Ptolemy : biography
Claudius Ptolemy ( , Klaudios Ptolemaios; ; AD 90 – AD 168) was a Greco-Roman writer of Alexandria, known as a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology.Select Epigrams from the Greek Anthology By John William Mackail ISBN 14069229432007 He lived in the city of Alexandria in the Roman province of Egypt, wrote in Greek, and held Roman citizenship.See 'Background' section on his status as a Roman citizen Beyond that, few reliable details of his life are known. His birthplace has been given as Ptolemais Hermiou in the Thebaid in an uncorroborated statement by the 14th century astronomer Theodore Meliteniotes.G. J. Toomer, "Ptolemy (or Claudius Ptolemaeus). " . 2008. Retrieved from Encyclopedia.com. 21 Jan, 2013. This is very late, however, and there is no other reason to suppose that he ever lived anywhere else than Alexandria, where he died around AD 168.Jean Claude Pecker (2001), Understanding the Heavens: Thirty Centuries of Astronomical Ideas from Ancient Thinking to Modern Cosmology, p. 311, Springer, ISBN 3-540-63198-4.
Ptolemy was the author of several scientific treatises, at least three of which were of continuing importance to later Islamic and European science. The first is the astronomical treatise now known as the Almagest (in Greek, Ἡ Μεγάλη Σύνταξις, "The Great Treatise", originally Μαθηματικὴ Σύνταξις, "Mathematical Treatise"). The second is the Geography, which is a thorough discussion of the geographic knowledge of the Greco-Roman world. The third is the astrological treatise known sometimes in Greek as the Apotelesmatika (Ἀποτελεσματικά), more commonly in Greek as the Tetrabiblos (Τετράβιβλος "Four books"), and in Latin as the Quadripartitum (or four books) in which he attempted to adapt horoscopic astrology to the Aristotelian natural philosophy of his day.
Ptolemy has been referred to as “a pro-astrological authority of the highest magnitude”.Jones (2010) ‘The Use and Abuse of Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos in Renaissance and Early Modern Europe’ by H. Darrel Rutkin, p. 135. His astrological treatise, a work in four parts, is known by the Greek term Tetrabiblos, or the Latin equivalent Quadripartitum: ‘Four Books’. Ptolemy's own title is unknown, but may have been the term found in some Greek manuscripts: Apotelesmatika, roughly meaning 'Astrological Outcomes,' 'Effects' or ‘Prognostics’.Robbins, Ptolemy Tetrabiblos, 'Introduction' p. x.Jones (2010) p. xii.
As a source of reference, the Tetrabiblos is said to have "enjoyed almost the authority of a Bible among the astrological writers of a thousand years or more".Robbins, Ptolemy Tetrabiblos, 'Introduction' p. xii. It was first translated from Arabic into Latin by Plato of Tivoli (Tiburtinus) in 1138, while he was in Spain.FA Robbins, 1940; Thorndike 1923) The Tetrabiblos is an extensive and continually reprinted treatise on the ancient principles of horoscopic astrology. That it did not quite attain the unrivaled status of the Almagest was, perhaps, because it did not cover some popular areas of the subject, particularly electional astrology (interpreting astrological charts for a particular moment to determine the outcome of a course of action to be initiated at that time), and medical astrology, which were later adoptions.
The great popularity that the Tetrabiblos did possess might be attributed to its nature as an exposition of the art of astrology, and as a compendium of astrological lore, rather than as a manual. It speaks in general terms, avoiding illustrations and details of practice. Ptolemy was concerned to defend astrology by defining its limits, compiling astronomical data that he believed was reliable and dismissing practices (such as considering the numerological significance of names) that he believed to be without sound basis.
Much of the content of the Tetrabiblos was collected from earlier sources; Ptolemy's achievement was to order his material in a systematic way, showing how the subject could, in his view, be rationalized. It is, indeed, presented as the second part of the study of astronomy of which the Almagest was the first, concerned with the influences of the celestial bodies in the sublunar sphere. Thus explanations of a sort are provided for the astrological effects of the planets, based upon their combined effects of heating, cooling, moistening, and drying.
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