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Aspect doctrine in ancient astrology
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petosiris



Joined: 08 Oct 2017
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Posted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've encountered so many people in denial, and it is good to hear a valuable confirmation once in a while Very Happy
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Paul
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Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2019 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for this Levente!

Some of it I already knew, but you've put it together in a way that's quite helpful and fills in some of the blanks for me.

I'm going to look into this a bit more, it's given me a good kicking off point, and interesting to see where your disagreements lie with the conclusions of others like Schmidt, it helps provide a wider variety of informed opinion.
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astroart



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Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 11:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My personal view is that before going to discuss the issue of aspects in Hellenistic astrology first we must have some clarity and consensus on the meaning of the Greek terms related with the aspects doctrine. Because as we know : “language is the source of misunderstanding “ (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry).

The Hellenistic astrologers use two different types of words for aspects doctrine. The first type is based on the act of seeing and the second type is based on the act of testifying. Among the first type of terms are the words that Robert Schmidt divided on two categories and translated as:

1/ ‘contemplate’, ‘regard’ and ‘behold’ ( theōreō)
2/ ‘look at’ or ‘look upon’ ( blepō ) and ‘scrutinize’ (katopteuō)

The first category of terms Schmidt related with the sign based aspects and the second category of terms with the degree based aspects.
But there is also one another type of terms based on the word that means ‘bear witness’ or ‘testify to’ (marturō) and certain variants of this word.
The problem that arises is the following:

Does the term’ testify to’ (marturō) overlap the other terms for seeing such as ‘contemplate’ ( theōreō) , ‘look at’ ( blepō ) and ‘scrutinize’ (katopteuō) or not?

As we know the opinon of Robert Schmidt is that doctrine of testifying is closely related but not identical with the doctrine of seeing. Let see what he says about the Hellenistic doctrine of testimony (Geocosmic Journal, Autumn 2006, p.16):

“The sufficient condition for the testimony relationship between two planets is that they are not only in signs at the specified intervals from one another, but they have already formed, or will form, an exact figure before leaving there respective signs.”

The question is whether Schmidt is right or not .
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waybread



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Posted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry, folks-- I'm a latecomer to this thread, and am now only part way through. If I don't jump in when the spirit moves me, I'm apt to lose my points by the time I've done all the homework.

First, thanks Paul for taking this discussion here. I deliberately avoid social media out of privacy concerns, so it's gook to rekindle hot topics on the Skyscript forum.

A very tiny fly in the ointment-- Hellenistic or ancient astrology was not necessarily typified or defined by the "literary sources." Not only do we know that an awful lot of material was lost or preserved in part through secondary referencing, but historical sources of the Roman empire indicate practices that aren't event mentioned in the translated written sources.

One such practice was the use of astrology boards. We don't precisely know how they were used. If memory serves, they weren't mentioned in the published sources (that I've read.) For example, : https://www.livescience.com/17943-oldest-astrologer-board-zodiac.html

It looks to me like whole signs houses would be the easiest houses system to use with these boards. Which isn't to say that some other system could have been applied, but with more difficulty.

We know from the extant published sources plus Frederick Cramer, Astrology in Roman Law and Politicsthat all kinds of people practiced astrology: slaves, women (gasp, shock!) and people at street fairs. The "good" astrologers complained about the charlatans, but the fact remains that some people were practicing astrology in Roman times that differed fromn the kind sanctioned by Ptolemy or Firmicus Maternus. Not to mention Mithraism and the use of astrology in Hermeticism and Egyptian black magic. Probably a lot of these alternative astrologers didn't use houses.

Then we have a collection of a lot of archaeological finds of verbal horoscopes in Neugebauer and Van Hoesen's monograph on Greek horoscopes. Some of these came with degrees, but many were just planets-in-signs.

I once worked out all of the Valens horoscopes that had sufficient data for that purpose. The only way I could get them to work out was with whole signs. Clearly Valens knew about additional house systems, but I don't know how much he used them himself. Valens was a great compiler of other people's work.

Dismissing Manilius as a poet seems to me to be taking him out of all historical context. We don't know whether he read charts for people or not. He continued an ancient tradition of believing that poetry, not prose, was the proper medium for writing about the heavens and the gods.

Anubio (1st century CE) also wrote in poetry. (Stephan Heilen, "Anubio Reconsidered.")

I agree with Houlding, Ross and Greenbaum https://www.academia.edu/7370462/The_Role_of_Egypt_in_the_Development_of_the_Horoscope
that the origin of houses was probably Egyptian-- and steeped in ancient religious beliefs. The Egyptians' minute observations of the heavens with their decans system and the all-important rising of the sun probably gave rise to the ascendant or "horoscope point" in astrology.

