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THE RENAISSANCE

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Bianca
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« Reply #30 on: October 16, 2008, 10:41:18 am »



















Vergil launched an extremely cautious challenge: he stated that astrology was extremely venerable, not revealed, and expressed doubts regarding its utility.16 The other response to Pico lacked any moderation. It came from another individual of immaculate humanist pedigree and possessed of a firm respect for and constant attention to Josephus. However, the Dominican Giovanni Nanni, otherwise known as Annius of Viterbo, was not possessed of a scrupulous moral fiber. Rather, he was blessed with a fanatical conviction that the ancient Romans had derived from Etruscan stock, a belief he bulwarked through a series of forgeries and planted archaeological finds.17 [End Page 93]

Annius believed that the ancient Greeks had been inveterate liars, given to taking credit for arts and practices they did not invent, and guilty of corrupting arts as they inherited them. To uncover their lies, he sketched genealogies of all peoples from the Creation onward, focusing on the aftermath of the Flood. Within these he traced the histories of various arts, showing that the sciences that the Greeks claimed to have pioneered had actually been stolen from Chaldeans, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Italians, Franks, and Jews. Annius concocted these claims in the form of commentaries on a set of ancient documents that he allegedly discovered, publishing the entire package in 1498 as Vetustissimi Auctores. . . . Though the texts were denounced as shams within a decade of their publication, for the next century and more scholars treated them as providing legitimate insight into the ancient world.
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« Reply #31 on: October 16, 2008, 10:42:23 am »










The prize piece amongst Annius's forgeries was the lost annalistic work of Berosus. The authentic Berosus, a Chaldean priest of the late fourth century BCE, was known largely via fragments quoted in Josephus. The Annian Berosus gave a complete history of the pre-Greek world, rife with proof that the Chaldeans had been notable practitioners of astrology and mathematics well before the flood. Annius made Berosus begin his first book: "Before the famous destruction of the waters in which the entire world perished, many generations went past, which we Chaldeans faithfully preserved."18 The source, as most readers would have immediately grasped, was the Pillars of Seth. Annius granted them expansive significance: "Therefore there were letters in use, and the arts of smelting, and brickwork, and prophesying, one thousand years and more before the inundation of the earth."19 But Annius was not content merely to note that such knowledge had been available at that time. Instead, he showed that the Chaldeans had absorbed this knowledge in its very first stages: 
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« Reply #32 on: October 16, 2008, 10:45:25 am »









But that letters and disciplines began and were disseminated by their first founder Adam, is proven

not only by faith alone, but also from the history of peoples and the tradition of the Chaldeans, which

asserts that they themselves knew astronomy and letters 3634 years before the monarchy of

Alexander . . . therefore [End Page 94] the conjecture and argument are firm, that Enoch received

letters from Seth the first son of Adam, in whose time, Theologians assert, letters and disciplines were

infused into Adam, and in which same time the Chaldeans affirm themselves to have grasped letters and

astronomy.20
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« Reply #33 on: October 16, 2008, 10:46:21 am »










Annius thus dated the origins of Chaldean learning to around 4000 BC; within the first generation of humankind. The Chaldeans and the Patriarchs developed wisdom at the same moment, from the same fount. Indeed, the transparent implication was that Seth and Enoch developed these arts because they were themselves Chaldeans.

Annius's Berosus provided another source, alongside Moses, for the history of early time, but one that overturned the traditional theological status of Chaldeans. But this conflict with scripture did not discredit the text. While for Pico, Chaldean origins had been an incontrovertible demonstration of astrology's illicitness, Annius's forged genealogies made the Chaldeans entirely orthodox, an integral and esteemed part of the scriptural genealogy of knowledge, and Annius's Berosus presented himself as the mouthpiece of what Walter Stephens has called the "pious Chaldean." The Annian Berosus described the Chaldeans as God's first chosen people.21 And the Hebrews inherited and preserved astrology, a pure, original and divine Chaldean practice.

Pico's initial argument had relied on a particular vision of the early Assyrian empire and of Assyrian culture, and debate regarding the propriety of astrological knowledge was framed by discussion of this historical context. Scholars either approved of or denounced astrological arts by locating their origins before or after the Chaldeans abandoned true religion. The very tool that Pico used to criticize and condemn astrology, then, could be recalibrated, given a slightly different history in order to support it. Moreover, the history could also be adjusted to condemn any range of arts: one could further constrict Pico's range of acceptable mathematics by dating [End Page 95] the origins of any mathematical art to after the Chaldean lapse. While Pico had fixed the site of the debate, its terms remained plastic. 
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« Reply #34 on: October 16, 2008, 10:48:33 am »










