1. At the very beginning of this work it is imperative before we do anything else to answer those writers9 who are trying to destroy the whole theory of astrology by many different kinds of arguments. These men are carried away by their faith in rhetoric and think they can shatter the whole of celestial science with mere arguments.
I am convinced, and the facts bear me out, that these men are not motivated by their theory, weak and false though it is, but merely by the desire to be in opposition. Arguing with aggressive presumption, they take a position against obvious and clearly-defined facts, facts which we not only discern with our reason, but perceive with our senses and our very eyes.
2. By using far-fetched and extremely theoretical arguments, drawn in the first place from the professional responses of astrologers, these men are trying to creep in, as it were, through an underground passage to undermine and topple the edifice of our science. But the more aggressively they attack, the more various the ways in which they seek to convince us, the more strongly they bolster our faith in astrology.
3. The essential truth of our doctrine is demonstrated by the fact that they struggle against it with such force of argument. This is not surprising since we know how much difference of opinion there is among them about the nature of the gods, and with how many different theories they are trying to destroy the whole force of astrological divination.
Some say there are no gods; others say there are, but describe them as not concerned about the world; some say that they exist and also that they undertake the care and management of all our affairs.
All these thinkers are involved in such a variety of opinions that we should digress too much if we were to list all their views, especially now that we are about to take up another kind of work.
4. Some arbitrarily give the gods physical shape and physical space; they assign them dwelling places and tell many stories about their deeds and lives; they say that all things which are done or planned are governed by the judgment of the gods. Others say that the gods plan nothing, take care of nothing, and have no desire to govern. All these opinions have a certain plausibility which may sway the minds of the credulous.
5. As to ideas about the immortality of the soul, the words of the divine Plato and keen-witted Aristotle are in violent disagreement; their ideas about good and evil are opposed to each other and inconsistent in themselves.
6. Here I think I should leave any discussion of these matters, for we are not concerned with this kind of argument. As a matter of fact, we have not made up our own mind as to what to believe. We have, however, given a brief summary of these disagreements so that the contradictory opinions of those who oppose astrology will become clear to all.
7. And so I would like to evaluate what is said and has been said about theMathesis,10 but very briefly; we should no longer digress on irrelevant problems.
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