- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (June 16, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1441127372
- ISBN-13: 978-1441127372
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.3 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,040,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A History of Western Astrology Volume I: The Ancient and Classical Worlds 0th Edition
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About the Author
Nicholas Campion is Director of the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture and Senior Lecturer in Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, UK.
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How does it work as history? "Cultural history" is a newcomer to the discipline, and sometimes seems open to the old jibe once made about social history: "polite chat about the past". There's certainly a woolliness here and a feeling that topics are chosen for sales value rather than significance. The balance of topics is sometimes odd. The first volume has 2 chapters on prehistory which, necessarily, are mostly speculation. Yet in the second volume Persian and Arab astrologers, a vital channel of transmission to Europe after the Dark Ages, get just 2 pages. The history is often strange, too: thus we are told that the Israelite king Jeroboam's religious policy was "purely pragmatic". If Campion can read that from our meagre sources, he has more imagination than I. And what does it have to do with astrology anyway?
The index is clearly the work of an amateur, presumably the author, who thinks his job is done if every proper name is indexed. Thus "what James Webb called the occult underground" duly gets an entry for Webb, but progressions (wrongly attributed to Kepler instead of Placidus) are left out.
The problem I had was on the one subject I actually knew something about (Egypt). The author made what are in my opinion some critical mistakes. On page 91, he states the builders of the Giza pyramids were from the 5th Dynasty, not the fourth. The second was calling Imhotep, the designer of the step pyramid of Djoser in the Old Kingdom, a Middle Kingdom priest (page 103).
If these were small detail issues, one might be willing to forgive but these are major mistakes. Further it provides doubts (at least to me) not just about the accuracy of the minor but the major details on subjects less familiar. Add to this, the section on Plato was a little tough going. There were an inordinate number of paragraphs starting off with the word Plato. Okay I'm nitpicking but if my 10th grader passed in a paper like that, she would lose points for it. It was the only section I felt the author went from explaining to pontificating. Thankfully it didn't last.
All and all, recommended reading!