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THE RENAISSANCE


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« Reply #120 on: October 17, 2008, 09:13:30 pm »









11. Zinner, Regiomontanus, 18. One of Peurbach's poems on nature can be found in Grössing, Humanistische Naturwissenschaft, 210–13.

12. "Me autem nichil unquam provide fecisse . . . aut, si quicquam, hoc in primis, non audeo dicere sapienter, sed feliciter factum est: et quod Bononiam vidi et quod non inhesi." Petrarch, Rerum familiarum libri I-VIII, trans. Aldo S. Bernardo (Albany: State University of N.Y. Press, 1975), 223; Idem, Rerum familiarum IV-VII, ed. Ugo Dotti (Paris: Société d'édition Les Belles Lettres, 2002), 109.

13. "Te Vienna Doctorem Artium creavit dignissimum." Regiomontanus, Padua oration, 48.

14. On humanist periodicity, see Michael Baxandall, Giotto and the Orators: Humanist Observers of Painting in Italy and the Discovery of Pictoral Composition, 1350–1450 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1971), 20–27.

15. "Nisi primitias lectionum facturo mihi mansuetudo vestra aspiraret, orationisque tremebundae filum dirigeret, praestantissimi viri, silvisse prorsus mallem quam pulpitum hoc philosophicum audentius conscendisse, praesertim cum novitate coepti facinoris, tanto tamquam celebri clarissimorum hominum conventu, diuturna demum a scholasticis exercitiis abstinentia facile deterreri potuerim." Regiomontanus, Padua oration, 43.

16. Baxandall, Giotto and the Orators, 21.

17. On humanist epideictic, see John W. O'Malley, Praise and Blame in Renaissance Rome: Rhetoric, Doctrine, and Reform in the Sacred Orators of the Papal Court, c. 1450–1521 (Durham: Duke University Press, 1979), 39–41.

18. A number of such orations can be found in Karl Müllner, Reden und Briefe Italienischer Humansiten (Munich: W. Fink, 1970).

19. "Dominicus igitur domum praedicatorum condidit, Thomas eius pavimenta marmore vestivit, Dominicus parietes struxit, Thomas picturis eos egregiis adornavit, Dominicus fratrum columen extitit, Thomas specimen, Dominicus plantavit, Thomas irrigavit, ille dignationes atque episcopatus ultro delatos refugit atque aversatus est, hic nobilitatem, opes, propinquos, parentes tamquam sirenes effugit. . . ." Lorenzo Valla, "In Praise of Saint Thomas Aquinas," trans. M. Esther Hanley, in Renaissance Philosophy, ed. Leonard A. Kennedy (The Hague: Mouton, 1973), 13–27, 21; J. Valen, "Lorenzo Valla über Thomas von Aquino," Vierteljahrsschrift für Kultur und Litteratur der Renaissance 1 (1886): 384–96, 393.

20. Hannah H. Gray, "Valla's Encomium of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Humanist Conception of Christian Antiquity," in Essays in History and Literature: Presented by the Fellows of the Newberry Library to Stanley Pargellis, ed. Heinz Bluhm (Chicago: The Newberry Library, 1965), 37–51.
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« Reply #121 on: October 17, 2008, 09:14:28 pm »









21. "Archimedes Siracusanus civis et Apollonius Pergaeus ob ingenii altitudinem divinus vocari solitus, quorum uter alteri praeferendus sit, non facile dixero. Nam etsi Apollonius elementa conica in octo libris, quos nondum vidit latinitas, subtilissime conscripserit, Archimedi tamen Siculo varietas rerum editarum principatum contulisse videtur . . . Apollonius quoque ubi in Latinum ex Graeco versus fuerit, nemini vestrum non admirandus veniet." Regiomontanus, Padua oration, 45.

22. O'Malley, Praise and Blame, 63–65.

23. "spectatissimus mathematicarum splendor . . ." Regiomontanus, Padua oration, 43.

24. "Ante oculos igitur causam habetis." Regiomontanus, Padua oration, 53.

