Valens work, the Anthology, is a multi-volume work in Greek which was written roughly within the period 150 to 175 CE, and is a very comprehensive textbook of the type of Hellenistic astrology that was practiced during that period. Unlike Ptolemy, Valens was clearly a working professional astrologer, and one of great curiosity. He appears to have traveled widely in Egypt in search of knowledge from the Babylonian, Greek and Egyptian traditions, and eventually he set up an astrological school in Alexandria. He published much of what he learned from the works of his predecessors in his Anthology, and, in addition, included over 100 astrological chart examples. This gives the Anthology tremendous value in piecing together the actual working techniques of the period. It also makes the material much easier to understand. Although the version we have of the Anthology is a copy from several centuries after Valens' death, the text is still quite reliable and complete.
Valens is considered by some to be representative of the mainstream tradition of Hellenistic astrology because he cites a large number of authors, many of whom would be completely unknown otherwise, and when he does introduce new doctrines he always declares that he is doing so, after he states what the status quo is. No other Hellenistic author has contributed as much to our understanding of the the everyday, practical astrological methods of the tradition of Hellenistic astrology.
Valens is a valuable author because he outlines a complete approach to the type of horoscopic astrology that was practiced in his day. This includes many doctrines which had been lost, such as several time lord techniques which do not appear in other authors, such as the Quarters of the Moon and Zodiacal Releasing. He is also the first source that we have who associates the four elements with the triplicities, although he does so without a declaration that he is diverging from the tradition which seems to indicate that he was not the first person to make this association.
Valens would have been a younger contemporary of Claudius Ptolemy although the two seem to have been unaware of each other.
- James Holden, A History of Horoscopic Astrology, American Federation of Astrologers, Tempe, AZ, 1996. ISBN 0-86690-463-8
- Vettius Valens, The Anthology, Books 1-6, Translated by Robert Schmidt and edited by Rob Hand, Project Hindsight, 1993-1997.
- Wikipedia's article on Vettius Valens - retrieved 12/24/2005 under the GNU Free Documentation License