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Article

Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....

Article

Plato  

Martha C. Nussbaum

(b ?Athens, c. 429 bc; d 347 bc).

Ancient Greek philosopher. He was the son of a distinguished and wealthy Athenian family and grew up in turbulent times; the Peloponnesian War and the bitter struggles between local oligarchic and democratic factions made life unstable and justice difficult. In 399 bc the restored democracy put to death Plato’s beloved teacher Socrates (469–399 bc), reinforcing his dislike of democratic institutions. During the following years Plato travelled widely, beginning his friendship with Dion of Syracuse (409–353 bc). Around 385 bc he returned to Athens, where he remained for most of the rest of his life. He began teaching in a school that was later the first to be called an ‘Academy’, after the grove in which it stood. Plato made two further visits to Syracuse, attempting at Dion’s request, but without success, to make a philosopher of the young ruler Dionysius II (reg 367–343 bc)....

Article

Martha C. Nussbaum

(b Athens, c. 428/427 bc; d ?Athens, c. 354 bc).

Greek general, historian and writer . From a wealthy Athenian family, he became an enthusiastic follower of Socrates. Shortly before Socrates’ death, he left Athens. He served as a general under Cyrus in Asia Minor and later accepted the patronage of Sparta, where he settled and wrote most of his major works. His writings include histories (Hellenica, Anabasis) and narratives of Socrates’ philosophical activity (Memorabilia, Apology, Oeconomicus, Symposium).

Xenophon’s Memorabilia, written some time between 370 and 354 bc, includes two dialogues (III.x.1–8) between Socrates and contemporary artists. The historical status of the two conversations is unclear, but since Xenophon’s aim was to show that Socrates had made new beneficial contributions to the city, it may be assumed that the ideas expressed in the dialogues would have been found both correct and novel by Xenophon’s audience. In the first, Socrates asks the painter Parrhasios how he uses colour to represent (...