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I.4‑24

This webpage reproduces part of the
Tetrabiblos

by
Claudius Ptolemy

published in the Loeb Classical Library, 1940

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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II.4‑9

Ptolemy
Tetrabiblos

p117 Cam.2 p53 Book II (beginning)

1. Introduction

Let it be considered that thus far we have furnished in brief the most important details of the tabular exposition needful for the inquiry into particular prognostications. Let us now add in proper sequence the procedures for dealing in detail with those matters which lie within the limits of possibility of this kind of prognostication, holding everywhere to the natural method of exposition.

Since, then, prognostication by astronomical means is divided into two great and principal parts, and since the first and more universal is that which p119relates to 54whole races, countries, and cities, which is called general, and the second and more specific is that which relates to individual men, which is called genethlialogical, we believe it fitting to treat first of the general division, because such matters are naturally swayed by greater and more powerful causes than are particular events. And since weaker natures always yield to the stronger, and the particular always falls under the general,1 it would by all means be necessary for those who purpose an inquiry about a single individual long before to have comprehended the more general considerations.

Of the general inquiry itself, a part, again, is found to concern whole countries, and a part to concern cities;2 and further, a part deals with the greater and more periodic conditions, such as wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, deluges, and the like; and another with the lesser and more occasional, as for example the changes in temperature3 in the seasons of the year, and the variations of the intensity of storms, heat, and winds, or of good and bad crops, and so on. But in each of these cases, as is reasonable, procedure by entire countries and by more important conditions is preferred, for the same reason as before. 55And since in the examination p121of these questions these two things particularly are taken into consideration, the familiarity of the signs of the zodiac and also of the stars with the several climes,4 and the significances of heavenly bodies in their own proper regions5 at a given time, manifested through the ecliptical conjunctions of the sun and moon and the transits6 of the planets at rising and at their stationary periods, we shall first explain the natural reason for the aforesaid sympathies, and at the same time briefly survey the bodily and ethical peculiarities generally observed to belong to whole nations, which are not alien to the natural character of the stars and signs that are familiar to them.

2. Of the Characteristics of the Inhabitants of the General Climes.

The demarcation of national characteristics7 is established in part by entire parallels and angles,8 through their position relative to the ecliptic and the sun. For while the region which we inhabit is in one of the northern quarters, the people who live under the more southern parallels, that is, those p123from the equator to the summer tropic, since they have the sun over their heads and are burned by it, 56have black skins and thick, woolly hair, are contracted in form and shrunken in stature, are sanguine of nature, and in habits are for the most part savage because their homes are continually oppressed by the heat; we call them by the general name Ethiopians. Not only do we see them in this condition, but we likewise observe that their climate and the animals and plants of their region plainly give evidence of this baking by the sun.

Those who live under the more northern parallels, those, I mean, who have the Bears over their heads, since they are far removed from the zodiac and the heat of the sun, are therefore cooled; but because they have a richer share of moisture, which is most nourishing and is not there exhausted by heat, they are white in complexion, straight-haired, tall and well-nourished, and somewhat cold by nature; these too are savage in their habits because their dwelling-places are continually cold. The wintry character of their climate, the size of their plants, and the wildness of their animals are in accord with these qualities. We call these men, too, by a general name, Scythians.

The inhabitants of the region between the summer tropic and the Bears, however, since 57the sun is p125neither directly over their heads nor far distant at its noon-day transits, share in the equable temperature of the air, which varies, to be sure, but has no violent changes from heat to cold. They are therefore medium in colouring, of moderate stature, in nature equable, live close together, and are civilized in their habits. The southernmost of them9 are in general more shrewd and inventive, and better versed in the knowledge of things divine because their zenith is close to the zodiac and to the planets revolving about it. Through this affinity the men themselves are characterized by an activity of the soul which is sagacious, investigative, and fitted for pursuing the sciences specifically called mathematical. Of them, again, the eastern group are more masculine, vigorous of soul, and frank in all things,10 because one would reasonably assume that the orient partakes of the nature of the sun.11 This region therefore is diurnal, masculine, and right-handed, even as we observe that among the animals too their right-hand parts are better fitted for strength and vigour. Those to the west are more feminine, softer of soul, and secretive, because this region, again, is lunar, 58for it is always in the west that the p127moon emerges and makes its appearance after conjunction. For this reason it appears to be a nocturnal clime, feminine, and, in contrast with the orient, left-handed.

