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 5 (which is unfinished) describes the non-zodiacal signs and their influence.
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adde adnotata aequore alii aliter Andromeda apud atque autem Bentleius Bodl Breiterus caeli caelo caelum causa Cepheus ceterum Cetus cuius Cycnus Delphinus dicitur eius enim erat erit etiam Ven etsi Fayus Firmicus Flor fortasse Garrod genus GL2M GL3M GLM cod Gronouius haec Haedi hinc Iacobus ibique idem ignes ilia inter ipsa ipse lege libri linea loco Manilius Mart neque nihil nisi number nunc oritur Ouid pars Philol Pingraeus Plin poeta ponto potest praeterea propter quae quam quamquam quern quia quibus quid quidem quod quoque recte Regiomontanus Scaliger semper sicut sidera sidus signa sine sphaera Stat stellae sunt tamen tantum terga terra Teucer Theb Thielscher uelut uerba uersibus uersus uide etiam uidetur uiro Venetus Verg verses Wageningenus