Page 70 by a peculiar Motion do portend things to come, and instead of Jupiters, do declare to Men before-hand the good-will of the Gods; whereas the other Stars (not being of the number of the Planets) have a constant ordinary motion. Future Events (they say) are pointed at sometimes by their Rising, and sometimes by their Setting, and at other times by their Colour, as may be experienc'd by those that will diligently observe it; sometimes foreshewing Hurricanes, at other times Tempestuous Rains, and then again exceeding Droughts. By these, they say, are often portended the appearance of Comets, Eclipses of the Sun and Moon, Earthquakes and all other the various Changes and remarkable effects in the Air, boding good and bad, not only to Nations in general, but to Kings and Private Persons in particular. Under the Course of these Planets, they say are Thirty Stars, which they call Counselling Gods, half of whom observe what is done under the Earth, and the other half take notice of the actions of Men upon the Earth, and what is transacted in the Heavens. Once every Ten Days space (they say) one of the highest Order of these Stars descends to them that are of the lowest, like a Messenger sent from them above; and then again another ascends from those below to them above, and that this is their constant natural motion to continue for ever. The chief of these Gods, they say, are Twelve in number, to each of which they attribute a Month, and one Sign of the Twelve in the Zodiack.
Through these Twelve Signs the Sun, Moon, and the other Five Planets run their Course. The Sun in a Years time, and the Moon in the space of a Month.
To every of the Planets they assign their own proper Courses, which are perform'd variously in lesser or shorter time according as their several motions are quicker or slower. These Stars, they say, have a great influence both as to good and bad in Mens Nativities; and from the consideration of their several Natures, may be foreknown what will befal Men afterwards. As they foretold things to come to other Kings formerly, so they did to Alexander who conquer'd Darius, and to his Successors Antigonus and Seleucus Nicanor; and accordingly things fell out as they declar'd; which we shall relate particularly hereafter in a more convenient time. They tell likewise private Men their Fortunes so certainly, that those who have found the thing true by Experience, have esteem'd it a Miracle, and above the reach of Man to perform. Out of the Circle of the Zodiack they describe Four and Twenty Stars, Twelve towards the North Pole, and as many to the South.
Those which we see, they assign to the living; and the other that do not appear, they conceive are Constellations for the Dead; and they term them Judges of all things. The Moon, they say, is in the lowest Orb; and being therefore next to the Earth (because she is so small,) she finishes her Course in a little time, not through the swiftness of her Motion, but the shortness of her Sphear. In that which they affirm (that she has but a borrow'd light, and that when she is eclips'd, it's caus'd by the interposition of the shadow of the Earth) they agree with the Grecians.
Their Rules and Notions concerning the Eclipses of the Sun are but weak and mean, which they dare not positively foretel, nor fix a certain time for them. They have likewise Opinions concerning the Earth peculiar to themselves, affirming it to resemble a Boat, and to be hollow, to prove which, and other things relating to the frame of the World, they abound in Arguments; but to give a particular Account of 'em, we conceive would be a thing foreign to our History. But this any Man may justly and truly say, That the Chaldeans far exceed all other Men in the Knowledge of Astrology, and have study'd it most of any other Art or Science: But the number of Years during which the Chaldeans say, those of their Profession have given themselves to the study of this natural Philosophy, is incredible; for when Alexander was in Asia, they reckon'd up Four Hundred and Seventy Thousand Years since they first began to observe the Motions of the Stars. But lest we should make too long a digression from our intended Design, let this which we have said concerning the Chaldeans suffice.
Having now therefore spoken of the Assyrian Empire, and its Translation to the Medes, we shall return to that part of our History from whence we broke off.