The Date of Alexander's Birth

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sean_m
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Re: The Date of Alexander's Birth

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Taphoi wrote: Mon Oct 14, 2019 7:43 pmLook at the Antikythera mechanism: an absolute marvel! They did not need to rely on observations of last or first crescents to tell when a New Moon happens.
You mean the Antikythera Mechanism from the 1st or 2nd century BCE? :shock: After Greek natural philosophers had gobbled down all that Babylonian data and after even the Athenians had introduced a rational 'by the gods' calendar along side the arbitrary archon calendar to stop the king or archon adding days because his pet seer had said he would win a battle this month and he was not sure if he could do it by sunset? As an argument for the operation of Greek calendars in the 4th century BCE? Come on man, stop treating us like fools!

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Re: The Date of Alexander's Birth

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sean_m wrote: Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:52 pm
You mean the Antikythera Mechanism from the 1st or 2nd century BCE? :shock: After Greek natural philosophers had gobbled down all that Babylonian data and after even the Athenians had introduced a rational 'by the gods' calendar along side the arbitrary archon calendar to stop the king or archon adding days because his pet seer had said he would win a battle this month and he was not sure if he could do it by sunset? As an argument for the operation of Greek calendars in the 4th century BCE? Come on man, stop treating us like fools!
The Greek calendars were always originally lunar or lunisolar regulated. The messing about was just because they could. There was always an underlying astronomical regulation that ironed out the political tweaks. And if the Greeks learnt astronomy from another people, it was the Egyptians rather than the Babylonians. The Greeks had been in close contact with the Egyptians for centuries before Alexander's time. There were trading colonies like Naucratis. But basically the Greeks were a great sea-going and trading people and they had immense expertise of their own in the field of astronomy due to its connection with navigational skills. The Antikythera mechanism seems to have been a navigational aid. It is a rather strange idea that this technology had its origins in land-locked Babylon. Where is your evidence? Since when did the Babylonians invent clockwork mechanisms? Most people associate Archimedes with the invention of the Antikythera mechanism, since there are Roman mentions of such a tool based on his work. But he lived in Syracuse. So what is the connection with the Babylonian priests?
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Re: The Date of Alexander's Birth

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Taphoi wrote: Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:09 am
sean_m wrote: Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:52 pm
You mean the Antikythera Mechanism from the 1st or 2nd century BCE? :shock: After Greek natural philosophers had gobbled down all that Babylonian data and after even the Athenians had introduced a rational 'by the gods' calendar along side the arbitrary archon calendar to stop the king or archon adding days because his pet seer had said he would win a battle this month and he was not sure if he could do it by sunset? As an argument for the operation of Greek calendars in the 4th century BCE? Come on man, stop treating us like fools!
The Antikythera mechanism seems to have been a navigational aid. It is a rather strange idea that this technology had its origins in land-locked Babylon. Where is your evidence? Since when did the Babylonians invent clockwork mechanisms? Most people associate Archimedes with the invention of the Antikythera mechanism, since there are Roman mentions of such a tool based on his work. But he lived in Syracuse. So what is the connection with the Babylonian priests?
I'll leave Sean to address the non sequitur in that farrago. I'd only note that adducing as evidence for fourth century practice a device / knowledge from the late second or first century is, as Sean notes, treating us as fools.
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Re: The Date of Alexander's Birth

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Thank you, sean_m and Paralus! I was in urgent need of your help! When debating on history it's necessary not only to use the correct chronology, but I think we'd distinguish accurately astronomy from astrology. When I say that Plutarch's date for Alexander's birth means the king was born in the constellation of Leo, I mean only that in 15 (or 20) July 356 B.C. the Sun occupied that position, according to astronomical calculation. Obviously this fact doesn't signify automatically that seers, priests, or individuals who were in Pella that day made Alexander's horoscope calculating ascendant, medium coeli, twelve houses, and so on. We must remember all the ancient evidences quoted by Taphoi are either generic, not having a precise astrological connotation (such as the lion mane hair of some portraits of Alexander, or the lion-scalp helmet Alexander wore in the Istambul sarcophagus - we must know that the "leontè", or leonine headgear was distinctive of Herakles even in pre-Alexandrian Macedonian coins of Philip II - ), either belong to later centuries (such as coins in Roman Alexandria, or the story of Olympias's lion sealed womb, from Plutarch, Life of Alexander (2, 4), or the passages of Pseudo-Callisthenes (1, 13, 3) and Julius Valerius (1, 7).
I do believe the Greeks had immense expertise of their own in the field of astronomy, but I don't know any Greek horoscope before the Hellenistic age. If someone has such evidence, I'll be glad to know. Till now arguably the first Greek horoscope we know is the one quoted by the stoic philosopher Chrysippus (280- 205 B.C.) according to Cicero, De fato 6, 12; 8, 16.
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Re: The Date of Alexander's Birth

