From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Former featured article candidate Tetrabiblos is a former featured article candidate. Please view the links under Article milestones below to see why the nomination failed. For older candidates, please check the archive.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
December 12, 2011 Featured article candidate Not promoted
Did You Know
A fact from this article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "Did you know?" column on September 4, 2011.
The text of the entry was: Did you know ... that Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos, a 2nd-century astrology book, is still considered a basic text in Western astrology?

Redirect was wrong[edit]

[The discussion below was copied from the Wikipedia:Reference Desk]

Hmm. Tetrabiblos currently redirects to Almagest. From reading Ptolemy I see that the former covered astrological stuff, while the latter covered astronomical stuff. Looks like that redirect is wrong. Anyone agree? Carcharoth 02:13, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

I also noticed that problem. I have looked at both books and you are right, they are on different subjects. Plus, they are two separate books, making it like redirecting The Hobbit to Lord of the Rings. Someone needs to un-redirect. Maestlin 18:39, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
For the moment I have blanked the redirect page so it no longer redirects. I think there are two options for now: (1) Someone writes a stub article; (2) The page is deleted until someone can write an article (thus turning the blue links red). At the moment, what is in Ptolemy#Astrology is sufficient. Copying that into Tetrabiblos is another option, but rather redundant. I've copied the above three comments to the discussion page for Tetrabiblos. Carcharoth 22:52, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

[The discussion above was copied from the Wikipedia:Reference Desk] Carcharoth 22:52, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

Page redirected to Ptolemy[edit]

Obvious solution! Page redirected to Ptolemy and the current link removed from the Ptolemy article. That way the (less than 10) articles that link to Tetrabiblos will go to Ptolmey. I could redo the Tetrabiblos links in the articles to go to Ptolemy#Astrology, but they would need redoing if someone wrote a Tetrabiblos article. Carcharoth 01:42, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Whoever writes this article...[edit]

Please wikilink the Tetrabiblos word in the Ptolemy article. Thanks. Carcharoth 01:43, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Edits of September 2011[edit]

Following Ihcoyc's recent substantial development of this article I have made a number of edits today and will detail the most significant here, in case anyone wants to raise a question or objection to any of the amendments:


  1. (In lede): changed "Tetrabiblos, its companion volume, was considered equally authoritative in determining the meaning of the astronomical cycles: astrology, the study of the stars and planets in relation to earthly matters" to: "Tetrabiblos, its companion volume, was considered equally authoritative in astrology, the study of the 'outcome' or 'effects' of the astronomical cycles upon earthly matters" - this is to simplify the text and to reflect the definition given in the original title, by which it was known as the book of astrological 'outcomes' or 'effects' (a point covered in the next section of the article).
  2. (In lede): changed the phrase: "the Tetrabiblos remains a fundamental work still consulted by astrologers practicing Islamic and Western astrology" to "the Tetrabiblos remains an important and influential astrological text which continues to be considered an indispensible reference for serious students of western astrology". The reason for the change is that the phrase "practicing Islamic and western astrology" is confusing, since medieval Islamic astrology is generally considered to be a part of the western astrological tradition, not an alternative contemporary tradition. Also, the two references linked to the original comment didn't give strong support to the fact that the Tetrabiblos remains a working textbook today, so I changed these refs to one that clearly does demonstrate this.
  3. (Book I): changed the definition of the word 'ambient' - De Vore is plainly wrong in assuming it has anything to do with the 'tenth sphere' as a compelling force. This would be the primum mobile which is the highest and remotest sphere - the use of the word in the Tetrabiblos translations is in line with its normal interpretation - I gave the Oxford dictionary definition instead and qualified this by a cross-reference to the Robbins translation.


  1. Added small introductory section on book title to explain the early references to the book's name.


  1. I removed the statement: "Ptolemy is also responsible for the division of the astrological traditions into sidereal astrology and tropical astrology" (and the text that followed from this). This is not the case; Ptolemy merely followed convention and repeated the explanation that was given in older texts (for example, Geminos, whose text is certainly much older than Ptolemy's, gives a clear account of the zodiac along similar lines as that described by Ptolemy). Where the zodiac is mentioned I'll reintroduce this point with a reference to verify that Ptolemy was not originating but only reporting the common view.

Structure and formatting:

  1. I moved up the section on 'Influence'; renamed it 'Influence and general overview' and added a little to this, since it seemed to make a good introduction to the more detailed explanation of the contents that follows.

Didn't quite finish the formatting of refs and I have a few more refs and comments to add, but only minor additions now - don't think there are any more significant changes I would suggest. The content that has been put in is very good. I'll come back to add what I can in the next few days. -- Zac Δ talk! 00:34, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Update: I have significantly expanded the discussion of Ptolemy's philosophical argument. Since this has been so historically important (to theology as well as astrology), the deeper exploration seems justified. It would probably benefit from a fresh pair of eyes. I'll leave this a day or two and then run over it again myself and pick up the remaining sections. I won't expand these greatly but have a few points to add which demonstrate why this text was so unique and enduring. -- Zac Δ talk! 20:36, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
This article has become one of a very high quality. I have made some small changes - mainly grammar, spelling and shortening a few sentences but no change to content. To my eye, words like Renaissance and Earth should be capitalised being proper nouns, but I have left them as I think it is my error. I am sure WP has a guide on this. Also can anyone explain fatal necessity - is it predictions that lead to death or predictions that are unavoidable or both? Robert Currey talk 00:22, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure about words like 'classical', 'medieval' or 'renaissance' - I don't think they should be capitalised. But Earth probably should, as the other planet names are, being 'proper nouns'. I'll change that. I'll also change 'fatal necessity' to make it clearer that it refers to fatalism and not the fatedness of death. Thanks for your useful copy-edits Robert. -- Zac Δ talk! 09:15, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
"Fatal necessity" wiki-links through to 'fatalism' - is this not enough to demonstrate that the term means 'unavoidable fate'? The term 'fatal necessity' is well used by philosophers so I'm a bit loathe to change it to 'fatalism' for the sake of not repeating that word too many times in the same passage of text. However, if it's wiser to change it to avoid the confusion, I'm happy to do that.-- Zac Δ talk! 09:23, 10 September 2011 (UTC)

Book II content[edit]

I've just finished development of the section outlining the content of book II. I thought I should mention here that I have the intention to develop the final section concerning the contents of books II and IV under one subheading, since both are themed on the subject of making personal predictions based on individual horoscopes. I had previously originated some content for this but lost the file and it may take some time before I can re-do it. If anyone else wants to step in, feel free, more editorial input would be very good. If not, I'll aim to finish this in a few weeks. -- Zac Δ talk! 14:48, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

Submitted for review[edit]

Since the article is now complete I have submitted it for a FA review request -- Zac Δ talk! 11:29, 21 November 2011 (UTC)

Adding ref to Graham Hart[edit]

The comment which states "Ptolemy was concerned with defending astrology by defining its limits, explaining its rationale, and dismissing practices which lacked an obvious logic", is very close to one which appears on 'Ptolemy on Astrology' which is copyrighted to Graham Hart and the Department of History and Philosophy of Science of the University of Cambridge. See where the text states: "Ptolemy was concerned to defend astrology by defining its limits, compiling astrological data that he believed was reliable and dismissing practices (such as considering the numerological significance of names) that he believed to be without sound basis."

