Power and Knowledge: Astrology, Physiognomics, and Medicine by Tamsyn Barton

By Tamsyn Barton

Power and Knowledge charts a heritage of 3 old scientiae within the Roman Empire--astrology, clinical analysis, and physiognomy (the paintings of discerning personality or future from a person's physique). Drawing on modern techniques in social thought and the philosophy of technology, Tamsyn Barton argues that the traditional sciences are most sensible understood by way of rhetoric, as their practitioners are excited about sociopolitical struggles and their disciplines are rooted in Greco-Roman cultural norms and practices.

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Furthermore, we know from Pliny that the instrument was designed so that the edge o f the paving coincided with the day of the winter solstice, the day when the sun’s shadow at noon was at its longest. Thereafter, the shadow moved back down the line until the summer solstice. Thus, the role of Capricorn was made visible, at least to those who could read Greek. With Augustus began a new day and a new era. 101 Though this is difficult to prove, it would nicely symbolize the shift from the older style of omen lore to the new.

Ceionius Commodus (Aelius Verus) as his successor. The author is attempting to explain away this apparent error on the part of such an expert in astrological matters: The emperor was acquainted with the horoscope of Verus. . and adopted a man whom he did not really think suitable to govern the empire merely for the purpose of gratifying his own desires. . For Marius Maximus repre­ sents Hadrian as so expert in astrology, as even to assert that he knew all about his own future. 8-9)142 Caligula, according to Suetonius’ grandfather, did his best to save Thrasyllus from error about his own succession.

1). In this way no one else could work out his death date. Severus Alexander was supposedly an adept in astrology, but it helped him little. 2-5). 58 Power and Knowledge Star Wars in the Greco-Roman World The emperor was often portrayed as scoffing at predictions, to give the narrative more power. When the elder Gordian laughed at the imperial future predicted for him, his son, and grandson it was said There are no fewer than eleven cases involving the indictment of highranking Romans, charges of maiestas (lese-majestd) and the use of astrology recorded in the first century; seven cases in all are reported up to 371 of astrol­ ogers or other diviners indicted on maiestas charges under the edict of a .

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