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53.3.Jones

O. Neugebauer and H. B. van Hoesen published Greek Horoscopes in 1959, assembling the ancient horoscopic documents in Greek from papyri and other archeologically recovered media as well as from texts preserved through the medieval tradition. While only a few of additional horoscopes have since come to light from medieval sources, the corpus of known horoscopes on papyrus has grown considerably, with supplementary collections edited by D. Baccani (1992) and A. Jones (1999) and further papyri in scattered publications. Taking into consideration roughly forty known Demotic horoscopes, over 200 horoscopic documents of Greco-Egyptian provenance, ranging from the beginning of Roman rule to the early sixth century, are accessible.

Nevertheless Neugebauer's hope that a systematic study of horoscopes would augment our understanding of ancient astronomy and astrology has been fulfilled only to a limited extent. Most record only the birthdate of the individual and crude specifications of the zodiacal signs in which the Sun, Moon, planets, and rising point of the zodiac were located at that date, and astrological interpretations are almost never present. Such materials are most susceptible to a statistical treatment, limiting the questions one can address through them.

It is harder to explain the neglect of a category of more extensive, elaborate horoscopes designated "deluxe" (Jones 1999, 1.46-47). These are characterized by their specifying the zodiacal positions of the heavenly bodies to a precision of degrees if not minutes and by the provision of additional information such as the astrological properties associated with the zodiacal signs, and the heavenly bodies that hold astrological lordship over the signs and their subdivisions.

The present paper illustrates the evidential potential of the deluxe horoscopes through an examination of three that, although spanning approximately four centuries, are remarkably alike in format and content: P. Lond. 1.130 (for an individual born in 81 CE), P. Berol. 9825 (ined., birthdate 319 CE), and a horoscope attributed to Eutocius preserved in two Byzantine codices, Par. gr. 2425 and Laur. plut. 28,34 (birthdate 497 CE). These horoscopes will be considered from two points of view: the astronomical and computational resources employed by the astrologer, and the techniques of astrological interpretation.

The horoscopes for 81 and 497 CE both identify the astronomical tables on which they were based (an unusual fact in itself that highlights the astrologers' concern with asserting their scientific credentials), respectively the "Aeon-Tables" (ἀώνιοι κανÏŒνες) mentioned also by Ptolemy and Vettius Valens, and Ptolemy's Handy Tables. We do not know whether the Berlin papyrus named the tables that its author used, but the positions it assigns for the Sun, Moon, and planets, which are given to the precision of minutes, are remarkably accurate, with errors of about the same magnitude as would have been resulted from using Ptolemy's tables, though they were definitely not computed by those tables. All three of our deluxe horoscopes provide astronomical data of a kind not normally included in horoscopes: the latitudes of the Moon and planets, and the names of stars or constellations that they are near; hence their authors must have had some kind of star catalogue.

From the point of view of astrological interpretation, the information in the deluxe horoscopes is to some extent what one would expect according to treatises and instructional texts on astrology. Their prevailing frame of reference, however, is the zodiac, not the local horizon and meridian as astrological theory prescribed, and neither latitudes nor fixed stars play a significant role in the treatises. The astrologers thus must have utilized interpretative techniques diverging from the transmitted literature.

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