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Three Important Figures in the History of Astrology

There are many astrologers who have made an important contribution to this field. In today’s article we will take a look at three remarkable persons who have remained in history thanks to their knowledge and theories. These three historical figures have contributed either directly or indirectly to the field of astrology.

1. Nostradamus

Nostradamus is one of the most famous figures in the Western culture. Born Michel de Nostredame, he was a 16th century physician, best known for his book The Prophecies. The book was first published in 1566 and it comprises hundreds of predictions regarding the future of mankind, written in cryptic quatrains. In the preface of The Prophecies, Nostradamus said that he had partially relied on astrology in order to make his predictions.

Apart from his famous Prophecies book, Nostradamus also published an almanac which received positive feedback from the people of the time. It is in the last year of his life that Nostradamus decided to include a daily prediction in the almanac. Although well-known for his predictions, Nostradamus didn’t leave an important legacy in the field of astrology, because he didn’t publish any works directly related to it.

2. Claudius Ptolemy

Second on the list is Ptolemy. He was a polymath who lived in Roman Egypt during the second century of our era. He was a prolific author and scientist, leaving to posterity several works on various subjects, such as astronomy, music, optics, geography, and – lastly but not least – astrology. The variety of his works is linked to his goal to create a unified system which would combine different scientific fields.

Ptolemy’s contribution to the field of astrology is also valuable from a historical perspective, because he tried to provide a solid theoretical and technical basis for astrology, thus placing it almost at the same level as any other science. One of the most significant technical changes which Ptolemy successfully implemented was the adoption of the topical zodiac, and one important conceptual change consisted in advocating that the planets aren’t mere signs or omens of future events, but rather causal agents which bring about what they indicate astrologically.

3. Vettius Valens

Vettius Valens was an astrologer who originally came from Antioch, then later in his life settled in Egypt and started a school for astrologers there. In the middle of the second century C.E., he wrote a series of books known as the Anthology. In this important work, Vettius combined various older sources, while also bringing into discussion his own theories regarding certain philosophical and technical issues. His Anthology comprises more than 100 charts based on his own personal client files. Part of these charts belong to important historical figures – for example, the emperor Nero –, while others belong to common individuals contemporaries of Vettius.

Vettius Valens was admired by certain astrologers in the Medieval tradition. False stories about Vettius’ contribution to some important events circulated in later centuries. For example, a 10th century text depicts Valens being asked a question about Muhammad, the Muslim prophet. Two centuries later, the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos wrote that the Emperor Constantine asked for Valens’ advice in political matters. These claims aren’t true because they take place centuries after Vettius’ death.

These are just three remarkable figures in the history of astrology, although many others would deserve to be mentioned. Nostradamus, Ptolemy, and Vettius’ contribution changed many aspects of astrology and how we perceive it today.

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