In one of my researches in Rome’s libraries I found a copy of Astrolabium Planum, one of the most intriguing and enigmatic books written during Renaissance by Johannes Angelus, published in 1488 in Augusta, one of the oldest German cities, founded by the Roman Emperor Augustus- where the author Johann Engel stated that the second part – a collection of pictures showing the 360 degrees of zodiacal belt with an explicative sentence for each of them – was elaborated ab excellentissimo viro medicine facultatis doctore experto Petro de Abano. (( Giordana Mariani Canova , “Per la storia della figura astrologica a Padova. Il De imaginibus di Pietro d’Abano e le sue fonti”))
Stars rising with portions of ecliptic, the so-called paranatellonta, have a central place in traditional astrology.
Ancient texts give a lot of room to this subject, Manilius dedicated to paranatellonta the whole fifth book of his Astronomica, Firmicus lists them in two of the eight books of Mathesis, and the list of 30 stars given by the Anonymous 379 was a standard list in astrological literature of MiddleAges and Renaissance, even if with the necessary update in stars’ position.
Paranatellonta were so important because ancients believed that the fate of the native derived from the Ascendant. Proclus in his comment to Plato writes for example:
Degrees rising with the horoscope contain all the virtue of generation, so for example they produce some births proper to the priesthood and others that are without any honour.
The most famous and in the same time enigmatic astrologer who wrote about paranatellonta was Teucer of Babylon: his text is arrived to us in fragments or in the abridged version quoted by Rhetorius, but it was the source for one of the most influential work of the astrological art, Liber VI of Albumasar Introductorium Maius.
The images described by Albumasar were then mentioned in IbnEzra’s Beginning of Wisdom and used as source by Pietro d’Abano for his Astrolabium Planum, published at the end of 1400 by Johannes Angelus.
My experience with Albumasar starts from the end: i.e. from the lecture given in Rome together with Anton Grigoryev about the frescoes of Villa Farnesina I arrived to the Renaissance representation of paranatellonta, a year later I had the luck to have betwen my hands an original copy of Angelus’ Astrolabium Planum and from that book I arrived to Albumasar text. It was a very difficult and hard road….
My English translation of Albumasar pages about paranatellonta- I believe it’s the only one since the German translation made by Dyroff in 1903- comes from the Latin version of John of Seville.
The booklet has 64 pages (Albumasar text from page 5 to 42, notes, pictures and bibliography). This is a sample.
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