In this talk Tejas Aralere will present a comparative analysis of the zodiacal melothesia as it appears in Manilius’s Astronomica, a Latin astrological epic poem (ca. 20–40 CE), and in Sphujidhvaja’s Yavana Jātaka ( “Greek Horoscopy”), a Sanskrit astrological treatise (ca. second century CE). Melothesia refers to the mapping of the twelve signs of the Babylonian zodiac on twelve regions of the human body over which they possess particular influence. In a brief discussion of the connections between these two texts, Aralere will show how the Romans and Indians employ the zodiacal melothesia in strikingly different ways and for different purposes that reflect their distinctive cultural contexts. This makes earlier theories that posit “direct transmission” of the Yavana Jātaka from Greece to India highly implausible. Aralere’s comparative study will illuminate the connections between Manilius’s use of melothesia and Roman imperial political ideologies and Sphujidhvaja’s use of melothesia and Vedic ritual and legal traditions.
Tejas Aralere is a doctoral student in the Department of Classics at UC Santa Barbara. His research explores the complex networks of exchange of ancient astronomical, astrological, and medical knowledge between the Mediterranean and India and seeks to re-evaluate Orientalist narratives that claim that “rational” scientific knowledge flowed unidirectionally from the ancient Mediterranean to India.