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Eudoxus of Knidos, founder of Greek astrology
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Levente Laszlo



Joined: 03 Nov 2006
Posts: 206
Location: Budapest, Hungary

Posted: Mon Aug 01, 2016 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(Thank you Smile)

Just as a postscript to my previous post, I'd also like to append another report from Anna Comnena (1083-ca. 1153), the daughter of the Byzantine emperor Alexius I (reigned 1081-1118). Her Alexiad, written around 1148, is an account of the days of her father, and here (7.1) she reports about an astrologer named Seth, who predicted the death of Robert Guiscard, the Duke of the Normans, which took place on July 17, 1085; this gives her the opportunity to have a small digression to the subject of astrology. Please note that this is the 12th century, well after the development of Arabic astrology, whose achievements had already been translated into Greek by this time. I quote the text in Latin transcription (sorry, I didn't felt like copypaste the Greek characters one by one):

Anna Comnena wrote:
(2) kai hina ti brachu paradramōmen tou logou tēs historias mikron apostantes, houtōs echei to kata tous chrēsmous: neōteron men to epheurēma kai ouk oide tautēn tēn epistēmēn ho palai chronos; oute gar ep' Eudoxou tou astronomikōtatou hē chrēsmōn methodos ēn oute ho Platōn tēn sunesin tautēn ēdei, all' oude Manethōn ho apotelesmatikos peri tautēs ēkribōken, alla lēpsis <ouk>* ēn ekeinois hōroskopou, en hois proumanteuonto, kai pēxis tōn kentrōn kai tou holou diathematos epitērēsis kai hoposa alla ho tēn methodon tautēn heurēkōs tois esusteron paredōken, haper xuneta tois peri ta toiauta mataiazousin. (3) hēmeis de ekeithen pote oligon ti tēs epistēmēs tautēs hēpsametha, ouch' hina ti toiouton diapraxaimetha (mē genoito), all' hina tēs matailogou tautēs akribesteron katagnontes kai tōn peri autēn ēscholēmenōn kataginōskoimen.


The translation of E. A. S. Dawes, corrected in the important passages:

"(2) And so that I make a short break in the course of the historical account, the following are the facts about (astrological) prophecies. The invention is quite recent, and the its science was not known to the ancients. For this method did not exist in the time of Eudoxus, the greatest of all astronomers, neither did Plato have any knowledge of it, and even Manetho, who dealt with apotelesmatics, had not brought it to perfection: as there was <no>* taking of the ascendant of the persons about whom they intended to prophesy, and fixing the angles and the observation of the whole horoscope and the like. However, the inventor of this science bequeathed to posterity what those who trouble about such trifles understand. (3) We, also, at one time dabbled a little in this science, not in order to make such calculations (God forbid!), but to gain a more accurate idea of this vain study to be able to pass judgment upon its devotees."

(*The editor of the latest edition, D. R. Reinsch, following the editor of the original publication, A. Reifferscheid, argues that a negation must have fallen out of the text; this is obviously right. See his article in Byzantinische Zeitschrift 94.2 (2001), pp. 617-618.)

Anna was a member of the imperial family, and we are well before the Sack of Constantinople (1202), which destroyed thousands of manuscripts form the library. Thus when we read that she studied the subject a little, not much doubt remains that she knows what she relates about. If she really had the opportunity to read through the now lost writings of Eudoxus, who she specifically mentions, then he can't have discussed about anything that resembles horoscopic astrology.
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