Then I answered: “I shall therefore tell you, my father, what is the nature of mathematics, and do you act according to what I tell you. Go to a mathematician, 860 and tell him first that such and such evils have befallen you at such a time, and that you wish to learn of him whence, or how, or through what stars they have befallen you. He will no doubt answer you that a malignant Mars or Saturn has ruled your times, or that some one of them has been periodic; or that some one has regarded you diametrically, or in conjunction, or centrally; or some such answer will he give, adding that in all these some one was not in harmony with the malignant one, or was invisible, or was in the figure, or was beyond the division, or was eclipsed, or was not in contact, or was among the dark stars; and many other like things will he answer, according to his own reasons, and will condescend upon particulars. After him go to another mathematician, and tell him the opposite, that such and such good happened to you at that time, mentioning to him the same time, and ask him from what parts of your Genesis this good has come to you, and take care, as I said, that the times are the same with those about which you asked concerning evils. And when you have deceived him concerning the times, see what figures he will invent for you, by which to show that good things ought to have befallen you at those very times. For it is impossible for those treating of the Genesis of men not to find in every quarter, as they call it, of the heavenly bodies, some stars favourably placed, and some unfavourably; for the circle is equally complete in every part, according to mathematics, admitting of diverse and various causes, from which they can take occasion of saying whatever they please.
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