Astrology

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The following is is a fragment of John Gower's mid 14th C work dealing with astrology, the Liber Septimyus of the Confessio Amatis. I like it because it's at about the level that most educated people would understand the important science of Astronomy.

The source is p250-273 of Macaulay's "Collected Works of John Gower" (OUP Clarendon, 1901) ; John Gower lived between about 1328 and 1403.

I've shortened it and modernised the spelling a bit, but I am happy to provide a copy to anyone that wants one. Note that Macaulay is a 19th C guy, so I'm not going to die in a ditch that he got the transcription all right - but it does read right.

Note that - like a lot of 14th/15th C stuff - it's written in rhyme. We've done some vowel shifting in the last 600 years, so some of the rhymes no longer work ...

To speak upon Astronomy, As it is writen in the clergie, to tell how the planets fare Some part I think to declare. My Son, unto thine audience, Astronomy is the science of wisdom and of this cunning which makes a man have knowing of stars in the firmament, figure circle and movement.

Beneath all others stands the Moon, the which has with the Sea to done, of floods high and ebbes lowe, upon his change it shall be know And every fish that has a shell, must in his governance dwell In Almagest it telleth this The Moons circle so low is whereof the Sun out of his stage Nay sees him nought with full visage For he is with the ground be shaded, So that the Moon is somtimes faded. And be not fully shine clear. But what man under his power is boren, he shall his places chage and seek many landes strange L And as of this condiction The Moon's disposition Upon the land of Allemagne is set and upon Britain, which now is called England, For they travel in every land.

Of the planets the second, above the Moon does take his bounde Mercury, and his nature is this, that under him who that born is, in book he shall be studious And in writing curious, And sloth and lusts to travel in thing which alls might avail. He loveth ease, he loveth rest, so he is not the worthieste, ; But yet with somediel business his hearth is set upon richness. And as this condition, The effect and disposition, of this Planety and of his chance Is most in Burgundy and France.