Annius provided a powerful genealogical sanction for astrology by evoking a world history that rubbed uncomfortably against the conventional historical narrative derived from scripture. Like those Neoplatonic and Neohermetic scholars who argued for their sources' legitimacy by claiming that all peoples, not just Israel, had received some divine revelation, Annius's vision of history potently suggested that Moses's books were not the only creditable sources for deep ancient history. And Annius's bookish solution, in some ways, hewed more closely to theological orthodoxy then the cabalist tradition glorified by Pico. Pico's vision described a shadowy group of initiates possessing secret, oral knowledge—a vision that displaced the Papacy from the center of the history of learning and described revealed knowledge as fundamentally unwritten. Annius's version, by contrast, rooted the lineage of divine learning in the production and custody of texts and monuments, and granted a continuous, documented history to the Church from the 4000 BC to his present. Perhaps for countering Pico's challenge, Pope Alexander VI appointed Annius Maestro del Sacro Palazzo, or official papal theologian.22

Still, scholars found Annius's claims unsettling, and over the course of the sixteenth century, more cautious commentators—often Protestant and Northern European—reclaimed the infallibility of scripture as a historical source. Rather than turning directly to the Bible, however, they used Josephus to secure the mathematical arts' linkage to the scriptural genealogy.23 
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« Reply #35 on: October 16, 2008, 10:51:03 am »










Vergil's fragmentary Josephan history met Annius's strident and expansive version in Peter Ramus's 1569 Scholae Mathematicae. From the 1540s until his murder in the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, Ramus spearheaded a movement to reform the curriculum of Parisian universities.24 His myriad publications included textbooks on geometry and mathematics, [End Page 96] and in his influential 1569 Scholae Mathematicae, Ramus presented an exhaustive vision of the history of mathematics. As he explained, "Aristotle judged the arts to be eternal, as the world is, but that just as stars rise and set, the arts sometimes are excited and flourish, and at other times are debased and condemned. This was the great verdict of that great philosopher: that the arts deal with eternal and immutable things; but that the knowledge of them among men is not eternal."25 Ramus's history covered more ground than his predecessors, including the entire sweep of history from creation to his present, and he incorporated all mathematical arts, from philosophy to hydraulics.

The revolutions in the fortunes of mathematics, Ramus claimed, could be analyzed by modifying the exegetical theory of the Four Monarchies for periods of mathematics. The first was the Chaldean period, lasting from Adam to Abraham. Ramus needed only the Pillars as evidence. The Abrahamic diffusion inaugurated the second era, but Ramus made clear that Abraham was hardly alone in his divine knowledge of mathematics: Diodorus Siculus, (pseudo-)Berosus, Pliny, and Cicero showed that the ancient world had recognized a general Chaldean mastery in the discipline. For Ramus this did not substantiate a uniform condemnation. Overzealous deployment of these arts was troublesome, but the arts themselves were not. 
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« Reply #36 on: October 16, 2008, 10:51:59 am »









The Egyptian period that followed, Ramus noted, had witnessed increased sophistication of mathematical knowledge. Ancient Egyptians used mathematics for commercial and mercantile purposes, and for surveying flooded lands. Thales of Miletus transported mathematics from the Egyptians to the Greeks, inaugurating the third age. The final age was emerging in Ramus's time, a rehabilitation of mathematical knowledge similar to the Reformation.

Ramus, Vergil, and other humanists such as Joannes Stadius, Heinrich Rantzau, and Matthew Dresserus agreed on a history of mathematics that traced its origins to the Hebrew Fathers in ancient Assyria.26 This polemic [End Page 97] emerged in England in the last two decades of Elizabeth I's reign, when Bacon was just beginning his career in London. The orthodoxy and utility of mathematics were heavily debated in London at this time, and the issue of the origins of mathematics too faced close scrutiny.

London was a thriving metropolis, flooded with continental texts, and if Bacon did not encounter the history of mathematics from European scholars, local texts too would have offered him cogent histories of mathematics and astrology. The discussion in England surfaced early in 1583, when Richard Harvey's famous apocalyptic prognostication An Astrological Discourse appeared in London. This mathematical and astrological prophecy forecast massive upheaval and turbulence beginning that very spring. The disorder, Harvey claimed, would swell, culminating with a thunderous crescendo in 1588, after which the world would be profoundly and irrevocably altered.27 
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« Reply #37 on: October 16, 2008, 10:52:52 am »










Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, and no friend to the Harvey family, adapted Pico's criticism later in 1583 in his weighty and learned rebuttal, A defensative against the poyson of supposed prophecies. Unlike Pico, who wanted to support true magic while condemning its corruptions, Howard brooked no art tinged by a hint of the magical. Still, Howard's criticism drew liberally from the criticism Pico had developed almost a century before. Relying heavily on scriptural condemnations of magical arts, Howard followed Pico in defending the possibility of natural philosophical knowledge that did not encroach on the domain of God. Using examples that astrology's defenders used to support the viability of their discipline, he distinguished forms of licit natural knowledge: "We reade not, that our Saviour Christ condemned those, that deemed of the weather that should follow by the rednes of the skie; nor those that gathered upon the fig trees putting forth her leaves, that Summer was at hand: for that the causes and [End Page 98] effects were tyed together, and combine in so streight a lincke of consequence, as either swerved not at all, or very seldome, from the course which kind had limitted. He rather used them as presidents of lawfull gessing & divining, by the proper causes of al things." Mariners too observed the world in an acceptable fashion. But this neither constituted prophecy, nor relied on mathematics.28

Howard maligned astrology's Chaldean origins with the standard tools of genealogical argument: 
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« Reply #38 on: October 16, 2008, 10:53:58 am »










The Latines give themselves to follow Greece. The Greeks derive theyr knowledge from Arabia, Arabia

from Egypt and Chaldea: whereas Egypt and Chaldea, by the doctrine of our greatest Rabby Ptolome,

as I sayde before, are cast off and forsaken for theyr errours. Beside, the Chaldeis were a wicked and

ungodlie kinde of men, addicted wholie to the worshipping of false gods, and studdie of unlawfull artes:

in which respect, we should detest them rather as the teachers of abuse then vouch theyr credite as a

maske of false divinitie. Indeed, they gave themselves to practise much about the Mathematicalles,

which make not any man more wise, sayth Aristotle: but more rype and pregnaunt in the skyll of

numbering.
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« Reply #39 on: October 16, 2008, 10:54:55 am »









And yet Howard finished this section at pains to distinguish between the acceptable star-gazing of the ancients and the horrific pollutions of the Chaldeans: "We doubt not, but the Patriarches and holy Fathers of the covenant looked uppe to heaven, and praysed GOD in all his mightie workes: but that any one of them presumed to divine of thinges invisible, by Planets which they sawe, cannot be prooved by the Scripture."29

Howard admitted that Abraham possessed some astronomical knowledge, but this was not astrological, nor a product of his Assyrian context. Rather, he developed this knowledge in spite of his surroundings. Those who felt otherwise, "forgette the rule of Plato: that in all countries and Clymates under heaven, which bring foorth greater store of badde men then good, so ofte as any one applies himselfe to better menes, and degsnerateth[sic] from the comon trade, he prooveth excellent."30 The Patriarch's relationship to the Chaldeans again provided the key to understanding astrology. [End Page 99] 
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« Reply #40 on: October 16, 2008, 10:55:46 am »









Richard Harvey's brother, Gabriel, responded by deploying the Josephan history.31 Gabriel Harvey never published a work regarding the genealogy of mathematics. Nevertheless his surviving notes in his copy of Joannes Thomas Freigius's 1583 world history Mosaicus accrued evidence for this lineage. Freigius was a prominent disciple of Ramus, and Harvey read him through a Ramist filter. While Freigius casually and infrequently mentioned expertise in many arts held by the ancients, Harvey meticulously annotated the passages in Freigius's narrative that fit a Josephan history. When Freigius, in a brief passage on notable individuals between Adam and Noah, included the story of Seth's ancestors, Harvey wrote, "The two famous Mathematical columns,"32 and at the bottom of the page, "The Two Astronomical columns, erected by the progeny of Seth."33 These notes show Harvey both conflating astronomy and mathematics, and introducing a general concern with the transmission of such knowledge. The margins of the text in Freigius's chapter on Abraham were especially fertile ground. Here Harvey wrote: "Abraham was the planter of Mathematics in Egypt, and from him came, not much later, all those mathematical and physical miracles. This was also the origin of almost all natural magic."34 On the next page Harvey noted that, "The arithmetic and astronomy of the Egyptians came from Abraham, a noble professor of the mathematical arts."35 Later, he made clear that Hermes Trismegistus's knowledge of mathematics was easily explained, since Hermes was a descendant of Abraham.36 Harvey filled out his history of mathematics by noting the invention of mathematical instruments: "The Radius, a very old instrument, most excellent and commodious of all geometric instruments. It is commonly called the Jacobs Staff, 'as if it was invented then by that sacred Patriarch.' See Ramus's Geometry, book 9. Doubtless it seemed necessary to add this mathematical [End Page 100] invention of Jacob's to the earlier mathematical inventions of his grandfather Abraham."37 Harvey thus followed Ramus in grafting the history of mathematics directly to the history of the Patriarchs while studying mathematical history alongside technical texts. In so doing, he found an orthodox and honored genealogy for the mathematical arts, salvaging the propriety of his brother's prognostication, and the dignity of his family reputation.
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« Reply #41 on: October 16, 2008, 10:56:38 am »










