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(IX.) HISTORY - Success - And The Beginning Of Failure

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Bianca
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« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2007, 08:46:42 pm »








That Shakespeare shared this view is a reasonable assumption, even remembering the danger of assuming that he put his own views into the mouths of his characters.

It is difficult for instance not to believe that we are hearing his voice through that of Ulysses in the great speech on degree in Troilus and Cressida:



"The heavens themselves, the planets, and this centre,

Observe degree, priority, and place,

Insisture, course, proportion, season, form,

Office, and custom, in all line of order:

And therefore is the glorious planet Sol

In noble eminence enthron'd and spher'd

Amidst the other; whose med'cinable eye

Corrects the ill aspects of planets evil,

And posts, like the commandment of a king,

Sans check, to good and bad: but when the planets

In evil mixture, to disorder wander,

What plagues and what portents! what mutiny!

What raging of the sea! shaking of earth!

Commotion in the winds! frights, changes, horrors,

Divert and crack, rend and deracinate

The unity and married calm of states

Quite from their fixture! "
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Bianca
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« Reply #16 on: August 17, 2007, 08:48:46 pm »








Shakespeare's audience would have followed that speech with an instant grasp even of the technicalities.

Most members of a modern audience need a footnote to explain what 'ill aspects' are, for instance; Shakespeare knew that his audience would understand, just as they would understand the other technical references in the plays, which often convey jokes missed by 20th-century audiences.

Elizabethan playgoers also instantly understood what the playwright was doing when he put all the attacks on astrology made in the plays (not that there are many of these) into the mouths of fools like Launcelot Gobbo or villains like Edmund, in Lear.

Modern critics quote Edmund's speech near the beginning of the play as Shakespeare's denigration of astrology, mocking 'the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune, often the surfeit of our own behaviour, we make guilty of our disasters the Sun, Moon and stars', and going on to claim that he, Edmund, 'should have been that I am, had the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardising.'

What they miss, but the Elizabethans would have grasped, is that Shakespeare uses this very speech as a shorthand signal of Edmund's villainy.

Not that Shakespeare is not happy to make fun of the astrological quack (as when Antipholus of Ephesus describes Dr Pinch, in The Comedy of Errors, as 'a mere anatomy, a mountebank/A threadbare juggler, and a fortune-teller') and in another passage, often misunderstood - Cassius' famous lines from Julius Caesar, in which he tells Brutus that


Men at some time are masters of their fates.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,

But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
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Bianca
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« Reply #17 on: August 17, 2007, 08:50:27 pm »








That is, men must take the right moment (which any competent astrologer would propose) at which to grasp their fate; if they do not, it is their fault rather than that of the stars. Free will is not simply conceded, but stressed - in All's Well that Ends Well, for instance:


Our remedies oft in themselves do lie,

Which we ascribe to heaven. The fated sky

Gives us free scope; only doth backward pull

Our slow designs when we ourselves are dull.


And finally, if there are still doubts, Shakespeare surely reveals his own feelings on the subject in the fourteenth sonnet:



Not from the stars do I my judgement pluck,

And yet methinks I have astronomy;

But not to tell of good or evil luck,

Of plagues, of dearths, or seasons' quality;

Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell,

Pointing to each his thunder, rain and wind,

Or say with princes if it shall go well

By oft predict that I in heaven find ...



That is, astrology is to be used sensibly and realistically.
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Bianca
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« Reply #18 on: August 17, 2007, 08:52:40 pm »








Some people, of course, were more credulous, among them Shakespeare's landlady Mrs Mountjoy, who went off from the house in Silver Street at least twice to consult an astrologer far inferior to John Dee, but more successful in his own line: Simon Forman (1552-1611).

Forman was, like so many astrologers of his time, a self-educated man who had picked up a knowledge of the subject with his knowledge of medicine - and throughout his life he was to be plagued by the Privy Council and the Royal College of Physicians for his unlicensed activities as an amateur doctor. Nevertheless (partly due to his courage in remaining in London to treat the sick during the plague) he built up a trustful clientele, and made a good living as a physician-astrologer.

His diaries and casebooks (detailed in A. L. Rowse's Simon Forman, 1974) reveal a cross-section of Elizabethan life, from the servant classes (though there are few of the poor, who could not afford his fees) to the famous, to wealthy merchants, politicians and the gentry - among them Frances Howard, Countess of Essex and Somerset.

Among other things, his diaries are a record of his voracious love-life - he seems to have seduced most of his female clients, although the ease with which they fell to him is surprising to anyone who looks at the single surviving portrait.

The varied nature of the problems brought to Forman show the use ordinary people made of astrology: merchants asked about the prospects for coming voyages, while ship insurers asked about the possible perils into which the ships might run.

