ptolemaic system


“Agora (Spanish: Ágora) is a 2009 Spanish English-language historical drama film directed by Alejandro Amenábar and written by Amenábar and Mateo Gil. The biopic stars Rachel Weisz as Hypatia, a female mathematician, philosopher and astronomer in late 4th-century Roman Egypt, who investigates the flaws of the geocentric Ptolemaic system and the heliocentric model that challenges it. Surrounded by religious turmoil and social unrest, Hypatia struggles to save the knowledge of classical antiquity from destruction. Max Minghella co-stars as Davus, Hypatia’s father’s slave, and Oscar Isaac as Hypatia’s student, and later prefect of Alexandria, Orestes.”

Volume 18: Tetrabiblos and Stars of the Heavens

“The founder of the Ptolemaic system, Claudius Ptolemy, wrote a four part book series describing the heavens called the Tetrabiblos- The Four Books. One of the most important works of ancient astrology, the Tetrabiblos describes the constellations of the zodiac and their astrological influence on the world. Within the system, the Earth was a fixed point with the heavens spinning around it in complicated circles-within-circles. It’s view of the universe was adopted by the Catholic Church until the time of Galileo and Copernicus some 1500 years after Ptolemy’s writing.”

“Looking up at a night sky, you’d realize there are far more than 88 stars. What this is referring to is the 88 official constellations that astronomers use to divide and chart the night sky. Each constellation represents a region of the sky and is based on the ancient Greek charts of the heavens.”

Tay’s note: So we can now assume that there are 88 keys in Earthland.

anonymous asked:

Do you have any idea how lions became part of so many European standards/iconography at large and developed such a fierce reputation? The animal's never been native to europe, right? Maybe through Roman colosseums?

Lions actually have been native to Europe, and I dont just mean in prehistoric times but we have Ancient Greek texts talking about lions living the area. Herodotus, who isnt the best source when it comes to accuracy, nonetheless is one of the earliest historical sources to describe lions as he recounts a story of Xeres’ supply caravans being attacked by the animals during his invasion of Greece. More reputable authors also describe the animal however such Aristotle, who was from Macedonia, who mentions the existence of lions in the northern regions of Greece. Xenophon likewise mentions the existence of European lions in the lands “beyond Thrace” in his text On Hunting. 

We can even trace the extinction of lions from mainland Greece in these historical texts. The 1st century CE writer Dio Chrysotomus has the following to say about the extinction of lions in Greece in his dialogue On Beauty

It is surely a sad state of affairs, according to what you say, if the beautiful have died out in the course of time just like some plant or animal — the fate which they do say has overtaken the lions in Europe; for the race of lions is now extinct there, though formerly they were to be found in Macedonia and in other places as well — it is unfortunate, I repeat, if beauty has really disappeared from mankind in this way.

While lions may have existed in Italy during Roman times, the lions which were famously used in the coliseum were brought over from the provinces in North Africa. Execution by being fed to wild animals was apparently a practice adopted from Carthage who would use lions for the practice as the Barbary Lion was once very common in the regions of what is now Tunisia. The Romans would also use other animals such as bears or dogs but lions were apparently quite popular with crowds who enjoyed the way the animal would maul and devour its prey. This was a fate reserved only for those seen as the lowest of criminals.

Lions would also be hunted or fought (the events where animals might have a chance to ‘fight back’ were separate from ones where they were simply slaughtered). 

The ‘positive’ connotations of lions symbolizing traits such as courage in European culture may have come by diffusion from Near Eastern and Persian cultures, specifically astrology. Rather than the voracious monsters described in Greek sources, lions have traditionally been symbols of noble character and kingship in Persia. The origins of this may not come directly from the animal itself but rather astrology. In Babylonian astrology, just as in the Western or Ptolemaic astrological systems which were derived from it, the constellation of the Lion is associated with the ‘House of the Sun’.

 The association of the lion as being the “king of beasts” may thus come from an analogical connection between the zodiac sign of the Lion with the Sun being the ‘king’ of celestial bodies. Achaemenid rulers were fond of using lions as well as solar imagery as symbols of kingship. During Hellenistic times rulers were quick to take up such images in addition to drawing an association with Herakles wearing the pelt of the Nemean Lion. This combined with the astrologer Ptolemy and his synthesis of Egyptian and Babylonian astrology into what we now call “Western astrology” were some of the ways by which “positive” images of lions came into Europe. 


Hiram Mattison. Ptolemaic Theory of the Structure of the Universe, The Copernican System, Terrestrial and Celestial Spheres, Equator of the Heavens, The Solar System, Solar System and Sidereal Heavens, View of the Solar System, Perpendicular View of the Rings of Saturn, Telescopic View of Saturn, The Sun. An Astronomy: In Which the Descriptive, Physical, and Practical are Combined, with Special Reference to the Wants of Academies and Seminaries of Learning. 1859.

(Some) Medieval ideas of extraterrestrial life

When Christianity spread throughout the West, the Ptolemaic system became very widely accepted, and although the Church never issued any formal pronouncement on the question of alien life at least tacitly, the idea was aberrant.

  • Bishop of Paris, Étienne Tempier, did overturn Aristotle on one point: God could have created more than one world (given His omnipotence). Taking a further step, and arguing that aliens actually existed, remained rare.
  • Notably, Cardinal Nicholas of Kues speculated about aliens on the Moon and Sun.
  • William Vorilong also speculated about the existence of humans on alien worlds, but he came to the conclusion that God, although empowered to create them, would choose to not do so.

image: Nuremberg broadsheet tells of an April 14, 1561, aerial battle involving a variety of strange objects – globes, crosses, and tubes – that turned to steam upon hitting the ground (lower right). People viewed the event as a divine warning.


Petrus Apianus. Astronomicum Caesareum (The Emperor’s Astronomy). 1540.

The ‘Emperor’s Astronomy’ (dedicated to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V) elegantly depicts the cosmos and heavens according to the 1400-year-old Ptolemaic system, which maintained that the sun revolved around the earth. By means of hand-colored maps and moveable paper parts (volvelles), Petrus Apianus (1495-1552) laid out the mechanics of a universe that was earth and human centered. Within three years of Apianus’s book, this view was challenged by Copernicus’s assertion that the earth revolved around the sun, making this elaborate publication outdated. -LOC

So which is real, the Ptolemaic or the Copernican system? Although it is not uncommon for people to say that Copernicus proved Ptolemy wrong, that is not true. As in the case of our normal view versus that of the goldfish, one can use either picture as a model of the universe, for our observations of the heavens can be explained by assuming either the earth or the sun to be at rest. Despite its role in philosophical debates over the nature of our universe, the real advantage of the Copernican system is simply that the equations of motion are much simpler in the frame of reference in which the sun is at rest.
—  Stephen Hawking (The Grand Design, 2010, pp. 41, 42)