Paul of Alexandria wrote an Introduction to astrology which he dedicated to his son in the year 378 CE. He is often referred to with the Latinized form of his name, Paulus Alexandrinus.
In the late fourth century Paul wrote a work known as the Introduction (Εἰσαγωγικά). The version that we have is apparently a second edition of the work. In the proem Paul says that his son Cronamon pointed out that the calculations for the ascensional times of the signs were wrong, so Paul apparently wrote a second edition of the work in order to incorporate the ascensional times according to Ptolemy, or so he says in the in the beginning of the work (Paul, Introduction, 1). However, Holden points out that Paul doesn’t seem to have actually incorporated the rising times of Ptolemy in chapter 2 where he addresses the subject (Holden, A History of Horoscopic Astrology, p. 76).
Almost nothing is known about Paul’s life, although we know the date of the composition of his work because in chapter 20, within the context of a discussion about determining the planetary ruler of the day, Paul demonstrates the technique by calculating what the lord of the day is “on the present day” (ἐπὶ τῆς σήμερον ἡμέρας). (Introduction, p. 41: 3-4.) Apparently he was writing that chapter of his book on Wednesday, February 14, 378 CE (Pingree, Paul of Alexandria, p. 419).
Holden has discovered a previously unknown birth chart is embedded in Paul’s work, and he speculates that it is likely that of Paul’s son, whose name is given as Cronamon in the introduction (Holden, The Horoscope of Cronamon). In chapter 23 on the lots Paul demonstrates how to calculate the Lots of Fortune, Spirit and Eros by giving an example with exact positions for the Sun, Moon, Venus and ascendant. Later in chapter 31, his chapter on annual profections, Paul again uses the same example chart with Leo rising in order to demonstrate the technique, but he also gives us the positions of Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn. With this information Holden was able to determine that the native was born on March 19, 353 CE at about 2:00 pm, presumably in Alexandria, Egypt.
When using this chart as an example in order to demonstrate how to use annual profections, Paul analyzes a specific year in the native’s life when they would be 25 years old, which would have occurred in the year 378 CE, thus falling precisely within the previously established time period for when Paul composed his work. Since the native is identified as being a 25 year old male, it seems very plausible that Holden is correct in speculating that this is the birth chart for Paul’s son.
Paul of Alexandria is sometimes thought to be the author of a Sanskrit astrological text known as the Pauliśasiddhānta. This connection was apparently first made by al-Biruni in the 11th century in his India (see Alberuni’s India, trans. Sachau, vol. 1, Ch. 14, p. 153). David Pingree later dismissed the association, pointing out a number of signification differences between the two texts (Pingree, The Later Paulisasiddhanta).
The standard critical edition of Paul’s Introduction was published by Emilie Boer in 1958:
- Pauli Alexandrini elementa apotelesmatica, ed. Æ. Boer, Teubner, Leipzig, 1958.
Boer also edited the critical edition of a commentary on Paul’s work ascribed to either Heliodorus or, more probably, Olympiodorus:
- Heliodori, ut dicitur, In Paulum Alexandrinum commentarium, ed. Æ. Boer, Teubner, Leipzig, 1962.
Paul’s Introduction has been translated into English three times.
The first published translation was by Robert Schmidt in 1993, as the very first Greek translation produced by Project Hindsight:
- Paulus Alexandrinus, Introductory Matters, trans. Robert Schmidt, ed. Robert Hand, The Golden Hind Press, Berkeley Springs, WV, 1993 (2nd ed. rev. 1993; 3rd ed. rev. 1995).
The second translation of Paulus was published by Dorian Greenbaum in 2001 through ARHAT publications, along with a translation of the scholia and commentary by Olympiodorus:
- Late Classical Astrology: Paulus Alexandrinus and Olympiodorus, with the Scholia from Later Commentators, trans. Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum, ed. Robert Hand, ARHAT, Reston, VA, 2001.
The third translation of the Introduction was completed by James Holden in 1985, which was prior to the other two, although it was only circulated privately. Eventually it was published along with Olympiodorus’ commentary and the scholia in 2012:
- Paul of Alexandria, Introduction to Astrology, trans. James Herschel Holden, American Federation of Astrologers, Tempe, AZ, 2012. [Available on Amazon]
Sachau, Edward (trans.), Alberuni’s India, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., London, 1910, 2 volumes.
Schmidt, Robert (trans.) and Hand, Robert (ed.), Paulus Alexandrinus, Introductory Matters, The Golden Hind Press, Berkeley Springs, WV, 1993.
Greenbaum, Dorian Gieseler (trans.), Late Classical Astrology: Paulus Alexandrinus and Olympiodorus, with the Scholia from Later Commentators, ed. Robert Hand, ARHAT, Reston, VA, 2001.
Holden, James Herschel, “The Horoscope of Cronamon,” in the American Federation of Astrologers’ Journal of Research, Vol. 5, No. 1, 1989, pp. 7-10.
Holden, James Herschel, A History of Horoscopic Astrology, American Federation of Astrologers, Tempe, AZ, 1996.
Holden, James Herschel (trans.), Paul of Alexandria, Introduction to Astrology, American Federation of Astrologers, Tempe, AZ, 2012.
Olympiodorus, “Commentary,” edited in Heliodori, ut dicitur, In Paulum Alexandrinum commentarium, ed. Æ. Boer, Teubner, Leipzig, 1962.
Paul, “Introduction,” edited in Pauli Alexandrini elementa apotelesmatica, ed. Æ. Boer, Teubner, Leipzig, 1958.
Pingree, David, “The Later Paulisasiddhanta,” Centaurus, 14, 1969, pp. 172-241.
Pingree, David, “Paul of Alexandria,” in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography, vol. 10, ed. Charles Gillispie, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, NY, 1974, p. 419.
Pingree, David, The Yavanajataka of Sphujidhvaja, 2 vols., Harvard Oriental Series 48, 1978.
- Author: Chris Brennan
- Originally published: January 22, 2012 | Last updated: March 25, 2014
- Article notes: This article is currently incomplete, and it is acting as a placeholder until it can be finished.
- Cite this article: Chris Brennan, “Paul of Alexandria,” The Hellenistic Astrology Website, March 25, 2014, https://www.hellenisticastrology.com/astrologers/paul-of-alexandria/