They used a system of natural hours, in dividing day and night into two separate periods of equal length. I believe that the planetary joys in houses-- however much they were subjequently rationalized by the Hellenists-- were based upon the stations of the sun/pharaoh/soul passing through the night/afterlife at night; and then the stations of the sun during the day.


Last edited by waybread on Fri Jan 25, 2019 5:36 am; edited 2 times in total
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waybread



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Posted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 5:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a couple more comments.

On the multiple origin thesis: https://www.academia.edu/7781974/Some_metrical_fragments_from_Nechepsos_and_Petosiris

Stephan Heilan, "Some Metrical Fragments from Nechepsos and Petosiris."

Thank goodness for classical philologists. Cool

That Ptolemy, the great rationalizer, and proto-scientist, who lived in Egypt, scarcely used houses suggests that they had a religious origin.

Then is there a Thema Mundi point to be made in this discussion? What was its house system? How did it construe aspects?

Wink

Paul, sorry if these posts are off-topic. Typical thread drift, I suppose.
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petosiris



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Posted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 6:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Dismissing Manilius as a poet seems to me to be taking him out of all historical context. We don't know whether he read charts for people or not. He continued an ancient tradition of believing that poetry, not prose, was the proper medium for writing about the heavens and the gods.

Anubio (1st century CE) also wrote in poetry. (Stephan Heilen, "Anubio Reconsidered.")


Levente was more of comparing him with the poetical work of Dorotheus, which is easily seen more practical - it tells you how to judge most areas of life and certain event charts. Manilius' work is way less technical and uses a lot of its dedicated space to mythological material a la Aratus type, or at least that is what I understood from his point.
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astroart



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Posted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 12:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the other side is Benjamin Dykes whose opinion is that the term ’ testify to’ and 'bear witness' (marturō''and epimarturō) means the both types of aspects: as sign based aspects as well degree based aspects. In his introduction and comments to Hephaistion's Apotelesmatics III Dykes writes that there are no direct evidence that support Schmidt's interpretation of the definition of 'testimony' and certainly not in Hephaistion Book III and then he explains his position (p.26) :

"For one thing, the texts say that there are two ways to have testimony, and one of them is by sign alone. "

Probably when he says "the texts say" he means the book III of Hephaistion. Unfortunately he don't say where exactly in Apotelesmatics is this text.
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Levente Laszlo



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Posted: Tue Jan 29, 2019 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Dimitar,

Of course, we would be better informed about the issue if someone took up the arduous task to sift through the published texts so that every elucidating passage on the exact meaning of the "aspect" terms would be found. But for the time being, it seems, at least to me, that Dykes is right: the expressions concerning witnessing cover both sign-based and degree-based "aspects". Undoubtedly, Schmidt made valiant efforts to defend his interpretation of Antiochus's notion of witnessing, and his achievements must be respected,
but I agree with those who believe his conclusion in this matter is strained indeed. The texts referred here (which I think are meant also by Dykes) are the ones Schmidt built his arguments upon.

1. κατὰ δύο δὲ διαφορὰς ἀποτελεῖται τὰ εἰρημένα σχήματα, ἢ κατὰ ζῴδιον ἁπλῶς ἢ κατὰ μοῖραν, a passage in the Antiochus summary (1.6, CCAG 8.3: 113.29-30), which he translated as "the aforesaid figures are brought to completion in two different ways, either by image simply or by portion", can also be translated simply as "the aforesaid figures are rendered in two different ways, etc.", which I think is better since I personally can't imagine how a sign-based aspect can be "completed".

2. The sentence ὁρᾶν δὲ χρή, εἰ κατὰ μοῖραν ἔχουσι τέλεια τὰ σχήματα καὶ μὴ μόνον ζῳδιακῶς in "Porphyry" (8, CCAG 5.4: 198.6-8 ), which he translated, reading τελεῖν for the τέλεια of the manuscripts, as "but one must see whether the stars are able to complete the figures by portion and not merely by image", may also be translated, if you retain the original word and abstain from adding the subject "the stars", which Schmidt did, as "but one must see whether the figures are complete according to portion and not only by image".
Incidentally, in an unpublished version of the text, it continues with an explanation which says δυνατώτεροι γάρ εἰσιν οἱ κατὰ μοῖραν συσχηματισμένοι τῶν ζῳδιακῶς συσχηματισμένων "since the ones (sc. the stars) assuming figures according to portion are more powerful than those assuming figures by image." The wording suggests it may have been in the original, which is lost in the published version.

