Disclosure and Discretion in Roman Astrology: Manilius and his Augustan Contemporaries

Hardcover | July 26, 2014

bySteven J. Green

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In light of modern scepticism towards the practice, it is easy to overlook just how important a role astrology played in the career of Rome's first Emperor, Augustus. Augustus' enthusiasm for employing astrological predictions and symbols to cement his own position of power was matched by anequally forceful desire to restrict their use by his political rivals. Astrology in Rome was, then, to use Tacitus' neat formulation, both "forbidden and maintained" (Tacitus, Histories, 1.22). This volume is the first to take seriously this imperial complex as a key to understanding the diverse ways in which contemporary commentators handle the volatile topic of astrology in their writings. It shows how Roman writers engage in elaborate discourses of discretion as they simultaneouslycelebrate the power of astrology and shy away from the sort of astrological revelations that might offend imperial sensibilities. With a particular focus on the key astrological poem of Manilius, this study provides a new conceptual framework in which to appreciate the complex treatments ofastrology during the period of Octavian/Augustus.

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In light of modern scepticism towards the practice, it is easy to overlook just how important a role astrology played in the career of Rome's first Emperor, Augustus. Augustus' enthusiasm for employing astrological predictions and symbols to cement his own position of power was matched by anequally forceful desire to restrict their use...

Steven J. Green is currently Honorary Research Fellow at University College London. He specializes in Roman literature and culture in first centuries BC and AD, with particular attention to the Augustan and Neronian periods. He is author of Ovid, Fasti 1: A Commentary (2004) and co-editor of The Art of Love: Bimillennial Essays on Ovid...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.01 inPublished:July 26, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199646805

ISBN - 13:9780199646807

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Table of Contents

1. IntroductionPart 1: Manilius' Astronomica2. Manilius Astronomica: A Lesson in Horoscopic ObscurityPart 2: The Rise of Roman Astrology and Caesars Comet3. The Rise of Astrology in Rome4. The Beginning and End of the Late-Republican Astrological Debate: The Politicized Philosophical Posturings of CiceroPart 3: Astrology for the Augustan Age5. To Have and to Hold: Astrology for an Imperial Age6. Setting Gentlemanly Limits for Imperial Stellar Investigation in VitruviusDe Architectura7. Concession, Abstinence and Abortion: Horace, Virgil, Hyginus and Ovid8. Stars and Storms: The Development of Stellar Causation in Astrometeorology9. Caesars Comet: The Reinvigoration of a Religious Enquiry10. Turning on the Practitioner: Propertius meets the Charlatan11. Conclusion: Manilian Dialogues and the Relaxing of Astrological Discretion