Neronian Astrological Charts ~
Karknoumis Knoumos Kraumonis Kronos
Lord of Boundless Time
(called Saturn by the Romans) is usually represented with
a snake wound seven times around his body. The snake represents
both the seven planets as well as the winding course of the
sun through the zodiac - the signs of the zodiac are often
visible between the coils. He always has a lion's head, suggesting
the all-consuming nature of time. He is also ruler of the
four winds, represented by his four wings. The figure often
holds a key in each hand - possibly a key to the underworld
and to the future.
Antium, Italy, December 15, 37 A.D. 07:39:00 AM
Sun was rising and his earliest rays touched the newly-born
boy almost before he could be laid on the ground." This
piece of information, from the historian Suetonius who was
born the year after Nero's death, gives us the exact birth
time necessary for drawing up an accurate horoscope. According
to the most famous astrological manual that has come down
to us, Firmicus Maternus's Mathesios written in 334
AD, the sun on the ascendant (the eastern horizon) "foretells
the greatest good fortune ...if Mars is in aspect to or in
conjunction with the Sun, this indicates generalship and imperial
powers, but together with ill-will, danger, impediment, contests
and difficulties." (Firmicus p 88) Interestingly Firmicus
here also says that if the sun on the ascendant is in conjunction
with malefic planets (such as Mars) the eyesight will be weakened.
Nero was short sighted.
Jupiter square the Moon, "indicates infinite riches for
the mother and for the native himself. They attain the highest
office and great fame and are deservedly promoted over their
friends." (Firmicus p 190).
There are also unfortunate aspects to Nero's
conjunct the sun on the ascendant indicates not only weak
eyesight but the early death of the father and instability
of mind (Firmicus p 200). Nero's father died when he was three.
Nero's moon is waning and is in aspect (square) to his Jupiter.
According to Firmicus this indicate children who "will
be adopted: or exposed, and later returned to their parents.
They seek income by their own efforts, and over a period of
time receive advancement and achieve power and fame."
Nero was taken into the household of his paternal aunt when,
in his third year, his father died and his mother was exiled.
His ambition was to achieve fame as a musician.
Venus in the domicile of Saturn (Capricorn) predicts that
the child will commit incest with his mother (Firmicus p 247).
we assume that Balbillus (Agrippina's astrologer and also
later Nero's) believed in the theory of Triplicites (signs
positioned 120 degrees from each other and therefore "in
tune"), he would have noted that Nero's rising sign Sagittarius
was "in tune" with the Leo, the sign where Nero's
moon is placed, the moon that stood for the mother. This would
predict that the child and mother would have a harmonious
relationship - they apparently did for a time while Agrippina
was raising Nero to absolute power. Because Nero's sun was
precisely on his ascendant, his Part of Fortune (an imaginary
point which is separated the same number of degrees from the
ascendant as the sun is from the moon) was conjunct his moon.
This Balbillus would probably have been taken to mean that
Nero's moon (his mother) was his lucky star.
However the planet that ruled Nero's chart would probably
have been thought to be Saturn "the evil one". Saturn
is positioned at Nero's mid heaven. He is in aspect to four
of the other six planets. He is also the ruler of Nero's horoscopic
point, his ascendant.
we assume that Balbillus used the twelve house system as explained
by Firmicus, which is by no means certain, an additional set
of interesting predictions can be made.
Nero's moon is situated in his eighth house (Death or Way
of Death). When positioned here, Firmicus says, the moon indicates
"high position, large income, honors, and a position
of rule ... if Jupiter is in the eleventh house" (Firmicus
p185). Elsewhere he confirms the importance of Jupiter in
the eleventh house (Friends): "The greatest good fortune
and great fame - consular or proconsular power - result from
Jupiter in the eleventh house ..." He does, however,
go on to qualify this.
Saturn's position in Nero's tenth house, the House of Power
or Honors, indicates "emperors, generals and praetorian
prefects" (Firmicus p77) although the fact that he is
square Mars "will diminish this good fortune" (p78).
reviewing predictions based on Firmicus one must keep in mind
that both Nero's horoscope and his subsequent destiny had
probably entered the body of astrological lore upon which
Firmicus later drew.
acclamation:11:07 AM October 13, 54AD Rome, Italy.
The historian Tacitus says that Claudius' death was kept
a secret to "await the propitious moment forecast by
the astrologers. At last, at midday on October 13, the palace
gates were suddenly thrown open." (Annals 12.66) Only
the moon moves fast enough to justify such a perilous wait.
As the above chart shows, at 11:08 AM the transit moon, whose
influence was magnified by the fact that she was moving through
a part of the zodiac which was both her own house and her
own decan, reached a point which is exactly in a fortunate
sextile to Nero's planet Saturn. The Roman "midday"
at this time of year was 11:45 AM. The identity of the moon
with Agrippina in Nero's chart should be kept in mind.
chart: transits for the Moon of the Year 00:40 AM March 18,
59AD, the death of Agrippina.
exact positions of Nero's Saturn and Mars as well as the transit
full moon are important for this delineation. At the instant
of syzygy (opposition, in this case) the moon was at 25 degrees
and 9 minutes of Virgo which means that she was moving into
an unfortunate square with Nero's natal Mars which is at 25
degrees 54 minutes of Sagittarius. The square was exact at 2.44
am, two hours and forty minutes after the syzygy. Mars square
the waning moon tops Firmicus' list of aspects that forebode
a "violent death" (p256).
