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Aspect doctrine in ancient astrology
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Paul
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Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2018 11:47 am    Post subject: Aspect doctrine in ancient astrology Reply with quote

I wrote a comment on Facebook which I didn't think would be so controversial but has already proven to be so in less than 24 hours.

The nature of the comments was originally about the primacy of whole sign aspects in Hellenistic astrology and the general point I made was that I understood many of these authors to actually prefer aspect by degree to aspect by sign.

My comments are produced here in full and any important contradictions or replies have also been reproduced. I've also let everyone know on that Facebook forum that this thread exists if they want to get involved.
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Paul
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Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2018 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul
Quote:

I'm pulling from some notes I have already amassed.

I made the comment that whole sign aspects were the least important, not the most important, in Hellenistic astrology. Aspects by zodiacal degree were the most important aspect types in Hellenistic astrology, with aspects in mundo next in importance.

A major source who makes this explicit is Antiochus. Both Robert Schmidt and Robert Hand refer to Antiochus as one of the most influential of ancient astrologers(1). Antiochus himself gives a very detailed account of the aspect doctrine and goes to the pain of making sure that the priority of the aspect doctrine is clearly established.
He says (2) of the aspects:
"the first and greater differentia [of all] is that being taken by degrees" (i.e. aspect by zodiacal degree)
"the second is the temporal differentia...[based on] ascensions of the zoidia" (i.e. in mundo)
"The third is the zodiacal or common and universal differentia. in relation to which we all are in doubt" (i.e. by sign)

He goes on to spend the next couple of pages laying out examples of this just in case anyone was in any doubt, and highlights specifically the case of an aspect by degree being more important than that by sign.

Notice how he refers to aspects by sign, that which "we all are in doubt". So for Antiochus aspects by sign are only meant to be general and should be doubted.

And Antiochus is not alone, the earliest astrological manual we have access to is that of Manilius. Although his influence is believed to be much less than that of Antiochus, the fact that he is our oldest astrological manual means it's the earliest established mention of astrological use of aspects available.

Manilus is in complete agreement, he highlights if someone believed aspects occurring between signs preserve the power or 'dowry' of the aspect, that person "would be deceived" (3). Manilus likewise goes on to make this point explicit and that counting merely by sign is a "fallacy" and a "deception".

Conclusion:
So far from the belief that Hellenistic astrologers number one preferred whole sign aspects, and number two didn't use degree aspects, in fact we can see that actually Hellensitic astrologers preferred degree based aspects and didn't even like or trust in aspects by sign alone.

References:
(1) Antiochus, Antiochus of Athens The Thesaurus, trans. by Robert Schmidt, (Berkeley Springs, WV: Golden Hind Press, 1993), pp.iv-viii

(2) Antiochus, p.17

(3) Manilius, Astronomica, trans. by G. P. Goold (Loeb Classical Library 469. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press), 1977, pp.107-109



Paul
Quote:

My personal theory is that groups of three are a trine. Francesca Rochberg highlights the use of the trine as a grouping of signs in Mesopotamia who wouldn’t have the same geometric ideas as the Greeks. But then really the Greeks saw the trine as much as a polygon - a triangle, not just a line between one point and another. So houses, signs and planets can all be trine. Also explains why in Mundo aspects are considered, they’re just polygons on another plane.

The problem, in my opinion, only happens if you adopt an inventor hypothesis in which aspects and houses are all derived from a perfected zodiacal model.


Chris Brennan
Quote:
The text you are citing as Antiochus here is actually from Rhetorius, who compiled his compendium towards the end of the Hellenistic tradition, in the 6th or 7th century CE. Schmidt acknowledged this and corrected his error in his final translation of all of the surviving fragments of Antiochus in 2009. Schmidt and Hand were confused about this early in the project because there were three different versions of Antiochus that survived, and the one they decided to publish first turned out to be a part of Rhetorius' compendium where he rewrote and incorporated some definitions from Antiochus, while also adding a lot of new material of his own that reflected the state of astrology in his time. This is why parts of Rhetorius read as being much more similar to early Medieval astrology in some ways, because he was writing at a point in time where he was closer to the Medieval tradition than he was to the early Hellenistic tradition, just purely chronologically speaking.


Carlos Ashanti
Quote:
Which house systems did Antiochus and Maniliuuse?


