Not one of the agreements made with her was respected by Michael, and when even these restrictions failed to satisfy him, he brought upon her the final disgrace — nothing less than expulsion from the palace. Such was his plan. There was no honest excuse for such action, but the beast had a foul lying story all ready, so determined was he to have the whole palace to himself. Of course, once this idea was conceived, all other duties of state were neglected: all his energy, all his ingenuity was devoted to the accomplishment of this daring project.

18. To begin with, therefore, he disclosed his plans to the more enterprising of his accomplices. Later on, as his scheme gradually advanced, he sounded other persons as well. In every case they were known to himself personally as men of keen judgment and endowed with other intellectual qualities. Some of them secretly encouraged him. Their advice was to follow his own inclination. Others counselled him to give up the whole scheme, while a third party suggested that the proposed course of action should be studied first in greater detail.

Another group thought the astrologers should be consulted: he ought first to assure himself that the time was propitious for the enterprise; some aspect of the heavens might be unfavourable. Seated in front of them, he listened gravely to all these monitors, prepared to take up anything whatever which could help him to realize his plans. Nothing was allowed to stand in the way of the success of the plot. In the end, however, he rejected the arguments of all other counsellors and turned to the astrologers. Through them he would learn what the future held for him.

Gentlemen were not specially concerned

19. At that time there was a group of distinguished men engaged in the study of that science, men with whom I myself had dealings. These gentlemen were not specially concerned with the position or movements of stars in the celestial sphere {actually they had no training in the proof of such things by the laws of geometry and certainly this power of demonstration was not acquired by them before they studied astrology); they confined themselves rather to the setting up of astrological centres, the examination of the rise and fall of the zodiacal signs above or below the horizon.

Other phenomena connected with these movements also became the object of their study — the ruling planets, the relative positions and limits of the planets, together with those aspects considered favourable and those which were not propitious. Certain predictions were then offered to persons who asked for advice and their questions were answered. In some cases, too, they did indeed hit on the correct answer.

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