25. "Geometriae disciplina primum ab Aegyptis reperta dicitur, quod, inundante Nilo et omnium possessionibus limo obductis, initium terrae dividendae per lineas et mensuras nomen arti dedit. Quae deinde longius acumine sapientium profecta et maris et caeli et aeris spatia metiuntur." Isidore of Seville, "On the Quadrivium or Four Mathematical Sciences," trans. Ernest Brehaut, in A Source Book in Medieval Science, ed. Edward Grant (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1974), 3–16, 8; Idem, Etimologie o Origini, 1.10, ed. Angelo Valastro Canale (Turin: Unione Tipografico-Editrice Torinese, 2002), 290.

26. "Dum Nili flumen solito vehementius exundans limites agrorum Aegyptiorum vastaret, et pene universos delevisset, contendere coeperunt agricolae, sua quisque pro opinione (ut est ingenium hominum ad rem plus satis attentum) agros suos definire cupiebat, quique sive sermone, sive viribus plus caeteris valuit, tametsi antea angustum haberet agrum pro libito terminus instituit, quae res cum praeter aequum et bonum verteretur, ad principem eius patriae devoluta est, qui iusta quadam ratione mensurisque certis suos cuique reparuit limites. Sic generali et inusitato quodam impulsu mortalium animi ad mensuras tractandas converse coepere alter alteri questiones anteponere, et quicquid in huiuscemodi exercitiis bene inventum putabant, quamvis indigestum, ut ita loquar, adhuc foret, literis mandare studuerunt." Regiomontanus, Padua oration, 44.

27. Herodotus, The Histories, 2.109, trans. George Rawlinson (New York: Knopf, 1997), 177.

28. On Valla's translation of Herodotus, see E.B. Fryde, "Some Fifteenth Century Latin Translation of Ancient Greek Historians," in Humanism and Renaissance Historiography (London: The Hambledon Press, 1983), 83–114.

29. "Cum Platonis in dicendo suavitas, tum Ciceronis nostra lingua dissertissima non assint, qui etsi reviviscerent haud quaquam pro dignitate idipsum assequerentur." Regiomontanus, Padua oration, 43. Plato, though he was of course Greek, was seen by fifteenth-century humanists as exemplifying excellent style. See, for example, Baxandall, Giotto and the Orators, 22–24.

30. "Nilus totius orbis fluviorum celeberrimus a solstitio aestivo usque ad autumnale aequinoctium, ut Herodotus libro 2 et Diodorus in 1 testatur, immensa aquarum mole quotannis totam Aegyptum exundat, ex cuius incremento Aegyptii vim aut penuriam futurarum frugum praevident. Aegyptus enim cum Nilus in 12 cubitos excrescit famem sentit; in 13 etiamnum esurit; 14 cubiti hilaritatem afferunt, 15 securitatem, 16 delitias, quod iustum fertur esse incrementum. Maximum autem aetate Claudii principis fuit cubitorum 18, sicut minimum Pharsalico bello veluti caedem magni Pompeii prodigio quodam aversante, autores Plinius libro 5 et Strabo 17. Cum huiusmodi itaque Nili inundationes limites agrorum confunderent, nunc minuendo, alias immutando, nonnunquam delendo signa quaedam quibus proprium ab alieno discerneretur, iterum atque iterum metiri eam terram oportebat, propter quod Strabo 17 Geographiae et Herodotus 2 aiunt nonnullos prodidisse geometriam ab Aegyptiis primo inventam esse, quemadmodum arithmeticam, id est, numeralem scientiam a Phoenicibus propter mercaturas." Polydore Vergil, On Discovery, ed. and trans. Brian P. Copenhaver. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002), 146–49.   
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« Reply #122 on: October 17, 2008, 09:15:40 pm »










31. Andrea Brenta, In disciplinas et bonas artes oratio, in Reden und Briefe, 71–85.

32. "Abraham enim Hebraeorum patrem Astronomiam tenuisse clamant atque Mosen. Prometheo ignis divini furtum imputant, quod Astronomiae lumen mortalibus tradiderit. Herculem pro Atlante coelum humeris suis sustinuisse aiunt, sive quod sub Atlante astronomiam didicerit, sive quod in regno eius absentis praefectus aliquamdiu fuerit." Regiomontanus, Padua oration, 46.