Paul
Quote:

That’s not clear, I know Manilius better and it’s difficult to know but seems to involve the astronomical angles of ascendant and MC points so would appear to be a quadrant house system of some kind which is written poetically with visual metaphors which might best suit Campanus but translation issues and so on and the lack of clear calculation means it’s open to speculation


Carlos Ashanti
Quote:
You mean he used the MC as ascendant to check for honors and action too?


Paul
Quote:
I just mean he refers to the angles when discussing the houses and he says the houses are fixed and the signs move through the houses. This would imply some quadrant house system and the visual imagery most likely describes something like Campanus but could plausibly be some other system - we just don’t know. Of them all I think whole houses are least likely and then equal perhaps unlikely too.


Laszlo Levente
Quote:
Paul Don't you want to discuss these ideas formally in an appropriate forum like Skyscript rather than disseminate debatable ideas without providing evidence?

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Paul
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Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2018 12:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is going to get tiresome to repeat posts between two forums, but I'll copy any relevant posts that I make here. In reply to Levente asking for evidence that Manilius used the quadrant points.

Paul
Quote:
Manilius, Astronomica, trans. by G. P. Goold (Loeb Classical Library 469. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press), 1977

Just before (as in directly the preceding paragraphs) discussing the houses, he discusses the 'cardinal points'.
Book II, pp.147-149

"First place goes to the cardinal which holds sway at the summit of the sky and divides heaven in two"
...
"The third cardinal, which on the same level as the Earth holds in position the shining dawn, where the stars first rise, where day returns and divides time into hours, is for this reason in the Greek world, called the Horoscope"
...
"The last point, which puts the stars to rest after traversing heaven and, occupying the occident, looks down upon the submerged half of the sky"
...
"Nor must you rest content with observing each cardinal point; you must note with a retentive mind the spaces between them"

So this defines some terms - I include the last quote not to imply that those 'spaces between them' are the houses - they are not. It is to demonstrate that these 'cardinals' are indeed thought of as points rather than as signs - at least in this section.

We're then told by Manilius that signs are affected by the sky's division into 'temples' - temples being a metaphor of the translator, I don't speak Latin but the latin appears to be better translated as 'mundane parts/divisions'. Manilus tells us, importantly, that:
Book II, p.151
"each of the signs, as it revolves, receives the influences of heaven, and to heaven imparts its own. The nature of the position prevails, exercises jurisdiction within its province, and subjects to its own character the signs as they pass by"

"Position" here, for the phrase "the nature of the position prevails", is actually the Latin word Locus, and so these "temples" and "positions" can just be understood to be mundane divisions, or houses.

Importantly we have the signs moving through the houses, not forming them.

Manilus continues.

"The temple that is immediately above the Horoscope and is next but one to the heaven's zenith is a temple of ill omen"

Horoscope here, as per the definition only a couple of paragraphs earlier, appears to be the cardinal point of the ascendant. But is it really? Manilus compares this house, the 12th, to the 6th when he says, in the same sentence:
"but like unto it will prove the abode which with confronting star shines below the occident and adjacent to it"
Occident is the term he gave the descendant cardinal point.

But may he still means signs and not points in this paragraph? Manilus makes it explicit it is the points.
"each alike moves dejected from a cardinal point"

But contradicting this idea of the cardinals being only points is the following:
"Not more fortunate is the portion of heaven above the occident, or that opposite it below the orient; suspended, the former face downward, the latter on its back, they either fear destruction at the hands of the neighbouring cardinal or will fall if cheated of its support"

It seems then that the cardinals here can be either the points, or else the houses themselves. Either way the terminology used seems to imply the use of the cardinal points in constructing these houses. Perhaps most explicit is the description of the 9th house.
Book II, p.155
"the stars that follow midday, where the height of heaven first slopes downward and bows from the summit, these Phoebus nourishes with his splendour...this region is called by the Greek word signifying God."