The comment was placed here as part of the original text that was copied over from the Ptolemy page when this page began. It has been on the Ptolemy page for a long time and it is difficult to know whether it was taken from Hart some years ago, or whether the short entry on Ptolemy on that site took its content from Wikipedia. It seems safest to assume the former, so I am going to add a refrence to that comment to attribute it to Hart. -- Zac Δ talk! 09:21, 26 November 2011 (UTC)

The wording is too close a paraphrase and might be regarded as plagiarism. Also, I am not sure about the appropriateness of this source. It is not a normal scholarly publication but a website, no longer updated, that seems to be aimed at undergraduate students. Authors contributing to the website have certainly published elsewhere, not necessarily on this topic though. Itsmejudith (talk) 08:56, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
To avoid controversy, I have removed that text and replaced it with commentary that is supported by references to Tester and Lehoux. -- Zac Δ talk! 17:41, 1 December 2011 (UTC)

Proclus' paraphrase[edit]

It appears to be important in the history of the text, since the 19th century translations are of this rather than than the book itself. Does it not merit a section? Itsmejudith (talk) 11:23, 1 December 2011 (UTC)

The section on Editions and translations explains the difference between the editions that are based on manuscripts of the Tetrabiblos and those based on the Paraphrase, which is of the same book but uses a simpler form of Greek. It also explains the history of the transmission and how the English versions preceding Robbins were all based on the Allatius edition of the Paraphrase, so I would say that this section covers all the relevant points sufficiently.-- Zac Δ talk! 17:48, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
I think the whole section needs reorganising under chronological headings. What is a "simpler form of Greek"? Can you clarify, because that wording is meaningless in linguistic terms? Does it perhaps mean Koine Greek? Itsmejudith (talk) 18:03, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
Many classical works have an abridgement in language suitable for the elementary classroom; sometimes sufficiently badly spelled and incoherent to suggest that it is not even the teacher's version, but a student's notes. We are merely fortunate that (unlike Apollodorus of Athens or Gaius Julius Hyginus) it has not displaced the original. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:24, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
@Itsmejudith. It is presently chronologically organised according to the main strands of transmission and I believe that this works best for an effective summary of the key points, which doesn't extend the length of the article considerably. With regard to the "simpler form of Greek" I have added some detail into footnote 127 which will hopefully make clearer that this is something peculiar to Ptolemy's precise but highly complex style of language. One of the comments Schmidt makes is that Ptolemy's ideal book would probably be written in only one sentence.-- Zac Δ talk! 19:57, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
Thank you for your explanation, Septentrionalis. It's clear that the existence of the Paraphrase is not occasioned by Ptolemy's dense style, but is a recognised phenomenon around many philosophical works. The solution then might be, instead of "simpler Greek", to say "simpler language"? What do you think, S? Itsmejudith (talk) 09:54, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
It is safer to leave it as "simpler Greek" because there was a simplification of the style of writing of manuscripts in Greek between the time of Ptolemy (although Ptolemy was particularly notable for the complexity of his sentence structure) and the Byzantine period. If you can get access, this is discussed fairly fully in Robert Hand's Introduction and Robert Schmidt's Preface to the Project HIndsight translation, vol. 1. -- Zac Δ talk! 10:59, 2 December 2011 (UTC)

I see this was changed, but to just say "simpler language" is not quite right. It's a paraphrase, and like all paraphrases it aims to present the same meaning in simpler terms. The reason this was done was because the conventions of Greek language were changed. Ptolemy's style was very complex because it was particular and precise. This was typical of his era although he is notable for being especially complex in the technical arrangement of components in his sentence structure. The paraphrase was produced centuries later when this style was no longer prevalent, to make the content more accesible to a broader audience. In the process some of the specific details were lost or simplified. I think the description "simpler language and style of expression" should cover this appropriately, so I'll add those four words to the text.

More importantly, the Paraphrase should not be treated as a seperate book, it is only treated as a particular edition of the work. There are basically three lines of transmission and none of these, by themselves, are considered authoritative:

  1. the paraphrase editions (long heritage but need cross-referencing because of simplification);
  2. the Latin translations based on Arabic translations. The Arabic translations are given credence because they are the oldest and close examination of particular details such as the table of terms show better support with reports of the work in other ancient manuscripts. As the article explains, the version of the final paragraph that is generally considered most reliable, agrees with this group of manuscripts. However, these need cross-reference because they are translations and details get lost in the translation process.
  3. the Greek manuscripts. These are given credence because they are not translated, nor paraphrased, but the Arabic translations predate them by about 400 years.

The critical editions utilise and compare all of these, as did Robbins, whereas the English translations of the Paraphrase are straightforward translations of that text alone. This is why the Robbins English translation of the Tetrabiblos is regarded as a more reliable edition of the text than the Ashmand translation, which utilises the Paraphrase. The proper place to discuss this is in the section for editions and translations. I'll re-group its introduction into that section where I'll add some more details and a reference to the Melanchthon edition. -- Zac Δ talk! 01:39, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

I've done that now. I hope this is seen as a satisfactory development of the edits that Itsmejudith made. I tried to keep a structure of segmenting the content, but it made more sense to explain which manuscripts were used as a basis for which printed editions. -- Zac Δ talk! 06:44, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

POV and in universe[edit]

These sentences from the FAC explain the tendentiousness of the present text:

Astrology is a controversial subject, and as a fringe topic the general attitude towards its presentation on WP is that it should not be treated with respect. The article aims to be objective and explains the topic as it was presented in the Tetrabiblos, according to the viewpoint of its author.

No, adopting Ptolemy's POV is adopting a POV; that's contrary to core policy. It might, with attribution to him, be reasonable in the sections which explicitly summarize him, but it is not so limited. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:28, 1 December 2011 (UTC)

