CLAUDIUS PTOLEMY: TETRABIBLOS
OF the means of prediction through astronomy, O Syrus, two are the most important and valid. One, which is first both in order and in effectiveness, is that whereby we apprehend the aspects of the movements of sun, moon, and stars in relation to each other and to the earth, as they occur from time to time; the second is that in which by means of the natural character of these aspects themselves we investigate the changes which they bring about in that which they surround. The first of these, which has its own science, desirable in itself even though it does not attain the result given by its combination with the second, has been expounded to you as best we could in its own treatise by the method of demonstration. We shall now give an account of the second and less self-sufficient method in a properly philosophical way, so that one whose aim is the truth might never compare its perceptions with the sureness of the first, unvarying science, for he ascribes to it the weakness and unpredictability of material qualities found in individual things, nor yet refrain from such investigation as is within the bounds of possibility, when it is so evident that most events of a general nature draw their causes from the enveloping heavens. But since everything that is hard to attain is easily assailed by the generality of men, and in the case of the two before-mentioned disciplines the allegations against the first could be made only by the blind, while there are specious grounds for those levelled at the second-for its difficulty in parts has made them think it completely incomprehensible, or the difficulty of escaping what is known has disparaged even its object as useless-we shall try to examine briefly the measure of both the possibility and the usefulness of such prognostication before offering detailed instruction on the subject. First as to its possibility.