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(II.) HISTORY - The Prestigious Planets

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Author Topic: (II.) HISTORY - The Prestigious Planets  (Read 622 times)
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« on: August 17, 2007, 02:04:08 pm »

The earliest individual predictions were made without the help of the zodiac, and when they were made for a king were interpreted as applying to the whole kingdom: an unfortunate month for the monarch meant an unfortunate month for the state. Even so, some crude personal predictions have survived for non-royal individuals. There is a Babylonian omen text from the second half of the second millenium which predicts certain events from the month of a child's birth - crude indeed; as crude as the modern astrological paperbacks that tell you what your child will be like if he or she is born 'under' a certain sign.

The earliest surviving horoscope, now in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, is dated 410 BC, and is for the son of Shuma-usar, son of Shuma-iddina, descendant of Deke, who was born when 'the Moon was below the Horn of the Scorpion, Jupiter in the Fish, Venus in the Bull, Saturn in the Crab, Mars in the Twins. Mercury, which had set ... was ... invisible.' There is no interpretation given for this child; a modern astrologer would say that he was sensual and loving, possessive and jealous, with powerful instincts and emotions, had a strong sense of patriarchal tradition, was financially shrewd and ambitious, prone to periods of restlessness and possibly incapable of consistent steady work. A later horoscope, for 4 April 253 BC, though much damaged, did offer an interpretation: 'He will be lacking in wealth ... His food will not suffice for his hunger. The wealth he had in his youth will not stay. His days will be long. His wife, whom people will seduce in his presence, will ...' And there, alas, the story breaks off.

It should be pointed out that these earliest horoscopes were not set out within the familiar circle of a 'modern' horoscope, representing a map of the sky for a particular moment and place, nor in the earlier square form which persisted until the 17th century, and is sometimes seen even today. They were merely lists of the positions of the planets.

The word horoscope, incidentally, derives from the Greek horoskopos, meaning the sign ascending over the eastern horizon at a given moment (from hora, time, and skopos, observer).
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