When discussing the 10th house, the same visual imagery is employed which seems to imagine sweeping arcs between the cardinal points, and Manilius describes it thus:
p.155
"... in the citadel of the sky, where the rising curve attains its consummation, and the downward slope makes its beginning, and the summit towers midway between orient and occident and holds the universe poised in its balance"

Now perhaps one or other of these quotes alone would not suffice, but I've included them all because I think, together, they seem to imply that the mundane sphere is divided along some kind of visual metaphor, but, fittingly, from the cardinal points themselves. This would suggest that Manilius is describing something which appears to be a quadrant house system. This house system may be actually just a general descriptor for a variety of house systems which may exist and so Manilius might be deliberately vague here to kind of try to capture the wonder and essence of the division of the mundane sphere in general terms. If he actually has a house system in mind, this visual imagery of sweeping arcs to and from the cardinal points calls to mind, for me, the prime vertical. And if he takes that visual imagery one step further, it's very easy to imagine, for me, that he would be describing Campanus houses. Campanus would fit (as indeed would something like Placidus) with the idea of static houses through which the celestial sphere revolves and the signs move through them. Of the two Placidus is pretty much impossible to visualise. Campanus is incredibly simple to visualise and would fit with this comments on arcs to and from the cardinal points as well as discussing houses as sitting on top of another - this connotes, to me, the idea of houses being like blocks which sit on top of each other and surround the native, and again Campanus can be imagined similarly.

With all this in mind then I think it's fair to say that:
Manilius *appears* to use some kind of quadrant system, though the nature of it is definitely not made clear or explicit, but that if there is some kind of quadrant system it *could* be Campanus - but certainly could be another. And with all said and done, it might not be a quadrant system at all, we don't know and there are translation issues and so on as said before. But a "take him at his word" reading of the text would imply that Manilius, for me at least, seems to be using the cardinal points and constructing houses from them.

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james_m



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Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2018 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

paul,


thanks for following lazio leventes suggestion and bringing your thread and commentary to skyscript... it is very helpful... thanks lazio for making this suggestion... as an aside, i am baffled by the fact so many continue to try to have informed discussions on facebook..

as to your post/s - i have not had the privilege of reading the first book you cite - Antiochus, Antiochus of Athens The Thesaurus, trans. by Robert Schmidt - there is none available for sale that i can find.. the 2nd one by manilus -Astronomica - is one that i hadn't gotten round to yet...

based on all you have posted and shared, i agree with you here - "This would suggest that Manilius is describing something which appears to be a quadrant house system." yes it does..

thanks for sharing!
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petosiris



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Posted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 1:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've come to realize these sorts of discussions of whole signs are pointless without acknowledging the available astronomy at the time, and the widespread necessity of using placements by signs.

Quote:
I think perhaps we can agree on the following: although the astrologers mostly seemed to be happy with sign-based considerations (positions of stars, the ascendant, aspects, lots), there was also a tendency to fine-tune the system to degrees, which resulted in dilemmas. (Hence the "equal systems"**.) Another aspect of this fine-tuning was the notice of the meridian-MC as something important. Now, various authors acknowledged and approached these dilemmas differently; but in practice, they seem to have resolved the problems most reasonably: using the good ol' "whole-sign" system.

* I think we've been talking at cross-purposes. Excluding the "the Sun is here, the Moon is there, the rest is not important; hasta la vista, baby!"-type "original" horoscopes (which were probably interpreted orally, perhaps even using a tablet), and focusing on the horoscopes appended with any interpretation - in other words, concentrating on relevant data -, we (1) never meet instructions that would basically mean an "exotic" (that is, not whole-sign) "house system" is being used, and (2) the data comply with the whole-sign rationale.*** I don't think in these cases we're entitled to doubt on the author's motivations.
- as discussed by Levente here - http://skyscript.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8308&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=120

So whether someone is going to defend whole signs (or configurations), or argue for quadrants (or orbs), he has to come up to terms with this fact. Most horoscopes could not have used quadrant houses or aspects by degree, and this is by necessity. It could have been provisional or general, but that is just a simple fact. For this reason I am going to avoid this thread, as each side will try to push some agenda.
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Paul
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Posted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 1:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Petosiris

I have no agenda - ironically this thread only happened because Levente asked for it. But feel free to ignore it anyway.
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Levente Laszlo



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Posted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul, I asked for this thread because I am convinced that your views, which have been warmly welcomed, are wrong, and I would prefer to demonstrate my point in a better place than Facebook. I do not doubt that your interpretation is based on your sincere enthusiasm to understand Hellenistic astrology more deeply, but it calls the current consensus into question, which is fine insofar as extraordinary claims are supported by sound evidence.

Now, although the title of this thread is "Aspect doctrine in ancient astrology," there are actually two controversial issues here: which is more important, aspects by sign or aspects by degree; and what "house system" Manilius used. I will only deal with the second issue this time.