Men came to enquire whether other men were their enemies or friends; women whether their love would be returned, whether they would become pregnant, whether they would ever marry. There were enquiries about missing pets, stolen goods; who had taken this piece of silver or that purse, and where was it hidden?

There is truly no area of human life about which any kind of question might be asked, on which Forman was not consulted; in him, and in his successor William Lilly, astrology reaches its nadir of absurdity, in some senses - the silliest questions were deemed matters susceptible to the effects of the planets.
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« Reply #19 on: August 17, 2007, 08:55:52 pm »








In the rest of Europe during the second half of the 16th century, there was a continued effort - especially in Germany - to put it on a serious scientific footing by collecting and collating notes on planetary positions and their apparent significance.

John Garcaeus (1530-75) published four hundred birth charts of important contemporaries, a quarter of them prominent men of learning, so that they could be compared and discussed.

As usual, there are some dramatic stories.

Valentin Nabod, Professor of Mathematics at Cologne, for instance, produced an interesting commentary on Ptolemy, but looking at his own birth chart believed himself to be in danger from a sword. He rented a house in Padua, whence he had travelled, and locked himself in it with a supply of food. The landlord, unable to collect the rent, had the door broken down after a while - and found the body of Nabod, stabbed to death.

That kind of story, quickly circulated by other astrologers, may have done something to convince the ignorant of the efficiency of astrological prediction.

A more serious attempt was made in 1580, when Henry Ranzovius published his Catalogue of Emperors, Kings and Princes who have loved, adorned and practised the art of astrology.

This contains many accounts of astrologers' successes by Manilius Antonius, chamber-lain to Popes Sixtus IV and Julius II, Dethlevus Reventlovius, who worked for Charles V and successfully predicted the outcome of his war against the Elector of Saxony, Matthaeus Delius, who predicted to Philip II of Spain the diminution of his power after his succession.

There were also, however, many apparently successful predictions included which were demonstrably inventions, which gave welcome ammunition to those who were beginning to claim that astrologers were given to cooking the books.
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« Reply #20 on: August 17, 2007, 08:57:35 pm »








In England, popular and to some extent scientific interest in astrology was to continue to flourish throughout most of the 17th century; but by the close of the 16th century in the rest of Europe long shadows were closing in, not only over the quacks but over the genuine practitioners.

The reasons for the gradual diminution of serious interest in astrology are various. Certainly the changing nature of man's understanding of the universe played its part.

The almost universal realization that the Sun rather than the Earth was at the centre of the solar system seemed somehow to devalue the whole idea of astrology (although Newton was among those who realized that, since astrological influences - if they existed - were to be measured by noting the relationships between the planets, it was entirely possible to continue to respect the idea whatever body was at the centre of the system).

More important, probably, was the fact that the vast distance between the planets (to say nothing of the stars) was now recognized; it seemed extremely unlikely that any 'influence' (of whatever sort) could make itself felt at such a vast remove.

Then there was the growing feeling that any 'scientific' idea should be capable of technical explanation; it was no longer enough to make the pronouncement 'This is so'.

And finally, the temperament of scientists was on the change; the Age of Enlightenment was to reject, quite understandably, a 'science' which had gathered around it encrustations of magical and patently loony ideas such as that a birth chart could reveal the marital prospects of its subject's brother; that another could detail a previous incarnation; that a reliable answer to any question could be given by drawing up a chart for the moment of time when the question was asked.
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« Reply #21 on: August 17, 2007, 09:04:50 pm »








The tide began to turn as early as the 1560s, when after a succession of Popes who were on the whole rather sympathetic to the occult there suddenly came a number who were both temperamentally and politically averse to it.

Julius II and Adrian VI, during the first half of the 16th century, encouraged the Inquisition to act against 'magicians' - though at the same time Julius ordered an astrologer to elect an auspicious time at which the foundation stone of the Castle of Galliera should be laid, and his own statue erected at Bologna.

Pius IV, in a papal bull of 1562, authorized action against various kinds of heretic, including those who pretended to be able to foretell the future by sortilege (casting lots). Gregory XIII, in 1581, ordered the Inquisition to act against those Jews who invoked the aid of demons for the same purpose.

Astrology was not mentioned specifically in any of these orders or exhortations, although Cardinal Francesco Albizzi spoke of it in 1566 as 'the most frequent means of divination', and therefore one for which the practitioners should be made to do penance, and exiled.

In 1586 things took a positive turn for the worse, when Sixtus V, elected to the papal chair on the death of Gregory XIII (not unsympathetic to astrology), enacted a bull against those practising judicial astrology, or even possessing books on the subject. God alone, the bull states, knows the future, and not even demons can foresee it - though to foretell the weather, natural disasters, the success or failure of crops, of voyages, or to use astrology in medicine, is entirely proper.

