Friday, May 28, 2010




A Brief History of Ancient Astrology
by Roger Beck



Modern studies of ancient astronomy and astrology tend to accentuate
a dichotomy between the astronomy of antiquity as an emerging science
and its astrology as a superstition whose only historic value was that it
furnished a motive for investigating celestial regularities.

It is true that astrology, in the form in which it developed historically,
could not have done so unaided by mathematical astronomy. To predict
earthly ‘‘outcomes,’’ as in a natal horoscope, one must know the positions
of the stars and planets relative to each other and to the local
horizon of the subject at the time of birth. Direct observation is
obviously insufficient – births in daytime, cloud cover, phenomena
below the horizon, unavailability of an astrologically qualified observer,
and so on – and it was in fact seldom if ever used. Accordingly, ancient
astrologers, like their modern successors, worked with tables, and the
better the tables, the more accurate, so it seemed to the astrologers,
must be their astrological predictions. It was of course the astronomers,
or the astrologers themselves qua astronomers, who developed the
mathematical models from which accurate tables, notably tables of
planetary (including solar and lunar) longitudes, could be generated.





















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