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On this page: Astraea – Astraeus – Astrology and Astronomy – Astrology



ortyx (= quail) and plunged into the sea to escape the love of Zeus. After her the Island of Delos was named Asttria, and then Ortygia, till it received its ordinary name.

Astraea ( = star-maiden), was daughter of Astrseus and Eos, or, according to another account, of Zeus and The'mis, and as such was identified with Dike. (See hours.) She lived among men in the golden age, and in the brazen age was the last of the gods to withdraw into the sky, where she shines as the constellation of the Virgin with her scales and starry crown.

Astrseua ( = star-man), son of the Titan Crius and Eurybla, father by Eos of the winds Argestes, Zephyrus, Bdreas and Notus, as well as of Heosphorus and the other stars. In the later legend he is also represented as father of Astrsea.

Astrology and Astronomy were at first synonymous expressions among the ancients, both signifying " the science of the stars." But afterwards Astrology came to mean that part of the science which deals with the supposed influence of the stars on the destinies of men. Among the Greeks, Astronomy, the origin of which they them­selves ascribed to the Assyrians, Baby­lonians and Egyptians, was for centuries the subject of philosophical speculation without a sufficient groundwork in obser­vation, because mathematics and mechanics had not reached the requisite degree of perfection. The list of observing astro­nomers opens with Eudoxus of Cnidus in the first half of the 4th century, b.c., who assumed that the earth was spherical, and tried to explain the phenomena of the heavens by a complicated theory of con­centric spheres. Aristotle too maintained and proved the spherical form of the earth, which he took to be the immovable centre of the universe. Astronomy was first raised into a real science after b.c. 300 at Rhodes and Alexandria, in the Museum of which town the first observatory was built, and Aristyllus and Timdcharls determined j the places of the fixed stars with compara­tive accuracy, though as yet with very rude ; apparatus. A great step in advance was taken by Aristarchus of Samos, who ob­served the summer solstice at Alexandria in b.c. 279, maintained the earth's rotation on her axis and revolution round the sun, and made an attempt, by no means con­temptible, to ascertain the size and dis­tance of the sun and moon. His succes­sor ErfitosthgnSs also rendered essential

service to the progress of the science; thus he came very near to determining the exact obliquity of the ecliptic. The true founder of scientific Astronomy, and the greatest independent observer of antiquity, was Hipparchus of Nicaea (in the 2nd century b.c.), who discovered the precession of the equinoxes, and determined the length of the solar year (at 365 days 5 hours 55' 12") as well as the time of the moon's revolution, and the magnitude and distances of the heavenly bodies. The last important astronomer of antiquity, and the greatest after Hipparchus, is Claudius Ptolemaius (in the 2nd century A.D.). In his chief work, commonly known by its Arabic name of Almagest, he digested the discoveries of his predecessors, especially Hipparchus, and his own, into a formal system, which passed current all through the Middle Ages. According to it the earth is a sphere resting motionless in the middle of the equally spherical universe, while the sun, moon, planets and fixed stars roll at various distances around her.

The Romans regarded Astronomy as an idle speculation, and gave little attention to it. When Csesar reformed the Roman Calendar, he had to bring an astronomer from Alexandria, SdsigentJs, to help him.

Astrology in the narrower sense of the word, meaning prediction on the faith of signs given by the stars, was an invention of the Chaldseans. All but unknown to the Greeks in their best days, it did not come into vogue until after the time of Alexander the Great. In Rome the pro­fessional astrologers were called Chaldaei or Mathemdtfcf, the latter name referring to the astronomical calculations which they made. In the republican period they were known, but held in utter contempt. In 139 b.c. their unpopularity was so great that they were expelled from Rome and Italy. But in the turbulent times of the civil wars their reputation rose considerably, and still more under the Empire, when the most extensive demands were made upon their science. They were, indeed, re­peatedly driven out of Italy and involved in trials for treason (maiestas); but this only enhanced the consideration in which they were held, the more so as they were frequently taken into counsel by the emperors and the members of the imperial family. In later times, all that the Chaldseans were for­bidden to do was to consult the stars on questions referring to the emperor's life. This was a criminal offence. The Christian emperors (but none before them) issued

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All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.