The story of King Alcàrez and his son
ON THE SUBJECT OF THE CONSTELLATIONS AND PLANETS UNDER WHICH MEN ARE BORN, AND THE DIFFERENT OPINIONS OF THE FIVE LEARNED SAGES REGARDING THE BIRTH OF KING ALCARAZ’S SON (st 123-139)
The ancient sages learned in the science
of astrology had an interesting saying:
the destiny of man can be judged at his birth
by the ascending star at that moment.
This was said by both Ptolemy and Plato.
Many other learned men are in agreement.
A man’s destiny and aptitudes are shown
in the ascendant star and constellation of his birth.
Many work hard for ecclesiastical knowledge,
spend many years learning and a great deal of money
yet at the end they know little, for their destiny guides them,
and astrology cannot be denied.
Others enter an order to save their souls,
some try to master arms,
yet others serve their masters with both hands,
but many fall hands down on the ground.
They don’t end up in the Order, nor are they knights,
they get no thanks from their masters, nor any of their money.
The reason for this, and I believe it is true,
lies in the laws of nature, as told by the astrologers.
To encourage you to believe the signs,
I will tell you the judgement made by five men of science,
who gave their verdict on a boy from clear indications,
boldly foretelling the direst evils.
There was a Moorish king whose name was Alcàraz,
to whom a fine son was born, his only one.
Sending for his sages, he wished to know
the sign and planet of the new-born child.
Among the astrologers who came to see him
were five of the greatest experts.
When they saw the moment at which the boy was born
one of the wise men said: ‘He will be stoned to death.’
The second said: ‘He will be burnt.’
The third declared: ‘The child will fall from the rocks.’
the fourth said: ‘The infant will be hanged,’
and the fifth master spoke: ‘He will drown in water.’
When the king heard all these different opinions,
he ordered the sages to be put under guard
and held them prisoner in separate places.
He took all their words as proven lies.
As soon as the young prince reached a suitable age,
he asked his father the king if he could go
into the mountains to hunt for deer.
The king replied that he could do so with pleasure.
They waited for a fine day to go hunting,
but as soon as they reached the mountain,
a cloud suddenly appeared and it began to sleet.
In a short time huge hailstones fell.
The boy’s tutor remembered the words
of the five wise scientists who examined his sign.
‘My lord,’ he said, ‘let’s go back, so that the words
if your fortune-tellers do not come true.’
Everyone began to leave,
but since what God ordains must be,
for it is true and cannot fail,
the laws of nature must be obeyed.
Because it was hailing so heavily, the prince spurred on
his horse, but as he crossed the bridge a great bolt of lightning
struck – the bridge collapsed, he was thrown down
and left hanging by his clothes from a tree by the river.
Hanging there where all could see him,
he drowned in the water, as no one could help him.
The five destinies foretold had been fulfilled;
the wise men of science had spoken the truth.
When the king saw his long-feared grief fulfilled,
he ordered the astrologers’ release from jail.
He did many good things for them and ordered them to use
their astrology, which he no longer doubted.