and to steer their course away from evils. As mentioned above, some philosophers associated the young gods with the planets. Astrological fragments of a writer "Timaeus Praxidas" date to the same period early to middle first century B.

    What it at least indicates is that the legend of Timaeus lent authority to the astrological writers. Thrasyllus d. Given that he published an edition of Plato's works and is known for the arrangement of the dialogues into tetralogies , and that he wrote a work on Platonic and Pythagorean philosophy, we can assume that his astrological theory represents Middle Platonism of the early first century C.

    However, a summary of his astrological work "Pinax" tables , indicates that he is drawing upon earlier sources, particularly the pseudepigrapha of "Nechepso and Petosiris" and Hermes Trismegistus. A numerological table, perhaps containing zodiac associations to numbers as that found in Teukros of Babylon, is also attributed to Thrasyllus.

    It appears that his own philosophy contains a mixture of Hermetic and Pythagorean elements. A search for exact origins of astrology's development into a complex system remains inconclusive, but the following can be surmised. The combination of Pythagorean theory, such as the supralunary realm influencing the sublunar, Platonic ensouled planets moving on the circle of the Different, Stoic determinism and cosmic sympathy, and the emergence of a Hermetic tradition, comprised the intellectual context for the systematic structuring of astrology, its classifications of the signs, planets, and their placements in a horoscope, and the numerological calculations used for predicting all sorts of events in one's life.

    Besides being a prolific writer on a variety of subjects, Plutarch was, philosophically speaking, a Platonist, as defined by his era, that is, one influenced by Aristotelian, Stoic, and Neopythagorean notions. In Plutarch's case this includes ideas culled from his study of Persian and Egyptian traditions. By his time late first century C. Cramer, 99 ff. Plutarch's own form of Platonism did not then directly contribute to the technical development of astrology, but it does add a Middle Platonic contribution to an explanation of how astrology gained some credibility and much popularity in the first three centuries of the common era.

    He also borrowed some astrological concepts and metaphors for his own philosophy. First of all, as a priest of Apollo, Plutarch saw all other deities as symbolic aspects of One God that is invisible and unintelligible. He gained impetus for this from an etymology of "Apollo," which is explained as an alpha-privative a-pollos , or "not many" De E apud Delphos , b.

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    He resists a pure identification of the Sun with Apollo De pythiae oraculis c-d , because the One God is Invisible, and the Sun an intelligible copy. He likens the Sun to one aspect, that of the Nous, the heart of the cosmos. The Moon is then associated with the cosmic Soul and spleen , and the earth with the bowels. Taking cue from Plato's suggestion in the Laws The malevolent or irrational soul preexisted the demiurge's creation.

    It is not pure evil, but the cause of evil operating in the sublunary realm, mixing with the good to create cosmic tension. Plutarch maintains the distinction of Ocellus between the generating supralunary realm and the generated sublunary realm, but he offers more detail about operations in the sublunary world of change.

    He posits two opposing principles or powers of good and evil that offer a right-handed straight path and a reversed, backwards path for souls De Isis. Individual souls are microcosms of a world soul based on Timaeus , 30b , and the parts of the soul reflect this cosmic tension. The "young gods", the planetary gods in the Timaeus 42d-e that steer souls, Plutarch designates as the province of the irrational soul.

    With the emphasis of the irrational soul and the mixture of forces in the sublunary realm, Plutarch's cosmology allows for the possibility of astrology. Life is linked to Motion through the activity of the Invisible, through the Monad; Motion is linked to Generation through the Mind Nous ; and Generation is linked to Decay through the Soul. The three Fates Moirai are also linked to this cycle as Clotho seated in the Sun presided over the first process, Atropo, seated in the Moon, over the second, and Lachesis over the third on Earth cf.

    De facie in orbe lunae , c-d. At death the soul of a person leaves the body and goes to Moon, the mind leaves the soul and goes to Sun. The reverse process happens at birth. Plutarch is not rigid with his use of planetary symbolism, for in another place, he associates the Sun with the demiurge, and the young gods with the Moon, emphasizing the rational and irrational souls De E apud Delphos , a.