33. Isidore, "On the Quadrivium," 11. The main difference between Regiomontanus's account and that of Isidore is Regiomontanus's mention of Prometheus.

34. "Astronomiam ab Aegyptiis inventam tradunt. Nam cum in ea regione perpetua aeris serenitas contingeret et Aegyptii sacerdotes, qui disciplinis studebant, otio et rebus ad vitam necessariis abundarent, ut Aristoteles, multa et observasse et invenisse perhibentur quae ad caeli rationem pertinebant. . . . Post multa vero annorum milia, ut quidam prodiderunt, in Graeciam delata est et a multis cognita, ut maxime ex poetis cognosci potest. Deinde secuti sunt Pythagoras et Pherecydes, qui mathematicarum rerum studiosi permultum huic disciplinae addiderunt. Hos secutus est Eratosthenes, Berosus, et Hipparchus et innumerabiles alii, quibus Graecia plurimum abundavit. Plato vero et Eudoxus, cum discendi gratia in Aegyptum profecti essent, multa cum rerum aliarum tum vero eius scientiae secreta, ut Strabo refert, ab Aegyptiis sacerdotibus in Graeciam reportarunt. Ita paulatim ac per aetates aucta et ad cumulum perducta usque ad Ptolemaei tempora pervenit, a quo mirandum illud ac prope divinum astrologiae opus editum est, ut nihil quodam modo ad hanc scientiam addi posse videatur." Gregorio da Città di Castello, "Gregorii Tiphernii, viri clarissimi atque Graecarum litterarum eruditissimi, de astrologia oratio," in Reden und Briefe Italienischer Humansiten, 177–78.

35. Müllner, Reden und Briefe, 177 n. 2; Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1.24; Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, 2.19; Strabo, Geography, 14.1.14; Cicero, De finibus, 5.87; Pliny, Historia naturalis, 30.1.

36. "Hipparchus tamen Rhodius huius disciplinae primus parens, Claudius autem Ptolemeus Alexandrinus auctor atque princeps non iniuria praedicabitur. Nam ante Hipparchum pauci admodum astrorum motus expedite contemplati sunt, nemo autem prorsus stellas fixas alio quam diurno motu circumferri putaverat, cui rei Hipparchus oculos adiecit crebriores, conclusitque memoratas stellas motu quodam proprio ac tardissimo Orientem versus mutari. Deinde Ptolemaeus inventa priscorum resumens . . . motum huiusmodi in centum annis per unum gradum pronunciavit quemadmodum in septima dictione capituli 3. intueri licet. . . . Multos denique huius artis Graecos professores silentio praetereundos censeo . . . Arabes praeterea quantum in hoc genere atrium valuerunt, testes ostendunt dignissimi Albategnius quem Latinum fecit Plato quidam Tiburtinus. Item Geber Hispalensis Gerardo quodam Cremonensi traductus, quem Albertus Magnus in speculo Astronomiae correctorem Ptolemaei vocare non formidat." Regiomontanus, Padua oration, 46–47; Ptolemy, Almagest, 7.3, trans. G.J. Toomer, in Ptolemy's Almagest (London: Duckworth, 1984), 329–38.

37. Georg Peurbach and Regiomontanus, Epytoma in almagestum Ptolomei, in Opera collectanea, 59–274; Zinner, Regiomontanus, 51–55.

38. Peurbach and Regiomontanus, Epitome, 7.3, 172–173; Zinner, Regiomontanus, 54.

39. Valla, "In Praise of Saint Thomas Aquinas," 26; Petrarch, Against a Detractor of Italy, ed. and trans. David Marsh, in Francesco Petrarca: Invectives (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2003), 364–475, 411–25.

