From Alexandria to Baghdād to Byzantium. The transmission of astrology

  • David Pingree

DOI: 10.1007/BF02700227

Cite this article as:
Pingree, D. Int class trad (2001) 8: 3. doi:10.1007/BF02700227


It is argued in this article that a series of texts preserved in various Greek manuscripts are epitomes of an astrological compendium assembled by Rhetorius at Alexandria in about 620 AD. It is also demonstrated that this compendium was utilized and frequently refashioned by Theophilus of Edessa between 765 and 775 and was made available by Theophilus to his colleague at thecAbbāsid court at Baghdād, Māshā' allāh. Māshā' allāh's works in turn strongly influenced the early development of Arabic astrology, and many of them were translated into Latin and Greek, thereby spreading Rhetorius' influence. A manuscript of Rhetorius' compendium was apparently brought to Byzantium by Theophilus' student, Stephanus, in about 790; from this archetype are descended the several Byzantine epitōmes and reworkings of portions of this text; some of these—pseudo-Porphyry, Ep(itome) III, Ep. IIIb, and Ep. IV—passed through the hands of Demophilus in about 1000, while two of the remainder—Ep. IIb andBer.—were the only ones to preserve the name of Rhetorius as their author.

Copyright information

© Springer 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Pingree
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of the History of MathematicsBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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