In episode 62 of the podcast I give a comprehensive overview of the life and works of some of the most important astrologers in the Hellenistic astrological tradition, dating from the 3rd century BC. BC to the 7th century AD.
As the episode progresses, I will provide an overview of the rise and fall of astrology in the Greco-Roman world and discuss some of the surviving sources that we need to study from that period.
This episode is based on research I did over the past month for a book I am writing on Hellenistic astrology. I recently completed a chapter on the main astrologers in this tradition, so I thought it would be good to talk a little about what I have researched and written.
In the episode I talk about each of the astrologers and discuss things like their approximate time frames, what techniques were introduced or discussed in their works, what the philosophical foundations of their work were, how they influenced later astrologers, interesting anecdotes that help humanize them , and more.
Obviously I had quite a bit of coverage on this episode, and I expected it to be quite long, but it actually turned out to be a three and a half hour talk on the subject, making this the longest episode of the podcast yet.
Below is a timeline of the astrologers mentioned in the episode, followed by some charts and links to resources for further research, and finally links to stream or download the audio recording of that episode of the podcast.
Hellenistic Astrologers Timeline
Here is a rough timeline of the astrologers discussed in this episode, based on my ancient astrologers timeline on the Hellenistic Astrology website.
- The oldest known Mesopotamian natal charts date back to 410 BC.
- Alexander the Great leads in 334 BC BC War against the Persian Empire.
- The city of Alexandria is named shortly after 332 BC. Founded by Alexander in Egypt.
- The Ptolemaic dynasty is founded in Egypt. Alexandria Library.
- Berossus founded in the early 3rd century BC A school for astrology on Kos.
- The Antikythera Mechanism is believed to have been around 150 BC. Have been built ±.
- The last cuneiform script and the first Greek natal charts appear around the middle of the 1st century BC.
- Early texts dating from around 100 BC Were written.
- Hermes Trismegistus
- Nechepso and Petosiris
- Rome annexes Egypt, the Ptolemaic dynasty ends with the death of Cleopatra in 30 BC.
- Thrasyllus (died in AD 36). Serves Emperor Tiberius. Write The tablet.
- Manilius writes Astronomica around 14 AD ±.
- Balbillus. Middle of the 1st century. Thrasyllus son. Takes over his father’s position at the Roman imperial court. Served the emperors Claudius, Nero and Vespasian.
- Antiochus of Athens wrote to introduction on astrology in the 1st century AD
- Dorotheus of Sidon wrote poetry with five books in the late 1st century. Earliest surviving text on elective astrology.
- Manetho wrote his Apotelesmatics in the early 2nd century. He was born in May 80 AD.
- The Greek original of the Yavanajataka was written in Egypt in the early 2nd century.
- Claudius Ptolemy wrote the Tetrabiblos sometime around the middle of the 2nd century.
- Vettius Valens writes the anthology Middle of the 2nd century. He was born on February 8, 120 AD.
- porphyry wrote introduction to Ptolemy Tetrabiblos in the late 3rd century.
- Antigonus of Nicaea – 2nd century. Has written a book about famous nativity scenes.
- In 313, Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire.
- Firmicus Maternus wrote the MA thesis towards the middle of the 4th century.
- Paul Alexandrinus wrote his introduction and dedicated it to his son in 378.
- Anonymous from 379 wrote a paper on the fixed stars in 379.
- Hephaistio of Thebes wrote his Apotelesmatics sometime in the early 5th century, based mainly on Ptolemy and Dorotheus. He was born on November 26th, 380.
- In the middle of the 6th century astrology flourished at the court of the Persian king Kusro Anushirwan (I forgot to talk about it in the podcast. Will be discussed in a later episode).
- Olympiodorus the Younger wrote a comment on Paul ’ introduction in the summer of AD 564
- Rhetorius of Egypt wrote a great compendium in the early 6th or 7th century (dating disputed). Last major work on Hellenistic astrology.
- Egypt is taken over by the Islamic Empire in 639. This essentially marks the end of the Hellenistic astrological tradition.
Charts and handouts
Resources for further research
A full transcript of this episode is available: Transcript of Episode 62
Listen to this episode
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