If someone can find or produce a tag which makes the same point as {{in-universe}} but does not mention fiction, that would be preferable. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:41, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
Well, little surprises me anymore, but to place a tag on the article saying its neutrality is disputed, the onus fulls upon you to specify where in this article there is a lack of neutrality. Please do not return the tag to the article until you are able to do that and indicate where neutrality may be lost. The article explains the contents of the book - it does not support the reasoning but explains it objectively without prejudicial bias one way or the other. Note the text attached to reference 27 where the article reports criticism that Ptolemy's defence has been described as a misuse of his intelligence (whilst even neglecting the reports of other scholars which describe that to be an unsupportable argument, since it concurred with the understanding of physics as understood at that period of time). -- Zac Δ talk! 19:48, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
It's a very long article and I don't claim to have read every word, but based on what I have read I don't think that tag was generally appropriate (whether or not it mentions fiction). In its present form, the section of the article that outlines the text of the Tetrabiblos frequently contains phrases such as "Ptolemy begins by stating", "[The chapter] concludes with three additional assertions", "The next four chapters complete" etc. So in general it isn't "in-universe" at all, and doesn't adopt Ptolemy's POV (whatever was said in that discussion). If there are some sentences that are "in-universe", then they should be emended of course.
The article does extensively rely on a primary source -- the Tetrabiblos itself. But so long as we are outlining neutrally what a primary source says, that's OK. Andrew Dalby 20:04, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
I do not complain of the summary of the Tetrabiblos itself, although I have seen less in-universe articles on works of fiction get flack. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:10, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
No, it suffices that this article has been written from a POV; Zac's own declaration - an admirable piece of frankness - demonstrates that this article is eminently suitable for an astrological website, but unacceptable for Wikipedia.Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:11, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
I have looked at a number of FAs on books, mostly novels. They usually include a Plot summary, sourced to the book itself. The argument has been made that "a book is its own source". Often, this isn't a problem. Sometimes it is. I have some qualms about WP editors' capacity to summarise Victorian novels, for example, when critics have drawn attention to plot holes and inconsistencies, where one critic might attach great significance to a detail that another ignores. I see that the plot summary section in Hamlet (FA) has some sources other than the text itself, but it could perhaps have more. Therefore a summary of Tetrabiblos should be included here, but it should be shorter than at present. I would like to see the current section on editions developed, so that we tell the story of this text in distinct sections, from its ancient origins, through its medieval copying and translation, early modern printed editions and translations, 19th and 20th century editions. Itsmejudith (talk) 20:51, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
Sigh, One note, on "get thee to a nunnery." I have commended one standard source. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:15, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
@ Septentrionalis. I am not sure if you are deliberately trying to misinterpret my words, but I was clear enough in stating that the onus is on objectivity, and that in detailing what Ptolemy wrote in this book, the intention is to present it according to the author's viewpoint - by that I mean only this: that where reference is given to what Ptolemy wrote himself, the narrative should avoid any indication of support for, or prejudice against, his ideas. Please don't suggest that I implied anything else but that. Commentary that expresses anything related to the standing of the book, or opinions of its worth, influence or significance etc., must be attributed to secondary sources. That is what Wikipedia requires in stating that editors should maintain a neutral, unbiased point of view. -- Zac Δ talk! 21:20, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
No, I read what you said. You are now saying something different; what you are now saying is still debatable, but more venial. It begs the question by presuming that indicating that the subject is wrong must be prejudice; there are occasions where there is consensus the subject is simply wrong: see John Cleves Symmes, Jr., or Time Cube. I set aside the question whether judicial astrology is one of these for the moment. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:25, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
I find it difficult to follow the meaning of some of your comments, but I assume we are both working to the same plan here and in questions concerning whether the subject is wrong, we both understand that we are here to report what the sources report. So, moving on, ... -- Zac Δ talk! 22:20, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
  • My remaining issue at FAC directly relates to the interpretation derived from a primary source; the lack of secondaries of either expert professional (for contemporary within-belief-system) or scholarly (for historical) reception of sections, and weighting of sections. Section by section summaries running without weighting sources, conducted as a direct exegesis of a thousands of years old text is OR. This is strongly indicative of a general research problem of favouring the primary source for the article over secondary sources. I've not seriously or in depth looked at other potential sourcing issues without being prompted elsewhere to do so, because I see no point in proceeding to detailed FAC review of an article that appears to have been, and is sourced as if it has been, written as an original research exegesis of the subject of the article. I will be happy to review this article in future, and have no problem with the existence of professional sources detailing a current belief system and practice, and the competence of professionals of demonstrably high standing to have valid current belief system opinions of the exegesis and content of the text—I certainly strongly prefer the HPS literature to be exhausted for FAC purposes as part of the coverage issues. If I'm active when it comes back to FAC with the original exegesis stuff resolved, I'll be happy to give it a detailed review in one of my areas of competency. Perhaps spot-checks as spot check reviewers are hard to find, and it can hold up an otherwise successful nomination. Fifelfoo (talk) 20:15, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
  • This sounds to me like a very vague complaint concerning the sources. The summary I draw from it is that you have no problem with the use of competent professional sources, but you doubt they have been used here, but you don't know because you don't know the subject or its experts well enough. I am going to continue tackling the issues systematically, but those who review need to be aware of who the HPS experts are, and realise the authority of the sources that have been utilised. As for the balancing of their opinions, if you check the HPS literature, they are pretty unanimous in not being condemnationary of Ptolemy's work, and most scholarly evaluations of this work place their emphasis on how important and influential it has been, and in demonstrating that the text is an important one from a philosphical point of view, because it has a sense of logic when understood in its own perspective. When I come across criticisms I build them in, but they are few. I am not going to accept the criticism of OR unless instances are identified where an editor feels a point is not reliable or accurately summarised - because this is a substantially referenced report of the relevant details concerning the influence, content, and transmission of this text. It has recevived a great deal of attention and I continue to research the secondary sources, amending points as necessary. I am being asked to provide additional research on the background of the sources too. Where does the OR for a process like this begin and end? The point is that the article must present a reliable and non-controversial summary of relevant points, not any editor's own opinion that is drawn together in contradiction to, or without clear support from, the text itself or the reliable sources that have reported on it. The latter has not happened here. -- Zac Δ talk! 10:19, 7 December 2011 (UTC)


In addition, when a reader passes from Wikipedia to its claimed source, he should not be surprised by finding the source makes a quite different and more limited statement. The present text quotes Harold Robbins' introduction to the Loeb edition repeatedly; it invariably suppresses portions of the same sentence, and the supporting data, which show that Ptolemy was popular and widely used in the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:10, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
This is an unqualified remark. The one example where you suggested that this may have occured (in your review criticism) has been fully responded to. See the bottom section of this diff which holds my reply to you. If the source makes a different point from that of the article, this would be quite wrong - the text in the article would most certainly be in need of correction and I for one would be very keen to ensure this is done and appreciative of others working to ensure this too. -- Zac Δ talk! 21:36, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
  • the Tetrabiblos remains an important theoretical work for astrology, and is considered an indispensible source of reference for serious students of astrological philosophy.
    Unsupported either in the lead or in the text. In any case, philosophy is bloviation; the Tetrabiblos does not supply "philosophical" justifications, but quasi-Stoic physics.
[Cutting into the post of Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:24, 1 December 2011 (UTC), to answer this point directly]
Lede comments should not [do not need to] contain references because the lede should reproduce key comments from the main article text. This statement is made and supported in the text: "It is still regarded as an important astrological text, which is considered to be an indispensible reference for serious students of western astrology". This is referenced as follows:
Avelar and Ribeiro (2010) 'Annotated Bibliography' p.275: "This is an astrological classic and probably the most widely cited in the history of the art. It is one of the most important and influential works in the field of astrology ... without a doubt, indispensible for any serious student of astrology".
To qualify further, I will add another reference to Dane Rudhyar's Astrology of Personality, which states "The astrology which is in vogue today originated almost entirely in the work of the Alexandrian astrologer, Claudius Ptolemy: Tetrabiblos".
With regard to the use of the word "philosophical"; the reliable sources are against your opinion. This is also clarified in the main body of the text, and you should consult the references given to Tester and Lehoux (currently numbered 14 and 15). -- Zac Δ talk! 21:55, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
  • Ptolemy's philosophical defence of the subject helped to secure the theological acceptance of astrology from the Medieval period through to the Age of Reason,
    Unsourced in the lead, undiscussed in the text. Unlikely; a pagan astronomer is a poor theological defense against Augustine.
  • the Age of Reason, when practitioners of intrinsically occult studies were at risk of religious persecution.
    I trust this is merely a poorly placed qualifier. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:24, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
[Cutting into the post of Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:24, 1 December 2011 (UTC), to answer these points directly]
This is unsourced in the lede because it is summarising referenced information which discusses this matter quite substantially in the section Ptolemy's philosophical argument, in relation to the content and influence of chapter three. The directly relevant content begins with the comment
In chapter three Ptolemy argues that astrological prediction is both natural and beneficial. His reasons were to become pivotal in safeguarding the theological acceptance of astrology from the Medieval period through to the age of reason, when practitioners of intrinsically occult studies were at risk of religious persecution.[33]
The article text is directly relevant again 3 paragraphs down, beginning "Ptolemy's next argument was to avoid the criticisms that arise when the practice of prediction is seen to suggest fatal necessity...". This chapter presented the arguments by which Albertus and Aquinas were able to theologise Ptolemaic astrology so that it posed no threat to the doctrines of medieval Christianity. Richard Tarnas summarises the situation quite nicely in his Passion of the Western Mind so I will add a reference to that to qualify the point more clearly.-- Zac Δ talk! 23:15, 1 December 2011 (UTC)

