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zodiac man, astrology


A naked male figure was a familiar illustration in many medieval and Renaissance manuscripts. Standing with his legs and arms slightly spread, the twelve images or names of the zodiac were superimposed on his body, from his head (Aries) to his feet (Pisces). Used as a quick reference by physicians, barber-surgeons, and even laymen, the figure indicated the part of the body which was "ruled" by a specific sign of the zodiac. Once the correct sign was determined for the particular part of the body, the proper time for surgery, bloodletting, administration of medication, or even the cutting of hair and nails could be found. This depended, above all, upon the position of the moon in the heavens, since it was a medieval commonplace attributed to the astronomer Ptolemy (ca. 150 A.D.) that one touched neither with iron nor with medication the part of the body in whose zodical sign the moon was at that particular moment.