Marriage and Divorce of Astronomy and Astrology, A History of Astral Prediction from Antiquity to Newton

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1 Marriage and Divorce of Astronomy and Astrology, A History of Astral Prediction from Antiquity to Newton ISBN 978 - 1 -41 16- 8326 -6 Gordon Fisher gfisher@shentel.net Contents Chapter 1. Some Sources of Astral Beliefs Chapter 2. From Astral Beliefs to Kepler, Fludd and Newton Appendix to Chapter 2: Newton’s Laws Chapter 3. Some Astrological Techniques Chapter 4. From Babylon to Copernicus Chapter 5. Stoics, Kepler, and Evaluations Appendix to Chapter 4: Diodorus Siculus (of Sicily), Bibli
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  1 Marriage and Divorce of Astronomy and Astrology,A History of Astral Prediction from Antiquity to Newton ISBN 978 -1-41 16-8326-6 Gordon Fishergfisher@shentel.net ContentsChapter 1. Some Sources of Astral BeliefsChapter 2. From Astral Beliefs to Kepler, Fludd and Newton Appendix to Chapter 2: Newton’s Laws Chapter 3. Some Astrological TechniquesChapter 4. From Babylon to CopernicusChapter 5. Stoics, Kepler, and Evaluations Appendix to Chapter 4: Diodorus Siculus (of Sicily), Bibliotheca Historica, Book II, 28:29-31 Chapter 6. Earlier Christians and AstrologyChapter 7. From Ptolemy to Newton Appendix to Chapter 7: Pierre d'Ailly, and Newton Again Updates and Addenda  2 Chapter 1. Some Sources of Astral Beliefs Even a god cannot change the past. Agathon, born c. 445 B.C.E  It has been said that though God cannot alter the past, historians can; it is perhaps because theycan be useful to Him in this respect that He tolerates their existence. Samuel Butler, Erewhon Revisited, 1901 Who says there’s a past? Show me where it is! 1. The heavens, the ones where the stars and other assorted celestial objects are, were fora long time regarded as the place where the gods are, and the place from which directions aregiven and powers exerted for what takes place on earth. Aristotle said there is something beyond thebodies which are on earth, different and separate from them, and that the glory of this somethinggrows greater as its distance from this world of ours increases. The primary body, he says, the oneat the greatest distance from earth, is eternal and unchanging. For, Aristotle says confidently,surely there are gods, and they are immortal, and everyone agrees they are located in the highest  place in the universe. He avers that the evidence of our senses tells us, at least with the certaintyattainable by humans, that in the past, as far as our records reach (meaning as far as the records he looked at seemed to him to reach) no change has taken place in the outermost heavens. So heconcluded that the primary body is something beyond earth, air, fire and water, which, hebelieved, make up the sort of things and activities we find on earth. This primary body is called the aether, Aristotle says, because it runs forever. 1 2. Aristotle based his theory on the evidence of our senses. He says phenomena confirmhis theory. He also says his theory confirms the phenomena. That is, predictions made with his 1 Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), De caelo (On the Heavens), 269b12- 16, 270b1-23, translated by J. L. Stocks.In classical Greek, transliterated into Roman letters (more or less), aei thein means “to go on forever”. On the otherhand, aither  (often transliterated aether  for some reason) means “upper air” or “the sky”, which suggests an srcin of  aither  from the notion that the upper  air or the sky goes on forever, as distinguished from the lower  air, called by theGreeks aer  (e = eta, not epsilon). One may be struck by the similarity of  theo (o = omega, not omicron), “I run” to theos (o = omicron, not omega), “god”, but that may be accidental. On the other hand, Cicero says in his De natura deorum(On the Nature of the Gods) that “Zeno declares that the aether is god - if there is any meaning in a god withoutsensation, a form of deity that never presents itself to us when we offer up our prayers and supplications and make ourvows.” (That’s the Stoic, Zeno of Citium, not Zeno of Elea, he of the paradoxes.) Plato stated in his Timaeus that the aither  is a fifth element, and was quite taken with the analogy between  five elements and the  five regular solids, as wasJohannes Kepler much later. As shown in Euclid’s Elements, there are five and only five regular solids, thetetrahedron, the cube, the octahedron, the dodecahedron, and the icosahedron.  3 theory were verified by observation. He had an empirically based procedure, contrary to whatsome have said. Generously speaking, his failures appear often to have been due to lack of information, or incorrect interpretation of it; or to phenomena unnoticed or not examined closelyenough; or to new stars (if any were known to him) and comets being regarded as being relativelynear to our earth, perhaps because they showed change; or to insufficient knowledge of thechemical constitution of matter; and so on. That celestial objects are alive wasn't a bad conjecturein the context of what was known, since they appear to be self-moving. It seemed obvious that thisis a characteristic of  living entities, although there are some quite sessile creatures. Other motions,then, such as flight of spears or running water, must be caused  by some entity or entities, orforces, acting on them from outside of themselves. This suggests that birds and caterpillars, forexample, can move themselves, without external motivation or incitement, when they are aliveand in a mobile condition.3. That the celestial objects are divine wasn't too bad a conjecture, either, given theoverall regularity and permanence of many of them visible without instrumental aids, over periodsof time which are long relative to human lives. When Aristotle associates the divine with the outerheavens, he doesn't actually say the outer heavens or the stars are gods. He says they are like godsby virtue of their unchanging nature. 2 On earth, change is everywhere. The living are born orsprout or otherwise come to be, are transformed or transform themselves, and eventually die orpass away or otherwise cease to exist. 