I believe we can agree that the most prevalent "house system" in Hellenistic astrology is the "sign = house" system that is attested in every actual horoscope using any "house system." It is so common that no astrological authors seem to have felt compelled to formally introduce it, but their tendency to use "sign" and "house" as synonyms clearly reveal their underlying reasoning (for the ample sources see Stephan Heilen, Hadriani genitura, pp. 691-693).

Manilius is one of these authors. When giving the years awarded by the houses, he tells the years assigned to the 11th house with the following words (3.603-604): quaeque super signum nascens a cardine primum / tertia sors manet.... (Actually, this sors manet is Housman's quite sensible emendation for the manuscripts' forma est.) Goold (p. 213) translates it as "and the temple which is separated by one intervening sign from the first sign rising at the cardinal point..."; but, as he also acknowledges in footnote d, it is not a literal translation. It would be something like "and which is the third portion above the first sign that is born from the pivot (i.e., the third house when you count from the ascending sign, inclusively)," which is a clear statement that the 1st house is conceived as the ascending sign. (Note that Manilius is writing in verse, which requires the usage of a wide range of synonymous words: for "house" he uses six different words, including sors "portion"; see Dorian Greenbaum, The Daimon in Hellenistic Astrology, pp. 56-61, esp. p. 56. Here the seventh is signum "sign".)

This is not the first time to encounter "sign" in the meaning of "house" in the poem. When introducing the twelve-turn system, he writes (2.856-859): omne quidem signum sub qualicumque figura / partibus inficitur mundi; locus imperat astris / et dotes noxamque facit; vertuntur in orbem / singula et accipiunt vires caeloque remittunt. In Goold's translation (p. 151): "in any geniture every sign is affected by the sky's division into temples; position governs the stars, and endows them with power to benefit or harm; each of the signs, as it revolves, receives the influences of heaven and to heaven imparts its own"; the only problem is that in order to make the passage comprehensible for the audience presumably more open to Manilius's poetry than to his exact astrological instruction, Goold did not translate literally again. The literal translation would be something like this: "in fact, every sign in whatever configuration is tinged by the apportionments (partes, a synonym for "houses") of the world; the place (now the most conventional locus is used) commands the stars and makes gifts and harm; the signs (singula requires a neuter noun in the plural, which can only be signa), one by one, revolve around, receive powers and send them back to the sky". To render it in plain language: "every sign is colored with a house meaning in any given chart; the planets are affected by their house position, either for the good or the bad; and the signs put on and take off these positive or negative house meanings as they revolve." I believe this passage makes it absolutely clear that Manilius versed the "sign = house" system.

I admit that Manilius's vivid description of the cardinal houses and then the whole twelve-turning may cause some uneasy feeling in those who are sensitive to astronomical reality, since these poetic images undeniably better suit to the sphere delimited by the real horizon and meridian than to angular signs and their associates, but let us not forget that we are dealing with poetry here, and Manilius does not really bother with astronomical subtleties anyway (for some examples see Otto Neugebauer, A history of ancient mathematical astronomy, p. 596, n. 28; also pp. 718 and 722).
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Paul
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Posted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Levente

Thanks for the detailed response and (as usual) excellent points raised. I do, however, tend to find myself in disagreement with the strength of surety of some of your points however.

The reality is I wanted to talk about aspects but someone asked me what I thought Manilius might use as a house system, I gave that answer, but honestly I realise I am pretty much all on my own in thinking that Manilius didn't describe a definite whole sign house system in his work.

In fact I think the evidence against it is much clearer (and more explicit) than that against (which is often inferred). But I know I am alone on that, so I will just leave my posts be because when I made my post I hadn't intended it to be controversial, I thought most people figured Manilius either did what everyone else did or else it isn't clear.


I really just wanted to talk about aspects, so I don't have it in me to fight the fight for houses once again
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Mark
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Posted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul Wrote:

Quote:
The reality is I wanted to talk about aspects but someone asked me what I thought Manilius might use as a house system, I gave that answer, but honestly I realise I am pretty much all on my own in thinking that Manilius didn't describe a definite whole sign house system in his work.


I appreciate your recitence to go further down the track of discussing house systems. Its one of those controversial topics that tends to swallow up any other topic.

Still, at the risk of adding further fuel to the fire I feel the need to pick up your comment suggesting your view on Manilius is somehow singular. I find that rather odd considering you have studied with Deborah Houlding. In her book Houses: Temples of the Sky she suggests Manilius was descibing a system that sounds closest to the Campanus house system.

