Manilius - Astronomica - Scorpio
Type of Spiritual Experience
The Astronomica (Classical Latin: [astrɔˈnɔmɪka]), also known as the Astronomicon, is a Latin didactic poem[nb 1] about celestial phenomena, written in hexameters and divided into five books. The Astronomica was written c. AD 30–40 by a Roman poet whose name was likely Marcus Manilius; little is known of Manilius, and although there is evidence that the Astronomica was probably read by many other Roman writers, no surviving works explicitly quote him.
The earliest work on astrology that is extensive, comprehensible, and mostly intact, the Astronomica describes celestial phenomena, and, in particular, the zodiac and astrology. The poem—which seems to have been inspired by Lucretius's Epicurean poem De rerum natura—espouses a Stoic, deterministic understanding of a universe overseen by a god and governed by reason. The fifth book contains a lacuna, which has led to debate about the original size of the poem; some scholars have argued that whole books have been lost over the years, whereas others believe only a small section of the work is missing.
The poem was rediscovered c. 1416–1417 by the Italian humanist and scholar Poggio Bracciolini, who had a copy made from which the modern text derives. Upon its rediscovery, the Astronomica was read, commented upon, and edited by a number of scholars. Nevertheless, it failed to become as popular as other classical Latin poems and was neglected for centuries. This started to change during the early 20th century when, between 1903 and 1930, the classicist A. E. Housman published a critically acclaimed edition of the poem in five books. Housman's work was followed by the Latinist G. P. Goold's lauded English translation in 1977. Today, scholars consider it to be highly technical, complicated, and occasionally contradictory. At the same time, many have praised Manilius's ability to translate highly technical astronomical concepts and complex mathematical computations into poetry.
A description of the experience
"When the Scorpion uplifts the stars which shine at the end of its tail, the man then born with the blessing of the planets will enrich the world with cities [urbes] and, with robes hitched up and driving a team of oxen, will trace the circuit of the walls with curved plough; else he will level the cities which have been erected and turn towns back into fields, and produce ripe corn [aristas] where houses stood. Such will be his worth and such the power which is joined thereto" [Manilius, Astronomica, 1st century AD, p.267].
"By virtue of his tail armed with its powerful sting, wherewith, when conducting the Sun's chariot through his sign, he cleaves the soil and sows seed in the furrow, the Scorpion creates natures ardent for war and active service, and a spirit which rejoices in plenteous bloodshed and in carnage more than in plunder. Why, these men spend even peace under arms: they fill the glades and scour the woods; they wage fierce warfare now against man, now against beast, and now they sell their persons to provide the spectacle of death and to perish in the arena, when, warfare in abeyance, they each find themselves foes to attack. There are those, too, who enjoy mock-fights and jousts in arms (such is their love of fighting) and devote their leisure to the study of war and every pursuit which arises from the art of war." [Manilius, Astronomica, 1st century AD, p.239-240].