3 Ores in the earth can be changed to metals, metals rust.Mountains explode or wear down. Waters flood or dry up, spring from the earth or fall fromabove; when boiled (using  fire ) water  turns into air  and when frozen water  turns into a transparentform of  earth (the four basic elements in the theory of Empedocles and Aristotle are water, earth, fire and air). Only the stars appear permanent and unchanging, he says. But, he asks, are there any bodies which last forever in one form? Those who believe there are immortal gods, says Aristotle,may be prepared to believe this too, and that the planets and stars are such bodies.4. The divinity and regularity of the movements of the sun, moon, planets and stars weretaken by many ancients as evidence that these celestial objects regulated  or at least influenced  various kinds of changes on earth. The objects were considered by some to be quite tyrannical,and to dictate events on earth. This extraterrestrial autocracy was taken to mean that one canmake predictions about events on earth. If everything, or at least something, is dictated inadvance, then it is reasonable to try to find out in advance what will happen. Success of prediction depends on events being completely or at least partly determined  in advance of theirhappening. There was an association of the divinity and the regularity of celestial objects withwhat we may rather pedantically call astral determinism, the doctrine that some, at least, of themyriad changes on earth are dictated by stars and planets. 4 This, in turn, is associated with the 2 We can get around a potential contradiction here to the fact that Aristotle says stars are like gods, rather than thatthey are gods, by considering divine here as indicating that stars partake in someway of the gods, or by regardingthem as permanent instruments of the gods, or in various other ways. 3 Aristotle also wrote a book called Peri geneseos kaiphthoras, otherwise known as De generatione et corruptione, often rather euphemistically translated into English as On coming-to-be and passing-away. 4 In ancient times, the planets were commonly taken to include our earth’s sun and moon, as well as the planets (intoday’s sense of the term) which were visible to unassisted eyes, viz. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Theword planet  traces back to the Greek word planasthai, to wander, since these five celestial beings, together with  4 ancient but perennial (and frustrating) problem of  determinism in general. Crudely, the problem isto decide whether or not everything that happens is in some way determined in advance, and if so tofind out as much as one can about how this happens and what will happen. This is notoriouslypossible in connection with movements of celestial objects themselves. The question is, how manyand what kind of changes on earth are determined in advance, and who or what determines them?One may conjecture that that really big and bright object, the sun, together with that smaller andnot as bright one, the moon, and the (other) quite tiny five planets known to the ancient Greeks, areamong the entities responsible, or at least executors under the command of some superior councilor executor?5. Connections between religion, astronomy, astrology and prediction are very ancient, nodoubt prehistoric. In The Etruscans Begin to Speak, Zaharie Mayani describes a relatively lateceremony 5 which unites the three. His description is based on a fresco on the wall of a tomb, knownas the Tomb of the Augurs, which dates from 530 B.C.E. Two priests are seen marking out thebounds of a holy area consisting of a square in which two medians were marked, one running fromnorth to south and the other from east to west. The quarters of the square are also subdivided, andeach resulting section is assigned to a particular deity. The square is a kind of mirror of theheavens, since the divisions of the square correspond to a conceptual division of the sky. A priestcould stand in the center of the square and with the help of a special staff determine in which zoneof the square the direction of a celestial omen fell, hence which deity was sending the omen. Thusthe holy area or templum constituted an observatory for determining positions of omens whichcould be used for predicting future events. The observations were a means of learning the will of the gods. 6 6. David Chandler writes: In the mid-1970s …. Eleanor Moron began studying thedimensions of the temple 7 in detail, convinced that these might contain the key to the way thetemple had been encoded by the savants who designed it. After determining that the Cambodianmeasurement used at Angkor, the hat, was equivalent to approximately 0.4 meters (1.3 feet),Moron went on to ask how many hat  were involved in significant dimensions of the temple, such asthe distance between the western entrance (the only one equipped with its own causeway) and thecentral tower. The distance came to 1,728 hat, and three other components of this axis measured,respectively, 1,296,867, and 439 hat. Moron then argued that these figures correlated to the four‘ages’, or yugas, of Indian thought. The first of these, the Krita Yuga, was a supposedly goldenage, lasting 1,728,000 years. The next three ages lasted for 1,296,000, 864,000, and 432,000years, respectively. The earliest age, therefore, was four times longer than the latest, the secondearliest, twice as long. The last age is the Kali Yuga, in which we are living today. At the end of this era, it is believed, the universe will be destroyed, to be rebuilt by Brahman along similar lines,beginning with another golden age. The fact that the length of these four eras correlates exactlywith particular distances along the east-west axis of Angkor Wat suggests that the “code” for thetemple is in fact a kind of pun that can be read in terms of time our sun and moon, appear to wander, albeit with notable regularity, among the stars (not including one being, oursun).5 I.e., relative to prehistory, or for that matter to the beginning of historical records, or at least those which have been orare still known to historians or other recorders.6 Zaharie Mayani, The Etruscans Begin to Speak, translation by Patrick Evans, 1962, of  Les Étrusques commen çent  parler, 1961, p. 222-224.7 at Angkor Wat in present-day Cambodia, built 12 th century C.E.
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