40. "Nam etsi Pythagoras numerorum peritia apud posteros immortalitatem reliquerit, tum quod peregrinis praeceptoribus Aegyptiis atque Arabibus, qui plurimum in eo studio valuerunt, se submiserit, tum quod numerorum certa compagine omnia naturae secreta scrutari tentaverit, longe tamen digniora Euclides fecit numerorum fundamenta in tribus libris suis, septimo, octavo et nono, unde et Iordanus decem numerorum elementa decerpsit, hinc tres libros de datis numerorum pulcherrimos edidit. Diofanti autem tredecim libros subtilissimos nemo usque hac ex Graecis Latinos fecit, in quibus flos ipse totius Arithmeticae latet, ars videlicet rei et census, quam hodie vocant Algebram Arabico nomine. Huius equidem artis pulcherrimae multa fragmenta passim Latini contrectant, paucissimos autem egregie doctos offendo nostra tempestate post Ioannem de Blanchinis virum optimum. Habetur demum apud nostros quadripartitum numerorum, opus insigne admodum, item Algorithmus demonstratus et Arithmetica Bohecii, introductio ex Graeco Nicomacho sumpta." Regiomontanus, Padua oration, 46.   
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« Reply #123 on: October 17, 2008, 09:17:20 pm »










41. Regiomontanus, Padua oration, 49.

42. Some scholars have linked Regiomontanus's praise of Diophantus and failure to mention Arabic sources to humanist anti-Arabism and the sixteenth-century effort to establish an entirely classical genealogy of algebra. See, for example, Giovanna Cifoletti, Mathematics and Rhetoric: Peletier, Gosselin and the Making of the French Algebraic Tradition (Ph.D. Dissertation, Princeton University, 1992), 254–86; and Høyrup, "A New Art in Ancient Clothes."

43. Rose, The Italian Renaissance of Mathematics, 95–98.

44. On the use of Archimedes in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, see Marshall Clagett, Archimedes in the Middle Ages (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1978), vol. 3.

45. See Sabetai Unguru, "A very early acquaintance with Apollonius of Perga's treatise on conic sections in the Latin West," Centaurus 20 (1976): 112–28.

46. Peurbach, Novae theoricae planetarum, trans. E.J. Aiton in "Peurbach's Theoricae novae planetarum: a Translation with Commentary," Osiris, 2nd Series 3 (1987), 4–43; Olaf Pedersen, "The Decline and Fall of the Theorica planetarum," in Science and History: Studies in Honor of Edward Rosen (Wroclaw: Ossolineum, 1978), 157–85.

47. Zinner, Regiomontanus, 60–69.

48. Regiomontanus, Padua oration, 49–50.

49. Andrea Brenta, "In disciplinas et bonas artes," 77; Valerius Maximus, Facta et dicta memorabilia , 8.7 ext. 7, ed. John Briscoe (Stuttgart: Teubner, 1998), 526–27.

50. Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, The Education of Boys, ed. and trans. Craig W. Kallendorf, in Humanist Educational Treatises (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002), 251–53.   
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« Reply #124 on: October 17, 2008, 09:18:35 pm »









51. "Qui septimum Physicorum absque notitia proportionum discere possit arbitror esse neminem." Regiomontanus, Padua oration, 50.

52. Arthur Field, The Origins of the Platonic Academy of Florence (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), 114–15.

53. "Cum se primo ad naturalem philosophiam conferet auditor, astrologiae geometriaeque prima elementa degustet. . . . Principiis autem earum disciplinarum perceptis, facile quae ab Aristotele dicuntur intelliget. Itaque satis, quod ad philosophiam attinet, earum disciplinarum didicisse putabitur, si De spera brevissimum opusculum et Planetarum theoricam, quibus astrologiae continentur elementa, in geometria vero primum Euclidis librum perceperit." Alamanno Rinucinni, "Alamannus Rinuccinus ad Philippum filium," in Lettere ed Orazioni, ed. Vitto R. Giustiniani (Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1953), 100.