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We can also mention the lion hunt on the façade of tomb II at Aegae, commissioned by Alexander and the sculpture of a youthful Alexander below. There are others.
Alex Lion Scalp Athens.jpg
Alex Lion Scalp Athens.jpg (70.99 KiB) Viewed 1786 times
Eudoxus of Cnidus is a good example of a Greek astronomer in the first half of the 4th century BC. He visited Egypt to study astronomy. He was head of the Academy in Athens at one point and is said to have taught Aristotle, Alexander's tutor. He is also credited with introducing Babylonian information to Greek astronomy including astrology and probably the zodiac and its twelve divisions and associated constellations. So we are getting very close to Alexander here and it is possible that Aristotle had something to do with inspiring Alexander regarding his birth under the auspices of Leo.
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Re: The Date of Alexander's Birth

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sean_m wrote: Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:52 pm You mean the Antikythera Mechanism from the 1st or 2nd century BCE? :shock: After Greek natural philosophers had gobbled down all that Babylonian data...
It has been suggested that the Antikythera Mechanism had some Babylonian influence, but only because it has the 223 month Saros cycle of Lunar behaviour built into it and the oldest written source for the Saros is from Babylonia. However, this is rather weak evidence for a direct connection, because the Saros cycle is innate in nature and can be observed by anyone who keeps astronomical records, just like the number of days in a year or the number of days in a month. It is very unclear who first noticed the Saros and it may well have been discovered multiple times. It would be surprising if the Egyptians did not know about it by early in the dynastic period. It would have been fairly obvious to anyone who had around a century (or even half a century) of lunar observations in front of them. Eudoxus of Cnidus brought both Egyptian and Babylonian astronomy and astrology into Greek practice at least as early as the first half of the 4th century BC.
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Re: The Date of Alexander's Birth

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Taphoi wrote: Tue Oct 15, 2019 7:04 pm He is also credited with introducing Babylonian information to Greek astronomy including astrology and probably the zodiac and its twelve divisions and associated constellations.
Eudoxus was a polymath and indeed traveled from his home city of Kidos to Athens, Halikarnossos and Egypt. So much Diogenes Laertius tells us. He wrote on many subjects including mathematics and astronomy - including a treatise (Okaeteris) on the eight year calendar cycle (likely while in Egypt around 360). His Phaenomena, on the constellations and their myths, is the basis for Aratos of Soli's similarly named poem. None of that, though, suggests he introduced "Astrology and probably the zodiac" to the Greek world. I'm unaware of any evidence for same or that he ever visited Bablylon. Perhaps you could share the evidence for this?
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Re: The Date of Alexander's Birth

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Taphoi wrote: Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:09 am The Antikythera mechanism seems to have been a navigational aid. It is a rather strange idea that this technology had its origins in land-locked Babylon. Where is your evidence? Since when did the Babylonians invent clockwork mechanisms? Most people associate Archimedes with the invention of the Antikythera mechanism, since there are Roman mentions of such a tool based on his work. But he lived in Syracuse. So what is the connection with the Babylonian priests?
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The Antikythera Mechanism uses clockwork to implement rules, but since it was designed in the first or second century BCE, it tells us nothing about whether those rules were known to Greeks in the fourth century let alone whether calendars in the fourth century obeyed them. Cuneiform texts hundreds of years earlier implement the same rules, and because we have so many dated documents and astronomical observations from Babylonia, we can see that from around 500 BCE the calendar there also followed an algorithm. Greek astronomers approved: Ptolemy of Alexadria's Canon names years according to who was king of Babylon not Olympic victor or Athenian archon (he switches to pharaoh when Ptolemy I had himself crowned). Even the Suda in the tenth century of our era knew that the saros cycle came from the "Chaldeans."

Greek astronomers knew a lot about the length of the solar year and the length of the lunar month, but they could not make the king or archon stop messing with the calendar, so its very hard to place a day in any pre-200 Greek calendar (or the pre-45 Roman calendar) into absolute time. I think that is why the panhellenic games were synchronized with equinoxes and solistices not with a calendar day.
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Re: The Date of Alexander's Birth

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Paralus wrote: Wed Oct 16, 2019 3:35 am His Phaenomena, on the constellations and their myths, is the basis for Aratos of Soli's similarly named poem... None of that, though, suggests he introduced "Astrology and probably the zodiac" to the Greek world.
So you are suggesting that Eudoxus's myths associated with the constellations was a work of astronomy with no astrological input? :shock:
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Re: The Date of Alexander's Birth

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sean_m wrote: Wed Oct 16, 2019 6:23 am Greek astronomers knew a lot about the length of the solar year and the length of the lunar month, but they could not make the king or archon stop messing with the calendar, so its very hard to place a day in any pre-200 Greek calendar (or the pre-45 Roman calendar) into absolute time. I think that is why the panhellenic games were synchronized with equinoxes and solistices not with a calendar day.
Although Greek kings and archons occasionally messed with the calendar it is an interesting testament to Greek sentiment on the importance of an astronomically regulated calendar that people were moved to write about it so that we know it happened: we don't know so much about messing about that happened in Babylonia or Egypt, although that was no less likely. The more interesting thing was that Plutarch's dates from Timaeus are beautifully precisely lunar regulated as I have shown above. Timaeus was doing this whilst the Babylonians were waiting 2 days for clouds to clear, even though they must have known that the New Moon had happened. If you believe that the Babylonian evidence is superior to Greek calendrical calculations by Timaeus and others (which certainly ultimately led to the Antikythera mechanism), I fear that you err. The Antikythera mechanism is quintessentially alien to Babylonian practice and fully in the tradition of Timaeus, because it has no cloud detector to temporarily shut it down in accordance with the whim of the Moon goddess.

