Monday, March 27, 2017

Open Access Hellenistic Astrological Texts

[First posted in AWOL 7 December 2010, updated 27 March 2017]

Hellenistic Astrology Website
Hellenistic astrology is a tradition of Greco-Roman astrology that originated in the Mediterranean region sometime around the 1st century BCE, and was practiced until approximately the 7th century. It is the ancestor of many of the modern traditions of astrology that still flourish around the world today.

This tradition originated partially out of a synthesis of the ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian traditions of astrology, and it influenced many other subsequent traditions of astrology across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and India during the middle ages and through to modern times.

Despite its pivotal role in the history of astrology, many of the details surrounding the theory and practice of Hellenistic astrology were unknown until relatively recently. Many of the foundational texts of this tradition have only become available again over the course of the past century, and modern translations of these texts from Greek and Latin have only started to be published in the past few decades.

This website represents part of a broader effort that is taking place in the academic and astrological communities today to recover and reconstruct the ancient traditions of astrology.


Translations and Critical Editions

This page contains a collection of astrological texts from the Hellenistic tradition in their original languages. Most of these are “critical editions” that remain untranslated from Greek and Latin, which provide the basis for translations of the texts.
Some other works have also been added which are useful for the study of Hellenistic astrology.
Where appropriate we have added links to pages in the Hellenistic astrologers section of our site, which contain more extensive background information and bibliographies for individual astrologers.

The CCAG: Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum

In the late 19th century a group of scholars began cataloging all of the existing Greek astrological manuscripts that survived in various libraries around Europe. Over the course of the next 50 years they indexed all of the Greek manuscripts that they could find, and they published their catalog with a number of long excerpts from the texts in a 12 volume collection known as the Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum (Catalogue of the Codices of the Greek Astrologers), or CCAG for short.
This project was finished in the early 1950s, and although other scholars have continued to edit and publish additional critical editions of the texts in their original languages, the CCAG remains an important source for many Greek astrological texts.
Since most of the CCAG was printed in the early part of the 20th century much of it is in the public domain at this point. These volumes are available below as PDF files:
If you find scans of the remaining volumes of the CCAG hosted on other websites please let us know, and then we will link to them here.

Vettius Valens

The first critical edition of the work of the 2nd century astrologer Vettius Valens, known as the Anthology, was published by Wilhelm Kroll in 1907. This edition is available for download below thanks to Google Books. David Pingree later published an updated edition of the text with additional fragments in the 1986, thus superseding Kroll’s edition. While Pingree’s edition should be the primary one used for any translations at this point, Kroll’s is still a useful starting point, and so it is available below:
A full English translation of Valens’ Anthology was released online in late 2010 by Mark Riley. For more information see our entry on Riley’s translation of Vettius Valens on our blog.

Maximus, Ammon & Manetho

In the 4th or 5th century a Roman astrologer named Maximus wrote a treatise on katarchic astrology titled On Inceptions (Peri Katarche). A critical edition of Maximus’ text was published by Arthur Ludwich in 1877. Google Books scanned the text, and we provide it below as PDF since it is now in the public domain. This PDF file also contains an edition of some fragments attributed to an astrologer known as Ammon, as well as Koechly’s critical edition of the didactic astrological poem of Manetho. Note that a more recent critical edition of Manetho was produced by Robert Lopilato in 1998, although it is only available as a dissertation from Brown University.

Hephaistio of Thebes

The first critical edition of the Apotelesmatika of the early 5th century astrologer Hephaistio of Thebes was published by August Engelbrecht in 1887. This edition was superseded by David Pingree’s critical edition of Hephaistio in the mid-1970’s, although since Engelbrecht’s edition is in the public domain we provide it below courtesy of Google Books:

Marcus Manilius

The Latin text of Marcus Manilus‘ 1st century poem known as the Astronomica is available via the Latin Library:
Scans of A. E. Housman’s infamous early 20th century edition of Manilius also recently became available via Google Books and the Internet Archive. All five volumes can be downloaded below:
A scan of Scaliger’s 16th century edition of Manilius also recently became available through Google Books:
The standard critical edition of Manilius at this point is M. Manilii Astronomica edited by George P. Goold, first published in 1985 by Teubner, and then again with corrections in 1998. This is conveniently available in an English translation by Goold as part of the Loeb edition of Manilius.
An excellent monograph on Manilius was also recently published by Katharina Volk: Manilius and his Intellectual Background.