And now in each of these general regions certain special conditions of character and customs12 naturally ensue. For as likewise, in the case of the climate, even within the regions that in general are reckoned as hot, cold, or temperate, certain localities and countries have special peculiarities of excess or deficiency by reason of their situation, height, lowness, or adjacency; and again, as some peoples are more inclined to horsemanship because theirs is a plain country, or to seamanship because they live close to the sea, so also would one discover special traits in each arising from the natural familiarity of their particular climes with the stars in the signs of the zodiac. These traits, too, would be found generally present, but not in every individual. We must, then, deal with the subject summarily, in so far as it might be of use for the purpose of particular investigations.

p129 3. Of the Familiarities
between Countries and the Triplicities and Stars.

Now of the four triangular formations recognized in the zodiac, 59as we have shown above,13 the one which consists of Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius is northwestern, and is chiefly dominated by Jupiter on account of the north wind, but Mars joins in its government because of the south-west wind. That which is made up of Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn is south-eastern, and again is governed primarily by Venus on account of the south wind, but conjointly by Saturn because of the east wind. The one consisting of Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius is north-eastern and is governed primarily by Saturn because of the east wind, and conjointly by Jupiter because of the north wind. The triangle of Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces is south-western and is governed primarily, because of the west wind, by Mars, who is joined by Venus as co‑ruler on account of the south wind.

As this is so, and since our inhabited world is divided into four quarters,14 equal in number to the triangles, and is divided latitudinally by our sea from the Straits of Hercules15 to the Gulf of Issus and the mountainous ridge adjacent on the east,16 p131and by these its southern and northern portions are separated, and in longitude by the Arabian Gulf, the Aegean Sea, 60the Pontus,17 and the Lake Maeotis, whereby the eastern and western portions are separated, there arise four quarters, and these agree in position with the triangles. The first quarter lies in the north-west of the whole inhabited world; it embraces Celtic Gaul18 and we give it the general name Europe. Opposite this is the south-eastern quarter; this includes eastern Ethiopia,19 which would be called the southern part of Greater Asia. Again, the north-eastern quarter of the whole inhabited world is that which contains Scythia, which likewise is the northern part of Greater Asia; and the quarter opposite this and toward the south-west wind, the quarter of western Ethiopia, is that which we call by the general term Libya.

Again, of each of the aforesaid quarters the parts which are placed closer to the centre of the inhabited world are placed in a contrary fashion with respect to the surrounding quarters, just as are the latter in comparison with the whole world; and since the European quarter lies in the north-west of the whole world, the parts about the centre, which are allied to the opposite angle, obviously are situated in the south-east part of the quarter. The p133same holds of the other quarters, so that each of them is related to two oppositely situated triangles; 61for while the other parts are in harmony with the general inclination of the quarter, the portions at the centre [of the world] share in familiarity with the opposite inclination, and, again, of the stars that govern in their own triangles, in all the other domiciles they alone govern, but in the parts about the centre of the world likewise the other group, and Mercury besides,20 because he is mid-way between and common to the two sects.

