Cardano’s Cosmos: The Worlds and Works of a Renaissance Astrologer

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Cardano’s Cosmos: The Worlds and Works of a Renaissance Astrologer by Anthony Grafton

Synopsis: Girolamo Cardano was an Italian doctor, natural philosopher, and mathematician who became a best-selling author in Renaissance Europe. He was also a leading astrologer of his day, whose predictions won him access to some of the most powerful people in sixteenth-century Europe. In Cardano’s Cosmos, Anthony Grafton invites readers to follow this astrologer’s extraordinary career and explore the art and discipline of astrology in the hands of a brilliant practitioner.

Renaissance astrologers predicted everything from the course of the future of humankind to the risks of a single investment, or even the weather. They analyzed the bodies and characters of countless clients, from rulers to criminals, and enjoyed widespread respect and patronage. This book traces Cardano’s contentious career from his first astrological pamphlet through his rise to high-level consulting and his remarkable autobiographical works. Delving into astrological principles and practices, Grafton shows how Cardano and his contemporaries adapted the ancient art for publication and marketing in a new era of print media and changing science. He maps the context of market and human forces that shaped Cardano’s practices—and the maneuvering that kept him at the top of a world rife with patronage, politics, and vengeful rivals.

Cardano’s astrology, argues Grafton, was a profoundly empirical and highly influential art, one that was integral to the attempts of sixteenth-century scholars to understand their universe and themselves.

Published: November 2001 | ISBN: 9780674006706

Mini-bio: Anthony Grafton is one of the foremost historians of early modern Europe and the current Henry Putnam University Professor at Princeton University. He is also a corresponding fellow of the British Academy and a recipient of the Balzan Prize. Wikipedia

Author’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/scaliger

One thing that I plug mercilessly on my blog is the fact that the so-called occult sciences, astrology, alchemy and natural magic, played a very significant role in the evolution of the sciences over the centuries and anybody who really wants to understand that historical evolution ignores them at his or her own peril. One of my very favourite Renaissance figures is Gerolamo Cardano, mathematician, physician, astronomer, astrologer, philosopher, gambler and many other things as well. One of my favourite historians of the Renaissance is the incomparable Anthony Grafton all of whose books are a real pleasure to read; he is a superb writer who wears his scholarship lightly. So it is almost inevitable that one of my recommendations is Grafton’s Cardano’s Cosmos: The Worlds and Works of a Renaissance Astrologer. It’s excellent, read it! If you are into entertaining books on obscure topics then I heartily recommend Grafton’s The Footnote: A curious History, every academic author should have a copy on his or her bookshelf. – From 10 Great Books on the History of (European) Science

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