Anonymous of 379

In the year 379 CE an unknown astrologer wrote a treatise on the fixed stars in the city of Rome. He is generally referred to as Anonymous of 379, Anonymus anni 379, or the Astrologer of the Year 379.

His text is important because it provides one of the earliest and longest sets of delineations in Greek for how the fixed stars are used and interpreted within the context of natal astrology.

Dating and Location

Early in the text Anonymous says that he is writing during the consulship of Olybrius and Ausonius (CCAG 5, 1, p. 198: 3-6). This is in reference to Quintus Clodius Hermogenianus Olybrius and Decimius Magnus Ausonius, who are known to have shared the consulship in Rome in the year 379 CE (Bagnall, Consuls of the later Roman Empire, pp. 292-3).

Later in the text Anonymous says that he is not including the delineations for the fixed star Canopus because he is in Rome, and the star doesn’t rise at that latitude (CCAG 5, 1, p. 204: 4-8).

Possible Connection with Paul of Alexandria

Franz Cumont suggested that Anonymous of 379 may be the astrologer Paul of Alexandria (CCAG 5, 1: 194 & 199), who is known to have written his Introduction only a year earlier in 378 CE. Pingree later rejected this hypothesis, although he did not explain why (Yavanajataka, p. 438). Presumably it was based on unspecified linguistic or philological grounds. In his translation of Anonymous, Robert Schmidt notes that the writing style is more straightforward than Paul’s (Anonymous of 379, The Treatise, trans. Schmidt, p. viii).

Sources

The main source that Anonymous mentions throughout his work is Ptolemy, who he seems to have great admiration for, at one point calling him “the divine Ptolemy” (τοῦ θειοτάτου Πτολεμαίου).

Anonymous refers to his predecessors frequently, and he is unique because he gives a sort of historical overview of the development of astrology and the study of fixed stars at one point during a brief digression (CCAG 5, 1: 204-205). During this digression he mentions the following astrologers in order:

  • The Babylonians and the Chaldeans
  • Berossus
  • The Egyptians
  • Hermes
  • Nechao and Cerasphorus
  • Petosiris and Nechepso
  • Timaeus
  • Asclation
  • Antiochus
  • Valens
  • Antigonus
  • Heraiscos
  • Serapio
  • Ptolemy

Anonymous also mentions the astronomers Meton, Apollinarius, Euctemon, Dositheus, Callipus, Philippus, Phocis, and Hipparchus.

Approach

Anonymous’ stated goal was to outline the astrological meaning of 30 bright fixed fixed stars of the 1st and 2nd magnitude, although only 29 are referred to in the extant text. Each star represents a “mixture” or “combination” (κρᾶσις) of the nature of two planets. For example, Spica is said to be a mixture of Venus and Mercury (CCAG 5, 1, p. 198: 12-25). He then provides delineations for each star when it becomes prominent in a nativity, either by being close to an angle, or by being closely conjunct the Moon. Many of the delineations are altered based on where certain planets are in the chart.

Influence

Portions of the text are known to have been used by Theophilus of Edessa in the 8th century, and through Theophilus it eventually influenced the work of Abu Ma’shar in the 9th century (Anonymous, trans. Schmidt, pp. vii-viii; CCAG 5, 1: p. 169, n. 1 & 194-195).

Editions

The original Greek text of Anonymous of 379 was first edited by Franz Cumont and published in 1904 in the CCAG:

  • Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum (CCAG),vol. 5, part 1, Codicum Romanorum, ed. F. Boll and F. Cumont, Lamertin, Brussels, 1904, pp. 194-212.

Translations

The first complete modern translation of the text was an English translation published by Robert Schmidt in 1993:

  • Anonymous of 379, The Treatise on the Bright Fixed Stars, trans. Robert Schmidt, ed. Robert Hand, The Golden Hind Press, Berkeley Springs, WV, 1993.

More recently, the text was translated into Italian by Giuseppe Bezza and published online through Cielo e Terra:

An English translation from Bezza’s Italian translation of Anonymous was done by Daria Dudziak and published online through Cielo e Terra as well:

Bibliography

Anonymous of 379, The Treatise on the Bright Fixed Stars, trans. Robert Schmidt, ed. Robert Hand, The Golden Hind Press, Berkeley Springs, WV, 1993.

Bagnall, Roger S., et al, Consuls of the later Roman Empire, American Philological Association, Atlanta, GA, 1987.

Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum (CCAG),vol. 5, part 1, Codicum Romanorum, ed. F. Boll and F. Cumont, Lamertin, Brussels, 1904.

Neugebauer, Otto, A History of Ancient Mathematical Astronomy, 3 vols., Springer,Berlin, 1975.

Paul of Alexandria, Introduction, edited in Pauli Alexandrini Elementa Apotelesmatica, ed. Emilie Boer, Teubner, Leipzig, 1958.

Pingree, David, The Yavanajataka of Sphujidhvaja, vol. 2, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

Ptolemy, Claudius, Tetrabiblos, ed. Wolfgang Hübner, Claudius Ptolemaeus, Opera quae exstant omnia, vol 3, 1: ΑΠΟΤΕΛΕΣΜΑΤΙΚΑ, Teubner, Stuttgart & Leipzig, 1998.

Article Information

  • Author: Chris Brennan
  • Originally published: July 5, 2011 |   Last updated: March 27, 2014
  • Notes: The article still needs to be expanded a bit in certain sections.
  • Cite this article: Chris Brennan, “Anonymous of 379,” The Hellenistic Astrology Website, March 27, 2014, http://www.hellenisticastrology.com/astrologers/anonymous-of-379/