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Skyscript Astrology Forum

Rhetorius Book
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Astraea



Joined: 04 Oct 2004
Posts: 348
Location: Colorado, USA

Posted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 7:37 pm    Post subject: Rhetorius Book Reply with quote

Hi to all.

I did a search on Rhetorius and a link appeared with information about a forthcoming book edited by the late David Pingree and distributed by the University of Michigan Press; it is Volume I of (eventually) two, a translation of books under the name of Rhetorius. I would have preordered it on the spot, but it costs $235 US!

Does anyone have any information about this book, its authorship, and why it is so expensive?

The title of the book is "Rhetorius qui dictur. 2 Bande Vol. I: Compendium astrologicum. Libri V et VI." Here's the link, for any who are interested: http://www.press.umich.edu/titleDetailDesc.do?id=221924

Thank you in advance.

(Edited to add that the cost is less than most software programs, but still I couldn't rationalize buying it unless it's one of those books that one simply must have in the library.)
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Tom
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Joined: 11 Oct 2003
Posts: 3438
Location: New Jersey, USA

Posted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Does anyone have any information about this book, its authorship, and why it is so expensive?


University publication runs are usually small because they are aimed at a small audience. If they could sell like a Stephen King novel, the cost would be comparable to a Stephen King novel. Their biggest market is other universities and since universities do not produce saleable goods for profit and can simply extort money from students and taxpayers (ever notice that university costs soar wildly above the inflation rate and wonder why?), they just demand it, and those who benefit from the books, i.e. other scholars, just demand their employer pay those prices for them.

I recently spent over $100 for one of those books and I was and am sorely disappointed (The Astrological Diary of Samuel Jeacke). You'd have to put a gun to my head to get me to risk $235. If the university professors had to pay $235 out of their own pocket, you'd see the price come down, too.

Just my ever cynical opinion

Tom
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Astraea



Joined: 04 Oct 2004
Posts: 348
Location: Colorado, USA

Posted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Tom. It sure would be a gamble -- it's a huge amount to spend, without knowing exactly what the book is. Appreciate your reply and explanation of university press runs!
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Deb
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Joined: 11 Oct 2003
Posts: 4130
Location: England

Posted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Astraea I donít know how it works in the USA, but have you thought about borrowing the book through your library service? In the UK you can order books that are usually kept in universities so long as you are prepared to wait about 6 weeks for the book to be obtained by your local library.
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Astraea



Joined: 04 Oct 2004
Posts: 348
Location: Colorado, USA

Posted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Deb, and thank you for that suggestion -- I will certainly look into it. It makes so much sense.
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Sue



Joined: 11 Oct 2003
Posts: 945
Location: Australia

Posted: Fri Feb 02, 2007 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Astraea, I think your best bet is probably Deb's suggestion. That way, if you feel that you cannot live without the book, you can order it later and know what you are getting. I often do this. I try to make a rule for myself that I won't purchase books that are in my university library (literally five minutes walk) but sometimes I succumb when I love the book. As someone who has spent $200 on a book, I'll say that they are generally of outstanding quality production wise. I suppose that is irrelevant if the content is bad. I spotted another David Pingree book a couple of nights ago that is $157 US. That is over $200 Australian. The Rhetorius book would cost me $315 Australian. That is more than my entire accommodation and living costs for a week. Still, I have been known to spend a lot more than that on a book.

