Debating the Stars in the Italian Renaissance

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinatricem and Its Reception

Author: Ovanes Akopyan
In Debating the Stars, Ovanes Akopyan sheds new light on the astrological controversies that arose in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries after the publication of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinatricem (1496). This treatise has often been held responsible for a contemporary reassessment of the status of astrology, a discipline that attracted widespread fascination in the Renaissance. Akopyan’s reconstruction of the development of Pico’s views demonstrates that the Disputationes was a continuation of rather than a drastic rupture with the rest of his legacy. By investigating the philosophical and humanist foundations for Pico’s attack on astrological predictions, Akopyan challenges the popular assumption that the treatise was written under Girolamo Savonarola’s spell. He shows instead how it was appropriated ideologically by pro-Savonarolan circles after Pico’s death.
This book also offers a comprehensive study of the immediate reception of the Disputationes across Italy and Europe and reveals that the debates initiated by Pico’s intervention pervaded all of the European intellectual oikumene.

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Ovanes Akopyan, Ph.D., is a research fellow at the University of Innsbruck.

Part 1: Before the Disputationes

1 Scientia naturalis, Kabbalah and Celestial Spheres: Giovanni Pico della Mirandola on Astrology (1486–1493)
 1 Introduction
 2 The Commento alla Canzone d’amore
 3 The Trilogy
 4 The Heptaplus and the Expositiones in Psalmos

Part 2: The Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinatricem

2 Introductory Remarks
 1 Text and Its Structure
 2 Edition and Authorship

3 Reading Texts: Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and His Sources

4 Me quoque adolescentem olim fallebat: Giovanni Pico della Mirandola versus Prisca theologia
 1 Introduction
 2 Prisca theologia in Giovanni Pico’s Writings before the Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinatricem
 3 On the Origin of Astrology: Giovanni Pico della Mirandola Versus Prisca theologia
 4 Conclusion

5 ‘Princeps aliorum’ and His Followers: Giovanni Pico della Mirandola on the ‘Astrological Tradition’ in the Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinatricem
 1 Introduction
 2 The Use of Astrological Techniques and Its Controversies
 3 Pseudo-Ptolemy’s Centiloquium in the Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinatricem
 4 The Great Conjunctions, Abu Ma‘shar and ‘Other’ Astrologers
 5 Medieval Christian Astrologers and the Problem of Religion in the Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinatricem
 6 Conclusion

6 Back to Aristotle? Natural Philosophy in the Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinatricem

Part 3: The Disputationes: Pro et contra

7 Ideological Appropriation of Giovanni Pico’s Disputationes: Girolamo Savonarola and his Contro gli astrologi

8 Praenotio, Prisca haeresis and Astrology: Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola Between Savonarola and Giovanni Pico
 1 Introduction
 2 The De rerum praenotione and the Quaestio de falsitate astrologiae: Praenotio Versus Prophetia
 3 The Controversial Use of (Anti-)Astrological Authorities in the De rerum praenotione
 4 Prisca theologia as prisca haeresis
 5 Aristotle and Natural Philosophical Arguments Against Astrology
 6 Conclusion

9 With ‘Latins’ Against ‘Latin Vice’: Maximus the Greek on Astrology

10 Lucio Bellanti and the Return to ‘Christian Astrology’

11 Poet, Astrologer, Courtier: Giovanni Gioviano Pontano versus Giovanni Pico della Mirandola

12 Astrology in Francesco Zorzi’s De harmonia mundi: A Response to Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s Disputationes adversus astrologiam?

13 Conclusion

 Primary Sources
 Secondary Literature
All interested in the history of Renaissance astrology/astronomy, science and humanism, as well as in Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s thought and its reception across Europe. Keywords: Renaissance astrology and magic, early modern cosmology, Renaissance humanism, Renaissance astronomy, Ptolemy in the Renaissance, Aristotle in the Renaissance, Renaissance Platonism, Marsilio Ficino, Girolamo Savonarola, Maximus the Greek.