The casting of horoscopes, however, is not, and indeed God has seen to it that every separate soul has an angel whose duty is to protect it against the influence of the stars (so Sixtus obviously believed that the stars had some powers).
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« Reply #22 on: August 17, 2007, 09:07:05 pm »








Astrologers were little daunted, unless they lived right under the eye of the Pope.

Annual almanacs predicting the weather, and giving favourable days for bleeding or for planting seeds or whatever, continued to be published, and though astrology now ceased to be taught at the University of Bologna, it was to continue in the lecture rooms of other universities for many years.

Salamanca is a good example: Gabriel Serrano taught astrology there between 1592 and 1598; Bartolome' de Valle was professor of astrology from 1612 until 1615, Francesco Reales (a priest) from 1615 to 1624, Nunez de Zamora from 1624 until 1640, Sanchez de Mendoza from 1647 to 1673, and but for a short break between 1706 and 1726 the chair was occupied continually until 1770.

This indicates that the Spanish Inquisition was not specially concerned to act against astrology, whatever the Pope said. And in fact astrology did not entirely vanish even from the Vatican, for in 1618 an astrologer addressed one of the resident cardinals, and Sixtus himself accepted the dedication of a series of books by lonnes Paulus Gallicius of Salo on the nature and qualities of the planets, the radiation by which they exerted their influences from certain positions in the zodiac, arguing that in medicine it was absolutely necessary to use a chart in order properly to treat the patient.

However, the publication of the more speculative almanacs certainly fell off in Italy, though elsewhere in Europe it continued unabated - sometimes as the result of Italian astrologers sending copy surreptitiously to printers in other countries; Rizza Casa, for instance, published predictions for the years 1586-90 at Lyons, in French.

From now on the Popes remained broadly unsympathetic, at least in public and at least to astrologers who claimed to be able to predict the future. In 1631 Urban VIII reaffirmed Sixtus' bull, threatening confiscation of property and even death to anyone who ignored it.

He particularly disapproved of forecasts in politics and religion, and was just as antipathetic to the prediction of events in the lives of Popes and their relations as certain Roman Emperors had been to forecasts of their own downfall.
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« Reply #23 on: August 17, 2007, 09:09:24 pm »



Astrologers did their best to fight back.

Petrus Antonius de Magistris Galathei (1614-75) published a treatise arguing that the bull of Sixtus V had actually been directed only against superstitious astrologers, and that there were certainly areas of astrology that should be permitted to flourish.

This was so; but a combination of the temper of the time and serious reconsideration of the basis of astrology made it more difficult for young students to accept old ideas, and even sometimes forced those formerly devoted to astrology to reassess their position.

Tommaso Campanella (1568-1639) is a case in point. This considerable Renaissance philosopher repeatedly asserted his acceptance of astrology, and even went so far, during his long imprisonment for plotting to free Naples from Spanish tyranny, as to write to Pope Paul V asserting that he was prejudiced against him for astrological reasons! Many other astrological allusions, arguments and predictions issued from his prison cell.

He wrote six or seven books on astrology, asserting that the influences of the planets were physical, and that astrology was therefore a proper subject for the most religious scientific man to study.

He also, rather rashly, disputed the bulls of Sixtus and Urban, arguing that religion should not prohibit proper scientific experiment and discussion, that certainly astrologers should not be treated more harshly than heretics, and that it was quite improper to prohibit not merely forecasts of future events but even suggestions that this or that might happen - proper conjecture, in other words.

However, in the end Campanella agreed that a papal bull, as such, was a papal bull, and should be obeyed, and even went so far as to agree that astrology was not in any real sense a science - though none the less susceptible of scientific study.

Such publications as the Apologia in which Campanella recanted his former opinions did nothing to bolster astrology's reputation against the mounting opposition. This was chiefly directed against the fiercer idiocies of the subject; still, no one denied that the Sun, Moon and planets had an effect on terrestrial matters, and even on men's lives and characters. But more and more it was disputed that there could be any prediction on the basis of planetary positions and movements. Some of the polemics directed against astrologers were not only intensely argued but argued at length.

Alexander de Angelis, of Spoleto, head of the Jesuit College at Rome, published in 1615 no fewer than five books against astrology.

It cannot be said that new astronomical knowledge actually added a great deal to the force of his arguments, which on the whole were yet again rehashings of old ones; the added force came from a new temperamental attitude rather than anything else - an attitude affecting scholars and scientists rather than the man in the street.


http://www.meta-religion.com/Esoterism/Astrology/success.htm
« Last Edit: January 05, 2008, 07:46:31 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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