All quotations from Robbins are cut and paste from the LacusCurtius copy; if necessary, a printed Loeb is around the corner from me:

  • Robbins says:
    A puzzling problem connected with the manuscripts of the Tetrabiblos concerns their ending. In one group the conclusion is entirely missing, and has either been left so33 or an ending supplied which is identical with that of Proclus' Paraphrase;34 in the other an ending appears which is considerably longer than the former, but which is precisely the same in its general content, and is to be found in the Arabic version of the Tetrabiblos.35 One thing is certain: the first of these endings is spurious. Of course it does not follow that the other is genuine; if it is not, however, the original ending of the book must have been lost so early that it is missing in all the manuscripts. This is a situation that not infrequently occurred in ancient times, especially when a book was from the first existent in the form of a codex, not a roll; yet I am not ready to concede it in this instance, for these reasons: (a) the ending shown in P could readily, from its language, have been written by Ptolemy himself;36 (b) the ending taken from the Paraphrase is obviously a summary of that found in P, and I cannot conceive how anyone (except perhaps Ptolemy) could have reversed the process and evolved the tortuous, crabbed Greek of the latter from the comparatively simple language of the former. Thus the ending found in P has the better claim to originality, and if it was not written by Ptolemy in the first place it is extremely difficult to explain how it came to be written at all in the form in which we find it. Since the question, however, is admittedly complicated, and not all the extant manuscripts could be studied in preparing this edition, both endings have been included in the text and translation.
    In other words, there is a problem; Robbins argues he has the solution; but he includes both texts for the student.
  • This becomes, in the article, sourced to Robbins alone:
    The original ending is thought to have been lost so early that it is missing from all manuscripts; a conditional Robbins considers and decides against.
[Cutting into the post of Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:46, 1 December 2011 (UTC), to answer this point directly]
Yes, you are right. When I read that, I must have missed the comment "if it is not, however, ...". I agree that needs correction and I'll take another look at it. Thank you for noticing that -- Zac Δ talk! 01:32, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
  • Robbins says
    • The importance and popularity of the Tetrabiblos is shown by the number of commentaries upon it which have been made. In antiquity, as we deduce from expressions used in writings still extant, a considerable number existed;26 the name of one commentator, Pancharios, survives, but none of his work except a few quotations.27 Three such treatises which did survive, however, were edited by Hieronymus Wolf and published with Latin translations in folio at Basel in 1559. These are (1) an anonymous commentary on the Tetrabiblos, attributed by some, as Wolf says, to Proclus; (2) an introduction to the Tetrabiblos, to which the name of Porphyry is attached, though its authorship is by no means certain; (3) the scholia of Demophilus. These have not been republished, but are to be found in a number of manuscripts. Of greater importance for the study of the Tetrabiblos is the Paraphrase attributed to Proclus, but which, of course, may not have been his at all. Since it follows the Tetrabiblos very closely, and since, as it happens, one manuscript of the Paraphrase is older than any of those of the Tetrabiblos, this document must be taken into consideration by any editor of the later work. The first and only edition of the Paraphrase, with a preface by Melanchthon, appeared at Basel in 1554,28 and the standard Latin version, from which at least two English translations have been made,29 is that of Leo Allatius (Elzevir, Leyden, 1635). Besides the Paraphrase and the ancient commentaries, the elaborate commentary by Hieronymus Cardanus, published in the sixteenth century, should also be mentioned.
  • The latest work mentioned here is from 1638; the latest commentary is Jerome Cardan's, from the century before. That is at least an implicit restriction on the topic sentence.
  • Nevertheless the first sentence is quoted without any indication of a reservation.Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:46, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
  • Similarly, Robbins says: Though the Tetrabiblos enjoyed almost the authority of a Bible among the astrological writers of a thousand years or more, its Greek text has been printed only three times, and not at all since the sixteenth century Note the tense; if this meant the 1800 years from Ptolemy to Robbins, it would be has enjoyed.
  • Nevertheless the first half of this is quoted as though there were no suggestion of a limitation. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:49, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
I thought I had answered this point fully in response to your review criticism. Perhaps I don't fully understand what your concern is? Let me try this again.
The use of the quote in the introductory section is only to demonstrate the notability of the book's influence, not define the period of influence, which is made self-evident in the section on 'Translations and editions'.
Though there is no deliberate suggestion of limitation, I find it hard to follow your point because surely the quote itself presents an emphasis on 1000 years, not 1800 years. If 1800 years were being suggested, it would be more natural to say "nearly 2000 years" than "a thousand years or more".
However, if you are trying to suggest that the influence of the book ended in the 16th century, that would be wrong. Robbins was only referring to the translations of the Tetrabiblos manuscript, in Greek, at the time he made his translation - and he was doing this to illustrate how many others had been translated into other languages or based on the Paraphrase. (In addition to his there has since been two more editions, based on manuscript edition in Greek, the last being Hubner's in 1998.)
Consider that Allatius didn't create his edition of the Paraphrase until the middle of the 17th century and how hugely influential this work was. It straightaway pumped up the astrological interest created by the 16th century translations of the manuscript, so that the most influential astrologers, like William Lilly were referring to it excitedly. This edition of the work contains simpler prose but is generally regarded as the same text: it gets published under the same name: Tetrabiblos or Quadripartitum. In English translations alone this resulted in two new editions in the 18th century and several in the 19th century. Then in the 20th century we get two new English translations: Robbins (1940) based on a collection of manuscripts, and Schmidt's, based on the Boll-Boer edition. There are now numerous digital editions freely available on the internet, and the work is constantly empoyed by astrologers, as demonstrated by the references in footnote 10. As a work which held intellectual attention the importance of the Tetrabiblos fell at the end of the 17th century with the collapse of the theoretical doctrines of astrology in astronomy. But it has never lost the attention of astrologers. Though I am still not sure I understand why you are hung on the reference to what Robbins wrote, I will try to write something into the 'General overview and influence' section to make these points more clearly. -- Zac Δ talk! 02:11, 2 December 2011 (UTC)

Boll and Boer editions[edit]

Note that Boll died in 1927. I am looking for the publication details of a 1940 edition, not currently finding them. After the war, Teubner was continued in both East and West, until reunification. I don't doubt that there were Leipzig editions in the 1950s, but some more details of them and library holdings would also be useful. Itsmejudith (talk) 21:27, 1 December 2011 (UTC)