Many of these so-called university publishing houses are privately owned. In Australia, the publishing houses that are still owned by the universities are becoming very rare. Where I am, it is the lecturers who are campaigning to get the prices lowered because they want the students and themselves to be able to afford them. There is a set limit on the cost of books that can be set as prescribed texts for students. But, as Tom pointed out, one of the problems is a very limited print run. Some of the books published by such publishers as Brill are so obscure that I can't imagine they would have a huge market. Certaintly, in Australia, lecturers cannot demand that their employers pay for them. It is very strictly regulated, not by the department but by Financial Services. They cannot buy any books they want because, like everywhere else, the universities have become very focussed on financial management. The lecturers have a certain allowance each year and once this is gone it is tough luck. Most books that are bought go straight to the library for the use of everyone, which is fine. It is no longer a matter of academic necessity but rather financial management that controls what can be bought. It is Fincancial Services that determines the funding. Last year, the funding for book allowances dropped in my area by one third. At the current funding rate, it would allow for three books of the cost of Rhetorius to be purchased for the year. After that, they're on their own. Our academic year starts in a couple of weeks and we are fully expecting another significant drop.
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Astraea



Joined: 04 Oct 2004
Posts: 348
Location: Colorado, USA

Posted: Fri Feb 02, 2007 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, Sue.

It dawned on me after reading Deb's suggestion to ask my husband to look into whether or not the library at the college where he teaches can get the book; his friend the librarian told him that he can look into getting it on an interlibrary collegiate loan, but funding -- just as it is at your institution -- is much too limited for them to actually buy the book. That's fine, a loan will allow me to see it (and probably start drooling!).

I don't object to paying a high price for a book if it's one I know that I'll treasure and refer to frequently; books are almost like creatures to me, because of the long line of consciousness behind the best of them. If the Rhetorius book were $100, I think I'd get it sight unseen because of the Pingree pedigree; and, oh, how I want to press 1-Click Preorder at Amazon for this one! But I'll exercise restraint because it really is a lot of money, I could pay three or four bills for that amount.

I certainly appreciate your information and suggestions, Tom, Deb and Sue!
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Tom
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Joined: 11 Oct 2003
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Location: New Jersey, USA

Posted: Fri Feb 02, 2007 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Certaintly, in Australia, lecturers cannot demand that their employers pay for them. It is very strictly regulated, not by the department but by Financial Services.


In 1973 a man calling himself Professor X wrote a book about the career of college professor in the USA. The title was: This Beats Working For a Living Things have not become more difficult for American college instructors in the time since original publication.

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?sts=t&y=18&tn=This+Beats+Working+for+a+Living&x=46

Cheers,

Tom
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Sue



Joined: 11 Oct 2003
Posts: 945
Location: Australia

Posted: Fri Feb 02, 2007 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, then, American academics should consider themselves very fortunate. As someone who confronts it every day, I can assure you that it is currently the opposite in Australia. It is similar in the UK although I do not know to what extent.

I am presuming that the university system in the US is largely private. Most universities in Australia are government run. Out of the 38 universities only two are privately run. Our conservative government has cut university funding significantly over the last ten years.

Of course, you could always buy Roger Beck's new book 'A Brief History of Ancient Astrology' for $14.93. I am not familiar with his astrology but am very familiar with his work on Mithraism.

Wouldn't it be good if some hugely rich benefactor opened a massive lending library and purchased all the books we might want to read but not pay for?
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Philip Graves



Joined: 07 Jan 2005
Posts: 436
Location: Europe

Posted: Fri Feb 02, 2007 4:24 pm    Post subject: Rhetorius and Pingree Reply with quote

I presume this must have been a critical edition that Pingree had recently finished work on before his untimely death just over a year ago. I'm glad it will see the light of day.

Yes, the price is very high even for a critical edition by David Pingree. I spotted it in December and found the price slightly cheaper at Amazon.de (168 Euros, which currently converts to 218 US dollars). Since in the absence of any libraries likely to hold these kinds of texts in Sweden I've been trying to build up a home collection of them, it was an easy decision for me to pre-order it despite the price being poorly supported by my meagre income. (I'm the kind of enthusiast who would keep wearing old clothes with holes in them, do without a telephone line and television licence, live off bulk sacks of rice, mung beans and potatoes, and walk all over the city to avoid bus fares, to save money in preference to going without an important astrology book! Not that my nearest and dearest doesn't have a few things to say about that order of priorities, mind you....)