54. "Quos ramos inter se et a stipite suo diversos haec secta produxit? Pars Ioannem Scotum imitatur; alii sanctum Thomam; nonnulli autem ingenio promiscuo hac atque illac defluunt . . . Igitur quo plures philosophia duces habet, eo minus hac nostra tempestate addiscitur. Princeps interea philosophorum prorsus destituitur, nomenque suum is sibi usurpat, que in sophismatibus plus caeteris valet, neque Aristoteles ipse si revivisceret discipulos suos atque sequaces satis intelligere crederetur. Quod de nostris disciplinis nemo nisi insanus praedicare ausit, quandoquidem neque aetas neque hominum mores sibi quicque detrahere possunt. Theoremata Euclidis eandem hodie quam ante mille annos habent certitudinem. Inventa Archimedis post mille secula venturis hominibus non minorem inducent admirationem." Regiomontanus, Padua oration, 50–51.

55. "Quae cognitio iucundissima est et praeceptum in se certitudinem continet." Pier Paolo Vergerio, The Character and Studies Befitting a Free-Born Youth Dedicated to Ubertino da Carrara, in Humanist Educational Treatises, 54–55.

56. "In quam aspicientem, iucundum est et fixarum stellarum imagines discernere. . . . Quae cum omnia iucundum est intellegere, tum maxime negotiari circa eas quae in aere et circa terram fiunt impressiones iucundissimum est." Ibid, 54–55.

57. William Harrison Woodward, Vittorino da Feltre and Other Humanist Educators (New York: Columbia University Teacher's College Bureau of Publications, 1963), 43, 234–41.

58. Hanna Gray, "Renaissance Humanism: the Pursuit of Eloquence," JHI 24 (1963): 497–514.

59. Petrarch, De sui ipsius et multorum ignorantia, tr. H. Nachod in The Renaissance Philosophy of Man, ed. Cassirer, Kristeller, and Randall (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948), 47–133,105; cited in Gray, "Renaissance Humanism," 501.

60. "Quamvis enim artes huiusmodi in veri vestigatione versentur, earum tamen studio a rebus gerendis abduci contra officium est, quia virtutis omnis laus, ut ille dicit, in actione consistit." Piccolomini, The Education of Boys, 246–47; Cicero, De officiis, 1.6.19,

61. "Tu es procul dubio fidelissima immortalis Dei nuncia, quae secretis suis interpretandis legem praebes, cuius gratia coelos constituere decrevit omnipotens, quibus passim ignes sidereos, monimenta futurorum impressit." Regiomontanus, Padua oration, 52.



http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/journal_of_the_history_of_ideas/v067/67.1byrne.html#REF31 
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« Reply #125 on: May 23, 2009, 04:58:41 pm »











                    F I R S T   C A U S E   O F   M O T I O N,   C R U E L   F I R M A M E N T
 




The difficulty about tracing the development of astrology is the enormous amount of evidence to be sifted. As one 20th-century writer, Don Cameron Allen, has put it, 'The literature of astrology is as vast as the history of man. No one scholar can possibly hope to untangle all of its intricately woven strands.' (The Star-crossed Renaissance, 1941).

Mr Allen was thinking in the main of books on the theory and practice of the subject, of 'theological' arguments; but from the 14th century onwards, there is a proliferation of comments and allusions in non-astrological literature, which has been seized upon by adherents and antagonists alike, as though to produce evidence that Dante or Shakespeare or Chaucer were 'believers' or not was to add something to the argument.
                                                                                                            
Nevertheless, authors' use of astrology in their work is of enormous value, for it tells us about the general public's varied views on the subject.

It is difficult to discover, from a fictional work, the attitude towards astrology of its author; the old trap of attributing to a writer the opinions held by his characters yawns wide, and has swallowed many. And even if a writer seems to be unequivocally speaking in his own voice, there may be doubt about his motives - especially if he contradicts himself.

