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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 origin 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

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