First translation into English. The first two books of this compendium are devoted to natal astrology and basically summarize the entirety of Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos, supplementing it with material drawn from Dorotheus and other astrologers who writings are no longer extant. The third book treats of katarchic astrology (a collective term for horary, electional & event astrology) with extensive excerpts from the fifth book of Dorotheus' Pentateuch (only surviving in Arabic translation) and other lost treatises.
Book I is structured as a summary of Books I & II of the Tetrabiblos, although in its discussion of the "Ptolemaic" bounds it often has very different planet and degree assignments than those found in the Tetrabiblos manuscripts themselves. In addition, it contains highly interesting delineations of the decans, a section on astrological terminology partially derived from the Thesaurus of Antiochus. In the course of his exposition of "universal" astrology in the manner of Ptolemy, Hephaistio also includes a long excerpt from Nechepso/Petosiris dealing with eclipse delineations, as well a treatment of mundane predictions associated with the heliacal rising of Sirius, the beginning of the Sothic year.
Book II concentrates on natal astrology, covering the same topics as Ptolemy did in Books III & IV, often with paraphrase or direct quotation. In certain cases his text of the Tetrabiblos seems to have been different than the received text, resulting in subtly different methods for investigating the various topics. Here again, Hephaistio appends the opinions of Dorotheus and other astrologers regarding these same natal topics. For instance, there is extensive material from other astrologers on the issue of the conception chart and rectification. Again, we see how the early commentators such as Pancharios and Porphyry were struggling to interpret Ptolemy's enigmatical treatment of life expectancy, leading to their introduction of a system of house division similar to that now associated with Alchabitius. Hephaistio also exemplifies his exposition of the topic of rank and honor in a very detailed manner with three charts drawn from a collection assembled by Antigonus of Nicaea (one of which is evidently the chart of the emperor Hadrian). Finally, after presenting Ptolemy's own system of time-lords and contrasting this with a similar procedure of Dorotheus, he has an important discussion of the ruler of the year, month & day, as well as an exposition of the time-lord procedure later called "decennials," including detailed delineations of the planets when they are established as time-lords in this system.
Book III deals with katarchic astrology, what we would call electional or event astrology. Horary seems to be missing, and indeed it is not clear whether the Hellenistic astrologers did horary astrology at all. This is the single most important text for this branch of Hellenistic astrology, because even though Dorotheus dealt with the subject at length in the fifth book of his Pentateuch, this material only survives in an Arabian translation from a Persian intermediary. Hephaistio has copious quotations directly from Dorotheus in verse, as well as the contributions of numerous other authors. Hephaistio's treatment contains an extensive general introduction to elections of any type, and a large variety of special electional subjects. TOP