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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, 02:06:40 pm »

In India, certain predictions were already possible by the 6th century BC, as we see from the works of Varaha Mihira, whose astronomical textbook, the Brihat Sambita, suggests that the portents to be seen in the skies are so many and so complex that every astrologer should have at least four assistants, and that 'the king who does not honour a scholar accomplished in horoscopy and astronomy, clever in all branches and accessories, comes to grief.'

But it was the Chaldeans, predominantly, who carried astrology to other nations and broadened its scope, claiming for the first time for instance that not only a man, but a city, could have its 'moment of birth', and that therefore an astrologer could advise on the laying of the foundation stone at an auspicious moment, in order to give the city a horoscope encouraging security and prosperity. One of the first instances we find of an astrologer offering advice on that subject is in about 312 BC, when Seleucus I founded the city of Seleucia on the Tigris. Seleucus was a devout adherent of astrology (unlike his chief antagonist Antigonos, who ignored the prediction that Seleucus would kill him on the field of battle, which he did, in 301). When he was planning Seleucia he consulted a number of Chaldeans. These were, like the Babylonians, against the idea of the new city, which they suspected (rightly) would in time mean the desertion and ruin of Babylon itself. They therefore worked out the least auspicious time for the cornerstone of the new city to be laid, and advised Seleucus accordingly. He issued his orders; but his workmen were so eager to raise the city that they started work before the given time, thus providing the city with a highly propitious horoscope!

The birth chart of Seleucia is lost. That for another of Seleucus' cities, Antioch, has survived - calculated for 22 May 300 BC - as have those for Constantinople, Alexandria, Gaza, Caesarea; sometimes representations of parts of these were engraved on coins minted in the cities concerned.

From Babylonia, the Chaldeans carried astrology into Egypt, and more importantly into Greece. The enormous importance in Egypt of myths about the sky gods, the travels and adventures of Sin, the Moon god, Shamash the Sun god, or Ishtar the personification of Venus, have led people to believe that that country must have made a great contribution to the development of astrology. In fact, its interest in the planets came fairly late - apart from a devotion to Venus, which anyway was seen as a star of the morning and evening rather than as a planet.
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