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(V.) HISTORY - Pervasive Planets

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Author Topic: (V.) HISTORY - Pervasive Planets  (Read 584 times)
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« on: December 11, 2007, 02:23:02 pm »

One of the ironies of Roman astrological history is that so many emperors who almost uncritically accepted the influence of the planets patronized scholars who argued against it. Favorinus had argued with Hadrian; Septimus Severus, almost fanatically attached to the most fatalistic aspects of astrology, appointed Alexander of Aphrodisias to the chair of the Peripatetic School at Athens, from where he issued his essay On Fate, in which he denied that the planets could affect human destiny - though even he agreed that they must influence non-human aspects of life on earth, such as the elements, 'the creation, destruction, and in general all transformation of matter. They also determine all terrestrial motion.'

Astrology was included in the multifarious criticisms levelled at almost all human knowledge by Sextus Empiricus, the Greek physician and sceptic philosopher, who in the late 2nd and early 3rd centuries attacked literature and philology, rhetoric, geometry, arithmetic ('number is nothing'), music, logic and physics. Even he excepted astrological meteorology from his general condemnation, but as for individual horoscopes - they were nonsense! He summarized astrological knowledge as it was known in his time, and then demolished each point in turn - or attempted to. Some of his criticisms are entirely valid (the difficulty of knowing the precise birth time, for instance); others were based on misunderstandings (which seem, sometimes, almost contrived); and others were simply vapid. He asks for instance why 'someone born under Leo should be strong and brave just because that constellation is called Leo', or why someone born under Virgo should be considered likely to be fair while an Ethiopian born under the same sign would undoubtedly be swarthy. Silly sooth.

Sextus Empiricus' only really rational criticism, and one for which there was much to be said, was that there was just not enough scientific data known to astrologers to enable them to present their science as a science. But nevertheless, his arguments against astrology were to appeal to a band of people whose attitude to the subject, if often confused, was to affect its history for a thousand years and more.

The Greek satirist Lucian, whose own attack on astrology lacked muscle, lashed out in his abhorrence of the subject at a relatively new cult, a gang of simpleminded followers of a crucified sophist, one Jesus Christ.

The 'Christians' approached astrology with almost superstitious caution.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2007, 11:30:36 pm by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.

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