Harvey never published a response to Northampton, and concern with the origins of mathematics faded from print for the next two decades in England. It would surface without kindling much debate, for example, in Thomas Hood's 1588 inaugural speech as Mathematical Lecturer to the City of London.38 But in the years surrounding Elizabeth's death and James's accession, the debate flared up again. The clergyman John Chamber's 1601 A Treatise against Judiciall Astrologie expressed militant abhorrence for the astrologers, augurs and figure-flingers who brimmed in the Babylonian streets of late Tudor London. Chamber claimed that Adam and Seth had held mathematical knowledge. But this did not include astrology; that diabolic practice, he claimed, originated in the later Chaldean corruption of divine knowledge. He memorably described the astrologers as, "bastards, the sons of an hedge hore, their mother was an Hittitie," and registered deep alarm: "But that is Babylon, where Babylonicall superstitions are maintained or suffered." Chamber followed Pico in attributing orthodox astronomical knowledge to the Patriarchs, that was later corrupted into astrology by the Chaldeans.39

The godly Protestant soldier Sir Christopher Heydon responded in his 1603 A Defence of Iudiciall Astrology by strenuously insisting on the Adamic origins of astrology. He conceded that Chaldean corruptions had produced heretical and idolatrous arts such as augury, but insisted that true astrology, which proceeds from natural causes to natural effects, was a divine gift from God to Adam, and had been passed along in an unbroken chain since. In illustration, he included at the end of his treatise a "Chronological Index of Astronomers from Adam," which began with the genealogy [End Page 101] from Adam to Joseph, and extended to Tycho Brahe and other contemporaries.40
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« Reply #42 on: October 16, 2008, 10:57:35 am »

















Heydon's work prompted a defense from George Carleton, future chaplain to Prince Charles. Carleton classified astrology as part of magic, and attacked Heydon's chronology. Heydon, Carleton noted, had tried to hide suspect figures like Zoroaster and Hermes Trismegistus within the genealogy by placing them after the Hebrew Patriarchs, out of chronological order. Heydon's list was also dressed up with Joseph, Homer, and others for whom no evidence of astrological interest existed. Charleton traced a muscular anti-Josephan lineage: he wrote, "The first invention of Astrology, is by many learned men attributed to the divels," and its first disseminator was Zoroaster.41

Thus, by the 1605 appearance of the Advancement of Learning, there were two well-established, yet volatile interpretations of a single, modifiable chronology for the mathematical arts. While both sides agreed that some licit mathematical art could be traced from the time of Adam, astrology provoked bitter dissension. On the one hand, Pico and his followers rooted powerful criticisms in the historical and cultural conditions of astrology's perceived origins: that of idolatrous, Baal-worshiping Assyria. On the other hand, defenders posited Assyria as the setting in which astrology and related mathematical arts had flourished, nurtured by the pious learning of the Chaldeans. When this first flourishing gave way to idolatrous corruptions, the Jewish Patriarchs remained responsible for the maintenance of the discipline. The history of the mathematical arts was less barren and wanting than Bacon led his king to believe. 
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« Reply #43 on: October 16, 2008, 10:58:57 am »










 Re: "Abraham, Planter of Mathematics"
« Reply #20 on: October 14, 2008, 11:39:43 pm » Quote Modify 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------










Bacon's proposal, despite his protestations, did not call for the creation of a radically new discipline.

In claiming that such histories of the arts did not exist, Bacon may have been reacting more to the historical methodologies with which he was familiar than to the existing state of mathematical histories.

 For example Jean Bodin, whom Bacon certainly had read, devoted considerable but unsystematic attention in his 1566 Methodus ad facilem [End Page 102] historiarum cognitionem to describing the conditions of learning throughout world history. He wrote, 
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« Reply #44 on: October 16, 2008, 10:59:54 am »

















Not only the virtues of our men are equal to those of the ancients but also the discipline. Literature

suffers changes of fortune. First the arts arise in some places through the practice and labor of

talented men, then they develop, later they flourish for a while at a fixed level, then languish in their

old age, and finally begin to die and are buried in a lasting oblivion by the eternal calamity of wars, or

because too great abundance (an evil much to be feared in these times, of course) brings satiety to

the frivolous, or because God inflicts just punishments upon those who direct useful knowledge to the

ruin of men. Although disciplines had gradually developed among the Greeks, so that they believed

these arts reached their peak, such a change came about afterward that Greece herself, to judge from

her present predicament, seems never to have existed.
 
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