Under this arrangement, the remainder of the first quarter, by which I mean the European quarter, situated in the north-west of the inhabited world, is in familiarity with the north-western triangle, Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius, and is governed, as one would expect, by the lords of the triangle, Jupiter and Mars, occidental.21 In terms of whole nations these parts consist of Britain, (Transalpine) Gaul, Germany, Bastarnia,22 Italy, (Cisalpine) Gaul, Apulia, p135Sicily, Tyrrhenia,23 Celtica,24 and Spain. As one might expect, it is the general characteristic of these nations, by reason of the predominance of the triangle and the stars which join in its government, to be independent, liberty-loving, fond of arms, industrious, very warlike, with qualities of leadership, cleanly, and magnanimous. However, because of the occidental aspect of Jupiter and Mars, and furthermore because the first parts of the aforesaid triangle are masculine 62and the latter parts feminine,25 they are without passion for women26 and look down upon the pleasures of love, but are better satisfied with and more desirous of association with men. And they do not regard the act as a disgrace to the paramour, nor indeed do they actually become effeminate and soft thereby, because their disposition is not perverted, but they retain in their souls manliness, helpfulness, good faith, love of kinsmen, and benevolence. Of these same countries Britain, (Transalpine) Gaul, Germany, and Bastarnia are in closer familiarity with Aries and Mars. Therefore for the most part their inhabitants are fiercer, more headstrong, and bestial. But Italy, Apulia, (Cisalpine) Gaul, and Sicily have their familiarity with Leo and the p137sun; wherefore these peoples are more masterful, benevolent, and co‑operative. Tyrrhenia, Celtica, and Spain are subject to Sagittarius and Jupiter, whence their independence, simplicity, and love of cleanliness. The parts of this quarter which are situated about the centre of the inhabited world, Thrace, Macedonia, Illyria, Hellas, Achaia,27 Crete, and likewise the Cyclades, and the coastal regions of Asia Minor and Cyprus, which are in the south-east portion of the whole quarter, 63have in addition familiarity with the south-east triangle, Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn, and its co‑rulers Venus, Saturn, and Mercury. As a result the inhabitants of those countries are brought into conformity with these planets and both in body and soul are of a more mingled constitution. They too have qualities of leadership and are noble and independent, because of Mars; they are liberty-loving and self-governing, democratic and framers of law, through Jupiter; lovers of music and of learning, fond of contests and clean livers, through Venus; social, friendly to strangers, justice-loving, fond of letters, and very effective in eloquence, through Mercury; and they are particularly addicted to the performance of mysteries, because of Venus's occidental aspect. And again, part by part, those of this group who live in the p139Cyclades and on the shores of Asia Minor and Cyprus are more closely familiar to Taurus and Venus. For this reason they are, on the whole, luxurious, clean, and attentive to their bodies. The inhabitants of Hellas, Achaia, and Crete, however, have a familiarity with Virgo and Mercury, and are therefore better at reasoning, and fond of learning, and they exercise the soul in preference to the body. The Macedonians, Thracians, and Illyrians have familiarity with Capricorn and Saturn, 64so that, though they are acquisitive, they are not so mild of nature, nor social in their institutions.

