Herman of Carinthia - Astrology and Astronomy

Astrology and Astronomy

Herman's first known translation was the sixth book of an astrological treatise Liber sextus astronomie by the Jewish writer Sahl ibn Bishr. It was released in Spain in 1138 under the title Zaelis fatidica (Prophesy). Sahl ibn Bishr had been writing in the Greek astrological tradition. Ibn Bishr's first five books were preserved in the translation of John of Seville (Johannes Hispanus) (circa 1090 – circa 1150). The sixth book deals with three thematic topics regarding the influences on the world and its inhabitants. The work contains divinations based on the movements of the planets and comets.

Circa 1140 Herman translated into Latin the astronomical work of Abu Ma'shar Kitab al-madkhal ila ilm ahkam al nujum (Introduction to Astronomy). The work contains problems from Greek philosophy, Arabic astronomy and Eastern astrology, and was first translated into Latin by John of Seville in 1133. Herman's less literal translation was published several times under the title Liber introductorius in astronomiam Albumasaris, Abalachii (Augusta Vindelicorum, Augsburg 1489; Venice 1495 and 1506). A large part of Herman's translation was copied into Roger of Hereford's Book of Astronomical Judgements.

Herman produced a version of Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Ḵwārizmī's astronomical tables (zij) – they were also translated in 1126 by Adelard of Bath (1075–1164).

Charles Burnett (2001) postulates that Herman collaborated with Robert of Ketton and Hugo of Santalla on the Liber novem iudicum (the Book of Nine Judges), a collection of translations of Arabic astrologers, notably al-Kindi. Their project may have been to supplant the current superstitious Latin astrology with Arabic astronomical science. Arabic texts cite often Hermes as an authority. Burnett postulates that Renaissance magi merely continued this Hermetic tradition begun by Herman, Robert and Hugh. Herman shares technical terminology with Hugh and a penchant for evocation of the Ascpelius, most notably in De essentiis (see below)

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