No trace of it in WorldCat. I think this may be another unjustified reading of Robbins' language, which is not that he saw it too late to include, but that he hasn't seen it at all. The Huebner edition of 1998 is based on their work; the 1966 edition is a reprint of the 1931 4th edition, which is not likely to be meant. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:08, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
Copy and paste the following search term into Google:
Boll Boer Ptolemaei Leipzig 1940
-- Zac Δ talk! 23:22, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I did searches for that and other strings before posting. I saw that it is referred to, but what I don't see is any library holdings for that edition. It definitely exists or existed because Otto Neugebauer in 1948, cites "Claudii Ptolemaei opera quae extant omnia, vol. Ill, 1 Apotelesmatica, ed. F. Boll-Ae. Boer, Leipzig, Teubner, 1940." Emilie Boer has a biography on, which mentions her completion of Boll's translation in 1940 but gives no information on where she was working during the war. Between her doctorate of 1921 and 1954 when she was working at the (East) German Academy of Sciences in Berlin it says she was a "privatdozent" (I think essentially meaning an untenured university lecturer), and a librarian, but it doesn't say where. Of course Robbins in 1940 had no way of knowing what anyone in Nazi Germany was working on, unless perhaps through Neugebauer, who got out to the States in 1939. We should be careful with our wording and not make speculative implications. Itsmejudith (talk) 09:06, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
What "speculative implications" do you mean? I don't understand what your concern is/was - the text reported what Robbins wrote and published in 1940, so he was obviously aware of this work at that time; unless we draw a speculative assumption that for some unknown reason he was lying, but luckily got the facts right anyway -- Zac Δ talk! 09:58, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
Of course he wasn't lying. He says "we have been waiting for it since 1927". Did he know that Emilie Boer was about to publish? No. He didn't regret that he had to publish first. He regretted that he hadn't been able to get access to Boer's work or Boll's text. He couldn't correspond with Boer, he didn't even know if she was still alive and working. He couldn't get access the European libraries that held the manuscripts. It was 1940. Itsmejudith (talk) 10:32, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
Not utterly impossible; the United States was neutral in April 1940. But he had already gotten UMich to pay for manuscripts. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:46, 3 December 2011 (UTC)
Try looking in German libraries. According to the KVK there are several copies of the 1940 edition. Given the political situation at that time it is perhaps not surprizing that nearly no copies can be found outside of Germany. AstroLynx (talk) 10:36, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
So Judith - what is your point of concern?
The worldcat info on the 1940 edition is here. -- Zac Δ talk! 10:45, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
BTW, to avoid edit-conflicts, I want to point out that I'll be making a number of text/reference amendments to the section on 'General overview and influence' over the next hour. -- Zac Δ talk! 10:49, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the note about the edits. There are two things going on in this thread. 1) I would like to make sure we have complete publication details of the Boll-Boer text. Thanks for the suggestion about finding in German libraries. It doesn't seem to be in the German National Library. Does anyone know if there is a way to search across German university libraries similar to COPAC? Or should I try Heidelberg, Leipzig etc. individually? 2) How we summarise what Robbins says about his non-use of Boll and Boer's work. I changed the wording so that it reflects Robbins' words more accurately, without using the phrase "before Boer". He was not in a position to know whether Boer had already published (say in 1939), or whether she would ever publish the whole work or part of it, or anything at all. Itsmejudith (talk) 11:10, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
The easiest way to search in German libraries (as well as many other libraries) is by using the KVK link. Just flag all the libraries that you want to search (you can also include COPAC and Worldcat). AstroLynx (talk) 11:21, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
Does the worldcat link I gave in my last post, not give you what you need? (Just checking in case you missed that) -- Zac Δ talk! 11:48, 2 December 2011 (UTC)

No, but Vgent's link is the bee's knees and has found copies in many European countries. What is this text, though?

<blockquote?Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum. T.5, Pars 4 , Codicum Romanorum. Partem quartem / descripsit Stephanus Weinstock ; Accedit Porphyrii Philosophi introductio in Tetrabiblum Ptolemaei ab Aemilia Boer et Stephano Weinstock edita. Bruxellis : In Aedibus Acadamiae, 1940.

Held at University of Manchester. Itsmejudith (talk) 14:19, 2 December 2011 (UTC)

Not the Tetrabiblos, but CCAG - very important collection of ancient astrological texts and horoscopes, edited by Boll. For an easy outline see
Some, if not all of it, is available for download on the Cura site. -- Zac Δ talk! 14:35, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
Why does the title include "introductio in Tetrabiblum Ptolemaei"? Itsmejudith (talk)
As a title of Porphyry's treatise. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:05, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
Got it, thanks. So now, I think we need to mention Porphyry's treatise in the text. Perhaps in a short section on associated works. Also, do you think that a List of editions would be a suitable section? Itsmejudith (talk) 17:19, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
Porphyry's 'Introduction' is not about the content of the Tetrabiblos. It's a misnomer. It's content is actually quite different - more in line with the Astrological Compendium of Rhetorius. It got its title because it's a very simplified introduction to Hellenistic astrology; and since Ptolemy's work was expected to be read by those with at least some knowledge of the basic techniques, it acted as a sort of primer. One thing to bear in mind - Ptolemy's influence is pretty massive and his work influences endless others, through til the end of the Renaisance. There has to be a line drawn somewhere, and a focus on those that are most directly relevant. -- Zac Δ talk! 17:45, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
But there's no particular reason not to mention it, and Demophilus, next to Proclus' commentary; after all, Robbins does. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:23, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
I've added a comment to that now, in the scetion on the Commentary. -- Zac Δ talk! 06:41, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

Important source[edit]

Sachiko Kusukawa. 2003. The transformation of natural philosophy: the case of Philip Melanchthon. Cambridge University Press. Good scholarly source describing the Melanchthon-Camerarius correspondence on the Tetrabiblos. The interest of Melanchthon isn't something we can leave out of the article. Google Books preview misses out some key pages. Does someone have library access? Itsmejudith (talk) 10:27, 2 December 2011 (UTC)

Quote from Anthologia Palatina[edit]

Off-topic for this article. Consider including in Ptolemy, where the poem is briefly mentioned. Itsmejudith (talk) 11:00, 2 December 2011 (UTC)

Can we have other opinions? I can see your point but this quote gets used a lot alongside refs to Ptolemy as an astrologer - quite nice how it shows the more artistic side of someone whose astrological work is often assumed to be purely rational and physical.
I did think this would be a nice one to have at the end of the article though, so either way, will give thought to replacement. -- Zac Δ talk! 14:39, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
Is there a classicist (or anybody else who has read both works) who makes that association? It seems far more natural of descriptive astronomy, which tells of the paths of the stars. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:10, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
Yes, there is a clear statement of this being a demonstration of the sentiment that affects Ptolemy's authorship of the Tetrabiblos - made by George Luck in Arcana Mundi (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006) p.420, where he says in his introdiuction to the poem:
This short poem by Ptolemy sums up what might be called the religious feeling that here and there shines through in his technical handbook [see no.116]* It is not so much an awareness of the power that his craft gives him. It is not a feeling of humility in the face of the universe. It is a religious experience; by interpreting the will of the gods from the movements of the stars, Ptolemy feels that he is directly in touch with the gods.
It has been said that Kepler, the greatest astronomer and astrologer of the 17th century, died of malnutrition because he charged such modest fees that he could not pay the grover's bills. But in his work, too, one encounters a spirit of exaltation that transcends the worries of everyday life.
He then gives the poem.
No. 116 which is where Luck discusses the Tetrabiblos. -- Zac Δ talk! 15:58, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

Date of compilation[edit]

Surely this should be its own section, not part of the summary of the contents. Itsmejudith (talk) 14:14, 2 December 2011 (UTC)

