Walter Burley on the influence of planet.

Marek Gensler


Although Walter Burley is best known for his contributions to medieval logic and philosophy of nature, the list of his works, created over a long period of his busy life, includes treatises and commentaries covering various subjects from trivium to theology. One of the less known opuscula of Burley’s is his brief treatise De planetis et eorum virtute1, which is apparently his only work devoted to astrology and, indeed, a rare gem in the library of scholastic works on the subject2. Despite its small size, hardly exceeding two columns of a manuscript page in folio, it is an interesting summary of the standard astrological knowledge about the influence of planets in his times. The work has been preserved in two 15th century manuscripts, both at Lambeth Palace Library in London3. No suggestions for its dating have been made so far4 and in the absence of any cross-references to other works or direct information concerning the time of its composition, fixing the time of its composition is admittedly difficult. Its dry, unadorned style, almost mechanically repetitive phrases have an uncanny resemblance to parts of De vita et moribus philosophorum, but the doubtful attribution of the latter work means it cannot be taken as a reference point4. From passing remarks betraying philosophical erudition one could guess that it is a late rather than early work.

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