Homer Hesiod Hymns Tragedy Remythologizing Tools Blackboard Info
in the narrower sense of the word, meaning prediction on the faith of signs given by the stars, was an invention of the Chaldaeans. All but unknown to the Greeks in their best days, it did not come into vogue until after the time of Alexander the Great. In Rome the professional astrologers were called Chaldoei or Mathematici, the latter name referring to the astronomical calculations which they made. In the republican period they were known, but held in utter contempt. In 139 B.C. their unpopularity was so great that they were expelled from Rome and Italy. But in the turbulent times of the civil wars their reputation rose considerably, and still more under the Empire, when the most extensive demands were made upon their science. They were, indeed, repeatedly driven out of Italy and involved in trials for treason (maiestas); but this only enhanced the consideration in which they were held, the more so as they were frequently taken into counsel by the emperors and the members of the imperial family. In later times, all that the Chaldaeeans were forbidden to do was to consult the stars on questions referring to the emperor's life. This was a criminal offence. The Christian emperors (but none before them) issued repeated prohibitions against all consultation of astrologers whatever. In the practice of their art they used calendars written on tablets, in which were set down, for every day, the motion and relative distances of the stars, whether lucky or unlucky. With the help of another set of tablets they proceeded to make their calculations for every hour in detail. They would, for instance, note the hour of a person's birth, ascertaining the relative position of the constellation dominant at the time. According to this they determined the fortunes of the individual who was born at the hour in question. In the same way they ascertained the time favourable to any given undertaking. Among the lucky stars we may mention Venus, Jupiter, and Luna; Saturn and Mars were unlucky; Mercury was lucky or unlucky according to the other circumstances of the case.
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