By Tamysn Barton

An account of astrology from its beginnings in Mesopotamia, targeting the Greco-Roman international, Ancient Astrology examines the theoretical improvement and altering social and political position of astrology.

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The text also includes the dates of heliacal risings, simultaneous risings and settings of stars, an account of the Moon’s path, some account of the planets, schemes for adding extra days to the calendar in order to reconcile solar and lunar data and a shadow table recording variations throughout the year, as well as instructions for using a water-clock. It ends with a list of omens, some of which are also found in the Enu¯ma Anu Enlil, and which are generally of a similar type. In 747 BCE, dated observations of eclipses begin at Babylon.

In a further echo of the rumours which circulated about the emperors, doubtless reflecting similar concerns about illegitimate access to power, the papers said that it was the President’s wife Nancy who passed on the astrological advice on how to run a superpower. Just as the emperors would get advice on the best moment for a particular enterprise, Reagan was supposed to have selected the hour for the signing of the treaty with the Soviet Union after Quigley studied the relevant horoscopes. Reagan is not alone in being a head of state in an economically developed Western country this century who was believed to have made decisions with the help of astrologers—the British intelligence sevices seem to have taken seriously the idea that Hitler was being advised by astrologers during the war,7 and it was reported in The Economist on 27 April 1985 that Papandreou had chosen the date for the elections in Greece with astrological guidance.

BABYLONIAN HOROSCOPES The dates of the nativities in the earliest horoscopes to survive are at the end of the fifth century. The earliest has only been published 14 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND recently, and it shows a transitional stage in the casting of horoscopes. Instead of recording the positions of planets in relation to the zodiac on the day of the birth, it is constructed around the synodic appearances of the planets surrounding the birth, and even records calendaric and meteorological data. It thus simply applies the sort of data available in the Diaries to an individual’s birth, in this case datable to 13 January 410 BCE.

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