Quote:
It appears that it is simply not possible to reconstruct a system that corresponds to Manilius's perspective yet remains sympathetic to conventional ecliptic-based astrological practice. It has also been suggested that Manilius's system was, in fact, an idealised framework of heaven, based upon the prime vertical which was probably assumed to equate with the ascendant. The fact that this was not always the case in his region was possibly overlooked or deliberately ignored in the way that Platonic philosophy favours the spiritual ideal over material reality. As astrologers we take a similar stance in concluding that from a philosophical point of view the ascendant is symbolic of east and therefore, astrologically, assumes that importance.

From such a perspective, the system that comes closest to that of Manilius, which may even have been the one to which he referred, is the Campanus system, because this also rejects a direct division of the ecliptic in favour of the prime vertical, the great circle which cuts the east and west points of the horizon and passes through the zenith and nadir at right-angles to the observer's meridian. This is divided into twelve equal sections with the corresponding intersection with the ecliptic taken as the house cusps. Although this system is attributed to Johannes Campanus, a prominent 13th century mathematician, it was used by Al-Biruni in the 11th century under the name 'the system of Hermes', suggesting a much earlier, unknown origin.

The point in favour of Campanus is that it readily lends itself to a three dimensional view of space by emphasizing the planet's position in relation to the horizon and meridian at the place of birth - hence there is a subtle shift of perspective in which the houses are not simply projected onto the zodiac, but rather the zodiac is viewed through the houses as determined by the local sphere. The point against it, is that by undermining the role of the ecliptic, the symbolic connection of the Sun's orbit around the earth is weakened and some would see this as a more fundamental origin to house meanings. A more practical disadvantage is that Campanus is highly sensitive to distorted angles at extreme latitudes.


Frankly, I had always just assumed Deb's view had been an influence on your position on Manilius. But irrespective of how you formulated your position I hardly think that leaves you out on a limb as some seem to be suggesting. I am fairly sure there also a French text on Manilius that argued strongly he was describing something similar to Campanus houses too but I cannot locate a reference at present.

Mark
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Paul
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Posted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark wrote:

Still, at the risk of adding further fuel to the fire I feel the need to pick up your comment suggesting your view on Manilius is somehow singular. I find that rather odd considering you have studied with Deborah Houlding. In her book Houses: Temples of the Sky she suggests Manilius was descibing a system that sounds closest to the Campanus house system.


Actually I haven't studied houses with Deb, I have studied some horary, the issue of house systems did not come up, nor did the work of Manilius. I have however read her book and she mentions Campanus here. I do not know what her inspiration was for suggesting Manilius was using Campanus but it is not an influence on my own suggestion that this may be a description of Campanus, rather, just by reading what he says, he seems to be describing something akin to Campanus (imo).

For example, Campanus is probably the easiest house system to visualise or imagine. The way in which Manilius describes arcs between the ascendant and MC and the way he describes houses as kind of sitting on top of one another, how he suggests that the houses are static and the zodiac moves through it etc. all of these things call to mind something which, in my opinion, is unique about Campanus houses. In theory other house systems can be imagined as being static in the same way that Campanus suggests - Placidus for example also has this feature. But the visual imagery that Manilius employs makes it, for me, more likely that Campanus is behind this.

For what it's worth, I am aware that Deb also is skeptical about whole sign houses in general, but really I don't want to pretend I can give a fair account of her views on this, she has done so herself in the past.

What I will say is that actually my own views on the houses are entirely my own. They are based on purely on my own reading of the texts, my own understanding of the house systems and my own ideas of what the authors have had in mind. In some places they align with Deb, but in others they perhaps do not.

My singularity is not to suggest that I am unique in having these theories, but rather that I am pretty much alone on this forum right now in debating the point, as it were, against evidence of whole sign houses in Manilius's work. Deb is not posting on the topic, probably is fed up of the issue and wants nothing to do with it, and I know from past experience that these issues, for some reason, become contentious.

I'm not really in the mood to be Paul vs everyone on the issue of whole sign houses - my comment on the aspect doctrine wasn't even meant to be about the houses at all. I gave a kind of throwaway comment on what I thought was a fairly obvious read of Manilius and in my experience so far most people either don't take Manilius seriously anyway arguing he wasn't influential, he wrote a poem, he wasn't technical etc. and so any quadrant like material there isn't worthy of consideration anyway, or else they argue that he probably did whatever everyone else did. I've only had one other person try to argue that evidence of whole signs actually exists in Manilius's work, so I wasn't expecting my comment (which was, in summary, who knows what he used, he seems to use quadrants, but hey, maybe not) to become a big issue.

