Vettius Valens

Vettius Valens

Vettius Valens (February 8, 120 - c. 175 CE) was a second-century Hellenistic astrologer, a somewhat younger contemporary of Claudius Ptolemy.

Valens is known to us because of his major work, known as the "Anthology," a 10 volume work in Greek which was written roughly within the period 150 to 175. The "Anthology" is considered to be a comprehensive textbook on the astrology of that period because it is the longest and most detailed treatise which has survived. Valens was a working professional astrologer, and he includes over a hundred example charts from his case files in the "Anthology".

Although originally a native of Antioch, he appears to have traveled widely in Egypt in search of specific astrological doctrines which he sought in order to bolster his practice. At the time Alexandria was still home to a number of astrologers of the older Babylonian, Greek and Egyptian traditions. He published much of what he learned from the tradition and through his practice in his "Anthology", and Valens' work is considered to be of additional importance because he cites the views of a number of earlier authors and authorities who would otherwise be unknown. This gives the "Anthology" great value in modern times for piecing together the actual working techniques of the period. His engaging and instructional style of writing also makes the material much easier to understand.

A number of fragments from the works attributed to the alleged pharaoh Nechepso and the high priest Petosiris, pseudopigraphal authors of the second century BC, survived mainly in Valens' work through direct quotations.

Although the primary manuscript that survives of the "Anthology" is a copy from several centuries after Valens' death, the text still appears to be quite reliable and complete, although disorganized in places.

Although Ptolemy, the astronomer, mathematician and astrologer of ancient Alexandria, and author of "Tetrabiblos", (the most influential astrological text ever written), was generally regarded as the colossus of Hellenistic period astrology in the many centuries following his death, it is most likely that the actual practical astrology of the period resembled the methods elaborated in Valens' "Anthology". Modern scholars tend to counterpoise the two men, since both were roughly contemporary and lived in Alexandria; yet Valens' work elaborated the more practical techniques that arose from ancient tradition, while Ptolemy, very much the scientist, tended focus more on creating a theoretically consistent model based on his Aristotelian causal framework. The balance given by Valens' "Anthology" is therefore very instructive. No other Hellenistic author has contributed as much to our understanding of the everyday, practical astrological methods of the early Roman/late Hellenistic era.


*J. Komorowska, "Vettius Valens of Antioch: An Intellectual Monography" (Cracow: Ksiegarnia Akademicka, 2004; ISBN 83-7188-721-3.)
*Neugebauer, O. and Van Hoesen, H.B. "Greek Horoscopes", (Philadelphia, American Philosophical Society, 1959).
*Vettius Valens. "Anthologiarum libri novem, ed. David Pingree (Leipzig, 1986).
*Vettius Valens d'Antioche. "Anthologies Livre 1", translation and commentary (in French) by J.Fr. Bara (Leiden: Brill, 1989).
*Vettius Valens. "The Anthology." Book III. [translated by Robert Schmidt and edited by Robert Hand.] Project Hindsight, Greek Track, Vol. VIII (The Golden Hind Press, Berkeley Springs, WV, 1994).

External links

* [ Professor Mark Riley's A Survey of Vettius Valens]
* [ Section on Valens in Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy article]
* [ Brief bio on Valens on the Apotelesmatics astrology blog]
* [ Vettius Valens Translation Project]

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