chapter  4
Astrology
Pages 21

On being born we die, and our end depends on our beginning. —Manilius, Astronomica, 4.16

Astrology afforded authoritative means to conceive of same-sex desires as innate and distinctive temperamental characteristics of particular persons. Besides potentially countering theological claims that sexual relations between males or between females are “unnatural,” it could contest the authority of Christianity and the church and support sexual dissidence. For these reasons, and on account of its pervasive influence at all social levels of early modernity, this former ostensible science is important for the study of the period’s sexual history and the origins of perceived sexual identities. However, astrology has as yet received little attention from historians of sexuality.1 As many studies explain general astrological theories and practices of the Renaissance,2 so I will outline their cultural impact and implications for understanding male and female homoeroticism instead.