Firmicus Maternus

The primary critical edition of the astrological work of the 4th century astrologer Firmicus Maternus, known as the Mathesis, was published in two volumes by Kroll, Skutsch and Ziegler from 1897-1913. Google Books has scanned volume 1 of the critical edition, which contains books 1 through 4 of the Mathesis in the original Latin:
Volume 2 of the critical edition, containing books 5-8, was recently made available by the Internet Archive:
The standard translation of Firmicus, based on the above critical edition, is Ancient Astrology Theory and Practice: Matheseos Libri VIII by Jean Rhys Bram.
A new English translation of the Mathesis was recently published by James Holden.

Dorotheus of Sidon

The standard critical edition of the work of the 1st century astrologer Dorotheus of Sidon was published in 1976 by David Pingree as Dorothei Sidonii Carmen Astrologicum.
Pingree’s English translation of the Arabic version of the text was republished on its own a few years ago by Astrology Classics as Dorotheus of Sidon, Carmen Astrologicum.
Deborah Houlding recently released book 1 of Pingree’s English translation of Dorotheus online via her website Skyscript.

Sextus Empiricus

A critical edition of the skeptic Sextus Empiricus’ works was published by Immanuel Bekker in 1842. Book 5 of his work Against the Professors consists of a skeptical critique of astrology, and the first half of this work provides a rather decent overview of some of the basic terms and technical concepts employed by Hellenistic astrologers. The critical edition of the Greek was scanned by Google Books. Pages 728-748 contain his disputation of astrology titled Against the Astrologers.

Auguste Bouche-Leclercq: L’astrologie grecque

In 1899 the noted historian of ancient magic and astrology Auguste Bouche-Leclercq published a massive 600+ page survey of Hellenistic astrology titled L’astrologie grecque. This work is still seen by many in the academic community as being the standard scholarly reference work on Hellenistic astrology, although it is largely out-of-date given the amount of work that has been done in the field over the course of the past century. Bouche-Leclercq was a Belgian scholar, so the work is written in French, although Lester Ness is currently preparing a full translation of the text into English.
Since the book was published in 1899 it is now in the public domain. A scan of the original French version of the text was recently made available on the Internet Archive, and this can be downloaded as a PDF (41 MB) using the link below:

Franz Boll: Sphaera

Franz Boll was a philologist in the early 20th century who devoted much of his work to studying Ptolemy. One of his most notable works was his 1903 book Sphaera, in which he published and discussed some of the recently discovered works of Teucer of Babylon, Vettius Valens, and Antiochus of Athens. The book is written in German, and it was recently scanned by Google Books. It can be downloaded as a PDF (19 MB) by using the link below:


Proclus’ commentary on Plato’s Republic, edited by Wilhelm Kroll.  Scans from the Internet Archive:

John Lydus

John Lydus’ De Ostentis, edited by Curt Wachsmuth. Scanned by Google Books:


Censorinus’ De Die Natali Liber, edited by Friedrich Hultsch. Scanned by Google Books:
An English translation of De Die Natali Liber was recently published by Holt N. Parker as Censorinus, The Birthday Book.


Geminus’ Introduction to the Phenomena, edited by Manitius. Scanned by Google Books, and available through
An excellent English translation of Geminus was recently published by James Evans and J. Lennart Berggren as Geminos’s “Introduction to the Phenomena”.

Nechepso and Petosiris

Ernst Riess’ edition of Nechepso and Petosiris fragments and testimonia: Nechepsonis et Petosiridis fragmenta magica, ed. Ernestus Riess, Philologus, supplement 6, 1891-93, pgs. 325-394. Scanned by Chris Brennan, and available through the following link as a 41 MB PDF file:

For more detailed entries on individual authors please see the astrologers page.

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