Rhetorius was one of the late classical astrologers credited with preserving earlier astrological texts by having compiled them into his own tome. According to James Herschel Holden, writing in that most valuable of concise reference books 'A History of Horoscopic Astrology', Rhetorius's 'compendium', which I presume to be the substance of this David Pingree edition, was mostly of the writings of Antiochus of Athens. A small amount of Antiochus's work has already been published in English translation by Project Hindsight in the 1990s, but I imagine there is much more to be found in Rhetorius's compendium, and that this new publication will be a valuable critical edition for reference purposes for anyone who has a serious interest in Hellenistic astrology.

I notice that the Pingree edition of Rhetorius is published by the German publisher Saur, who inherited from Teubner its 'Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana' series, which includes several important astrological critical editions of the past century, and that it is publishing this edition as part of that same series. It's good to see that Saur still has interest in these texts, and this also would explain the lower cost in Germany than in foreign markets such as the USA. I've made this point before, but feel I should do so again in the light of Saur's publication of Rhetorius: it really ought to reprint those astrological texts in the 'Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana' series that have fallen out of print. To anyone wishing to put together a decent collection of them, the fact that it has allowed Dorotheus, Firmicus Maternus, Hephaistio and others to fall out of print must be a major disincentive to bothering to purchase new releases such as Rhetorius. Scholarly editions like this have timeless value, and there will continue to be a market for them over decades and even centuries. But perhaps Saur expects only libraries and university institutions who have been subscribing to the entire Teubneriana series for decades already to be interested in buying this edition. What then of the new institutions springing up such as Kepler College, and the newer, younger generations of academics and historians who were too young when the earlier editions came out to buy them while they could? Are they expected to content themselves with Rhetorius and Vettius Valens and Ptolemy, and disregard Firmicus Maternus and Dorotheus? This seems to be short-sighted thinking to me.

Just my thoughts anyway,

Philip
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Philip Graves



Joined: 07 Jan 2005
Posts: 436
Location: Europe

Posted: Fri Feb 02, 2007 4:53 pm    Post subject: In response to Sue... Reply with quote

Sue wrote: 'Wouldn't it be good if some hugely rich benefactor opened a massive lending library and purchased all the books we might want to read but not pay for?'

Philip replies: Or from my point of view, if a wealthy astrological organisation sponsored my dream of opening a residential European astrological summer study and research centre (strictly reference only, no lending since some books are too old and rare to risk losing) by providing a suitable building to permanently house the books I've collected and continue to collect - that way they would obtain the use they deserve and be preserved as a collection for future generations....
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granny_skot



Joined: 20 May 2004
Posts: 1634
Location: California, USA

Posted: Fri Feb 02, 2007 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Joint efforts can be far less expensive than going things alone. I had a group of friends who all kept dreaming about building their own medieval fortress, and bemoaning the cost. I pointed out to them if htey all went in on the venture, they would pay less for the fort they wanted than if they tried ot do so alone. They pay less than they would for rent and have a really cool place to live.

That being said, there are grand homes and castles etc. in the EU that are falling apart from disrepair, and the inability to care for them, a joint project such as you are considering, could be deemed worthy of government support in terms of tax relief and help in repairing and maintaining what could easily be deemed an intitute for preservation of ancient knowledge, historic preservation of a building, teaching institute, and possibly museum.

If you look up Huntington Library in California, you will see that what I'm discussing is not original. That facility has the largest collection of Gainsboroughs in the world, a Gutenberg bible, Originals of the several treaties, etc... it has an large historical book collection,(which you can aply to revue under the watchful eyes of staff, but it has to go through approval process) museums and botanical gardens, it is also a teaching institute, and a botanical garden. New species of Roses are developed at this institute. It would require a great deal of planning, and getting people together to work on the concept and actualization, but if you expand it a bit to include language(which I believe you know something about) and preservation, I think you could pull it off. How many people do you know with conservatory backgrounds? You would have the added benefit of already having a large amount of PR before you get it off the ground, and there are lots of people and organizations that might put in their interest on such an Idea.