Really what I was commenting on was aspect doctrine. As usual though, the house system issue is so hot that it attracts attention.

It seems like, and correct me if I'm wrong, that you're suggesting that I got this idea of Campanus houses in Manilius from Deb, or have been privy to some teaching or course or lesson or even conversation about Manilius's house system - if so I can say that I have never in my life discussed the house system of Manilius with Deb. I have discussed houses more broadly, but not Manilius particularly. This is just something I realised myself when reading him in trying to understand houses in general and how they were used. I looked at manilius, naively at the time, thinking he was the oldest intact author of astrology and so would be the most obvious place to look. At that time I was trying to understand the astronomy behind all the major house systems so I could better understand what went into them, how they were used by the ancients, and finally feel confident knowing what I was doing when it came to programming their formulae (rather than blindly transcribe a formula from one programming language to another). Having done so and re-reading Manilius it occurred to me that he was describing something that might be Campanus then remembered reading that somewhere else and re-read Deb's book (I was an entirely modern astrologer when I read it first, so had new insights).

I'm curious, when you read what Manilius says about the houses, what house system, if any, springs to your mind? Think of a house system which is static for any given observer, is not formed directly from the zodiac (as the zodiac passes through it), and which is described in terms of arcs sweeping to and from the cardinal points? Or perhaps, like Levente you see evidence of whole sign houses? I'd be curious what you think.

I just dont' have any fire in me to fight or debate it at the moment, I'm happy to hear or listen to other people's views though.

Quote:
I am fairly sure there also a French text on Manilius that argued strongly he was describing something similar to Campanus houses too but I cannot locate a reference at present.


I'd be interested if you can remember this reference. I can speak a rudimentary French and do enough to muddle through to translate it.
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Posted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

paul,

i was intrigued by the Antiochus quotes in relation to aspect doctrine... while levente challenges your interpretation of manilus he doesn't touch on the comments ascribed to Antiochus on the issue of "aspects by sign or aspects by degree".. i am still very curious about this, but as i am unable to read the book you quote, i will remain in the shadows on this topic until someone shines more light on it.. thanks..
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Mark
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Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 1:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul Wrote:
Quote:
Actually I haven't studied houses with Deb, I have studied some horary, the issue of house systems did not come up, nor did the work of Manilius. I have however read her book and she mentions Campanus here. I do not know what her inspiration was for suggesting Manilius was using Campanus but it is not an influence on my own suggestion that this may be a description of Campanus, rather, just by reading what he says, he seems to be describing something akin to Campanus (imo).


Ok. Of course if a theory has logic it is perfectly possible for different people to reach an identical conclusion from different starting points. Deb's book was widely read by all her horary students like myself and I therefore assumed you must have had some acquaintance with it. I thought perhaps her theory might have left a seed in your mind even if largely unconscious. But as your adamant you developed your view entirely from first principles I will obviously take you at your word. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. The arguments need to stand on their own merits.

As for who influenced Deb again she may have developed the idea largely independently as you seem to have. However, I do note the first astrologer to put forward the notion Manilius was proposing a local space type house system was Prudence Jones. Deb does cite her in her book on the houses. Prudence Jones gave a talk at the UK History of Astrology Conference in the late 1980s arguing this. Her talk was later combined with other Conference speakers in the book ''History and Astrology, Clio and Urania confer '', edited by Annabella Kitson (Mandala publications, 1989) . Prudence Jones's article was entitled ''Celestial and Terrestrial Orientation chapter p27-42.

Paul wrote:
Quote:
My singularity is not to suggest that I am unique in having these theories, but rather that I am pretty much alone on this forum right now in debating the point, as it were, against evidence of whole sign houses in Manilius's work. Deb is not posting on the topic, probably is fed up of the issue and wants nothing to do with it, and I know from past experience that these issues, for some reason, become contentious.


Deb doesn't seem to want to have to have anything to do with astrology full stop these days so I hardly think we can read anything into her silence on this topic exclusively. .

Paul wrote:
Quote:
I'm curious, when you read what Manilius says about the houses, what house system, if any, springs to your mind? Think of a house system which is static for any given observer, is not formed directly from the zodiac (as the zodiac passes through it), and which is described in terms of arcs sweeping to and from the cardinal points? Or perhaps, like Levente you see evidence of whole sign houses? I'd be curious what you think.