There was a second inauspicious indication for Nero. According
to Firmicus the moon moving towards Saturn indicates "enmities
and misfortunes" (p114) when she is in the same sign as
the MC which was the case here. The conjunction between the
transit moon and Nero's Saturn took place at 4:25 AM, one hour
and forty one minutes after the moon's square with transit Saturn.
After that time the danger to Nero would have abated.
I therefore have Agrippina instruct Aphroditus to kill Nero
during the moment of maximum danger (2:44 AM) and have the dagger
handed to Agrippina after 4:25 AM. Sunrise was at about 6:07
It is important to remember that Agrippina represented the moon
in Nero's chart and that the Moon of the Year was thought to
be a moment of extraordinary predictive power.
comet transiting Nero's chart: February 20 - April 10, 66 AD
in 66 AD Halley's comet made one of its periodic flights around
the sun. Although not as spectacular as the 1910 visit, the
Halley's of Nero's time was much brighter (brightest magnitude
+0.7) than during its 1986 visit with a tail which grew to a
maximum apparent length of about 30 degrees (60 times the diameter
of the full moon). Halley's was hidden behind the sun until
after perihelion (closest approach to the sun). It was discovered
in the evening sky by the Chinese on February 20 at about 9
degrees of Aquarius, the first recorded sighting of the visit.
Thereafter Halley's rises earlier each morning which means it
moves in the direction that its tail is pointing, clockwise
through Nero's chart. It shines brightest on March 19, the night
after the anniversary of Agrippina's death, when it is positioned
at 2 degrees of Sagittarius, Nero's rising sign. Eleven days
later it is conjunct Nero's ruling star Saturn at 26 degrees
of Virgo. Ten days later it disappears at 11 degrees of Virgo.
The Chinese sightings can be found in Ho Peng Yoke, Ancient
and Medieval Observations of Comets and Novae in Chinese Sources.
My ephemeris for the apparent motion of Halley's through the
zodiac is based on a personal communication from Dr. Donald
Yeomans of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California,
the renowned authority on Halley's comet.
My view that Nero's execution of his most important rivals was
in response to the appearance of a series of comets is based
on Tacitus who says (Annals 15:44) that Nero habitually "atoned
for" the comets which appeared during his reign by spilling
aristocratic blood. See also Rogers, The Neronian Comets.
the 73rd Year"
prediction that Nero would live seventy three years can also
be derived from his chart. A fragment of Balbillus' method of
determining the length of life has survived (see Neugebauer,
Greek Horoscopes p77). His method is based on the idea
that a particular planet, selected for its prominence in the
chart, gives ninety years of life which are expressed as ninety
degrees counted anti-clockwise. Somewhere within this arc of
ninety degrees another planet, the destroyer, is encountered.
The length of life is found by now counting back clockwise from
the point ninety degrees from the starter until the destroyer
is reached. Balbillus evidently chose Nero's Jupiter as his
starter. Counting ninety degrees in the order of the signs (anti-clockwise)
we reach fourteen degrees of Aquarius. Mars and the sun, both
destroyers, intervene. Neither is chosen, presumably because
they are within ten degrees of each other (conjunction with
another planet is the reason why Mars is not chosen as destroyer
in the example reproduced in Neugebauer). This leaves Mercury,
not named as a destroyer but a labile planet like the sun and
the moon which along with Mars and Saturn are specified as destroyers.
In this instance Mercury is positioned in Nero's twelfth house
(Enemies). Rounding off to the nearest degree, which is what
Balbillus is represented as doing, the angular distance between
fourteen degrees of Aquarius and the position of Mercury (one
degree of Sagittarius) is exactly 73 degrees which means that
Nero will live 73 years.
death: 4:35 AM June 11, 68 AD Rome Italy.
in the notebooks of the second century astrologer Vettius
Valens are two charts for an unnamed person who was born on
December 15, 37 and who died on June 11, 65. What Vettius
is trying to demonstrate with these charts is how a man's
death can be predicted on the basis of the return of the planets
to the same basic pattern of aspects as at his birth.
The Moon is square Jupiter at the unnamed man's birth. The
moon is once again square Jupiter at his death. The sun is
square Saturn at his birth and once again square Saturn at
his death. Venus is trine Saturn at his birth. She is once
again trine Saturn at his death. Most important of all, on
the day of this man's death, Saturn is within half a degree
of its position at his birth.
It is no mystery why Vettius does not say that these are Nero's
charts since dabbling in imperial horoscopes, particularly
horoscopes concerning an emperor's death, had been a capital
crime since Augustus' day. What is at first perplexing is
that the generally accepted date of Nero's death is two days
earlier, June 9, when only one aspect (Venus trine Saturn)
is the same as in the birth chart. Did Vettius deliberately
change Nero's birth date to make his point?
I don't believe so. Ancient chronology was often in error
and the texts that have come down to us are corrupt. The early
third century historian Cassius Dio points out a further cause
of error: emperors, he says, counted the days of their rule
from their acclamation, not from the death of their predecessor
(Dio 66:17). In order to correct the historical record, he
specifies that the interval between Nero's death and Vespasian's
succession (July 1, 69 AD) was one year and twenty-two days.
Counting inclusively, as the Roman's did, this yields a death
date of June 11, 68 and vindicates Vettius Valens. (See Reece,
"The Date of Nero's Death"). This date is
also preferred by Edward Champlin in Nero, his brilliant
new history of Rome's most misunderstood emperor (see page
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