Okay my 10 cents on the Idea.

Granny
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Astraea



Joined: 04 Oct 2004
Posts: 348
Location: Colorado, USA

Posted: Fri Feb 02, 2007 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Philip, thank you for your very helpful explanation as to what this text actually is. I think it must be pure astrological gold and I'm like you -- I would go with holes in my shoes to buy an important astrology book, except that I can't subject my husband to the privations I would make on my own.

Granny, it's a solid idea and you're right, there have been collectives who have done the kind of thing you're talking about. Lately I've been giving a lot of thought to what will eventually happen to the books in astrologers' libraries, especially the volumes of interest to historians and the ones that tend to go out-of-print. A central repository would be wonderful.
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Philip Graves



Joined: 07 Jan 2005
Posts: 436
Location: Europe

Posted: Sat Feb 03, 2007 6:58 pm    Post subject: Reply to Granny Reply with quote

Dear Granny,

Thank you for your supportive and helpful thoughts here!

When it comes to a project such as I'm envisaging, a joint venture would certainly have several advantages - quicker to start up owing to pooled funding, and multiple human resources combining expertise to engineer a better thought-through set of outcomes.

I must say that I would love to be able to work with willing European-based Skyscript members I've become pleasantly acquainted with on establishing such a project, such as Deb, Kim, Maurice or Garry for instance.

The disadvantages then come down to the practicalities of achieving such a project when each individual who might (and I'm making no presumptions here) possibly potentially be interested existingly lives in a different location and inevitably has different commitments and restrictions on time and resources.

For example, I'm married to someone who sees Stockholm very much as her home, and would not be willing to move from Sweden in any conceivable circumstance, although she enjoys summers in the countryside. This limits the scope of my plans in practice to the establishment of such a centre somewhere within this country. Sweden might be too far off for individuals and organisations from Britain or otherwise outside the Nordic countries to even consider getting involved management-wise, even though the aim is for a centre that would only be active in playing host to researchers during the summer time, and despite good, cheap air links between Sweden and the UK for example!

It might seem more logical for such a resource to be established in a stronger population centre of astrologers within Europe such as the UK, but for the fact that I'm not able to live there myself, and someone would have to keep an eye on the books all year round even if the centre was only in wider use during the summers.

Then again, the very remoteness of a Swedish countryside retreat for example might have its attractions to visiting serious researchers who want to be able to study and write in isolation from more mundane distractions, and a centre that was restricted to hosting a select group of pre-approved researchers who had submitted research and writing proposals approved by a governing board (whose members would be drawn from all astrologers and related organisations that had sponsored the project) overseeing the operation would certainly provide for the need for quiet study. The idea could be further developed to host annual conferences or intensive taught courses on particular astrological subjects. The possibilities are limitless. So it could work well eventually, but I don't hold out strong hopes of finding any support for starting it up from British quarters at this early stage!

I like the idea of a botanical garden, by the way. As a former amateur herb-grower who once came close to going into business running a herb nursery in Shropshire, England, I'm sure I could put together a nice astrologically themed medicinal herb garden some day!

Philip
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Astraea



Joined: 04 Oct 2004
Posts: 348
Location: Colorado, USA

Posted: Mon Feb 05, 2007 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello to all. For anyone who might be curious about the Rhetorius book, here is an update.

On Philip's suggestion, I wrote to the publisher and inquired as to whether or not the text is in English or Greek (since the compendium is, indeed, the critical edition from Pingree). Verlag Saur e-mailed me this morning and said that the text is entirely in Greek. So the book would be wasted on me -- but I know that there are some classical language scholars and collectors who will be thrilled to have a copy of this long-awaited work!

(Edited to add that Amazon lists the book for preorder as being in English, so I'll forward the Verlag Saur e-mail to them.)
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