Of the second quarter, which embraces the southern part of greater Asia, the other parts, including India, Ariana, Gedrosia,28 Parthia, Media, Persia, Babylonia, Mesopotamia, and Assyria, which are situated in the south-east of the whole inhabited world, are, as we might presume, familiar to the south-eastern triangle, Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn, and are governed by Venus and Saturn in oriental aspects. Therefore one would find that the natures of their inhabitants conform with the temperaments governed by such rulers; for they revere the star of Venus under the name of Isis,29 and that of Saturn as Mithras Helios. Most of them, too, divine future events; and among p141them there exists the practice of consecrating the genital organs because of the aspect of the aforesaid stars, which is by nature generative. Further, they are ardent, concupiscent, and inclined to the pleasures of love; though the influence of Venus they are dancers and leapers and fond of adornment, and through that of Saturn luxurious livers. They carry out their relations with women30 openly and not in secret, because of the planets' oriental aspect, but hold in detestation such relations with males. 65For these reasons most of them beget children by their own mothers, and they do obeisance to the breast, by reason of the morning rising of the planets and on account of the primacy of the heart, which is akin to the sun's power. As for the rest, they are generally luxurious and effeminate in dress, in adornment, and in all habits relating to the body, because of Venus. In their souls and by their predilection they are magnanimous, noble, and warlike, because of the familiarity of Saturn oriental. Part by part, again, Parthia, Media, and Persia are more closely familiar to Taurus and Venus; hence their inhabitants use embroidered clothing, which covers their entire body except the breast, and they are as a general thing luxurious and clean. Babylonia, Mesopotamia, and Assyria are familiar to Virgo and p143Mercury, and so the study of mathematics and the observation of the five planets are special traits of these peoples. India, Ariana, and Gedrosia have familiarity with Capricorn and Saturn; therefore the inhabitants of these countries are ugly, unclean, and bestial. The remaining parts of the quarter, situated about the centre of the inhabited world, Idumaea, Coelê Syria, Judaea, Phoenicia, Chaldaea, 66Orchinia, and Arabia Felix,31 which are situated toward the north-west of the whole quarter, have additional familiarity with the north-western triangle, Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius, and furthermore, have as co‑rulers Jupiter, Mars, and Mercury. Therefore these peoples are, in comparison with the others, more gifted in trade and exchange; they are more unscrupulous, despicable cowards, treacherous, servile, and in general fickle, on account of the aspect of the stars mentioned. Of these, again, the inhabitants of Coelê Syria, Idumaea, and Judaea are more closely familiar to Aries and Mars, and therefore these peoples are in general bold, godless,32 and scheming. The Phoenicians, Chaldaeans, and Orchinians have familiarity with Leo and the sun, so that p145they are simpler, kindly, addicted to astrology,33 and beyond all men worshippers of the sun. The inhabitants of Arabia Felix are familiar to Sagittarius and Jupiter; this accounts for the fertility of the country, in accordance with its name, and its multitudes of spices, and the grace of its inhabitants and their free spirit in daily life, in exchange, and in business.

Of the third quarter, which includes the northern part of Greater Asia, the other parts, embracing Hyrcania, Armenia, Matiana, Bactriana, Casperia, 67Serica, Sauromatica, Oxiana, Sogdiana, and the regions in the north-east of the inhabited world,34 are in familiarity with the north-eastern triangle, Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius, and are, as might be expected, governed by Saturn and Jupiter in oriental aspect. Therefore the inhabitants of these lands worship Jupiter and Saturn, have much riches and gold, and are cleanly and seemly in their living, learned and adepts in matters of religion, just and liberal in manners, lofty and noble in soul, haters of evil, and affectionate, and ready to die for their friends in a fair and holy cause. They are dignified and p147pure in their sexual relations, lavish in dress, gracious and magnanimous; these things in general are brought about by Saturn and Jupiter in eastern aspects. Of these nations, again, Hyrcania, Armenia, and Matiana are more closely familiar to Gemini and Mercury; they are accordingly more easily stirred and inclined to rascality. Bactriana, Casperia, and Serica are akin to Libra and Venus, so that their peoples are rich and followers of the Muses, and more luxurious. The regions of Sauromatica, Oxiana, and Sogdiana are in familiarity with Aquarius and Saturn; 68these nations therefore are more ungentle, stern, and bestial. The remaining parts of this quarter, which lie close to the centre of the inhabited world, Bithynia, Phrygia, Colchica, Syria, Commagenê, Cappadocia, Lydia, Lycia, Cilicia, and Pamphylia,35 since they are situated in the south-west of the quarter, have in addition familiarity with the south-western quarter, Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces, and their co‑rulers are Mars, Venus, and Mercury; therefore those who live in these countries generally worship Venus as the mother of the gods, calling her by various local names, and Mars as Adonis,36 to whom again they give other names, and they celebrate in their honour certain mysteries accompanied p149by lamentations. They are exceedingly depraved, servile, laborious, rascally, are to be found in mercenary expeditions, looting and taking captives, enslaving their own peoples, and engaging in destructive wars. And because of the junction of Mars and Venus in the Orient, since Mars is exalted in Capricorn, a sign of Venus's triangle, it comes about that their women display entire goodwill to their husbands; they are affectionate, home-keepers, diligent, helpful, 69and in every respect laborious and obedient. Of these peoples, again, those who live in Bithynia, Phrygia, and Colchica are more closely familiar to Cancer and the moon; therefore the men are in general cautious and obedient, and most of the women, through the influence of the moon's oriental and masculine aspect, are virile,37 commanding, and warlike, like the Amazons, who shun commerce with men, love arms, and from infancy make masculine all their female characteristics, by cutting off their right breasts for the sake of military needs and baring these parts in the line of battle, in order to display the absence of femininity in their natures. The people of Syria, Commagenê, and Cappadocia are p151familiar to Scorpio and Mars; therefore much boldness, knavery, treacherous, and laboriousness are found among them. The people of Lydia, Cilicia, and Pamphylia have familiarity with Pisces and Jupiter; these accordingly are more wealthy, commercial, social, free, and trustworthy in their compacts.

