Tamburlaine's Malady: And Other Essays on Astrology in Elizabethan Drama

By Johnstone Parr | Go to book overview

PREFACE

OTHERS than I have studied the subject of Elizabethan astrology. E. B. Knobel "Astrology and Astronomy" in Shakespeare's England is a good general discussion of various aspects and techniques of astrology in Elizabethan times. The last two volumes of Lynn Thorndike's six-volume History of Magic and Experimental Science contain a vast amount of astrological data of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, valuable for the scholar of literature as well as for the historian. Don Cameron Allen The Star-Crossed Renaissance discusses attitudes towards astrology in the sixteenth century, particularly in England. Eustace F. Bosanquet has made an outstanding bibliographical study of Elizabethan almanacks and prognostications, and Carroll Camden has published significant articles on these as well as on astrology in the Elizabethan practice of medicine. A chapter in Louis B. Wright Middle-Class Culture in Elizabethan England presents the Elizabethan commoner's reaction to ephemeral books on astrology. These and a few other studies show that the pseudo-sciences of alchemy, chiromancy, physiognomy, metoposcopy, and astrology--however much they may now be considered aberrations of the human mind--were arts and sciences of considerable vogue in the Renaissance.

Since astrology in particular was reputedly entwined in the lives of men in the sixteenth century, many of the various branches of this science were frequently employed by the Elizabethan artist in the creation of his works. Rarely, however, has anyone explained the literary allusions to astrology in the Elizabethan drama in the light of astrological textbooks which appeared during the Renaissance and in the Elizabethan world. The purpose behind these essays, therefore, has been to investigate Renaissance astrological principles and techniques, apply them to significant astrological allusions of the Elizabethan and Jaco-

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