The Art and Science of Healing: From Antiquity to the Renaissance

The Art and Science of Healing: From Antiquity to the RenaissanceThe Art and Science of Healing: From Antiquity to the Renaissance

Astrological Treatise


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Astrological treatise In Greek Papyrus: a total of 22 columns distributed in 18 fragments ca. 23.8 x 140 cm 2nd c. AD Karanis, Egypt P. Mich. inv. 1

This papyrus contains a discussion of the phases of each planet in relation to the sun, based on a description of planetary motion. It also echoes the doctrine of so-called astrological medicine, which describes the impact of planets and zodiacal signs on particular organs of the human body and their corresponding diseases. On display are the first four columns of this papyrus, with the fourth column containing a fascinating discussion of medical astrology. Here is an English translation of a portion of the fourth column of this papyrus fragment:

The epicycle of Jupiter measures 13° 45´, which is 825´, of which one-third is 275´. Accordingly at the two hundred seventy-fifth point we must mark off the portion of Jupiter. It includes the breast as far as the stomach and the liver, in which reside fire, the mental faculty, and the appetitive faculty because the conversion into blood of the food which is introduced into the body is performed by the liver. It is for just this reason that the faculty of command is assigned to this portion; for truly the leader takes forethought for the state as the liver does for the body. If indeed the region of the liver becomes diseased, the whole body immediately becomes jaundiced or dropsical and like a corpse, because the blood is not properly managed. Therefore such things come to mankind from Jupiter, and therefore also the omens are observed in the livers of the victims by those who perform sacrifices, and appetites for food and sexual intercourse come from the liver. For from its entrance a broad vessel reaches to the seminal regions, and thus, of the food, a part is made into blood and distributed to the veins and part is divided off into that vessel and becomes semen. For this reason the testicles are on either side. For the sake of this also....

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