Of the remaining quarter, which includes what is called by the common name Libya,38 the other parts, including Numidia, Carthage, Africa, Phazania, Nasamonitis, Garamantica, Mauritania, 70Gaetulia, Metagonitis,39 and the regions situated in the south-west of the inhabited world, are related by familiarity to the south-western triangle, Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces, and are accordingly ruled by Mars and Venus in occidental aspect. For this reason it befalls most of the inhabitants, because of the aforesaid junction of these planets, to be governed by a man and wife who are own brother and sister,40 the man ruling the men and the woman the women; and a succession of this sort is maintained. They are extremely ardent and disposed to commerce with women, so that even p153their marriages are brought about by violent abduction, and frequently their kings enjoy the jus primae noctis with the brides, and among some of them the women are common to all the men. They are fond of beautifying themselves and gird themselves with feminine adornments, through the influence of Venus; through that of Mars, however, they are virile of spirit, rascally, magicians, impostors, deceivers, and reckless. Of these people, again, the inhabitants of Numidia, Carthage, and Africa are more closely familiar to Cancer and the moon. They therefore are social, commercial, and live in great abundance. Those who inhabit Metagonitis, 71Mauritania, and Gaetulia are familiar to Scorpio and Mars; they are accordingly fiercer and very warlike, meat-eaters, very reckless, and contemptuous of life to such an extent as not even to spare one another. Those who live in Phazania, Nasamonitis, and Garamantica are familiar to Pisces and Jupiter; hence they are free and simple in their characters, willing to work, intelligent, cleanly, and independent, as a general rule, and they are worshippers of Jupiter as Ammon. The remaining parts of the quarter, which are situated near the centre of the inhabited world, Cyrenaica, Marmarica, Egypt, Thebais,41 the Oasis, p155Troglodytica, Arabia, Azania, and Middle Ethiopia, which face the north-east of the whole quarter, have an additional familiarity with the north-eastern triangle Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius, and therefore have as co‑rulers Saturn and Jupiter and, furthermore, Mercury. Accordingly those who live in these countries, because they all in common, as it were, are subject to the occidental rulership of the five planets, are worshippers of the gods, superstitious, given to religious ceremony and fond of lamentation; they bury their dead in the earth, putting them out of sight, on account of the occidental aspect of the planets; and they practice all kinds of usages, customs, and rites in the service of all manner of gods. Under command they are humble, timid, penurious, and long-suffering, 72in leadership courageous and magnanimous; but they are polygamous and polyandrous and lecherous, marrying even their own sisters, and the men are potent in begetting, the women in conceiving, even as their land is fertile. Furthermore, many of the males are unsound and effeminate of soul, and some even hold in contempt the organs of generation, through the influence of the aspect of the maleficent planets in combination with Venus occidental. Of these peoples the inhabitants of Cyrenaica and Marmarica, and particularly of Lower Egypt, are more closely familiar to Gemini and Mercury; on this account they are thoughtful and p157intelligent and facile in all things, especially in the search for wisdom and religion; they are magicians and performers of secret mysteries and in general skilled in mathematics.42 Those who live in Thebais, the Oasis, and Troglodytica are familiar to Libra and Venus; hence they are more ardent and lively of nature and live in plenty. The people of Arabia, Azania, and Middle Ethiopia are familiar to Aquarius and Saturn,43 for which reason they are flesh-eaters, fish-eaters, and nomads, living a rough, bestial life.