    Plutarch's own opinion about astrology as a practice of prediction is ambiguous at best. He supported the probability of divination by human beings, although dimmed by the interference of the body, as evident in his arguments for it in On the E at Delphi and in De defectu oraculorum e ff. However, he complains about generals who rely more heavily on divination than on counselors experienced in military affairs Marius, In his accounts of astrologers, his attitude appears to be more skeptical. In Romulus 12 , he discusses the claims made by an astrologer named Taroutios, namely, of discovering the exact birth date and hour of Romulus as well as the time in which he lay the first stone of his city, by working backwards from his character to his birth chart.

    Plutarch considered astrologers' claims that cities are subject to fate accessible by a chart cast for the beginning of their foundation to be extravagant. He also wrote about how Sulla, having consulted Chaldaeans, was able to foretell his own death in his memoirs Sulla , However, Plutarch finds himself at a loss at explaining why Marius would be successful in his reliance on divination while Octavius was not so fortunate accepting the forecasts of Chaldaeans.

    Cicero's account in On Divination of Eudoxus' rejection of Chaldaean astrological predictions points to Greek awareness of Babylonian astrology as early as the third century B. Another account about Theophrastus' awareness of Chaldaean horoscopic astrology predicting for individuals rather than weather and general events is given to us by Proclus In Platonis Timaeum commentaria , 3. Technical manuals by Greek-speaking astrologers used for casting and interpreting horoscopic natal charts date as early as the late second century B.

    In addition to natal astrology, many of the fragments exemplify the practice of katarchical astrology, or the selection of the most auspicious moment for a given activity. Fragments attributed to Thrasyllus, the philosopher-astrology include such methods. This use of astrology implies that the astrologers themselves did not prescribe to strict fatalism, at least the kind that dictates that knowledge from signs of the heavens cannot influence events. Perhaps like Plutarch, they believed in a combination of fate, chance, and free will.

    Given the pervasiveness of cosmic sympathy and a unified cosmic order, astrology pertaining to proper moments of time and to natural occurrences was less controversial than that pertaining to the soul of human beings. However, the texts of the next few centuries focus primarily on natal rather than katarchic astrology. Methods to ascertain controversial matters such as one's length of life would proliferate and play a significant part in Roman politics cf. Such fascination with either the fate or predisposition of individuals reflects a stronger concern in the late Hellenistic world for the life of the individual in a period of rapid political and social change.

    The earliest Hermetic writings, the technical Hermetica dated second century B. Fowden, p. As mentioned by Clement, Stromata , 6. These topics in the early Hermetica do not reflect much technical sophistication in comparison to the complicated techniques of prediction that we find in the katarchic and natal astrology texts of other astrological writers. The astronomical measurements that appear to be used for these topics are most likely for the purpose of katarchic astrology and ritual because they do not contain the apparatus for casting natal charts.

    An exception to the technical sparsity of astrology considered to be in the lineage of Hermes Trismegistus are the works attributed to Nechepso and Petosiris typically dated around B. Combined, they are considered a major source for many later astrologers, and are said by Firmicus Maternus to be in line with the Hermetic tradition, handed down by way of other Hermetic figures such as Aesclepius and Anubio, from Hermes himself.

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    It is impossible to say to what extent the writers of these texts had organized existing techniques or invented new ones, but based on the frequency with which Nechepso and Petosiris are quoted by later authors, we can be certain that they were important conveyers of technical Hellenistic astrology.

    More about the astral theories in the later philosophical Hermeticism and Gnosticism will be discussed below. Additional fragments are preserved of real and pseudepigraphical astrologers of the first centuries B. E and C. Only a few representative writers will be highlighted below. For most of the early astrological writers, we can only speculate about their theoretical justification for the practice, two exceptions being first century B.

    Roman Stoic Manilius, from whom we have the Latin didactic poem, Astronomica , and Thrasyllus, whose work is described above. Manilius was also associated with the Roman imperial circle, dedicating his work to either Augustus or Tiberius see Cramer, p. While his poetic account of astrology contains much technical material, there is little evidence to show that he himself practiced astrological prediction.

    Some scholars speculated that he intended to avoid the political dangers of the practice in his day with the poetic writing style and the exclusion of astrological doctrine about the planets, which is necessary for the practice or his work could simply be incomplete.

