Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos or Quadripartite: being four books of the influence of the stars by J M Ashmand (1917)

One of the most important surviving ancient texts on Astrology. The Earth stood fixed at the center of the universe, with crystalline spheres within spheres whirling around it. In balance, the universe had a vast influence on earthly events, which was the basis for the belief in Astrology. This explanation stood for nearly a millennium and a half, bolstered by its acceptance as orthodoxy by the Catholic Church, until Copernicus and Galileo demolished it and placed the heliocentric (sun-centered) system in its place. –Sacred Texts Tetrabiblos (Τετράβιβλος) ‘four books’, also known in Greek as Apotelesmatiká (Ἀποτελεσματικά) “Effects”, and in Latin as Quadripartitum “Four Parts”, is a text on the philosophy and practice of astrology, written in the 2nd century AD by the Alexandrian scholar Claudius Ptolemy (c. AD 90–c. AD 168). Ptolemy’s Almagest was an authoritative text on astronomy for more than a thousand years, and the Tetrabiblos, its companion volume, was equally influential in astrology, the study of the effects of astronomical cycles on earthly matters. But whilst the Almagest as an astronomical authority was superseded by acceptance of the heliocentric model of the Solar System, the Tetrabiblos remains an important theoretical work for astrology. Besides outlining the techniques of astrological practice, Ptolemy’s philosophical defense of the subject as a natural, beneficial study helped secure theological tolerance towards astrology in Western Europe during the Medieval era. This allowed Ptolemaic teachings on astrology to be included in universities during the Renaissance, which brought an associated impact upon medical studies and literary works. The historical importance of the Tetrabiblos is seen by the many ancient, Medieval and Renaissance commentaries that have been published about it. It was copied, commented on, paraphrased, abridged, and translated into many languages.

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