Call me a coward if you like but I would really prefer to avoid going down that rabbit hole at present. I have a couple of reasons.

1 I would like more time to study the text in greater depth. Its been some years since I have done so.
2 There has been a lot of recent academic interest relating to the Astronomica of Manilius. I think that would put any astrological interpretation of the text into a much better historical/philosophical context.

Some of several works I want to study:

Manilius and His Intellectual Background by Katharina Volk. Oxford Univ. Press, 2009

Forgotten Stars: Rediscovering Manilius’ Astronomica. Steven J. Green and Katharina Volk, eds. 2011.Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press

Repurposing the Stars: Manilius, Astronomica 1, and the Aratean Tradition
by Patrick Glauthier, American Journal of Philology
JVolume 138, Number 2 (Whole Number 550), Summer 2017.

But if you nailed me to a wall and demanded an answer at gunpoint I suppose I still hold with the view that the poet Manilius is not necessarily seeking to describe a specific house system at all but rather following the tradition of the Astronomica of Aratus in describing the divisions of local space by the cardinal points. I dont think you can meaningfully discuss Manilius without comparing his statements to to those of the Astronomica of Aratus.


Mark
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Last edited by Mark on Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:13 am; edited 2 times in total
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Paul
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Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark wrote:

Ok. Of course if a theory has logic it is perfectly possible for different people to reach an identical conclusion from different starting points. Deb's book was widely read by all her horary students like myself and I therefore assumed you must have had some acquaintance with it. I thought perhaps her theory might have left a seed in your mind even if largely unconscious. But as your adamant you developed your view entirely from first principles I will obviously take you at your word. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. The arguments need to stand on their own merits.


If it makes it more comprehensible, I read Deb's book in my last year studying with the LSA. We were just after doing an introduction to horary. This was my first time learning anything at all about traditional forms of astrology and actually at the time I thought astrology as I was being taught which was pretty much always psychological in nature, was the way astrology was more or less always done. That may seem naive now, but we all learned at one point. Having learned a bit of horary I had an introduction to some of Lilly's work. I had never heard of any astrology older than Lilly with the exception of Ptolemy. Manilius was a name I never heard of. I knew about Equal, Placidus and Regiomontanus houses. I was aware of Campanus houses but didn't know what they were nor how they were calculated. It was only much later, when re-reading her book having, in the meantime, learned more about traditional astrology, being familiar with Manilius and trying to learn the history of who used the houses when, that I stumbled across her comment on Manilius and Campanus - of course perhaps unconsciously something stuck in my head, I don't know, I only know it came as a surprise and shock when I read Deb's comment on Campanus, I felt somewhat validated or vindicated. By then I had already tried to make sense of the astrological house formulary by Munkasey and a couple of other articles and books on the calculation of the houses. I had already read what Manilius and a few other older authors (like Dorotheus, but not Valens) had said about houses and in many ways reading Manilius and Dorotheus made me realise that all my assumptions about the history of houses were completely wrong. I read Deb's book again in an attempt to get my head around the history. But at this point I already wondered if Manilius was using Campanus, I never thought for a moment that he wasn't using some quadrant house though.

Quote:

Manilius and His Intellectual Background by Katharina Volk. Oxford Univ. Press, 2009

Forgotten Stars: Rediscovering Manilius’ Astronomica. Steven J. Green and Katharina Volk, eds. 2011.Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press

Repurposing the Stars: Manilius, Astronomica 1, and the Aratean Tradition
by Patrick Glauthier, American Journal of Philology
JVolume 138, Number 2 (Whole Number 550), Summer 2017.


Sure, in recent years when I learned of the growing number of whole sign house system adopters, chiefly thanks to reading people's posts on skyscript and a poll which I think you were involved with, I have gone back to Manilius many times and been curious about his work. I've read a couple of these references myself but I always find it curious how few people seem to focus on Manilius. It seems he gets sidelined by Valens, Ptolemy and Dorotheus more often than not. Perhaps that is because he was much less influential than them on subsequent astrologers, but for me he is a great curiosity being the oldest intact astrological manual that we have.

Quote:

But if you nailed me to a wall and demanded answer at gunpoint I suppose I still hold with the view that the poet Manilius is not really describing a house system at all but rather following the tradition of the Astronomica of Aratus on describing the divisions of local space by the cardinal points. I dont think you can discuss Manilius without comparing them to those of the Astronomica of Aratus.