Don't agree, because knowledge of the date of compilation has only been deduced by looking at the those introductory remarks in book I, so this is the best place to explain the details of that, (and the date of compilation is in fact mentioned a couple of times before this). -- Zac Δ talk! 14:27, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
No. Date of compilation is an important issue in scholarly study of a work like this. It should be pulled out of the summary of contents. Moreover, the text at the moment gives it as one of "three significant facts" revealed by the introductory remarks. What is the source for the idea that there are these three facts, and not two or five facts? Such interpretations need to be supported by scholarly commentary. Itsmejudith (talk) 14:34, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, but I simply don't agree that it makes sense to move it from where it is explained by reference to the book contents. This is where the reader will understand this and the related points better. And BTW, I know what scholarly means, and what scholarly publications are. I also know that, in presenting information to a reader, it helps to put facts into a context where the points are more easily understood. -- Zac Δ talk! 14:50, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
Re your latter point - only if it what is presented is not accurate or accused of being controversial/unreliable. Can you make a case that one of those facts is not relevant, or that another relavent fact has been ommitted? -- Zac Δ talk! 14:53, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, the onus is on the editor who wants to include something to show that it is sourced. Itsmejudith (talk) 15:34, 2 December 2011 (UTC)

I have amended that passage to remove your concern. Additionally, if you feel strongly that the report of the date should be moved into its own section, I will not object. I believe I have addressed all the points you have raised. Please specify if this is not the case. -- Zac Δ talk! 12:34, 5 December 2011 (UTC)


A book chapter should carry the name of the chapter author as the inline reference. Both the chapter and the book should be in the list of works cited. I was reverted trying to correct this, although I don't know how to use the template system and am not in a great hurry to learn as it seems to be inflexible. Could this be checked throughout, please. Itsmejudith (talk) 17:34, 2 December 2011 (UTC)

The templates aren't mandatory. You can cut and paste the text of the bibliography, as plain text, as long as you put in the right formatting. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:12, 2 December 2011 (UTC)
I am concerned about some of the format changes which are made but not then applied consistently throughout the article. The references did carry the name of the chapter author, and the reference link to Jones as the book's author is necessary for the full publication details. I've returned the links but left these two references in the format they were changed to, to avoid minor quibbles. Itsmejudith please keep in mind that this article has already been carefully checked for format consistancy. If you introduce changes now, the whole article has to be worked over again to make sure those changes are applied throughout. This thread on the Featured article discussion page is currently making points about this, and the arguments about consistency taking precedence and maintaining the style created by the first major contributor. -- Zac Δ talk! 03:53, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
I will ask Fifelfoo to help with it. Itsmejudith (talk) 12:56, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
I have not looked at the article in detail, but I'm reminded of the WP Manual of style which, in its lead, says

"Where more than one style is acceptable, editors should not change an article from one of those styles to another without a substantial reason. Revert-warring over optional styles is unacceptable. If discussion cannot determine which style to use in an article, defer to the style used by the first major contributor."

Citations for chapters within a compilation use the name of the author of the chapter, not the editor of the whole book (although the editor's name should also be included with "Ed." qualifier). I'm not aware of a WP guideline that requires double quotes for chapter/article names, but I might be wrong. Thus, if the article is already using single quotes for article/chapter names, then that should be retained unless a WP guideline requires otherwise. --Noleander (talk) 14:55, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
But distinguishing between books and chapters/articles by italics against quotes is a useful and widely understood convention; enough reason to introduce it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:45, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

Book headings[edit]

I don't think the reduction of the book headings works. These are major sections of content so I believe each should have a main heading. I'll turn them back but if there is a strong consensus that they are better as minor headings then I will not have an objection. -- Zac Δ talk! 04:58, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

Emboldening in first sentence[edit]

I checked the MOS on this before changing it so that only the word Tetrabiblos is emboldened. My understanding is that this should only be done for the word that acts as the name of the page - not for any alternative titles as well. -- Zac Δ talk! 05:08, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

Dunno where you got that. WP:MOSBOLDSYN is the guideline and the example given is

Sodium hydroxide (NaOH), also known as lye and caustic soda, is ...

See Talk:1948 Arab-Israeli War for how bad this stuff can get. Itsmejudith (talk) 22:15, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
Agreed - you are right. I did check this myself the other day and the reason I was confused was because I read this comment:
Most commonly, the article's subject is stated as early as possible in the first sentence, and placed in boldface ... Only the first occurrence of this word or term is placed in boldface.
I was looking specifically to check that point, and thought that had answered my question. That's why I was confused when you changed it back again. -- Zac Δ talk! 22:42, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

Any unresolved issues?[edit]

Are there any queries or issues that haven't been addressed now? -- Zac Δ talk! 12:36, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

I've just posted on RSN about use of Houlding, please comment there. Also the following: check reliability and appropriate use of all references, structure of article (some improvements but I would like to see the Content heading back, and all the content shortened), expert attention (at least alert editors expert in ancient Greece, Islamic science, History of science), check all referencing technically correct, use of double rather than single quotes, reduce or eliminate notes in Footnotes, spelling, grammar, style. Itsmejudith (talk) 12:52, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
Re the typographical conventions/spelling/grammer. I'm keen that everything is correct and consistent, so am checking the points - see the new discussion I'm starting below on 'Typographical conventions' -- Zac Δ talk! 14:47, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
I see that you have been answered, but since you were already answered on this point anyway, maybe you have some questions to answer yourself. Is there an actual reason why you ask if Houlding could be accused of plagiarism? Either you have something to present to support that suggestion, or it seems you are now desperately searching for anything you can find to obstruct the resolution of issues that could lead to the approval of this article. -- Zac Δ talk! 14:47, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
Not is Houlding plagiarising anyone but are we plagiarising Houlding? Happy to clarify. Itsmejudith (talk) 15:59, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
How could we be? She's well cited. Plagiarizing is using the ideas without giving credit. Houlding is credited in 10 footnotes, by my count. Yworo (talk) 16:16, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
Is our phrasing too close to the original? That is unacknowledged citation and therefore plagiarism. Itsmejudith (talk) 16:24, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
Do you mean where she is cited, or somewhere else in the article? Obviously, an exact quotation without quotation marks is copyright violation. Reporting what she has written with a citation seems to be what's been done here. My only question would be, should she be explicitly mentioned where her work is used, rather than just footnoting. Yworo (talk) 16:37, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
Both where she is cited and where not. Too close phrasing is a common error and is usually inadvertent. Itsmejudith (talk) 16:54, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
Ah, I guess only the editor who originally added the material would know where he or she might have done that in order to rectify it. Without a massive effort, I mean. Yworo (talk) 16:55, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

(unindent) Well I compared the text we source to Houlding 2006 with the original, to check for such problems.

  • Wikipedia

A commentary on the Centiloquium was written in the tenth century by Ahmad ibn Yusuf al-Misri, and at least four Latin translations were made of this in the 12th century.