3. The last sentence of the "Porphyry" chapter (8, CCAG 5.4: 198.10-11), missing from the alternative versions, says πολλάκις γὰρ κατὰ μὲν ζῴδιόν εἰσιν ἐσχηματισμένοι, κατὰ δὲ μοῖραν οὐκέτι in the edition, and was translated by Schmidt as "for, stars frequently stand configured according to image but no further according to portion"; οὐκέτι in temporal sense can really mean "no longer/further" as the opposite of οὔπω 'not yet', which would imply a separating figure. However, οὐκέτι can also be interpreted simply as "but not". This sentence, by the way, seems out of place here, and probably constitutes an addition to recover the missing sentence found in the alternative version.
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petosiris



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Posted: Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Levente, does Mathesis 4.25 imply that aspects (applications and separations) are blocked by sign boundaries? And are there other Hellenistic sources that imply this?

Does it indicate some kind of preference for sign based aspects?
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Levente Laszlo



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Posted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

petosiris wrote:
Levente, does Mathesis 4.25 imply that aspects (applications and separations) are blocked by sign boundaries? And are there other Hellenistic sources that imply this?

Does it indicate some kind of preference for sign based aspects?


Yes, Firmicus obviously takes the signs as if they are closed by boundaries, which is implied by the usage of words like obstacula 'obstacles' (ed. p. 277.20) and terminus 'boundary' (p. 277.23; not in the astrological sense).

However, I don't know any more Hellenistic sources being as explicit as Firmicus, save for one possible source. It is an untitled text with the incipit Tēs ouranias diatheseōs, sometimes attributed to Hephaestio, falsely, whose one section is partly based on "Porphyry", and another section is an alternative text of this same "Porphyry". Its chapter 16 on application and separation, an adaptation of "Porphyry" 11, begins as συναφὴ καὶ ἀπόρροια λέγεται συνέλευσις καὶ συμπαρουσία δύο ἀστέρων ἐν ἑνὶ τῶν δωδεκατημορίων μοιρικῶς γενομένη ("a meeting and mutual presence of two stars that takes place in one of the twelve-parts portionally is called 'joining' [sunaphē] and 'running off' [aporroia]"). It continues with similar but clearer definitions of applications and separations than "Porphyry", which make it apparent that applications and separations can happen either bodily or in figures; this implies that the reference to a single sign in the opening sentence must be understood as though the stars cannot leave their respective sign during an application or separation.

But I wouldn't say sign-based aspects are preferred over degree-based aspect; instead, it seems to me that degree-based aspects constitute the special cases of the sign-based aspects, and they are more powerful (in whatever sense) than the general case. This interpretation, of course, excludes the possibility of out-of-sign aspects.
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Paul
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Posted: Sun Feb 03, 2019 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've removed a number of posts from this thread.

I hate putting on my moderator hat on thread where I'm participating, but to just to remind people that it's typically not expected to see discussion on bodies like Sedna or involvement with modern aspects such as the quincunx on the traditional forum.

In addition, this thread although it has meandered considerably, should not spin out into personal discussion of one's chart using modern methods - this is a focus on ancient astrological practice and its history first and foremost.

Finally it's not acceptable to post massive sections of another person's work here, small quotes are acceptable, otherwise feel free to link to another article or online essay.
By all means summarise the entire article in your own words in a short paragraph.

I apologise if anyone sees this as some kind of censorship. It is not.
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Paul
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Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2019 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Raymond

I have tried to PM you and have removed several of your posts. If you wish to discuss Robert Hand's views on parans you are welcome to do so on another thread. You are not welcome to copy and paste wholesale large parts of his work with no original contribution by yourself. I am posting this publicly as you appear to not have read my private message.
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petosiris



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Posted: Tue Mar 05, 2019 5:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In connection to the OP and Placidus:

Quote:
''And sometimes, also, among the signs that ascend slowly the sextile aspect destroys, when it is afflicted, and again among the signs that ascend rapidly the trine.'' - Robbins, F. E. (1940). Tetrabiblos


I would argue that Ptolemy here uses ordinary ecliptic aspects in rapidly and slowly ascending signs, rather than ''in mundo'' aspects. Of course, the reasoning is based on temporal degrees, but the aspect can only occur in its ordinary ''ptolemaic'' aspect i.e. 60 or 120 ecliptical degrees. The reasoning seems similar to the sextiles in signs of ''equal power''.

Thoughts?
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