Ye, I'm not sure either.

Edited to add:
Do you have a reference for what Aratus says about the local space between the cardinal points? I'm not sure exactly what you mean, I'm only passingly familiar with Aratus's works and then it's more about the issue of the position of the equinox and the tropical zodiac commencing with 0 degrees rather than Eudoxus's 15 etc. I don't know if I ever noticed much for the cardinal points or what he says about the arcs between them.
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Mark
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Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul wrote:
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I always find it curious how few people seem to focus on Manilius. It seems he gets sidelined by Valens, Ptolemy and Dorotheus more often than not. Perhaps that is because he was much less influential than them on subsequent astrologers, but for me he is a great curiosity being the oldest intact astrological manual that we have.


Yes that is undeniably so. The challenge is how we confront the apparent idiosycracies of Manilius. I remember, hearing Robert Hand give a talk at the History of Astrology Conference in London many years ago at which he more or less dismissed Manilius as a reliable astrological source because he allegedly sat outside the astrological norm in hellenistic astrology. Actually, I think the evidence suggests the early astrological texts were a good deal more diverse than the early work of the Neo-Hellenistic astrologers suggested. Moreover, just because a text doesn't fit into the pre-conceived boxes we perceive as mainstream doesn't invalidate it.

It is possible there were some unique features of early Roman astrology which Manilius drew upon. The first astrologer recorded in Rome was Nigidius Figulus (c. 98 – 45 BC). Nigidius was both a Roman Senator , an astrologer and a leading figure in the revival of Neo-Pythagorean mysticism in Rome. He was a contemporary and friend of Cicero.

Nigidius's esoteric and scientific interests distinguish him. Amongst his voluminous output (now largely lost) are two books on the celestial sphere, one on the Greek system and the other on "barbarian", or non-Greek, systems, a surviving fragment of which indicates that he discussed Egyptian astrology. His astrological work drew on the Etruscan tradition and influenced Martianus Capella, though probably through an intermediary source. It seems quite plausible that some of the apparently unique notions in Manilius may actually date back to the astrological teachings of Nigidius Figulus.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigidius_Figulus

What a difference the recovery of those precious lost texts would make to our understanding of early Roman astrology and its mediterranean antecedents! As it is we can but see through a glass darkly.

Mark
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Levente Laszlo



Joined: 03 Nov 2006
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Location: Budapest, Hungary

Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul wrote:
I do, however, tend to find myself in disagreement with the strength of surety of some of your points however.


Could you elaborate on this? I am really curious how you can reconcile the evidence I cited with your view or what compelling reasons you have to dismiss this evidence, based on a close reading of the original text (not a translation), backed by a comparison with the word usage of other early Hellenistic authors and best scholarship available, as not strong enough.

I don't deal with this issue so much because I'm a "whole sign" fundamentalist; you see, it was me who acknowledged that some traces of a possible alternative "equal" system are found in Dorotheus and elsewhere. It's just because statements like "the visual imagery [of Manilius] most likely describes something like Campanus but could plausibly be some other [quadrant] system" easily become pseudo-factual statements like "[Manilius] used a quadrant system similar to Campanus" (these are actual quotes from this forum, edited), and these memeifications do bother me.

What I also dislike is imprecise language. I have seen countless times statements like "astrological author A uses concept C", while the notion of use presupposes the person to be a practicing astrologer, and as long as a certain astrological author does not publish actual examples, we cannot infer what he used, only what he described. (There are quite many people writing about astrology without being astrologers.)

This imprecision is attested in the question about the aspects that you seem to wish to discuss: whether aspects by sign or by degree were more important. I consider this question both an overgeneralization and a false dilemma. What does one mean by "more important"? Degree-based aspects are a subset of sign-based aspects, so they constitute a special case. Also, "more important" for whom? The astrologers casting horoscopes without degrees and the authors describing only sign-based aspects, either by choice or necessity or ignorance, obviously didn't perceive any problem here. Of course, it is perfectly fine to say something like "astrological author A preferred X to Y," but it doesn't entail statements like "Hellenistic astrology preferred X to Y."

Nevertheless, if you please to address the evidence I provided to prove that Manilius describes "sign houses", I'm also open to discuss the text attributed to Rhetorius (which attribution can be called into question anyway) and your interpretation of Manilius, which latter I believe is wrong again; and this is still not personal.
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