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Firmicus Maternus’ Mathesis, with Benjamin Dykes

The Mathesis of Firmicus Maternus, with Benjamin Dykes

In episode 401 Dr. Benjamin Dykes joins the podcast to talk about his new translation of the astrological work of the 4th century astrologer Firmicus Maternus.

Firmicus was a lawyer and astrologer from the 4th century who wrote one of the longest surviving texts on astrology that has survived from antiquity, which is titled Mathesis.

Firmicus’ work is unique because it was written in Latin, and it preserves a lot of material from earlier Greek sources that did not survive into modern times, such as the works of Asclepius or Nechepso and Petosiris.

The text also contains huge amounts of delineation material, where Firmicus explains how to interpret different placements in a person’s birth chart.

During the course of the interview we discuss Firmicus’ life and work, Ben’s motivation for translating this book, and some of the interesting features of the Mathesis.

You can get a copy of Ben’s new translation of Firmicus here:

Firmicus Maternus Mathesis

This episode is available in both audio and video versions below.


  • 00:00:00 A new translation of the Mathesis
  • 00:09:52 The life and dating of Firmicus Maternus
  • 00:19:50 Firmicus’ philosophy and religious views
  • 00:30:40 Later conversion to Christianity
  • 00:37:00 Mathesis as the first comprehensive astrological text in Latin
  • 00:57:00 Mitigating conditions
  • 01:10:00 Firmicus views on fate
  • 01:31:28 The Thema Mundi
  • 01:38:33 Firmicus using whole sign and equal houses together
  • 01:49:29 Firmicus’ emphasis on the Moon
  • 01:55:47 Apotelesmata and chart synthesis
  • 01:59:35 Lots as houses/places
  • 02:08:08 Fixed stars
  • 02:13:32 Popularity of Firmicus in later tradition
  • 02:17:53 Ben’s upcoming projects
  • 02:19:14 Patrons and sponsors

Watch the Video Version of This Episode

Watch the video version of this episode on Firmicus Maternus on YouTube:


A full transcript of this episode is available: Episode 401 transcript

Listen to the Audio Version of This Episode

Listen to the audio version of this episode or download it as an MP3:

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  • Chris-I was just writing an essay, as part of Demetra’s final certification exam, on Firmicus and looking specifically at the contrasting points between Mathesis and De Errore, so it was an absolute godsend and delight to listen to you and Ben discussing this! Only noticed the podcast this afternoon but interestingly, I had been repeating apotelesmatica in my head all morning. HaHa-go figure! Thank you once again!