The French poet Eustache Deschamps (c 1338-1415), for instance, wrote two ballades in which he claims that but for free will man would be completely controlled by the stars. Yet elsewhere (in his Demonstracions contre sortileges) he inveighs against all sorts of divination, and makes free use of the arguments of Nicole Oresme, an opponent of astrology (of whom more later).
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« Reply #126 on: May 23, 2009, 05:00:20 pm »











GIOVANNI BOCCACCIO

With Boccaccio (1313-75) as with his acquaintance, Chaucer, we come to a man whose use of astrology in his work seems as good a mirror of the general view as we are likely to find. His attitude is rather that of the serious astrologers of later generations: that is, when he says that Mars and Venus map out, in a horoscope, the sexual disposition of its subject, he is not saying that those planets actually provoke passion, but that through their positions at the time of birth they influence the subject's attitude to love. It would be difficult to claim Boccaccio as a proselytizer of astrology, but it certainly could not be claimed that he was a serious opponent.









DANTE ALIGHIERI

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) had clearly read the work of Boethius, and while in the Inferno he condemns some astrologers, in the Paradiso he positively celebrated astrology as the interpreter of the will of God. Even in the Inferno Dante admits that the planets may make man act ('Lo cielo i vostri movimenti inizia'), while underlining the fact that from that moment of action he is on his own. He also believed that it was the positions of the planets that make children different from their parents, adding to inherited factors a new set of personality traits and inclinations.
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« Reply #127 on: May 23, 2009, 05:02:10 pm »









Piers Plowman, for many people today the earliest accessible English poem, written by William Langland some time between 1360 and 1399, has in the earliest of its versions a sideswipe at astrology as 'evil for to know'; but the third version betrays a clear belief in the influence of the planets. It has sometimes been suggested that the slighting earlier reference was cut because of the general popularity of astrology and Langland's desire to popularize his poem.

A contemporary author, John Barbour, in his 1275 poem about Robert the Bruce, mistrusts astrology on religious grounds, but on the other hand admits that the constellations can incline a man to good or evil, and that an astrologer can tell a man's character from the positions of the planets at the time of his birth.

But it is with Chaucer (c 1345-1400) that we come to the first English writer whose work is from beginning to end shot through with astrology. It is possible to argue that he made use of the subject as a selling point, as a popular ingredient in The Canterbury Tales; but this is not a persuasive point of view.

It is much more likely that he spoke of astrological elements in the characters in his poem for the very good reason that he saw them as integral, and knew that by referring to them he made those characters more real, made their actions more credible. Which is not to say that he was an astrologer, as some have claimed, or that he was a superstitious fool, which a total acceptance of all the claims of astrology would have made him.

The Canterbury Tales (I use Nevill Coghill's modern 'translation' throughout) both opens and closes with an astrological reference: the Prologue announces that the pilgrimage begins when

the young sun

His half-course in the sign of the Ram has run

and at the end of the poem, in The Parson's Prologue, the pilgrims approach the end of their journey as

the power of Saturn

Began to rise with Libra ...
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« Reply #128 on: May 23, 2009, 05:04:03 pm »








More use is made of astrology in some of the Tales than others. The Parson's Prologue has that one brief reference, but in The Knight's Tale, astrology has a crucial effect on the characters: there is a positive astrological dispute when Arcite and Palamon both ask for victory in a fight, and Arcite is promised it.

Immediately an uproar was begun

Over this granted boon in Heaven above

As between Venus, fairest Queen of Love,

And the omnipotent Mars; it did not cease

Though Jupiter was busy making peace,

Until their father Saturn, pale and cold,

Who knew so many stratagems of old,

Searched his experience and found an art

To please the disputants on either part ...

'My dearest daughter Venus,' said old Saturn,

'My heavenly orbit marks so wide a pattern

It has more power than anyone can know;

In the wan sea I drown and overthrow,

Mine is the prisoner in the darkling pit,

Mine are both neck and noose that strangles it,

Mine the rebellion of the serfs astir,

The murmurings, the privy poisoner;

And I do vengeance, I send punishment,

And when I am in Leo it is sent ... 
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« Reply #129 on: May 23, 2009, 05:05:13 pm »








In The Man of Law's Tale we see an actual horoscope at work; the heroine has agreed to an arranged marriage, but the Man of Law sees that a horoscope drawn up for the moment of departure from home for her wedding reveals an unhappy future:

First cause of motion, cruel firmament,

Driving the stars with thy diurnal sway

And hurling all from east to occident

That naturally would take another way,

Thy crowding force set heaven in such array

That this her first, fierce journey must miscarry

And Mars will sway this marriage, if she marry.

