Argoli, the fox and the internet

Traditional astro-lists in the net are a precious source of  knowledge (and friendship), and I’d like to mention two different threads worthy to inquire about and mix a little how I like to do very often.

The first one appeared in The Real Astrology and it was about an Italian translation of two important works of Andrea Argoli, a well known mathematician, astronomer and astrologer- one about primary directions and the other about decumbiture and critical days.

Considering how difficult is Renaissance Latin, how inexpensive are both books, and  how some  recommendations are just moved by deception and “the fox and the grape”  spirit , I ran to book the one about decumbiture.
In the meantime I gave a look to some pages of the Italian translation I could find in Google Books and to the Latin version which is listed in DIAL, Guinard’s website. The last part of the book is a collection of genitures, so I came across  in  Urbano VIII, a Pope who had several problems because of stars, famous -among the rest  – for Galileo trial, which was mentioned in some detail in another astro- list, Solar Returns the one dedicated to Morin de Villefranche .

Let’s say that Urbano VIII, born Maffeo Barberini, was more occupied in spending public money, building the new baroque Rome  and helping his friends than other more proper activities, yet he was involved in a couple of scandals who put him on everybody’s mouth.

Urbano VIII, 5th April 1568 h:1.33 PM (from Argoli)
Urbano VIII, 5th April 1568 h:1.33 PM (data from Andrea Argoli, De diebus criticis et aegrorum decubitu libri duo)

In 1626 Tommaso Campanella, freed from Naples’ prison, arrived in Rome, while  people were talking more and more about an astrological prophecy about the forthcoming death of the Pope.

Urbano was not so happy to see his funeral celebrated before he was dead, and invited Campanella in Quirinale, where the Pope lived, where they practiced several astrological rituals. It was very difficul to keep such a secret and soon people started to talk about Pope’s (un)usual night activities too.

When Campanella published – by mistake – the reports of the rituals in the book known as De siderali fato vitando,  he opened Pandora’s box.  If this was not enough some months later Orazio Morandi,  abbot of  Santa Prassede, insisted about the death of the Pope because of the effects of the eclipse of 10th June 1630 on his geniture, and for that date Spanish cardinals started to arrive for the new conclave.

It was too much: Urbano published the constitution inscrutabilis iudiciorum Dei altitudo, against every kind of divination.

But problems were not over and Urbano was soon involved in  Galileo Galilei trial in 1633: at first Galileo was arrogant and mocked the Pope putting his words in Simplicio mouth in the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, and the Pope  attacked again.  More than a fight between science and religion it was a case where all the parts – Pope,  Jesuits, Galileo, traditional professors true to Ptolemy’s doctrines- were one against the other: the end of the story is known, Galileo abjured and died confined in Arcetri, but was the only winner of the story.

Urbano VIII died a couple of years later, so we can come back to Andrea Argoli and his book about decumbiture 🙂

The author opens the book starting with the geniture reading. Andrea Argoli says in fact:

Illness seldom  can strike without any harmful direction of the Lights or the Ascendant to the bodies or the rays of malefics. Its causes depend on these considerations, especially from an imminent direction, a solar return, transit or profection: if the direction is effective, without  the help of the benefics, Jupiter or Venus, and it is not in the benefics’ terms and the year solar return is inauspicious  ant the same the profections, we will think about a serious decumbiture, difficult to treat and maybe deadly; if the direction is light, the return not ill-fortuned and supported by the benefics, and the profections good, the illness could be cured and the health restored, on these things the end of life depends on . We should consider the moment of birth, because often we cannot  have any information from the decumbiture and the beginning of the sickness,and a strong indicator will be an effective direction of the apheta to malefics, a bad solar return or a wicked profection, which will be the causes of some illness .

If on the other hand we study the direction of those years or the divisors of the time and we cannot see the causes of the influence, surely from the directions, or the returns or the transits, or by malefics to the Lights,  or the Ascendant,  or by these to the malefics, if we don’t have the geniture or it is not exact and it has been rectified by accidents, in this case it is necessary considering the decumbiture, according  precise rules and  order.

In the end of the book he collects several examples, like Urbano VIII birthchart.

Sun is trine with the Ascendant- Argoli says, and he adds some events of Urbano’s life.

He was elected with a direction of the MC to Mercury’s sextile and he died with the Sun setting at the Descendant, according Ptolemy chapter.

Let’s see what Argoli says for the solar return for 1644, in fact he could not cast the decumbiture because he had not this information.

Solar Retur for 1644
Solar Return for 1644, Florence

The solar return was ill fortuned. The Sun, life significator,  is with Saturn and the ruler of the radix Ascendant is with Mars contrantiscia, the Moon is in  Mars place  and in the eighth house, Venus, ruler of the sixth house in the sixth house with the Pleiades.

transith for the death, 29th July 1644 h.11.00 PM, Florence
transits for the death, 29th July 1644 h.11.00 PM, Rome

The day of his death the Moon was in square to the radix Saturn, the Sun near Mars place, the Sun was with Saturn and Mars in the sixth house of the return chart, among Pleiades, where Venus can be found too.

Written by Margherita Fiorello @ year 2009



Argoli, Andrea. Andreae Argoli … De diebus criticis et aegrorum decubitu libri duo. Patavii [Padua, Italy]: Apud P. Frambottum, 1652.

Argoli, Andrea.  I giorni critici. Il decubito delle malattie. Il Pavone, 2007.

Campanella, Tommaso. Opuscoli astrologici: Come evitare il fato astrale ; Apologetico ; Disputa sulle bolle. BUR. Milano: Biblioteca universale Rizzoli, 2003.

Campanella, Tommaso. Campanellae … Astrologicorum libri VI.: in quibus astrologia, omni superstitione Arabum, et Iudaeorum eliminata, physiologicè tractatur, secundùm S. Scripturas, & doctrinam S. Thomae, & Alberti, & summorum theologorum : ita vt absque suspicione mala in Ecclesia Dei multa cum vtilitate legi possint. Lugduni: Sumptibus Iacobi, Andreae, & Matthaei Prost, 1629.


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