The Limits of Influence: Pico, Louvain, and the Crisis of Renaissance Astrology

By Steven Vanden Broecke | Go to book overview
Save to active project


The desire to return to Ptolemaic practice also manifested itself in natal astrology. Its most forceful expression was the use of prorogations, a specialized technique for the prediction of life expectancies that Ptolemy discussed in Tetrabiblos III.10.1 Ptolemy compared the lifespan that was allotted at birth to an arc of the celestial ecliptic. This arc started with a particular ecliptic point (the prorogator) where a person’s life was “launched,” and from where that person started a lifelong journey along the ecliptic. This journey was symbolized by a steady progression of the initial point, during which time it encountered one or several destructive points or planets (the “anaeretae”) that represented serious threats to life, or even the individual’s death. Prorogation gained a broader scope in Tetrabiblos Instead of a single prorogator, symbolizing the individual’s lifespan, this chapter proposes no less than five prorogators for each individual (horoscope, lot of fortune, moon, sun, and mid-heaven). Each of these was linked with a specific sphere of human life, which implied that every person simultaneously completes five different prorogatory trajectories.2

1 Latin astrological texts habitually use three terms to refer to this technique: pro-
rogation directio
and progressio, although at least Gemma Frisius also suggested dimissio
or emissio. See Gemma Frisius, De astrolabo catholico (1556), fol. 96v. All three render
the Greek aphesis (“a letting go,” “dismissal”). Historians of astrology have preferred
“prorogation” (especially through Robbins’ translation of Tetrabiblos nr.10), “pro-
gression” (Hogendijk) or “direction” (Burnett and North). The use of “direction”
has the problem that additional neologisms would have to be coined for Greek
derivative words like

, (“director”?). Likewise, the use of “progression” has
already spawned cumbersome translations like “emittive point” (Hogendijk). This
study therefore adopts “prorogation,” which at least has the advantage of consistency
and tradition in translating the various variants of . In Arabic, was usu-
ally translated as tashyir, while was rendered as haylag. Its Latin transliteration
hykg, hylech, or hileg was frequendy used in medieval and early modern Latin texts.
Neither Latin nor English seem to offer common translations for the destructive de-
grees or planets that Ptolemy called . The Greek
was simply transliterated to the Latin “anaereta,” which is the word I have retained
in English.

2Tetrabiblos, p. 449: “We shall apply the prorogation from the horoscope to events


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Limits of Influence: Pico, Louvain, and the Crisis of Renaissance Astrology


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 320

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?