“And the way up is the way down, the way forward is the way back” (T.S. Eliot, The Dry Salvages).
Despite being one of our oldest and most detailed historical sources concerning the conceptualization of the twelve places in the Greco-Roman world, Manilius’s account of the planetary joys tends to be implicitly ignored, if not explicitly disdained, by contemporary Hellenistic astrologers. In this lecture, I will argue that such a dismissal is misguided, and that, if given the chance, Manilius has much to teach us. First, I will argue that, even if we grant that Manilius’s account was not echoed by later sources, this should serve to make his work more, rather than less, important from a historical perspective, since his testimony would thereby constitute our sole source of evidence for an ancient approach to the joys. And, second, I will contend that Manilius’s theory is best understood as an articulation of an esoteric form of Pythagoreanism. As such, its perspective inverts our ordinary visible horizons. Instead of grounding itself in the realm of fortune, it flips the sky round, looking on from the perspective of the daimon. As a result, Manilius’s account of the planetary joys hints at the existence of a radically distinct approach to the very practice of astrology.