Let this be our brief exposition of the familiarities of the planets and the signs of the zodiac with the various nations, and of the general characteristics of the latter. We shall also set forth, for ready use, a list of the several nations which are in familiarity, 73merely noted against each of the signs, in accordance with what has just been said about them, thus:—

Aries: Britain, Gaul, Germania, Bastarnia; in the centre, Coelê Syria, Palestine, Idumaea, Judaea.

Taurus: Parthia, Media, Persia; in the centre, the Cyclades, Cyprus, the coastal region of Asia Minor.

p159 Gemini: Hyrcania, Armenia, Matiana; in the centre, Cyrenaica, Marmarica, Lower Egypt.

Cancer: Numidia, Carthage, Africa; in the centre, Bithynia, Phrygia, Colchica.

Leo: Italy, Cisalpine Gaul, Sicily, Apulia; in the centre, Phoenicia, Chaldaea, Orchenia.

Virgo: Mesopotamia, Babylonia, Assyria; in the centre, Hellas, Achaia, Crete.

Libra: Bactriana, Casperia, Serica; in the centre, Thebais, Oasis, Troglodytica.

Scorpio: Metagonitis, Mauritania, Gaetulia; in the centre, Syria, Commagenê, Cappadocia.

Sagittarius: Tyrrhenia, Celtica, Spain; in the centre, Arabia Felix.

74 Capricorn: India, Ariana, Gedrosia; in the centre, Thrace, Macedonia, Illyria.

Aquarius: Sauromatica, Oxiana, Sogdiana; in the centre, Arabia, Azania, Middle Ethiopia.

Pisces: Phazania, Nasamonitis, Garamantica; in the centre, Lydia, Cilicia, Pamphylia.44

Now that the subject at hand has been set forth, it is reasonable to attach to this section this further consideration — that each of the fixed stars has familiarity with the countries with which the parts of the zodiac, which have the same inclinations as the fixed stars45 upon the circle drawn through its p161poles, appear to exert sympathy; furthermore, that, in the case of metropolitan cities, those regions of the zodiac are most sympathetic through which the sun and moon, and of the centres especially the horoscope, were passing at the first founding of the city, as in a nativity. But in cases in which the exact times of the foundations are not discovered, the regions are sympathetic in which falls the mid‑heaven of the nativities of those who held office or were kings at the time.46


The Editor's Notes:

1 Cf. I.3.

2 Or, as the variant reading has it, "to concern both countries and cities." See the cr. n.

The critical note to the Greek text reads:

τὸ δὲ κατὰ χώρος καὶ κατὰ πόλεις NCam.Proc. κατὰ χώρος καὶ, om. libri alii.

3 Literally, "variations of more and less."

4 Latitudes, or general regions determined by latitude.

Thayer's Note: For details, see the article Clima in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

5 Such as houses (I.17) or terms (I.20‑21).

6 πάροδοι; the passage of a heavenly body through the zodiac.

7 In the astrological ethnography which follows Ptolemy probably depends upon the Stoic Posidonius. Boll, Studien, pp181‑238, enumerates many details in which, for this reason, Ptolemy here diverges from views expressed in the Geography.

8 "Parallels" relate to latitude, i.e. position north or south; "angles" to position east or west.

9 The anonymous commentator (p56, ed. Wolf) says that he means the Egyptians and the Chaldaeans, and is referring to the fact that they discovered astrology.

