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Chapter VI.—Zodiacal Influence; Origin of Sidereal Names.

But since also they frame an account concerning the action of the zodiacal signs, to which they say the creatures that are procreated are assimilated,178178    This was the great doctrine of astrology, the forerunner of the science of astronomy. Astrology seems to have arisen first among the Chaldeans, out of the fundamental principle of their religion—the assimilation of the divine nature to light.  This tenet introduced another, the worship of the stars, which was developed into astrology. Others suppose astrology to have been of Arabian or Egyptian origin. From some of these sources it reached the Greeks, and through them the Romans, who held the astrologic art in high repute. The art, after having become almost extinct, was revived by the Arabians at the verve of the middle ages. For the history of astrology one must consult the writings of Manilius, Julius Firmicus, and Ptolemy. Its greatest mediæval apologist is Cardan, the famous physician of Pavia (see his work, De Astron. Judic., lib. vi.–ix. tom. v. of his collected works). neither shall we omit this: as, for instance, that one born in Leo will be brave; and that one born in Virgo will have long straight hair,179179    Sextus adds, “bright-eyed.” be of a fair complexion, childless, modest. These statements, however, and others similar to them, are rather deserving of laughter than serious consideration. For, according to them, it is possible for no Æthiopian to be born in Virgo; otherwise he would allow that such a one is white, with long straight hair and the rest. But I am rather of opinion,180180    Hippolytus here follows Sextus. that the ancients imposed the names of received animals upon certain specified stars, for the purpose of knowing them better, not from any similarity of nature; for what have the seven stars, distant one from another, in common with a bear, or the five stars with the head of a dragon?—in regard of which Aratus181181    Aratus, from whom Hippolytus quotes so frequently in this chapter, was a poet and astronomer of antiquity, born at Soli in Cilicia. He afterwards became physician to Gonatus, son of Demetrius Poliorcetes, king of Macedon, at whose court he rose high into favour. The work alluded to by Hippolytus is Aratus’ Phænomena,—a versified account of the motions of the stars, and of sidereal influence over men. This work seems to have been a great favourite with scholars, if we are to judge from the many excellent annotated editions of it that have appeared. Two of these deserve notice, viz., Grotius’ Leyden edition, 1600, in Greek and Latin; and Buhle’s edition, Leipsic, 1803. See also Dionysius Petavius’ Uranologion. Aratus must always be famous, from the fact that St. Paul (Acts xiii. 28) quotes the fifth line of the Phænomena. Cicero considered Aratus a noble poet, and translated the Phænomena into Latin, a fragment of which has been preserved, and is in Grotius’ edition. Aratus has been translated into English verse, with notes by Dr. Lamb, Dean of Bristol (London: J. W. Parker, 1858). says:—

“But two his temples, and two his eyes, and one beneath

Reaches the end of the huge monster’s jaw.”

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