We are currently seeking submissions for future volumes of Culture and Cosmos.
Volume 1, No. 2
The History of Wretched Subjects
Otto Neugebauer was for many years Professor of the History of Mathematics at Brown University, RI. His prolific output included The Exact Sciences in Antiquity (Brown University, 1957) and the three volume A History of Ancient Mathematical Astronomy, (Springer Verlag, 1975). Sadly he died in 1992. The following text, which appeared in Isis, vol. 42, June 1951 is a classic statement of the importance of the history of astrology in the history of ideas.
In the last issue of Isis (vol. 41, 125-126, p.374) there is a short review by Professor Sarton of a recent publication by E.S.Drower of the Mandean ‘Book of the Zodiac’ which is characterized by the reviewer as ‘a wretched collection of omens, debased astrology and miscellaneous nonsense’. Because this factually correct statement1 does not tell the whole story, I want to amplify it by a few remarks to explain to the reader why a serious scholar might spend years on the study of wretched subjects like ancient astrology.