Cutting in to IMJ's comment
This comment is not referenced to Houlding, but to Schlomo Sela (ref 146). It's wrong though, should say 9th century not 10th. -- Zac Δ talk! 21:44, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
I see the problem here, but not why the question is related to Houlding. This text on the Centiloquium is some of the oldest text in this article. The originating editor who created this page copied some of the key points over from the content on the WP page on the Centiloquium (given here as a "see further" link). It is stated there that the text was written in the tenth century (Sela and Houlding agree in saying the 9th century). This doesn't require an inquest about plagiarism. An editor on the other page made a mistake and someone copied it over on to this page. WP is a collaborative effort - now it has been spotted that this text says 10th whereas Sela says 9th, I'll change that word on this page and the Centiloquium page. -- Zac Δ talk! 21:54, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
I've changed both pages to say ninth century, because this is what Sela states. My own opinion is that there could be some general confusion on this, since the Centiloquium page said 'early 10th century' and given that Ahmad ibn Yusuf lived until 912 the dating of the text could be speculated on his lifetime (the years of publications for texts of this period are rarely known precisely).
  • Houlding

Whatever the case, the substantial historical heritage of this text makes it an important astrological treatise in its own right. It contains astrological aphorisms pertaining to natal, electional, horary, mundane, general predictive and synastry technique, many of which have seeped through into traditional lore and practice. It has been referred to as "one of the most influential texts in astrology's history".[1]

The earliest source we currently know of which demonstrates the importance of this text and the belief that it originated from Ptolemy's work can be traced to the 9th century. Ahmed ibn Yusuf al-Misri (born 835 in Baghdad; died 912 in Cairo) is known to have written a commentary on 'Ptolemy's Centriloquium' along with other important astrological and astronomical works. These works survive and historians are confident they are authentic.[2]

At least four Latin translations of this work were made in the 12th century, including one by Johannes Hispanensis in 1136 and one by Plato Tiburtinus in 1138. In 1493 the latter was published in manuscript form (originally in Venice) and thenceforth editions of the Centiloquium were circulated freely, tucked to the end of Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos as an appendix and referred to as 'The Fruit of his Four Books'.

"Tenth century" is an editor miscopying or misunderstanding from the source. The last words are too close to Houlding's wording; that is the kind of thing I meant. The words also probably misrepresent Houlding's meaning, since by "this work" she seems to means the Centriloquium and not al-Misri's commentary on it.

Cutting in to IMJ's comment
It is Ahmad ibn Yusuf al-Misri and there are not two texts to get confused between - just the one work. He wrote a commentary on the Centiloquium - this lists the 100 aphorisms and it is what is meant when authors talk about him possibly being the true author of the Centiloquium.

Tracing back, there some further difficulties with this self-published web resource. Footnote 1 is to a footnote in a chapter in a book by an astrologer John Frawley, reproduced on her website. Her footnote 2 is to a history of maths web resource hosted at University of St Andrews.

  • The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive

We know of a work by Ahmed on ratio and proportion, a book On similar arcs, a commentary on Ptolemy's Centiloquium and a book about the astrolabe. All these works have survived and historians are confident that they are indeed the work of Ahmed, but several other works which some claim to be due to him are probably by other authors.

First, the works could be mathematical and astronomical by their titles, not astrological. Second, the authors note some authentic and some inauthentic works, while Houlding implies that all extant works are authentic.

I'm afraid that the whole article will need to be checked against sources in this way. Itsmejudith (talk) 17:58, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

Right. The C9/C10 error, which perhaps historians will never know anyway, because it's a guess on the probably dates of a long-dead scholar, was in the half of the sentence sourced to Sela rather than Houlding. The second half of the sentence plagiarises Houlding. My other points I hope show only one thing. WE SHOULD BE VERY CAREFUL AND TREBLE-CHECK EVERYTHING. Working with centuries-old documents isn't rocket science. It's a lot harder than that. Itsmejudith (talk) 22:20, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

She has three attributions in a short passage of text, so I think the worry of plagiarising her over half a sentence is quite low and best fixed by an extra ref or a little rewrite. I favour the latter and will take another look at that Centiloquium text and see if I can find another source for some comments. It looks to me like there are bigger faults on the Centiloquium main page, because that gives references to comments that are not present in the sources given there - but I don't want to get too involved in another article right now.

I find it quite difficult to relate to some of the points you make about whether the references in Houlding's article need closer examination, (I don't understand what your points are supposed to imply and I'm not sure it's a good use of time to go further into them). The citation to what another well known contemporary astrologer has said, in his well known and widely influential book, is not a reason to question her as a source to be referenced; it is relevant for showing how the text has, and still possesses, recognition as an astrological text. It seems to me that it might be better to follow her reference and give the citation directly to him.

Re formatting - I don't mind going over everything, but I want to make sure that everything is correctly formatted and consistent. I might get some advice on a couple of points first, just to double check, and then put some article convention guidelines onto this talk-page. -- Zac Δ talk! 00:28, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

I have commented on this at Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard#Specific astrology sourcing. The term plagiarism is being misused in this discussion. Houlding is properly cited: she is not being plagiarised. Andrew Dalby 10:36, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

Typographical conventions[edit]

If there are any concerns about typographical conventions (in addition to those made up until now) can they be put into this section. I hope others will add anything that helps the page retain internal consistency. The conventions currently in place in this article are:

  • Grammar and spelling
Article uses English language spelling
(The word 'skeptic' is spelt with a k because this appears to be correct for the ancient philosophy referred to, rather than the modern attitude. If anyone knows differently please clarify)
Puntuation follows British style logical quotation (end-quotes placed inside full stops unless logic dictates otherwise).
  • Book titles
Where references to the book are given in Greek, Latin or Arabic, with an accompanying English translation, the style used is:
Transliterated title in italics + polytonic Greek brackets + English meaning in single quotes;
Transliterated title (polytonic Greek) 'English meaning'
Tetrabiblos (Τετράβιβλος) 'four books'
For other languages like Latin that need no transliteration, the format applied is:
Latin title in italics + English title in single quotes;
Translated title 'English meaning'
Quadripartitum 'four parts'.
(For use of single quotes here see Scare_quotes#In_linguistics)
  • Other uses of single/double quotes
Double quotes are used for quotations. Single quotes are used in footnotes to denote article or chapter titles, with double quotes used to indicate quotes (as usual); which gives this effect:
Tetrabiblos (Robbins ed. 1940) 'Introduction' p.xxiii: "My collations have been made against Camerarius’ second edition, because thus far this has been the standard text and it was most convenient".
  • Citations
I am changing the references to journal papers to follow the format:
Author, Year. "Title", Journal, volume number, page range. Place of publication: publisher. ISSN no.
Riley, Mark, 1988. "Science and Tradition in the Tetrabiblos", Proceedings of the American Philolosophical Society; vol. 132, no. 1, pp.67–84. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society. ISSN 0003-049X.

Query on correct way to reference chapters in books that present a collection of papers

Can anyone advise on the situation where books are used that present a collection of papers for chapters. Is the acknowledgment given to the main book author/editor first, or the chapter editor? For example, ref 35, in the last sentence of Introductory address and date of compilation, references the authors of the book first, and then indicates the author of the chapter used in reference. Like this:

Berggren and Goldstein (1987) 'From Ancient Omens to Statistical Mechanics' by N. T. Hamilton and N. M. Swerdlow, p.3–13.

The citation template points the hyperlink to this information in the 'Works cited' section:

Berggren, J. L. and Goldstein, B. R., (eds.) 1987. From Ancient Omens to Statistical Mechanics: Essays on the Exact Sciences presented to Asger Aaboe, Volume 39 . Copenhagen: University Library. ISBN 9788777090028.

Is that incorrect? This affects the formatting of the references to paper's presented as chapters in Alexander Jones' "Ptolemy in Perpective", where it's been said that it is wrong to acknowledge Jones first. I can see the arguments but want to make sure this is correctly applied in all instances. The format proposed for that is:

Stephan Heilen. 'Ptolemy's Doctrine of the Terms and its Reception'. In Jones (2010), p.45.