10 This phrase (πάντα ἐκφαίνοντες) is contrasted with τὰ πολλὰ κρύπτοντες, below. The anonymous commentator says that some understood it to refer to the freedom of speech of the eastern group; others, to their gift of felicitous expression.

11 Cf. I.6; not only the sun, but also the oriental quadrant, is masculine.

12 I.e. variations from the normal or general characteristics of the whole region.

13 Cf. I.18.

14 Cardanus, p181, diagrammatically figures the "inhabited world" as a trapezium, narrower at the top (north) than the bottom, and bounded by arcs; this is divided into quadrants by north-south and east-west lines. The "parts closer to the centre" are then marked off by lines joining the ends of the two latter, dividing each quadrant and producing 4 right-angled triangles at the centre.

15 Straits of Gibraltar.

16 Probably the Taurus range.

17 The Pontus Euxinus, or Black Sea. The Lake Maeotis is the Sea of Azov.

18 As opposed to Galatia in Asia Minor.

19 The designation of India as "Eastern Ethiopia" is at variance with Ptolemy's Geography, and a mark of the influence of Posidonius (Boll, Studien, pp211‑212). The distinction of two Ethiopias rests on the well-known Homeric passage, OdysseyI.22‑24.

20 Cardanus (p182) gives four reasons why Mercury governs these central portions; that he may have some dominion in the world; because the inhabitants of the central regions are more given to the arts and sciences, of which Mercury is the patron; because they are addicted to commerce, likewise in Mercury's field; and because Mercury's nature lies midway between those of the other four planets.

21 That Jupiter and Mars must be in the occidental (p133)position is an additional requirement which does not appear in the original statement of the government of the triangles. Cardanus, p182, points out that in Ptolemy's scheme Jupiter governs the whole north, Venus the south, Saturn the east, and Mars the west, but in the first quadrant Mars and Jupiter dominate non simpliciter, sed occidentales, in the second, Saturn and Venus, not absolutely, but in oriental aspects, and so on. This, he says, is to display the variety of the customs of the two nations, for a planet in oriental aspect is so different from the same planet occidental that practically it is two planets instead of one.

22 The south-western part of Russia and southern Poland. Boll, op. cit., p197, n2, points out that Hephaestion, who follows Ptolemy closely, and Proclus do not mention Bastarnia, and that the name may not have been in Ptolemy's original text.

23 Tuscany.

24 Probably western Spain (Boll, op. cit., p205). (p135)Γαλατία is used to designate Gaul proper, between the Rhine and the Pyrenees, and Γαλλία for northern Italy.

25 All the signs of this triangle are masculine; cf. I.17. Perhaps Ptolemy merely means that when Aries is rising Sagittarius will be occidental and therefore feminine; so Ashmand.

26 This preference of the northern barbarians is charged against them by Aristotle and following him by Posidonius, Diodorus, Strabo, Athenaeus, Sextus Empiricus and others; cf. the instances collected by Bouché-Leclercq, p340, n2, and the discussion in Boll, Studien, pp207‑208.

27 Hellas is northern Greece and Achaia the Peloponnesus.

28 Gedrosia is modern Baluchistan, and Ariana lay north of it, between Parthia and the Indus.

29 For this region it would have been more accurate to identify Venus with Astarte or Istar. It was, of course, the original home of the worship of Mithras.

30 Here again see the citations collected by Bouché-Leclercq, p341, n2, of the charges of sexual immorality and incest made in antiquity against these peoples.

31 Idumaea is the region around the south end of the Dead Sea; Coelê Syria, north of Palestine and between Lebanon and Anti-Libanus; Judaea, between the Dead Sea and the (p143)coast; Phoenicia the coastal strip north of Judaea and Samaria; Chaldaea, south-west of the Euphrates and north of the Arabian peninsula; what is meant by Orchinia is somewhat doubtful; and Arabia Felix is the south-western coastal region of the Arabian peninsula. In the Geography, V.20, Chaldaea is treated merely as a part of Babylonia, not an entirely separate country, as here (cf. Boll, Studien, p205).

