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A Queen and her Astrologer

Text from the 2nd century BC


"At dawn Nectanebo pulled one tablet of such rare and royal wealth that words could not divulge its effect. It was made of ivory, ebony, silver and gold, three concentric circles were engraved, the first circle carried the decans, the second the twelve signs of the zodiac and the third the Sun and the Moon. He put the tablet on a seat. Then he opened an ivory box, very small, out of which he took seven constellations and the horoscopos (= the ascendant).

With eight metals extracted from stones, he started to draw the map of the sky of that moment. He lit the Sun with a crystal and the Moon with a diamond, Ares in hematite, emerald for Hermes, skystone (pierre de ciel) for Zeus, and a sapphire for Aphrodite, for Chronos a serpentine stone * and at the centre he placed the white marble for the horoscopos.

Then he said: “Show me, my queen, the year, month, day and time of your birth. Once she had done, Nectanebo, with the help of coins, calculated the birth of her and himself to see their astrological concordance. When he saw that they were positive, he asked: “Tell me, my queen, what do you want to know?" *In healing usage, serpentine aids the clearing of blocked areas, brings the chakras back in balance and also is very beneficial for the heart chakra.


diamanthematietsmaragdHemelsteen - JadeSaffierserpentsteen


This text is from Paul Meyer (a specialist on the field of medieval texts ) dated to the second century BC, ie from the time of Ptolemy. It gives invaluable information about the procedure followed by Greek astrologers for the interpretation of a chart. It was apparently usual to start with a horary chart and subsequently compare the chart of the astrologer with his client’s one before giving advice.

This astrologer uses for his interpretation a precious tablet made of ivory, ebony, gold and silver. This tablet was engraved with three concentric circles: the thirty-six decanates, the twelve signs of the zodiac, the Sun and the Moon. Like some astrologers today use preprinted sheets with among others, the signs of the zodiac and the decanates, the astrologers of antiquity used ivory as medium. On this powerful support they placed the brilliant eight stones with particular characteristics. For the Moon, they used the diamond, the brightest and hardest of all stone, usually colourless. For Saturn the serpentine that heals snakebites.

This text gives another capital revelation as it tells that the representation of the chart was circular, not square like most representations appeared to be later in the Byzantine period.
The name of this queen is Olympia. She was the wife of Philip of Macedonia. The priest-astrologer Nectanebo was himself very interested in the queen and wanted power over her.

Extract from‘Le roman d'Alexandre' du Pseudo Callisthène; La Roue à livres publié dans "Les Belles Lettres" (1992) p. 151-152. Translation G. Bonouré et B. Serret du pseudo-Callisthène

Translation from French Béatrice Boucher (2009). With thanks to Yves Lenoble, French astrologer.