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(II.) HISTORY - The Prestigious Planets

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Author Topic: (II.) HISTORY - The Prestigious Planets  (Read 420 times)
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« on: August 17, 2007, 02:02:29 pm »

The weight that Esarhaddon gave to his astrologers' interpretations of the movements of the planets sprang from his reverence for the planets themselves. The preamble of his important treaty with a Median king begins:

In the presence of the planets Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Mercury, Mars, Sirius, and in the presence of Assur, Anu, Enlil, Ea, Sin, Shamash...

Thus the planet-gods are given precedence over the ancient territorial gods - even before Shamash the Sun and Sin the Moon.

Naturally, such prestigious personalities as these gods of the skies must control the most important matters within their dominions. Diodorus says that the Babylonians called the five planets the Interpreters because they decided the fate of both individuals and nations. The planetary forecasts that have survived naturally concern kings and governors, but it was accepted that at least one planet-god held sway over the birth of even the lowliest individual - and Diodorus reports that the Babylonians took into consideration the influences of twenty-four stars known as 'the judges of the world', and thirty stars called 'consulting gods'. Which stars these were, and whether there were fifty-four separate ones or the same star sometimes shared a dual function, we do not know.

It is doubtful whether the people of Babylonia - even, it may be, the rulers - knew much about the intricacies of the astrology practised by their astrologer-priests. They got a glimpse of astrological lore through the myths and legends of their civilization: most notably in The Epic of Gilgamesh, the ruler of Sumer, surviving fragmentarily on twelve tablets from the library of Assurbanipal at Nineveh. Each of his twelve adventures relates to a sign of the zodiac: he meets a Scorpion Man in the sign of Scorpio, reaches the Waters of Death in Capricorn, consults a halfman, half-bull called Ea-bani in Taurus, and receives a proposal of marriage from the goddess Ishtar in Virgo. The Babylonians, on hearing these stories, learned to regard their own lives too as a quest for immortality, running parallel to that of the Sun god as he travelled through the constellations.
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