O thou unfortunate oblique degree

Of the Ecliptic, whence the cadent Mars,

Thrust from his proper angle, helplessly

Falls into Scorpio, darkest house of stars!

O lord of war, whose influence debars

All hope! O feeble Luna, vainly knit

To him, thrust forth from where thou shouldest sit!

And O imprudent Emperor of Rome,

Is one time like another in such case?

Haddest thou no astrologer at home

To choose the favourable time and place

For journeying?...
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« Reply #130 on: May 23, 2009, 05:06:30 pm »









Nevill Coghill has taken certain liberties in translation, introducing the sign of Scorpio into the second verse I quote, for example. In the original this verse begins

Infortunat ascendent tortuos,

Of which the lord is helplees falle, alas,

Out of his angle into the derkeste hous!...

This seems to mean that the Ascendant, or sign rising over the eastern horizon at the moment for which the horoscope is cast, is an unfortunate one. Since Chaucer refers to Mars, and it has a special influence when in Aries, it seems likely that that was the Ascendant.

Coghill was presumably advised to bring Scorpio in because that is the sign allied to the eighth house, the house of death (traditionally also ruled by Mars). The Moon (Luna, in the Coghill version) is either in conjunction with or in aspect to Mars, the 'wicked' planet.

Versifying an astrological chart is unlikely to add to its clarity, but any astrologer reading the verses would agree that poor Custance is unlikely to enjoy a happy wedding, and indeed as it turns out she not only fails to get married at all, but just escapes massacre.

This is not the place for a detailed analysis of all the astrological allusions in The Canterbury Tales, but we cannot ignore the most famous, which occur in The Wife of Bath's Tale. Again, much play is made with the horoscope - this time the natal horoscope, drawn up for the moment of birth, rather than for some other moment of time in the life of an individual.

Once again the verse abbreviates and simplifies the horoscope; not surprisingly, for a full horoscope would be far too complex to versify, or even for a poet to use in contriving a character
« Last Edit: May 23, 2009, 05:08:43 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #131 on: May 23, 2009, 08:34:21 pm »









 The Wife of Bath uses her horoscope to excuse, or at least explain, her happy sexuality:



For Venus sent me feeling from the stars

And my heart's boldness came to me from Mars.

Venus gave me desire and lecherousness

And Mars my hardihood, or so I guess,

Born under Taurus and with Mars therein.

Alas, alas, that ever love was sin!

I ever followed natural inclination

Under the power of my constellation

And was unable to deny, in truth,

My chamber of Venus to a likely youth.

The mark of Mars is still upon my face

And also in another privy place.

For as I may be saved by God above,

I never used discretion when in love

But ever followed on my appetite

Whether the lad was short, long, black or white.

Little I cared, if he was fond of me,

How poor he was, or what his rank might be ... 
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« Reply #132 on: May 23, 2009, 08:37:37 pm »








It is a vivid enough horoscope, however sketchy. The Ascendant is Taurus, and Mars is in that sign - a placing which contributes stubbornness, a hot temper, perhaps even leading to violence, sensuousness and possessiveness.

Interestingly, Boccaccio (who Chaucer knew) was told by Andalo di Negro, of Genoa, that anyone born with Mars in Taurus would be 'venereal in all things', and Abholi, an Arabian astrologer, pointed out that Mars when in a 'bad' position always portended the birth of a devious person, and that Venus allied with it would produce a garrulous, mendacious virago - a reasonable description of the Wife. She herself makes the point that Venus gives her 'desire and lecherousness', though she does not say in what position the planet was; perhaps in Scorpio?

