Meteōroleschai

Alexios_I_Komnenos

This is part 2 of 2. Part 1 is here.

Οὐ μὴν διὰ τοῦτο αὐχμός τις ἦν ἀστρολόγων τὸ τηνικάδε, ἀλλὰ καὶ ὁ εἰρημένος Σὴθ κατ’ ἐκεῖνο καιροῦ ἐξήνθησε, καὶ ὁ Αἰγύπτιος ἐκεῖνος Ἀλεξανδρεὺς πολὺς ἦν τὰ τῆς ἀστρολογίας ἐμφαίνων ὄργια. ὃς καὶ παρὰ πολλῶν ἐρωτώμενος ἀκριβέστατα προεμαντεύετο· ἐν ἐνίοις δὲ οὐδὲ ἀστρολάβου δεόμενος, ἀλλὰ διά τινος ψηφηφορίας τὰς προρρήσεις ἐπεποίητο. ἦν δ’ ἄρα καὶ τοῦτο μαγικὸν μὲν οὐδαμῶς, ἀλλὰ τέχνη τις Ἀλεξανδρέως λογική. ὁρῶν δὲ ὁ αὐτοκράτωρ τὴν νεότητα συρρέουσαν ἐπ’ αὐτὸν καὶ ὥσπερ τινὰ προφήτην τὸν ἄνδρα λογιζομένην, δὶς καὶ αὐτὸς τοῦτον ἐπηρωτήκει, καὶ τοσαυτάκις καὶ ὁ Ἀλεξανδρεὺς εὐστοχήκει τῆς ἐπερωτήσεως· δειλιάσας δὲ ἵνα μὴ πολλῶν βλάβη γένηται, καὶ πρὸς τὴν ματαιότητα τῆς ἀστρολογίας ἀποκλίνωσιν ἅπαντες, κατὰ τὴν Ῥαιδεστὸν τούτῳ τὰς διατριβὰς ἀφώρισε τῆς πόλεως ἀπελάσας, πολλὴν τὴν περὶ αὐτὸν προμήθειαν ἐνδειξάμενος, ὥστε δαψιλῶς αὐτῷ τὰ πρὸς χρῆσιν ἐκ τῶν βασιλικῶν ταμιείων ἐπιχορηγεῖσθαι. ναὶ μὴν καὶ ὁ διαλεκτικώτατος Ἐλευθέριος, Αἰγύπτιος καὶ οὗτος ἀνήρ, τὰ τῆς ἐπιστήμης ταύτης πρεσβεύων εἰς ἄκρον ἤλαυνεν εὐφυΐας, μηδενὶ μηδαμῶς τῶν πρωτείων παραχωρῶν. ἐν ὑστέροις δὲ καὶ ὁ καλούμενος Κατανάγκης Ἀθήνηθεν εἰς τὴν μεγαλόπολιν καταλαβὼν, τὰ πρωτεῖα τῶν πρὸ αὐτοῦ φιλονεικῶν φέρειν, ἐπερωτηθεὶς παρά τινων περὶ τοῦ αὐτοκράτορος, πότε τεθνήξοιτο, καὶ τὸν θάνατον αὐτοῦ προκαταγγείλας, ὡς ᾤετο, ἐψεύσθη τοῦ στοχασμοῦ. συνέβη δὲ τηνικαῦτα τὸν θῆρα λέοντα ἐν τοῖς βασιλείοις διαιτώμενον ἐπὶ τέσσαρσιν ἡμέραις πυρέξαντα τὴν ψυχὴν ἐξερεύξασθαι· εἰς ὃ τοῖς πολλοῖς ἔδοξεν ἡ τοῦ Κατανάγκη πρόρρησις τελευτῆσαι. καιροῦ δὲ παρερρυηκότος ἱκανοῦ, αὖθις τὸν τοῦ αὐτοκράτορος θάνατον προὐμαντεύσατο καὶ διεψεύσθη· ἐτεθνήκει δ’ ὅμως ἡ βασιλὶς Ἄννα καὶ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ κατὰ τὴν ἡμέραν ἐκείνην, ἣν ὁ Κατανάγκης προεῖπεν. ὁ δὲ βασιλεύς, ἐπεὶ περὶ αὐτοῦ πολλάκις προμαντευσάμενος τοσαυτάκις διήμαρτε, τῆς πόλεως τοῦτον μεταστῆσαι οὐκ ἤθελεν αὐτέλεγκτον γενόμενον, ἅμα δὲ καὶ ἵνα μὴ δι’ ἐμπάθειαν δόξῃ τοῦτον ἐκεῖθεν ἀπελαύνειν. ἀλλ’ ἡμεῖς γε ἐντεῦθεν πάλιν ὅθεν ἐξεληλύθειμεν ἀναστρέψωμεν, ἵνα μὴ δοκοίημεν μετεωρολέσχαι τινὲς καὶ ἐξ ἀστρολογίας ὀνόμασι τὸ σῶμα τῆς ἱστορίας καταζοφοῦντες.
(Anna Comnena, Alex. 6.7.4-6)

Yet in spite of this there was no dearth of astrologers at that time, for the Seth I have mentioned flourished then, and there was also a famous Egyptian, Alexandreus, who was a strong exponent of the mysteries of astrology. He was consulted by many and used to give most accurate forecasts in many cases, not even using the astrolabe, but made his prophecies by a certain casting of dice. There was nothing magical about that either, it was an art practised by the Alexandrians (or by Alexandreus). When the Emperor saw how the young people flocked to him and regarded the man as a species of prophet, he himself consulted him twice and each time Alexandreus gave very correct answers. But the Emperor was afraid that harm might come to many from it and that all, would be led away to the vain pursuit of astrology, so he banished him from the capital, assigned Raedestus as his dwelling-place and showed great consideration for him, and his means of living were amply supplied from the imperial treasury. Nay more, the great dialectician, Eleutherius, also an Egyptian by birth, cultivated this art too and carried it to such perfection that he yielded the palm to no one. Later again, a man called Catanances from Athens came to the capital, anxious to carry off the first prize among astrologers and when questioned by some about the date of the Emperor’s death, he foretold it as he thought, but was proved wrong in his prognostication. It happened, however, that the lion which was kept in the palace died that day, after four days’ fever, so the vulgar considered that the prophecy of Catanances had been accomplished. After some considerable time he again foretold the date of the Emperor’s death and was mistaken; yet the Emperor’s mother, the Empress Anna, died on the very day Catanances had foretold. Because Catanances had made repeated mistakes in his predictions about him, the Emperor did not like to banish him as he was self-convicted, and also it might seem that he banished him in anger. But now let us return to the point in our history where we abandoned it, otherwise we shall be thought to be star gazers, obscuring the main theme of our history with the names of astrologers. (tr. Elizabeth Dawes)

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