Oil lamp with a bust of Sarapis, flanked by a crescent moon and star (Roman-era Ephesus, 100–150). Now in the British Museum.
Today’s sharing from the Blue House of HYGEIA is the first excerpt of a little series devoted to Dr. Crystal Addey’s milestone study, ‘Divination and Theurgy in Neoplatonism, Oracles of the Gods’, Routledge, 2019.
🌿Oracles and Astrology: Astrology in the ‘Philosophy from Oracles’🌿
Astrology, an important type of divination in late antiquity, played a significant role within ‘Philosophy from Oracles’. We know that Porphyry was thoroughly familiar with astrology: he is reported to have written an introduction to Ptolemy’s ‘Tetrabiblos’, an extant handbook of astrology, although authorship of this introduction is disputed and somewhat uncertain. In his treatise ‘On the Cave of the Nymphs’, Porphyry refers to astrological theory. In his ‘Letter to Anebo’, Porphyry had addressed a series of questions about astrology to Iamblichus; some are concerned with the relationship between the planets and the incorporeal gods while others concern the possibility of recognizing the personal ‘daimon‘ of an individual through their natal horoscope. In his now fragmentary treatise, ‘On what is up to Us’, Porphyry details the seven spheres which souls pass through in their descent into a mortal body, each sphere inciting the soul with different desires.
One of the extant oracles from ‘Philosophy from Oracles’ issues astrological instructions, raising the possibilities that similar oracles utilizing astrological configurations were also included within his work. Further oracles show ritual instruction from the gods regarding inappropriate and appropriate astrological configurations to undertake divination rituals. However, by far the most common utilization of astrology within the extant fragments of the work involves the use of astrology within oracular responses for divinatory purposes. There are several astrological oracles extant from this work, almost all of which are attributed to Apollo, a somewhat surprising fact, given that the extant evidence of oracular responses from sanctuaries of Apollo throughout antiquity suggests that astrology was not used within oracles (at least at Greek oracular sanctuaries) prior to this Porphyrian work. However, there is some evidence that astrology was used within the oracular temples of Sarapis in graeco-roman Egypt in the first, second and third centuries A.D. Since Porphyry’s work also included oracles attributed to Sarapis it is likely that he drew on this tradition of astrological divination.
More about Serapis: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serapis🌿More about Porphyry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porphyry_(philosopher) 🌿 More about Iamblichus: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iamblichus 🌿 More about Dr Chrystal Addey: https://www.uwtsd.ac.uk/sophia/staff-profiles/dr-crystal-addey/