Sacred Texts  Sky Lore 

Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos

tr. J.M. Ashmand


The Tetrabiblos, or 'four-part book' of Ptolemy is one of the most important surviving ancient texts on Astrology. Claudius Ptolemy, the second century C.E. author of this book, is best known as the originator of the Ptolemaic system. The Earth stood fixed at the center of the universe, with crystalline spheres within spheres whirling around it. In balance, the universe had a vast influence on earthly events, which was the basis for the belief in Astrology. This explanation stood for nearly a millenium and a half, bolstered by its acceptance as orthodoxy by the Catholic Church, until Copernicus and Galileo demolished it and placed the heliocentric (sun-centered) system in its place.

Title Page
Table of Contents

Book the First

Chapter I. Proem
Chapter II. Knowledge May Be Acquired by Astronomy to a Certain Extent
Chapter III. That Prescience is Useful
Chapter IV. The Influences of the Planetary Orbs
Chapter V. Benefics and Malefics
Chapter VI. Masculine and Feminine
Chapter VII. Diurnal and Nocturnal
Chapter VIII. The Influence of Position with Regard to the Sun
Chapter IX. The Influence of the Fixed Stars
Chapter X. Constellations North of the Zodiac
Chapter XI. Constellations South of the Zodiac
Chapter XII. The Annual Seasons
Chapter XIII. The Influence of the Four Angles
Chapter XIV. Tropical, Equinoctial, Fixed, and Bicorporeal Signs
Chapter XV. Masculine and Feminine Signs
Chapter XVI. Mutual Configurations of the Signs
Chapter XVII. Signs Commanding and Obeying
Chapter XVIII. Signs Beholding Each Other, and of Equal Power
Chapter XIX. Signs Inconjunct
Chapter XX. Houses of the Planets
Chapter XXI. The Triplicities
Chapter XXII. Exaltations
Chapter XXIII. The Disposition of the Terms
Chapter XXIV. The Terms According to Ptolemy
Chapter XXV. The Places And Degrees Of Every Planet
Chapter XXVI. Faces, Chariots, and Other Similar Attributes of the Planets
Chapter XXVII. Application, Separation, and Other Faculties

Book the Second

Chapter I. General Division of the Subject
Chapter II. Peculiarities Observable Throughout Every Entire Climate
Chapter III. The Familiarity of the Regions of the Earth with the Triplicities and the Planets
Chapter IV. The Familiarity of the Regions of the Earth with the Fixed Stars
Chapter V. Mode of Particular Prediction in Eclipses
Chapter VI. The Regions or Countries to be Considered as Liable to be Comprehended in the Event
Chapter VII. The Time and Period of the Event
Chapter VIII. The Genus, Class, or Kind, Liable to be Affected
Chapter IX. The Quality and Nature of the Effect
Chapter X. Colours in Eclipses; Comets, and Similar Phenomena
Chapter XI. The New Moon of the Year
Chapter XII. The Particular Natures of the Signs by Which the Different Constitutions of the Atmosphere are Produced
Chapter XIII. Mode of Consideration for Particular Constitutions of the Atmosphere
Chapter XIV. The Signification of Meteors

Book the Third

Chapter I. Proem
Chapter II. The Conception and the Parturition, or Birth; by Which Latter Event the Animal Quits the Womb, and Assumes Another State of Existence
Chapter III. The Degree Ascending
Chapter IV. Distribution of the Doctrine of Nativities
Chapter V. The Parents
Chapter VI. Brothers and Sisters
Chapter VII. Male or Female
Chapter VIII. Twins
Chapter IX. Monstrous or Defective Births
Chapter X. Children Not Reared
Chapter XI. The Duration of Life
Chapter XII. The Prorogatory Places
Chapter XIII. The Number of Prorogators, and Also the Part of Fortune
Chapter XIV. Number of the Modes of Prorogation
Chapter XV. Exemplification
Chapter XVI. The Form and Temperament of the Body
Chapter XVII. The Hurts, Injuries, and Diseases of the Body
Chapter XVIII. The Quality of the Mind
Chapter XIX. The Diseases of the Mind

Book the Fourth

Chapter I. Proem
Chapter II. The Fortune of Wealth
Chapter III. The Fortune of Rank
Chapter IV. The Quality of Employment
Chapter V. Marriage
Chapter VI. Children
Chapter VII. Friends and Enemies
Chapter VIII. Travelling
Chapter IX. The Kind of Death
Chapter X. The Periodical Divisions of Time


No. I. Almagest; Book VIII, Chap. IV
No. II. Almagest; Book II. Extract From Chap. IX: Of Circumstances regulated by Ascensions
No. III. The Centiloquy, or Hundred Aphorisms of Claudius Ptolemy; Otherwise Called, the Fruit of His Four Books
No. IV. The Zodiacal Planisphere