It is amusing that she refers to Mars' mark, found upon her face and elsewhere. There was often believed to be a correspondence between the horoscope and the 'marks of the body' - indeed, William Lilly, the 17th-century astrologer, believed that the truth of astrology could be usefully proved by telling someone where 'the privy marks of the body' were to be found, after merely consulting his or her birth chart; and claimed to have done it himself.

As we will find again with Shakespeare, Chaucer was able to assume that his readers had some technical knowledge of astrology - far more than any general reader today would have; they would know what was meant by allusions to the Ascendant, to planets 'in angle', to the houses, and so on.
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« Reply #133 on: May 23, 2009, 08:40:03 pm »








It is certainly open to any reader to doubt whether, just because Chaucer attributes a belief in astrology to characters in a work of fiction, he necessarily accepted the theory himself. His Treatise on the Astrolabe, written for his son (and not, of course, a work of fiction) seems to indicate that he entirely rejected judicial astrology - the astrology that claimed to be able to foretell the future. But at the same time it suggests that he considered astrologia naturalis - the astrology that claims the planets affect at least some significant areas of human life - quite another matter.

May it not be significant, too, that at no point in The Canterbury Tales does he actually condemn astrology, even judicial astrology, as stupid, or wicked, or mistaken?

It would have been difficult for Chaucer to avoid taking an interest in the subject, whatever conclusions he eventually reached about it. Few thoughtful men could escape astrology, even if they wished.
Petrarch, who was certainly capable of sharp gibes about superstition, and in his letters to Boccaccio was extremely caustic about indifferent astrologers, corresponded with distinguished doctors about astrological medicine, and in a letter to the Emperor Charles IV confessed (perhaps sycophantically) that long ago an astrologer had promised that he would be on familiar terms with the greatest rulers of his age.

Some time after his death, an historian claimed that Petrarch was himself an astrologer, and had predicted an earthquake in Tuscany and the deaths of various great men.

Unlikely.

But it should at least be noted that Petrarch was far harder on alchemy, magic in general, and the power of gems, than astrology.
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« Reply #134 on: May 23, 2009, 08:45:26 pm »




CECCO D'ASCOLI -
Francesco Degli Stabili








The death at the stake of Cecco d'Ascoli (Francesco degli Stabili) failed to dissuade any other men from the study of astrology; and in fact it is notable that that study flourished particularly among the friars of the Middle Ages (who were not only theologians, but supporters and manipulators of the Holy Inquisition).

Only a few years after d'Ascoli's execution, Niccolo di Paganica, a Dominican friar, published a book on medical astrology; he may have been the astrologer who drew up the horoscope of John the Fearless, later Duke of Burgundy, at his birth in 1371. His book was to be found in Petrarch's library.

Another Italian Dominican, Bishop Ugo de Castello, wrote and published a book on 'critical days' in 1358. This was particularly addressed to physicians, and argued that it was far more accurate to fix on the critical days of an illness by astrological means than simply to watch for physical symptoms, describing too how to fix the position of the Moon and interpret the planetary effects in the context of particular illnesses.

Some scholars made a special study of astrological medicine, and wrote voluminously on it. One such scholar was Gentile da Foligno, a severely practical man whose lectures and writings were influential. His work was not all astrological; he wrote about many aspects of medicine.

Much of Gentile's attention was given to the plague, of which he himself died in 1348. This was the notorious Black Death, and his essay on it was written at the commission of the University of Perugia just as it was attacking the city (Augustine of Trent had written on the same subject seven years earlier). It was, Gentile asserted, a sickness caused by certain planetary dispositions - most astrologers suspected eclipses of the Sun and Moon and conjunctions of Saturn and Mars as prime movers, especially when they occurred in one of the 'human' signs of the zodiac.

The planets, then, it was suspected, produced a kind of rotting of the air which became poisonous when breathed into the lungs. Gentile made various suggestions for combating the plague, some based on hygiene, and extremely sensible; others based on perhaps less effective notions, such as the drinking of potable gold.
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