Project icon: lavishly furnished initial letter with a painting of Ptolemy using an astrolab.


Arabus et Latinus

Α Β Γ Δ Ε Ζ Η Θ Ι Κ Λ Μ Ν Ξ Ο Π Ρ Σ Τ Υ Φ Χ Ψ Ω α β γ δ ε ζ η θ ι κ λ μ ν ξ ο π ρ σ ς τ υ φ χ ψ ω
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Work A.2


Content Four books. Book I provides a philosophical justification of astrology (c. 1-3) and reviews basic astrological doctrines. Book II deals with general astrology and Books III-IV with individual astrology, essentially nativities.

Origin Greek (Μαθηματικὴ τετράβιβλος σύνταξις, ‘Mathematical Treatise in Four Books’, or Τὰ πρὸς Σύρον ἀποτελσματικά, ‘The Prognostics Addressed to Syrus’).

Bibl.General: 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; 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; 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; F. Sezgin, Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums, VII: Astrologie-Meteorologie und Verwandtes, Leiden, 1979, 43-44 (no. 1); 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; 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; 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; 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); S. Fazzo, ‘Un’arte inconfutabile. La difesa dell’astrologia nello Tetrabiblos di Tolomeo’, Rivista di Storia della Filosofia 46 (1991), 213-244; Martins (R.), ‘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. Calderon 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; 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; 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; G. Bezza, ‘Intorno ai primi commentatori del Quadripartitum tolemaico: il commento ascritto ad Eutocio d’Ascalona’, MHNH 9 (2009), 265-272; J. Komorowska, ‘Astrology, Ptolemy and technai stochastikai’, MHNH 9 (2009), 191-204; 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; 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.

Ed. The Greek original text was first published by Joachim Camerarius in Nürnberg in 1535 (reprinted Basel, 1553, and by Giuntini as part of the second edition of his Speculum astrologiae published in Leiden in 1581 and 1583). It has received four critical editions: F. Boll, E. Boer, Ptolemaeus. ΑΠΟΤΕΛΕΣΜΑΤΙΚΑ, Leipzig, 1940 (reprinted with corrections 1957) [Claudii Ptolemaei opera quae exstant omnia, III.1]; F. E. Robbins, Ptolemy: Tetrabiblos, Cambridge (Mass.)-London, 1940 (with a facing English translation, many reprints); S. Feraboli, Claudio Tolomeo: Le previsioni astrologiche (Tetrabiblos), Milano, 1985 (with a facing Italian translation); W. Hübner, ΑΠΟΤΕΛΕΣΜΑΤΙΚΑ, Stuttgart-Leipzig, 1998 [Claudii Ptolemaei opera quae exstant omnia, III.1]. The Greek text 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 by the translator). The Arabic and Latin versions are unpublished, except for William of Moerbeke’s Latin translation (see A.2.6).

Latin translations

Latin commentaries