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Ptolemaeus Arabus et Latinus

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Work A.2

Ptolemy
Tetrabiblos

The Tetrabiblos (Greek: Μαθηματικὴ τετράβιβλος σύνταξις, ‘Mathematical Composition in Four Books’, or Τὰ πρὸς Σύρον ἀποτελεσματικά, ‘The Prognostics Addressed to Syrus’; Arabic: al-Maqālāt al-arbaʿ, ‘the Four Treatises’, or Kitāb al-Arbaʿ maqālāt, ‘The Book of the Four Treatises’) is often described as the most influential astrological text ever written. It comprises four books. Book I provides a philosophical justification of astrology (c. 1-3) and reviews the basic astrological doctrines. Book II deals with mundane or general astrology and Books III-IV with individual astrology, essentially genethlialogy.

Bibl.

General:  J.-B.-J. Delambre, Histoire de l’astronomie ancienne, Paris, 1817, II, 543-544; F. Boll, ‘Studien über Claudius Ptolemäus. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der griechischen Philosophie und Astrologie’, Jahrbücher für Classische Philologie, Suppl. 21 (1894), 49-244: 111-217; W. J. Tucker, Ptolemaic Astrology. A Complete Commentary of the Tetrabiblos of Claudius Ptolemy, Sidcup, 1961; W. Gundel, H. G. Gundel, Astrologumena. Die astrologische Literatur in der Antike und ihre Geschichte, Wiesbaden, 1966, 205-213; M. Riley, ‘Theoretical and Practical Astrology: Ptolemy and his Colleagues’, Transactions of the American Philological Association 117 (1987), 235-256; M. Riley, ‘Science and Tradition in the Tetrabiblos’, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 132 (1988), 67-84; L. Taub, Ptolemy’s Universe. The Natural Philosophical and Ethical Foundations of Ptolemy’s Astronomy, Chicago, 1993, 129-134; B. Besnier, ‘L’astrologie de Ptolémée’, in Signes et prédiction dans l’Antiquité. Actes du Colloque International Interdisciplinaire de Créteil et de Paris (22-23-24 mai 2003), ed. J. Kany-Turpin, Saint-Etienne, 2005, 167-191; O. Pedersen, A Survey of the Almagest. With Annotation and New Commentary by Alexander Jones, New York-Dordrecht, 2011 (first edition 1974), 400-403; G. Aujac, Claude Ptolémée: Astronome, astrologue, géographe, Paris, 2012, third edition (first edition 1993), 69-105; J. Feke, Ptolemy’s Philosophy. Mathematics as a Way of Life, Princeton-Oxford, 2018, 168-187 and passim. Specific: R. Uhden, ‘Das Erdbild in der Tetrabiblos des Ptolemaios’, Philologus 88 (1933), 302-325; I. Dąmbska, ‘La théorie de la science dans les oeuvres de Claude Ptolémée’, Organon 8 (1971), 109-122: 117-119; F. A. Illiceramius, G. Bezza, ‘Il problema di un recupero dell’astrologia classica nella lettura di una nuova edizione di Tolomeo’, Paideia 41 (1986), 215-236; J.-F. Bara, ‘Les morts violentes chez Vettius Valens et Ptolémée: calculs, présages et signes’, Mélanges de l’Ecole Française de Rome. Antiquité 102 (1990), 829-844; S. Fazzo, ‘Un’arte inconfutabile. La difesa dell’astrologia nello Tetrabiblos di Tolomeo’, Rivista di Storia della Filosofia 46 (1991), 213-244; R. Martins, ‘A influenca de Aristoteles na obra astrologica de Ptolomeu (o Tetrabiblos)’, Trans/form/acao [Universidade Estadual Paulista, Brasil] 18 (1995), 51-79; W. Hübner, ‘Astrologie et mythologie dans la Tétrabible de Ptolémée d’Alexandrie’, in Sciences exactes et sciences appliquées à Alexandrie, eds G. Argoud, J.-Y. Guillaumin, Saint-Etienne, 1998, 325-345; E. Calderón Dorda, ‘Ptolomeo, μαθηματικòς άνήρ’, in Homo Mathematicus. Astrólogos Griegos y Romanos. Actas del Congresso Internacional sobre Astrólogos Griegos y Romanos (Benalmádena, 8-10 de Octobre de 2001), eds A. Pérez Jiménez, R. Caballero, Málaga, 2002, 103-122; J. Fernández Quintano, ‘Acerca del carácter tropical del Tetrabiblos’, in Homo Mathematicus. Astrólogos Griegos y Romanos. Actas del Congresso Internacional sobre Astrólogos Griegos y Romanos (Benalmádena, 8-10 de Octobre de 2001), eds A. Pérez Jiménez, R. Caballero, Málaga, 2002, 123-142; J. Halbronn, ‘Comparaison du Tétrabible attribué à Ptolémée et la Mathesis de Firmicus Maternus’, in Homo Mathematicus. Astrólogos Griegos y Romanos. Actas del Congresso Internacional sobre Astrólogos Griegos y Romanos (Benalmádena, 8-10 de Octobre de 2001), eds A. Pérez Jiménez, R. Caballero, Málaga, 2002, 143-154; G. Bezza, ‘La Tétrabiblos de Ptolémée entre physique et mythologie’, in Cosmology Through Time. Ancient and Modern Cosmologies in the Mediterranean Area, eds S. Colafrancesco, G. Giobbi, Milano, 2003, 91-98; J. Crane, ‘Ptolemy’s Digression: Astrology’s Aspects and Musical Intervals’, in The Winding Courses of the Stars: Essays in Ancient Astrology, eds C. Burnett, D. Greenbaum, Bristol, 2008 [Culture and Cosmos 11 (2007)], 211-227; J. Komorowska, ‘Astrology, Ptolemy and technai stochastikai’, MHNH 9 (2009), 191-204; T. Gee, Strategies of Defending Astrology: A Continuing Tradition, PhD dissertation, University of Toronto, 2012, 65-93; W. Hübner, ‘Gender in Ptolemy’s Apotelesmatica’, MHNH 14 (2014), 147-166; G. Bezza, ‘Saturn and Jupiter Conjunctions and General Astrology: Ptolemy, Abū Ma’shar and Their Commentators’, in From Māshā’allāh to Kepler: Theory and Practice in Medieval and Renaissance Astrology, eds C. Burnett, D. G. Greenbaum, Ceredigion, 2015, 5-48; J. Komorowska, ‘Those Happy People: Arabia Felix and the Astrological oikoumenē of