    His Stoic philosophy is one in which Fate is immutable, and astrology is a means of understanding the cosmic and natural order of all things, but not of changing events. However fated we are, he says, is no excuse for bad behavior such as crime, for crime is still wicked and punishable no matter what its origin in the sequence of causal determinism 4. He used the regularity of the rising of the fixed stars and the courses of the Sun and Moon as proof against the Epicureans that nothing is left to chance and that the universe is commanded by a divine will 1.

    Nature apportions to the stars the responsibility over the destinies of individuals 3. Nature is not thought to be separate from reason, but is the agent of Fate — one orchestrated by a material god for reasons not readily accessible to the mortals who experience apparent injustices and turns of events that defy normal expectations 4. The purpose of the deity is simply to maintain order and harmony in its cosmos 1. Astrology demonstrates cosmic sympathy among all things and can be used to predict events insofar as it grants access to the predestined order.

    In addition to the use of astrology for psychological acceptance of one's fate, Manilius emphasizes the aesthetic and religious benefits of its study, for he considers it a gift to mortals from the god Hermes for the sake of inducing reverence and piety of the cosmic deity.

    Astrology had increased in popularity in the second century C. Ptolemy is an exception among the astrological authors because first and foremost he is an empirical scientist, and one who, like his philosophical and scientific contemporaries, is concerned with theories of knowledge. His works include those on astronomy, epistemology, music, geography, optics, and astrology.

    He is best known as an astronomer for his work Syntaxis mathematica Almagest , but from the middle ages to present day, his astrological work, Apotelesmatica or Tetrabiblos as it is more commonly known , has been considered the key representative of Greek astrology, primarily due to its prominence in textual transmission. Scholars have claimed Ptolemy's main philosophical influences to be either Peripatetic , Middle Stoic Posidonius , Middle Platonist Albinus or Skeptic sharing a possible connection with Sextus Empiricus.

    Any attempts to tie him to a single school would be futile. His eclecticism, though, is by no means an arbitrary amalgam of different schools, but a search for agreements rather than disagreements sought by the Pyrrhonian Skeptics and a scientist's harmony of rationalism and empiricism cf. Because Ptolemy deviates significantly from other astrologers in theory and technique, some have doubted that he was a practicing astrologer at all. It is difficult to support this claim when in the Tetrabiblos he makes a long argument in favor of astrology and he claims to have better methods than offered by the tradition.

    It seems best to call him a "revisionist" rather than a "non-astrologer. Lots were points in the chart typically calculated from the positions of two planets and the degree of the ascending sign. He also rejects various subdivisions of the zodiac and nearly all numerologically based methods. He considered these methods to be disreputable and arbitrary because they are removed from the actual observations of planets and stars. It might be noted here that he also rejects Pythagorean musicology on empirical grounds in his work Harmonica.

    He notes that the difficulty of the art of astrological prediction has made critics believe it to be useless, and he argues in favor of its helpfulness and usefulness. He blames bad and false practitioners for the failing of astrology. The rest of the argument involves the natural cosmic sympathy popularized by Posidonius.

    The influence of the Sun, Moon, and stars on natural phenomena, weather and seasons brings the possibility than men can likewise be affected in temperament due to this natural ambience ton periekhon. The surrounding conditions of the time and place of birth contribute a factor to character and temperament as we find earlier in Ocellus. While the supralunary movements are perfect and destined, the sublunary are imperfect, changeable, and subject to additional causes. Natural events such as weather and seasons are less complicated by additional causes than events in the lives of human beings.

    Rearing, custom, and culture are additional accidental causes that contribute to the destiny of an individual. He seems to encourage critics to allow astrologers to start their predictions with knowledge of these factors rather than do what is called a "cold reading" in modern astrology. The criticism he counters is that of Skeptics such as Sextus Empiricus, who elaborated on earlier arguments from the New Academy, and who argue that an astrologer does not know if they are making predictions for a human or a pack-ass Adversus mathematicos , 5.

    Ptolemy's arguments that astrology is useful and beneficial are the following: 1 One gains knowledge of things human and divine. This is knowledge for its own sake rather than for the purpose of gains such as wealth or fame. This is a basic argument from Stoic ethics.

