The Mark Riley translation of Vettius Valens

Mark Riley has sent me PDF’s of his entire unpublished translation of the second century astrological handbook, the Anthology of Vettius Valens.  This was translated from the Kroll edition (which is online) and the revised Pingree text (which is not).  I’ve combined them into a single file and emailed them back, and he’s going to make it available online.

It’s a marvellous piece of work.  The sheer labour that must have been involved is staggering.  It is a terrible shame that this never turned into a publication.  Mark tells me that the reason for this is that, to perfect it, he needed to consult the Arabic versions of the text, and lacked the necessary language skill and time to acquire it. I have suggested to him that he post the translation on his website.  It will be of interest to anyone interested in Vettius Valens.  It is very clear and well translated.

Unfortunately the text itself is only of specialist interest.  I read through it this morning, hoping for snippets of information on the ancient world.  But these are lacking.  Vettius Valens is only interested in showing students how to calculate astronomical things in order to cast horoscopes.  He derides the bombast and obscurity of other such handbooks.  But otherwise it is all calculations.

The book should be useful to those interested in ancient astronomy, and to those who must work out how mathematics was presented in an age without proper numerals.  But it is not of interest to most of us.

I’ve also heard back today from Project Hindsight about the Robert Schmidt translations of ancient astrological writers.  These are $45 a volume, which is dear — too dear for me.  I said so, and was told there might be volumes available at $30, which is a possible. price  Why any of these are more than $20 a go I do not see, tho.  I have suggested to them that Dr Schmidt might like to consult Dr Riley about Vettius Valens.


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