Claudius Ptolemaeus’, in The Routledge Handbook of Identity and the Environment in the Classical and Medieval Worlds, eds R. F. Kennedy, M. Jones-Lewis, London, 2016, 353-372; C. Steel, ‘What is the Advantage of Knowing the Future? Some Comments on Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos, I, 3’, Medioevo 42 (2017), 31-55; C. Hall, ‘Horoscopes of the Moon: Weather Prediction as Astrology in Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos’, Early Science and Medicine 26 (2021), 231-253. InfluenceGeneral: D. Houlding, ‘The Transmission of Ptolemy’s Terms: An Historical Overview, Comparison and Interpretation’, in The Winding Courses of the Stars: Essays in Ancient Astrology, eds C. Burnett, D. Greenbaum, Bristol, 2008 [Culture and Cosmos 11 (2007)], 261-307; S. Heilen, ‘Ptolemy’s Doctrine of the Terms and Its Reception’, in Ptolemy in Perspective. Use and Criticism of His Work from Antiquity to the Nineteenth Century’, ed. A. Jones, Dordrecht-Heidelberg-London-New York, 2010, 45-93. In Greek (Hellenistic/Byzantine): F. Boll, ‘Beiträge zur Überlieferungsgeschichte der griechischen Astrologie und Astronomie’, Sitzungsberichte Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Phil.-Hist. Klasse 1899, 77-140: 80-97; S. Fazzo, ‘Alessandro d’Afrodisia e Tolomeo: aristotelismo e astrologia fra il II e il III secolo d.C.’, Rivista di Storia della Filosofia 43 (1988), 627-649; G. Bezza, ‘Intorno ai primi commentatori del Quadripartitum tolemaico: il commento ascritto ad Eutocio d’Ascalona’, MHNH 9 (2009), 265-272; R. Caballero-Sánchez, ‘El Comentario Anόnimo al Tetrabiblos de Tolomeo. Ediciόn crítica y traducciόn castellana de los escolios metodolόgicos del libro I (in Ptol. Tetrabiblos, 1.1.1-1.3.1)’, MHNH 13 (2013), 221-257; R. Caballero-Sánchez, ‘Historia del texto del Comentario Anόnimo al Tetrabiblos de Tolomeo’, MHNH 13 (2013), 77-198; A. C. Domínguez Alonso, ‘La influencia astrológica sobre la pasión amorosa en el Comentario Anónimo al Tetrabiblos de Tolomeo: Edición crítica, traducción y comentario’, MHNH 15 (2015), 253-270; A. C. Domínguez Alonso, ‘La paráfrasis de Isaac Argiro al Comentario Anónino al Tetrabiblos de Tolomeo: Algunas aportaciones originales al Libro I’, MHNE 16 (2016), 237-254; R. Caballero-Sánchez, ‘En busca del autor perdido. Algunas reflexiones sobre el contexto histórico-filosófico del comentario anónimo al Tetrabiblos de Tolomeo’, in De ayer y hoy. Contribuciones multidisciplinares sobre pseudoepígrafos literarios y documentales, ed. M. Labiano, Madrid, 2019, 130-147; R. Caballero-Sánchez, ‘¿Por qué llama el comentarista anónino ó παλαιός a Tolomeo?’, in Plutarco, entre dioses y astros. Homenaje al profesor Aurelio Pérez Jiménez de sus discipulos, colegas y amigos, eds J. F. Martos Montiel, C. Marcías Villalobos, R. CaballeroSánchez, Zaragoza, 2019, II, 981-993; A. C. Domínguez Alonso, La parafrasi bizantina di Isaac Argiro del Commento Anonimo al Tetrabiblos di Tolomeo. Edizione critica bilingue, PhD dissertation, Università di Salerno, 2019; A. C. Domínguez Alonso, ‘La paráfrasis autógrafa de Isaac Argiro al Comentario anónimo al Tetrabiblos de Tolomeo. Algunas cuestiones sobre su autoría’, in Plutarco, entre dioses y astros. Homenaje al profesor Aurelio Pérez Jiménez de sus discípulos, colegas y amigos, eds J. F. Martos Montiel, C. Macías Villalobos, R. Caballero-Sánchez, Zaragoza, 2019, II, 1049-1060; R. Caballero-Sánchez, ‘Heliodoro de Alejandría y el Comentario Anónimo al Tetrabiblos de Tolomeo’, Humanitas 76 (2020), 33-56. In Syriac: B. Dimitrov, ‘‘Fort. recte’: Witnesses to the Text of Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos in Its Near Eastern Transmission’, in Ptolemy’s Science of the Stars in the Middle Ages, eds D. Juste, B. van Dalen, D. N. Hasse, C. Burnett, Turnhout, 2020, 97-113. In Arabic: M. Ullmann, Die Natur- und Geheimwissenschaften im Islam, Leiden, 1972, 282-283; F. Sezgin, Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums, VII: Astrologie-Meteorologie und Verwandtes, Leiden, 1979, 43-44 (no. 1). In Hebrew: M. Steinschneider, Die hebraeischen Uebersetzungen des Mittelalters und die Juden als Doltmetscher. Ein Beitrag zur Literaturgeschichte des Mittelalters, Berlin, 1893, II, 525-527; M. Benedetto, ‘A Hebrew Version of Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos: The Decrees of the Stars by Judah ben Solomon ha-Cohen’, Iberia Judaica 7 (2015), 111-120. In Latin (see also A.2 and C.2): M. Lejbowicz, ‘Guillaume Oresme, traducteur de la Tétrabible de Claude Ptolémée’, Pallas 30 (1983), 107-133; D. Juste, ‘The Impact of Arabic Sources on European Astrology: Some Facts and Numbers’, Micrologus 24 (2016), 173-194: 186-187 (no. 9); H. D. Rutkin, ‘Optimus malorum: Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s Complex and Highly Interested Use of Ptolemy in the Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinatricem (1496), A Preliminary Survey’, in Ptolemy’s Science of the Stars in the Middle Ages, eds D. Juste, B. van Dalen, D. N. Hasse, C. Burnett, Turnhout, 2020, 387-406; C. Steel, ‘A Discussion on Ptolemy’s Authority: Henry Bate’s Prologue to His Translation of Ibn Ezra’s Book of the World’, in Ptolemy’s Science of the Stars in the Middle Ages, eds D. Juste, B. van Dalen, D. N. Hasse, C. Burnett, Turnhout, 2020, 245-281.