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Re: The Date of Alexander's Birth

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Taphoi wrote: Wed Oct 16, 2019 5:40 pm
Paralus wrote: Wed Oct 16, 2019 3:35 am His Phaenomena, on the constellations and their myths, is the basis for Aratos of Soli's similarly named poem... None of that, though, suggests he introduced "Astrology and probably the zodiac" to the Greek world.
So you are suggesting that Eudoxus's myths associated with the constellations was a work of astronomy with no astrological input? :shock:
That Aratos' Phaenomena reflects that of Eudoxus is widely accepted. There is nothing in that work which suggests that the constellations so described predicted the actions of humans or, indeed influenced the affairs of men or the natural world. Perhaps you might indicate where it does? Phaenomena describes the constellations and places them within the Greek mythological context while indicating that the appearance of certain constellations indicated the beginning/end of seasons, planting and harvesting times.

Rather than twisting the discussion, you would do better to address the question:
Taphoi wrote: Tue Oct 15, 2019 7:04 pm He is also credited with introducing Babylonian information to Greek astronomy including astrology and probably the zodiac and its twelve divisions and associated constellations.
You claim that Eudoxus introduced Babylonian astronomical information into Greek astronomy "including astrology and probably the zodiac and its twelve divisions and associated constellations". I'm unaware of any evidence that Eudoxus ever visited Babylon or that he introduced Babylonian "information". Perhaps you could share the evidence for this?
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Re: The Date of Alexander's Birth

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Taphoi wrote: Wed Oct 16, 2019 6:01 pm Although Greek kings and archons occasionally messed with the calendar it is an interesting testament to Greek sentiment on the importance of an astronomically regulated calendar that people were moved to write about it so that we know it happened: we don't know so much about messing about that happened in Babylonia or Egypt, although that was no less likely.
Oh for Ištar's sake!

Come on man! This is not a YouTube comments section, you are talking to people who know that we have records of almost every month (and often of the length of the month) in the Babylonian calendar from the sixth century BCE onwards and can see that after 500 it followed consistent rules, while our evidence for Greek calendars before 300 is pretty damn thin and includes people as different as Aristophanes and Thucydides making it clear that the Athenian calendar was no good. When Babylonian data is checked against modern calculations, its never more than a day or two out, which is the expected error in a lunar calendar based on observation.

We are still waiting for you to provide a spot of evidence that any Greek calendar before 300 relied on calculating the start of the month or had a way to compensate for the king or archon adding and subtracting months or days to taste.
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Re: The Date of Alexander's Birth

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You are living in a topsy-turvy world where the mechanical and rule-based Babylonian calendar is "subject to the whim of the moon goddess" (totally different from Selene!) because it relied on observing the start of the lunar month, whereas the abundant evidence for Athenians and Macedonians making arbitrary changes to the calendar proves they were deeply concerned with accuracy, where hypothetical ideas about the Athenian and Macedonian calendar are stronger evidence than 700 years of data from Babylonia which makes foreign astronomers go all fan-boyish and fan-girlish as soon as they have it translated.
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Re: The Date of Alexander's Birth

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sean_m wrote: Thu Oct 17, 2019 7:35 am You are living in a topsy-turvy world where the mechanical and rule-based Babylonian calendar is "subject to the whim of the moon goddess" (totally different from Selene!) because it relied on observing the start of the lunar month, whereas the abundant evidence for Athenians and Macedonians making arbitrary changes to the calendar proves they were deeply concerned with accuracy, where hypothetical ideas about the Athenian and Macedonian calendar are stronger evidence than 700 years of data from Babylonia which makes foreign astronomers go all fan-boyish and fan-girlish as soon as they have it translated.
You are missing my point: my evidence from actual analysis of actual dates (above) is that Timaeus calculated the New Moon whereas the Babylonians at the same date relied totally on actual observations. The former is a much more sophisticated and scientific attitude to astronomy and is enshrined in the Antikythera Mechanism, which is what the scientific approach fostered and engendered. The Babylonian approach was to treat astronomy essentially as a branch of religion and that caused the persistent and frequent calendar errors over 700 years to which you have referred.
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Re: The Date of Alexander's Birth

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Paralus wrote: Wed Oct 16, 2019 11:06 pm You claim that Eudoxus introduced Babylonian astronomical information into Greek astronomy "including astrology and probably the zodiac and its twelve divisions and associated constellations". I'm unaware of any evidence that Eudoxus ever visited Babylon or that he introduced Babylonian "information". Perhaps you could share the evidence for this?
I can do no more that suggest that you and any other Pothosian who is interested in the matter should google "Eudoxus zodiac".
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