Image 1: The Pre-modern Cosmos

This wonderful painting is one of many found in the 17th century book Harmonia Macrocosmica by Andreas Cellarius. It depicts the pre-16th century view of the Universe which had its roots in ancient Greece, most clearly articulated in the 2nd century by Claudius Ptolemy of Alexandria. Notice the Earth is central (and spherical), and around it move the moon and planets and sun (on the right). The outer sphere holds the stars, including the all important zodiac constellations (the colored band) along which the sun moves annually. The surrounding pictures of human and angelic activity reminds us that the pre-modern conception of the Universe was profoundly different from ours: agency, animism, and morality were intimately woven into the physical framework, and humans played a central, even primary, role in the order of things.