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Hellenistic Astrology based on cultural translation

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HELLENISTIC ASTROLOGY AS A CASE STUDY OF CULTURAL TRANSLATION

By MOONIKA OLL

A dissertation submitted to the University of Birmingham for the degree of MPhil(B) in Classics and Ancient History

Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity College of Arts and Law University of Birmingham September 2010

University of Birmingham Research Archivee-theses repository This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.

ABSTRACT

This dissertation approaches Hellenistic astrology as a case study for 'Cultural translation' in the Greco-Roman world. 'Cultural translation' denotes here the transition of ideas and knowledge from one culture to another, making them available in the recipient culture by the translation in its broader sense, using recipients own already familiar intellectual and cultural concepts. The spread of Greek culture and the adoption of non-Greek elements into it during the Hellenistic times resulted in new hybrid Hellenistic culture based at Alexandria. Around the middle of the 2 nd century BC astrology in its Hellenized form appeared there as a fully developed set of doctrines that Classical authors argued to have been the discoveries of the Chaldeans. Astrology, however, was not taken over from Babylonia per se, but was an assimilation and invention at the same time. This has led some scholars to argue that Hellenistic astrology was an invention in its own right and its philosophical rational and doctrine of interpretation are Hellenistic Greek in origin. This dissertation, therefore, aims to discover what was 'Hellenistic' about Hellenistic astrology, to what extent it was a derivation from its Babylonian predecessor and through that to determine the role of the 'Oriental wisdom' in the Greco-Roman society.

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CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................................ 1 CHAPTER 1 ASTROLOGICAL LITERATURE, AD 0-200 ................................................................................ 5 1.1 PTOLEMY ........................................................................................................................ 5 1.1.1 Structure and content ................................................................................................................ 5 1.1.2 Philosophy................................................................................................................................. 8 1.1.3 Agenda and method ................................................................................................................ 13 1.2 VETTIUS VALENS ........................................................................................................ 16

1.2.1 Structure and content .............................................................................................................. 17 1.2.2 Agenda and method ................................................................................................................ 19 1.3 MANILIUS ..................................................................................................................... 20

1.3.1 Structure and content .............................................................................................................. 20 1.3.2 Philosophy............................................................................................................................... 21 1.3.3 Agenda and method ................................................................................................................ 22 1.4 DOROTHEUS OF SIDON ............................................................................................. 23

1.4.1 Structure and content .............................................................................................................. 25 1.4.2 Agenda and method ................................................................................................................ 27 CHAPTER 2 EMERGENCE OF HELLENISTIC ASTROLOGY ...................................................................... 29 2.1 PSEUDOEPIGRAPHIES................................................................................................ 30 2.1.1 Nechepso and Petosiris ........................................................................................................... 30 2.1.2 Abraham .................................................................................................................................. 33 2.1.3 Asclepius and Hermetic astrology .......................................................................................... 37 2.2 2.3 HISTORICAL AUTHORS ............................................................................................. 38 DATING .......................................................................................................................... 39

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CHAPTER 3 ORIGINS OF HELLENISTIC ASTROLOGY .............................................................................. 43 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 BABYLONIAN ASTROLOGY ..................................................................................... 44 BABYLONIAN ELEMENTS IN HELLENISTIC ASTROLOGY ................................ 50 ASTRONOMY AND MATHEMATICS ......................................................................... 55 PHILOSOPHY ................................................................................................................ 58

CONCLUSION .............................................................................................................................. 61 BIBLIOGRAPHY .......................................................................................................................... 66

APPENDIX ONE....................MEMORY STICK APPENDIX TWO.......................MEMORY STICK APPENDIX THREE.......................MEMORY STICK APPENDIX FOUR ....................MEMORY STICK

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ABBREVIATIONSBNJ Worthington, I (ed.), 2007-date, Brills New Jacoby , online: Brill (http://www.brillonline.nl)

CCAG

Cumont, F., Boll, F., Kroll, W. et al. (eds), 1898-. Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum, 1-12, Brussels.

FGrH

Jacoby, F. Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker, Berlin 1926-1930, Leiden 1954-1958, online: Brill (http://www.brillonline.nl)

HAMA

Neugebauer, O. 1975. The History of Ancient Mathematical Astronomy, 1-3, Berlin and New York.

JHS

Journal of Hellenic Studies

JNES

Journal of Near Eastern Studies

LSJ

Liddell, H.G., Scott, R., Jones, H.S and McKenzie, R. 1925. A Greek-English Lexicon, 9th ed. Oxford.

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INTRODUCTIONIn the Hellenistic period, as Rome became the most direct threat to the Greeks, replacing the former Persian empire, Greek interest in the cultural and intellectual aspects of Rome and the Romans declined and focused on the Eastern civilizations. 1 Greek curiosity about Oriental wisdom was nothing either new or revolutionary and the cross-cultural relations between Greece and its eastern neighbours during the pre-Hellenistic period have by now been well examined.2 Although Greece was at first considered to have been rather isolated from the Orient and from Zeller (1856) onwards Greek philosophy was for a long time held to have been self-generated despite the gradually accumulating contrary evidence, comparisons between Hittite, Akkadian, Ugaritic and Syrian material and Pre-Socratic Greek philosophic ideas have successfully demonstrated that the latter had their origins or were at least influenced by the former. 3 Alexander the Great's conquests from Greece to Afghanistan and Egypt merely renewed and strengthened these already established contacts. The situation was, nevertheless, a great deal different than before. Alexanders death resulted in the creation of large kingdoms controlled by Greek monarchies. 4 Greek culture spread in these areas but at the same time Greek and non-Greek elements became intrinsically fused, producing a new hybrid Hellenistic culture based at Alexandria. Johnson has noted that 'among the most far-reaching of the achievements of

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Momigliano 1990: 2, 18. See for example Hegyi 1982 on the relations between Greece and the Orient between the 9 th and 6th centuries BC, Burkert 1992 on Near Eastern influences in Greece during the Archaic period, West 1971 and Burkert 1962 & 2004 on Oriental influences on Greek philosophy, and West 1997 on west Asiatic elements in Greek poetry and myths.

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Burkert 2004: 51. Seleucids in the Middle East, Ptolemies in Egypt, Antigonids in Macedonia, Attalids in Anatolia; and later also Greco-Bactrian, Indo-Greek and Pontus kingdoms.

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Alexandria was its ability to take the received wisdom of the Hellenistic world and synthesise it into new ideas'.5 Thus next to the classic sciences arose what are nowadays called pseudo-sciences, most notably astrology in its various forms. This dissertation approaches Hellenistic astrology as a case study for 'cultural translation' in the Hellenistic world. The term 'Cultural translation' is used in various disciplines, including cultural studies, political science, literary studies, anthropology, in somewhat divergent meanings, basically denoting the mediation processes between different cultural p