Both the author and the date of this five-volume poem, the first Western document to link the houses of the zodiac with the course of human affairs, are uncertain. The author's name may be Marcus Manilius, or Manlius, or Mallius, and the latest datable event mentioned in the books themselves is the disastrous defeat of Varus' Roman legions by the German tribes in 9 CE. The writing shows knowledge of the work of Lucretius, but the work is not referred to by any subsequent writer, suggesting that it was never widely disseminated. A manuscript was rediscovered by Poggio Bracciolini in 1416 or 1417, and editions were produced by Scaliger and Bentley, but this immensely erudite edition of 1903-1930 by the scholar and poet A. E. Housman (1859-1936) is regarded as authoritative. Volume 4 describes the influence of the zodiacal signs on the people born under them.
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alii apud Aquarius arua astra atque autem Bentleius Bodl Breiterus caelo caelum Cancri Capricornus causa ceterum codd dicit dicitur eius erit esset etiam etsi Fayus Flor fuit GLM cod habet haec Heph homines hunc Iacobus idem ignes ignis illa inque inter ipsa ipse Libra libri loco Luna magis Manilius mihi minus modo natura neque enim nihil nisi nomen numero nunc omnes orbem orbis Ouid pars partem partibus Pisces Plin poeta pontum positum post potest potius potuit primus Ptol quae quam quamquam quibus quid quidem quis quod recte Regiomontanus rerum ripis Sagittarius Scaliger Scorpius sententiae sicut sidera signa signis sine siue sunt tamen tantum terrae tertia Theb uelut uerba uerbi uersibus uersus uide uidetur uires uiro undas urbes usus Venetus Verg