The development of Horoscopic Astrology
Readers looking for new things will be pleasantly surprised with this article. It does not contain loads of astronomy facts and mathematical calculations, and you do not need to be an astrologist or a historian to enjoy reading it. Personally, I am completely different.
The foundations of western astrology started long before the ancient Greeks. The people who settled in Mesopotamia (roughly, present-day southern Iraq) around 4000 BC considered the sun, the moon and Venus to be gods, or the homes of gods. Mixed with the other people were those who were believed to have the ability to contact Gods. They understood the basic cycles of the planets and stars and could predict major natural events such as eclipses. The astrological theories that were gradually developed in ancient Mesopotamia are the basis upon which later astrological traditions were built, including classical Greek and Hellenistic astronomy. Hellenistic astrology would in turn influence Islamic astrology and, finally, Western astrology.
So what is Ptolemaic Alexandria? Alexander the Great founded the Egyptian city of Alexandria in 331 BC, and the city later became the Ptolemaic Kingdom’s capital (it was appropriately named in honor of the first ruler, Ptolemy) from 332 BC (when the Alexander died) up until the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC. Alexandria continued to be the capital of Egypt for nearly a thousand years until the Muslim conquest of the country in the middle of the 7th century AD and Hellenism (the Greek way of life spread by Alexander) continued to prosper there throughout that time.
The distinguishing feature of Hellenism was the blend of Classical Greek culture and the cultures of the peoples to the east and south conquered by Alexander the Great. In Alexandria, this translated into a mixture of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Macedonian, Persian, Syrian, Jewish, and Babylonian (Mesopotamian) cultures. One aspect of the rich cultural activity underway in Ptolemaic Alexandria is the development of astrology.(ordinarily the date of the individual’s birth or conception); most contain no predictions. Nevertheless, Horoscopic Astrology had its beginning in Babylonian Astrology.
During the middle of the 4th century BC, Babylonian astrology was introduced in Greece and using the names of the Gods in Greek mythology, the two practices blended together introducing those familiar names we know today. However, the most significant contribution of the Greeks to Western Astrology was the development of Horoscopic Astrology under Hellenistic rule in Ptolemaic Alexandria.
It was in Ptolemaic Alexandria, now the center of Greek culture, that Babylonian astrology and Pharaonic Egyptian astronomy came together. Greek had become the language of communication from Greece to India to Egypt, allowing for unprecedented amalgamation of knowledge. Hellenistic astrology built on Egyptian and Babylonian traditions and produced a system of Horoscopic Astrology that was to form the basis of modern day western Horoscopic Astrology.
The work of an astronomer / astrologer by the name of Claudius Ptolemy was particularly important to the development of horoscopic astrology in Alexandria at the time. Even though Ptolemy was born in the Southern half of Egypt, he is still considered a Hellenistic scholar (85 BC?) and died in Alexandria (165 BC?), no one knows whether he was Egyptian or Greek. It does not matter if he was a Greek born in Egypt with a Roman citizenship.
Tetrabiblios was one of Ptolemy two best known works (where he compiled all known astrological theories of the time), and the Almagest (a thirteen volume discussion of how the solar system functions). Ptolemy believed that the earth was round, even though he claimed the everything else in the universe revolved around the earth. The Ptolemaic theory taught astronomy students that the sun revolved around the earth for 1400 years, until it was found that the opposite was true. Though Ptolemy made an incredible contribution towards the Horoscopic astrology yet we are unable to discover any horscopes made by him.
There are many zodiacs from the Ptolemaic era which give proof of Egypt’s contributions to Horoscopic Astrology. The most widely known of these is the Dendera zodiac, found on the ceiling of a chapel dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Osiris. You will be able to visit and glance at these articles in the Louvre Museum in Paris.
In the early 19th century, the renowned French linguist Jean-Francois Champollion (who, just a few years earlier, had managed to decipher hieroglyphics) correctly dated the Dendera zodiac to the Ptolemaic era. Currently the date that is agreed upon is 50 BC since it demonstrates the situation of the stars and planets as they would have been observed then. The Dendera zodiac is a map of the stars on a plane projection and shows the twelve constellations (the band of the zodiac) making the 36 ten-day Decans, as more proof of how the Babylonian astrology combined with the traditional Egyptian Decan astrology.
The Hellenistic scholars, in Ptolemaic Alexandria, developed the Horoscopic Astrology, which was a combining of Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Greek astrology. Hellenistic astrology was used up until sometime in the 600s AD. This practice was revived by Muslim scholars in the eighth century. Modern western Horscopic Astrology is based on it.