Ed.

The Greek original text was first published by Joachim Camerarius on Johannes Petreius’s press in Nürnberg in 1535 (see). The text has received four critical editions: F. Boll, E. Boer, Ptolemaeus. Apotelesmatika, Leipzig, 1940 [Claudii Ptolemaei opera quae exstant omnia, III.1]; F. E. Robbins, Ptolemy: Tetrabiblos, Cambridge (Mass.)-London, 1940 (with facing English translation); S. Feraboli, Claudio Tolomeo: Le previsioni astrologiche (Tetrabiblos), Milano, 1985 (with facing Italian translation); W. Hübner, Apotelesmatika. Post F. Boll et Ae. Boer secundis curis, Stuttgart-Leipzig, 1998 [Claudii Ptolemaei opera quae exstant omnia, III.1]. The Tetrabiblos has been translated into most modern Western languages. Besides the English and Italian translations just mentioned, see the French translation by P. Charvet, Ptolémée: Le livre unique de l’astrologie. Astrologie mondiale et thèmes de naissance, Paris, 2000 (based on Hübner’s edition, with notes), and the Italian translation of Book I by G. Bezza, Commento al primo libro della Tetrabiblos di Claudio Tolemeo. Con una nuova traduzione e le interpretazioni dei maggiori commentatori, Milano, 1990 (reprinted 1992) (based on Boll/Boer’s edition, with a thorough commentary; for Bezza’s translation of Book II, see A.2.5). The Arabic and Latin versions are unpublished, except for William of Moerbeke’s translation (A.2.6).