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Astrology In Roman Imperial Politics

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I wrote a paper for a class on Roman religion last semester concerning the rise of fatalist astrology during the Late Republic (and how it supplanted traditional haruspices as the chief form of divination in Rome) and its heyday during the early Principate, particularly under the reigns of Tiberius, Caligula, Nero, and Domitian.


Many belived so strongly in fatalist astrology that certain events manifested directly due to the belief that they had already been fated to happen in the stars. The astrologer Thrasyllus, serving under the court of Tiberius (and also his close personal friend), declared that Caligula would no sooner be ascend the throne of empire than ride a horse over the Bay of Baiae, to which Caligula replied by building a costly pontoon bridge over the bay and riding a chariot across. (Regardless of this incident, though, Thrasyllus would have favored Caligula over the younger and feebler Tiberius Gemellus).


Even more severe, at a young age, the emperor Domitian had been foretold the precise day and hour of his death by astrologers. Using this paranoia as a weapon, conspirators against Domitian set out to assassinate him on the precise hour because they believed they were destined to succeed.


I figure some people here might find it to be a useful and/or interesting read:


Astrology in politics during the Julio-Claudian and Flavian Dynasties

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While I believe that some of the ancient 'astrology' cited can be written off merely as postumously recorded propoganda, there is no question of the impact that the occult and 'lore' had in Roman society. It would be a huge mistake to dismiss the impact that 'astrology' had on both society and politics.


Thank you for the link and the wonderfully prepared paper Komet.

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