Is this correct? If so, should it be applied to ref 35 so we are acknowledging Hamilton and Swerdlow first, not Berggren and Goldstein? -- Zac Δ talk! 15:37, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

If the reference is to a chapter "Im a Chapter" written by author "Chap Writer", in book "Big Book" edited by "Nice Editor", then one common layout for the cite looks like:
  • Writer, Chap, "Im a Chapter", in Big Book, Nice Editor (Ed.), Oxford, 2006.
Other layouts are also permitted. WP:CITE says "Citations for individually authored chapters in books typically include the name of the author, the title of the chapter, the name of the book's editor, and the name of the book and other details as above." The important thing is to make sure the reader does not think the source material was written by Nice Editor. --15:47, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

Very helpful - thanks a lot (and to others who commented elsewhere). I'm going to work on the typos first and then try and make sure all remaining criticisms regarding content specified in the reviews and on this page get some kind of attention (that may be tomorrow now). -- Zac Δ talk! 16:30, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

punctuation in sources[edit]

I notice that two citations are missing a parenthesis:

  • Houlding, Deborah, 1993. "The Life and Work of Ptolemy", Traditional Astrologer; Issue 1. Nottingham: Ascella. Reproduced on Skyscript (retrieved 16 November 2011.
  • Houlding, Deborah, 2006. "Ptolemy's Centiloquium transcribed and annotated" (based on Henry Coley's English translation, published as chapter 20 of his Clavis Astrologiae Elimata; London, B. Tooke and T. Sawbridge, 1676. OCLC 4731519. Reproduced on Skyscript (retrieved 16 November 2011).

It may be wise to review all the cites for formatting and punctuation. --Noleander (talk) 18:06, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

HI, I'm in the process of that - started yesterday but only got so far through it. I'll finish it today and then leave a note when it's done.-- Zac Δ talk! 10:21, 7 December 2011 (UTC)
I've finished the overhaul of formatting issues, so hopefully there are no more. I wanted to get that out of the way because it's not a job I enjoy. I will next pick up on some of the text criticisms that haven't been fully addressed yet.
With regard to the sourcing of comments and whether the closeness of some paraphrased comments might cause plagiarism concerns, I've placed a notice to get more feedback on the Reliable sources noticeboard. -- Zac Δ talk! 18:58, 7 December 2011 (UTC)

Editions and transmissions / Associated texts[edit]

In response to suggestions I have overhauled the section on Editions and associated texts which starts here.

I have re-written the section on the Centiloquium, recategorised and developed the other passages; extended the content, built in additional references, named the authors of the sources most used, and checked that every comment is well sourced and reliable.

If anyone has any thoughts or criticisms please specify as there is nothing outstanding that I have planned for this section otherwise. -- Zac Δ talk! 00:32, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

Table in section on Book 4[edit]

It would be better to summarise in prose than introduce this table, which isn't in the original. Unless an author has already presented such a table in which case that author has to be credited. Itsmejudith (talk) 10:04, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

The credited author is Ptolemy, the credited translator is Robbins. There is nothing listed in the table that cannot be seen to be reliable and non-controversial by reference to the Robbins edition which is cited. It is not against WP policy to give reliable summary, and tabulating the information gives a more efficient presentation of the concepts covered than if the text were reproduced in prose. This is frequently done - for example, information on ancient records of constellations tabulate information which is not presented in that style in the original works. -- Zac Δ talk! 10:57, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
Yes I saw the information was cited to Ptolemy. You know I think all the content sections should be radically shortened. I take it you are sure that no other writer has produced such a table? I have been involved in interminable discussion on a different page (Evolutionary psychology) where one editor wishes to keep a number of tables that the rest of us consider OS. This one isn't as bad as that. I don't know which articles on ancient records on constellations you refer to, and would like to see in case they indicate a precedent. I was involved in the post-translation clean-up of SN 1054 and I suppose some of the information there could potentially go into a table, but there has been no suggestion to do that. Itsmejudith (talk) 11:09, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
I have to go out but will answer later or tomorrow. In the meantime, what do you mean by "OS"? -- Zac Δ talk! 11:29, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, jargon. Original synthesis. WP:SYNTH. Sometimes it's OK for Wikipedia editors to compile material into a table. But actually not very often. I am struggling to think of circumstances when it is a good plan; perhaps in some science articles. To tabulate material is to alter it quite substantially, to suggest connections by juxtaposition, to present an ordering that the original author(s) chose not to present. Itsmejudith (talk) 00:07, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
Well you know my view already on this - WP:SYNTH is to "combine material from multiple sources to reach or imply a conclusion not explicitly stated by any of the sources", which is definitively not what has been done here. Equally, there is no juxtaposition because the information has one clear source and can be verified by the reference given. Tabulating non-controversial information allows an effective summary of key points, which would otherwise take up a lot of space to present in prose, and still not convey those ideas as effectively. With regard to the use of summary generally the explanation in WP:SYNTHNOT is clear:
SYNTH is not summary
SYNTH is when two or more reliably-sourced statements are combined to produce a new thesis that isn't verifiable from the sources. It's likely that none of the sources summarize exactly the same set of information. But if it's an accurate, neutral summary, then it's verified by the sources for the statements being summarized. Summary is not forbidden by any Wikipedia policy. On the contrary, "coming up with summary statements for difficult, involved problems" has been described as "the essence of the NPOV process".
Therefore, on the matter of SYNTH, or the suggestion of WP:OR (publication of material for which no reliable, published source exists) if there is an argument that any of the material presented does not reliably summarise or explain what is given in the source, the point of concern should be clearly explained so it can be looked at critically. For the content of the book, I am planning to include more references to other secondary sources. However, Robbins' work is itself a secondary translated source that has made reference to many manuscript editions, so it presents a reliable source of reference for what the text says.
In regard to the use of tables - this is far more generally employed than you suggest. For example, on the Zodiac page, both of the tables present summarised information which is not reliably sourced, nor found in that format in any published source. It is non-controversial because the tabulated summary is not contested - the same occurs on every info-box. Tables are useful and - like diagrams - have their place in WP content. -- Zac Δ talk! 14:18, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
I find the Zodiac tables less problematic. And it may be precisely because astrological ideas have so often been tabulated that the tabulation applied here to Ptolemy seems unwarranted. It tends to the assertion of continuity over time that astrologers find in the history, but non-astrologers may contest. OK, it's not SYNTH in that it doesn't combine sources. Very pleased you are looking for further secondary sources that summarise the content. My take on Robbins is that all of his editorial comments and annotations equate to a reliable secondary source, but the text itself, where just translated and not annotated, is a primary source. Itsmejudith (talk) 19:29, 14 December 2011 (UTC)

A note on FAC[edit]

Their present convention is that if an article does not receive immediate consensus to promote, it is "not promoted", so that FAC can consider other articles without a backlog of articles under discussion. A new nomination, when the present discussions are settled, is perfectly in order, although, unless it receive active support from those who opposed the last one, a wait of a few months is often appropriate; non-promotion is not rejection. But I have renominated an article myself immediately, after working over the few technical issues which had defeated it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:52, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for the note on this Septentrionalis and for coming back to comment. My own thinking is to work through the issues that have already been raised and to try to find ways (if possible) to satisfy any point of criticism that was raised in the FA review request. Hopefully amendments can be made which will resolve all significant concerns. I would prefer to take whatever time is necessary and make the next step some other kind of peer-review process. As part of that, gaining the approval of previous critical reviewers is clearly an objective. I am currently trying to find more secondary sources that overview the book's content, which is not so easy because most repeat certain points on well known passages but don't discuss much of the book's content. I'll do what I can on this and then work over that narrative to see how it can be reduced without cutting it back to a point where an overview is incomplete. Other points they won't be ignored, although I have set some aside for now so I can work through this systematically. -- Zac Δ talk! 13:41, 14 December 2011 (UTC)