Epigenes of Byzantium

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Epigenes of Byzantium (Greek: Έπιγένης ὁ Βυζάντιος; unknown-circa 200 BC) was a Greek astrologer. He seems to have been a strong supporter of astrology, which, though derided by many Greek intellectuals, had been accepted and adopted by many Greeks from the seventh century BC through commercial contact with the Chaldeans of Babylonia.

It is unclear when Epigenes lived - he may have lived about the time of Augustus; some conjecture that he lived centuries earlier - but he is known to have refined the study of his chosen field, defining Saturn, for example, as "cold and windy." Along with Apollonius of Myndus and Artemidorus of Parium, he boasted of having been instructed by the Chaldean priest-astrologers, many of whom infiltrated Greece when the ports of Egypt opened to Greek ships after 640 BC.[1]

Epigenes' claims to have been educated by the Chaldeans comes from the writings of Seneca.[2] Pliny the Elder writes that Epigenes attests to the fact that the Chaldeans preserved astral observations in inscriptions upon brick tiles (coctilibus laterculis) extending to a period of 720 years. Pliny calls Epigenes a writer of first-rate authority (gravis auctor imprimis).[3] The 55-km lunar crater Epigenes is named after him.


  1. ^ Metareligion - Through the Doors of Greece (2007), Accessed: October 6, 2008. "But they were in a tiny minority. In general, as the historian Gilbert Murray was to put it, 'astrology fell upon the Hellenistic mind as a new disease falls upon some remote island people'. Through such outposts as Daphnae, a Greek settlement in Egypt between 610 and 560 BC, and especially through the ports of Egypt opened to Greek ships after 640 BC, travelling Chaldean astrologers descended on Greece in considerable numbers, bringing with them the apparently age-old wisdom they had hoarded, which was received warmly by Greeks already better practised in mathematics and astronomy than they."
  2. ^ Seneca. Nat. Quaest., vii. 30.
  3. ^ Pliny. Historia Naturalis, vii. 56.

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