Thayer's Note: If "Orchinia" (elsewhere, "Orchenia"; Ashmand apparently has "Orchynia") as a country name seems to be found only in the Tetrabiblos, the "Orcheni" are mentioned by Strabo (XVI.1.6) as a tribe of Chaldaean astronomers, as by Pliny (VI.123); but it is the other passage in Pliny, VI.130, in which they are stated to have dammed the Euphrates for irrigation in the distant past, that allows us to identify them with the inhabitants of the Chaldean city of Uruk.

32 The Jews, because of their monotheism and disregard of all pagan gods, were generally branded as atheists by their neighbours.

33 Astrology indeed began in the ancient Babylonian and Assyrian kingdoms.

34 Of these Armenia lies south of the Caucasus between the Black Sea and the Caspian; Matiana and Hyrcania are around the south end of the Caspian, the former to the east and the latter to the west; Bactriana, Oxiana, and Sogdiana are still further east, around the upper courses of the Oxus; by Casperia is probably meant the region around the northern part of the Caspian Sea; Serica is China, or its western portion, and Sauromatica (called Sarmatia by the Romans) is the general name for Russia, here used of its Asiatic part. In the Geography, VI.12, Ptolemy treats Oxiana as but one part of Sogdiana (Boll, Studien, p205).

35 These are all parts of Asia Minor.

36 Ptolemy identifies Venus and Mars, who are coupled in Greek mythology, with the female and male divinities of this region worshipped under various names as the Mother of the Gods, Magna Mater, etc., and Attis, Adonis, etc.

37 Cf. the myth of Medea, the Colchian princess.

38 Here used of the continent in general; Africa is the Roman province.

39 Along the Mediterranean coast, eastward from the Straits of Gibraltar, the regions are, first, Mauritania (of which Metagonitis is the portion east from the Straits), then Numidia, Africa (the Roman province, which includes Carthage), Tripolitana, Cyrenaica, Marmarica, and Egypt. The other nations mentioned are further inland and south of these, Gaetulia in the west, Garamantica and Phazania south of Tripoli, and Nasamonitis near Cyrenaica and Marmarica.

Thayer's Note: For the Garamantes, see the interesting (and illustrated) page at Livius.

40 Marriage between those of the same blood was a common practice in Hellenistic Egypt, including the royal family of the Ptolemies. Cf. Cumont, L'Égypte des Astrologues (Brussels, 1937), pp177‑179.

41 Upper Egypt. By "Egypt" he doubtless means Lower Egypt. Cyrenaica and Marmarica are to the west. Troglodytica lies along the west coast of the Red Sea and Azania about where is now French Somaliland. By Arabia he may mean Arabia Petraea, the Sinai Peninsula and vicinity. Parts of Troglodytica, too, were sometimes called Arabia. The Greater and Lesser Oases lie west of the Thebais.

42 "Mathematics" (literally, "the studies") here means astrology; cf. the title of Sextus Empiricus' book Πρὸς μαθηματικούς, "Against the Astrologers."

43 Some MSS. and Camerarius' second edition have "Jupiter" in place of "Saturn."

44 "Total, 72 countries," is found in some MSS. and Proclus. There are actually 73 in the list as given here, but there is a certain amount of confusion in the MSS.

45 These are the so‑called παρανατέλλοντα, stars which rise and set at the same time as the degrees or sections of the ecliptic, but to the north or south of them. See Boll-Bezold-Gundel, pp55, 141 ff.

46 The procedure, therefore, is to treat a city like a person and cast its nativity, using instead of the time of birth the time of founding. If the latter is not accurately known, the astrologer should take the nativity of the founder, or other individual prominent in the enterprise, and observe where its mid‑heaven falls.


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