    Bodies in the heavens are destined and regular, but on earth are changeable in spite of receiving "first causes" from above. This corresponds again to the Neopythagorean Platonism found in Ocellus. These first causes can override secondary causes and can subsume the fate of an individual in the cases of natural disasters. Ptolemy's attribution of the nature of planets and stars, which is the basis of their benefic or malefic nature, is that, like Ocellus before him, of heating, drying, moistening, and cooling. Geometrical aspects between signs, which are the basis of planetary relations, are also based on "familiarity" determined by music theory and the masculine or feminine assignment to the signs.

    He considers the sextile and trine aspects to be harmonious, and the quadrangle and opposition to be disharmonious. Book 2 of Tetrabiblos includes material on astrological significations for weather, ethnology and astro-chorography. Ptolemy is not the first to delineate an astrological chorography geographical regions assigned to signs of the zodiac , and his assignments differ significantly from those found in Dorotheus, Teukros, Manilius, and Paulus Alexandrinus. Book 3 and 4 consist of methods of prediction of various topics in natal astrology.

    Absent in his work is the katarchical astrology found in earlier writers. Ptolemy is the first astrologer to employ Hipparchus' zodiac modified to account for the "precession of the equinox," that is, the changing seasonal reference point against the background of the stars. This zodiac uses the vernal equinox as the beginning point rather than the beginning of one of the twelve constellations.

    This "tropical" zodiac would become the standard in the Western practice of astrology up to present day. Modern opponents of astrology typically utilize precession — pointing out the fact that zodiac "signs" no longer match with the star constellations. Other astrologers, including those shortly following Ptolemy, were either not aware of Hipparchus' observation or did not find it important to make this adjustment. Valens claims to use another method of Hipparchus, but it is debatable whether or not he adjusted his zodiac to the vernal point.

    Ptolemy had no impact on other astrologers of the second century, likely because his texts were not yet in circulation. We do not find in Ptolemy's work the language of signs and astral divination, but a causal language — the relationships between the planets cause natural activity on earth, from weather to seasons to human temperament.

    However, Ptolemy argues for the fallibility of prediction, and cannot be considered a strict astral determinist for this reason, though he believed that astrology as a tool of knowledge could be made more accurate with improved techniques, closing the gap of fallibility. The idea that stars are causes is not original with Ptolemy, being an acceptable idea to Peripatetic thinkers cued by Aristotle's eternal circular motions of the heavens as the cause of perpetual generation On Generation and Corruption b15 ff.

    For Ptolemy, though, this idea as a justification for the practice of astrology was probably filtered through the Peripatetic influenced Neopythagoreans such as Ocellus. Ptolemy's arguments may have been the target of subsequent attacks by Alexander of Aphrodisias, Plotinus and early Church Fathers. It contains fragments of earlier writers such as Nechepso and Critodemus, and numerous horoscopes important for the study of the history of astronomy.

    He is also an astrological writer who best exemplifies the details of the practice and the mind of the practitioner. Having traveled widely in search of teachers, he exhibits techniques unavailable in other astrological texts, indicating much regional variety. The links can be found at the bottom of this page or the right hand column buttons. The lunar placements can also be used for relationship compatibility.

    Go to the MoonMatchMe page to read more about the importance of sign compatibility with the moon. Read more about the astrology message of the Moon in your chart at Astrology Zone's Cosmic Tools and another resource is at Astroscoped Astrology Lessons. What is the Moon? It is not a planet, although many scientists may think of it as one! It is a satellite of the Earth.

    In other words, it is a big chunk of rock, orbiting the Earth and is kept within a certain distance from the Earth approx. Without that gravitational pull, the Moon would move farther out into space away from the Earth. Also, the Moon's gravity affects our ocean tides. Obviously, as with astrology, there is a fine balance between the Sun, Moon and Earth. The Moon is larger than Pluto with a diameter of approximately 2, miles.

    It takes approximately According to some scientists, the Moon's rate of orbit is slowing down and it is slowly moving away from the Earth. It is believed that asteroids crashing into it millions of years ago created the many craters on the Moon. Since there is almost no atmosphere, there is essentially no wind or rain to cause these craters to erode or change. Use your browser's refresh or reload to update the moon calculator. Why are Lunar Signs so Hard to Find?

    Why is the Moon Important in Astrology? Where can i find my Moon Sign? Where can I read about the Lunar Sign I was born with? Amusing Lunar Facts What is the Moon? Custom Search. Your Privacy Rights Site Map. Last Updated On October 01

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