Tetrabiblos

CLAUDIUS PTOLEMY:
TETRABIBLOS
OR THE QUADRIPARTITE MATHEMATICAL TREATISE
FOUR BOOKS OF THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS
TRANSLATED FROM THE GREEK PARAPHRASE OF PROCLUS By J. M. ASHMAND
London, Davis and Dickson

[1822]


ADVERTISEMENT

THE use recently made of Astrology in the poetical machinery of certain works of genius (which are of the highest popularity, and above all praise), seems to have excited in the world at large a desire to learn something of the mysteries of that science which has, in all former ages, if not in these days, more or less engaged reverence and usurped belief. The apparent existence of such a general desire has caused the completion of the following Translation, and its presentation to the public; although it was originally undertaken only in part, and merely to satisfy two or three individuals of the grounds on which the now neglected doctrines of Astrology had so long and so fully maintained credit.

Depiction of the zodiac, and Apollo in his chariot, from a Greek manuscript of the Tetrabiblos

PROEM

The studies preliminary to astronomical prognostication, O Syrus! are two: the one, first alike in order and in power, leads to the knowledge of the figurations of the Sun, the Moon, and the stars; and of their relative aspects to each other, and to the earth: the other takes into consideration the changes which their aspects create, by means of their natural properties, in objects under their influence.

The first mentioned study has been already explained in the Syntaxis 1 to the utmost practicable extent; for it is complete in itself, and of essential utility even without being blended with the second; to which this treatise will be devoted, and which is not equally self-complete. The present work shall, however, be regulated by that due regard for truth which philosophy demands: and since the material quality of the objects acted upon renders them weak and variable, and difficult to be accurately apprehended, no positive or infallible rules (as were given in detailing the first doctrine, which is always governed by the same immutable laws) can be here set forth: while, on the other hand, a due observation of most of those general events, which evidently trace their causes to the Ambient, shall not be omitted.

It is, however, a common practice with the vulgar to slander everything which is difficult of attainment, and surely they who condemn the first of these two studies must be considered totally blind, whatever arguments may be produced in support of those who impugn the second. There are also persons who imagine that whatever they themselves have not been able to acquire, must be utterly beyond the reach of all understanding; while others again will consider as useless any science of which (although they may have been often instructed in it) they have failed to preserve the recollection, owing to its difficulty of retention. In reference to these opinions, therefore, an endeavour shall be made to investigate the extent to which prognostication by astronomy is practicable, as well as serviceable, previously to detailing the particulars of the doctrine.

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