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Interview with Dykes on Hephaistio and the origins of horary

 
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Chris Brennan



Joined: 22 Sep 2005
Posts: 193
Location: Denver, Colorado, USA

Posted: Tue Dec 24, 2013 6:22 pm    Post subject: Interview with Dykes on Hephaistio and the origins of horary Reply with quote

A few days ago I did an interview with Ben Dykes about his new translation of book 3 of Hephaistio of Thebes for my podcast, and I wanted to post it here because we talked about several things that come up from time to time on the Skyscript forum, the most important of which is the origins of horary astrology.

Here is a link to the podcast interview:

http://theastrologypodcast.com/2013/12/18/ben-dykes-new-translation-hephaistio-thebes/

The most important point is that as a result of this recent publication I no longer feel that it is accurate to say that horary astrology did not originate or exist in the early Hellenistic astrological tradition. There is one reference to horary in this text that makes it clear to me now that the concept of horary probably went back to at least the 1st century CE. While it does not look like horary had developed enough at this point so that it constituted an entire branch on its own, it seems clear from the one reference in this text that the idea did exist, and I can see how it is a logical extension of some of the rules that they were using for katarchic astrology at the time.

All of this is important and humbling for me since I published a paper in 2007 pointing out the scarcity of references to horary in the Hellenistic tradition, and arguing that as a result of that we had to conclude that horary astrology did not exist in the Hellenistic tradition. At this point I have to reverse that position and say that it did indeed exist as a concept.

What is a bit annoying about this for me, aside from the need to eat crow and admit that I was wrong here, is that I was always aware of this reference in the Hephaistio text. I had come across it when Schmidt and I cite read the text back in 2006 when I was doing the original research for the horary paper. But in the critical apparatus Pingree pointed out that one of the manuscript traditions excluded the reference to horary in the text, and I had been under the impression that this was a serious enough manuscript tradition to make it sufficiently uncertain whether we could treat this one reference to horary in Hephaistio as completely reliable. I mentioned this issue in a lecture at the history of astrology conference in London in 2008. Ben Dykes and Eduardo Gramaglia have addressed this issue in their translation, and I feel like they have made a compelling enough argument for the legitimacy of the manuscript tradition that contains the reference to horary that I can no longer maintain any viable arguments against it. This means that there really is one reference to horary in Hephaistio, and it matches the wording in the Arabic version of Dorotheus closely enough that it was originally in the Dorotheus text as well. Thus the concept of horary was starting to develop already by the 1st century.

We go into all of this in a bit more detail in the interview, and I wanted to post it here since I've engaged in discussions and debates about this issue here on Skyscript before, especially with Deb who has always maintained that horary did exist in the early Hellenistic tradition. While I think that we may still disagree about some references in other texts and whether they refer to horary or consultation charts or something else, I have to admit at this point that she was right about the existence of horary in the Hellenistic tradition.

I hope that this sparks some interesting and worthwhile discussion about these issues.
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Astraea



Joined: 04 Oct 2004
Posts: 358
Location: Colorado, USA

Posted: Tue Dec 24, 2013 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent interview, Chris, I learned a great deal from it and ordered the book immediately after listening to it (along with Choices and Inceptions). Don't feel bad at all about revising your opinion re horary's Hellenistic presence, in some form. I respect you tremendously for being an open-minded and genuinely engaged researcher.
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epurdue



Joined: 14 Nov 2007
Posts: 327

Posted: Tue Dec 24, 2013 11:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris, this is what happens with research. We SHOULD be revising our conclusions based on what learn.

Don't be hard on yourself!
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james_m



Joined: 05 Dec 2011
Posts: 3707
Location: vancouver island

Posted: Wed Dec 25, 2013 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks for the update chris and for sharing the interview with ben on this new book. i listened to the interview a few days ago and enjoyed it. i also enjoy the fact you do these interviews.

i think it's very commendable to change one's view when new information becomes available. that is the beauty of an ongoing search for the truth. it isn't a static thing!
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Deb
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Joined: 11 Oct 2003
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Location: England

Posted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Chris, I managed to listen to a little of the podcast today and it was very interesting - I hope to catch the rest of it later. No need for concern about revising a former opinion - anyone who is in this subject long enough will need to do that more than once.

Quote:
While I think that we may still disagree about some references in other texts and whether they refer to horary or consultation charts or something else, I have to admit at this point that she was right about the existence of horary in the Hellenistic tradition.


I hope you realise that whilst I think there was an existence of horary in the Hellenistic tradition, I certainly don't think the Hellenistic tradition is where the core of horary principles were established. My current view is that - historically, we're still blanking out whole regions where important developments and transmissions took place. Something to touch upon perhaps, if we do that podcast you suggested?

Thanks for this link, for the update on your thinking, and for the good work you are doing with your podcasts!

Deb
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Chris Brennan



Joined: 22 Sep 2005
Posts: 193
Location: Denver, Colorado, USA

Posted: Mon Dec 30, 2013 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:

I hope you realise that whilst I think there was an existence of horary in the Hellenistic tradition, I certainly don't think the Hellenistic tradition is where the core of horary principles were established. My current view is that - historically, we're still blanking out whole regions where important developments and transmissions took place. Something to touch upon perhaps, if we do that podcast you suggested?



Yes, definitely! Sorry, I didn't mean to make it seem like I was implying that. I am curious what your views are in terms of the wider development of horary. I think that it would make for a really interesting discussion sometime.
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zoidsoft



Joined: 10 Feb 2006
Posts: 995
Location: Pulaski, NY

Posted: Mon Dec 30, 2013 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
I hope you realise that whilst I think there was an existence of horary in the Hellenistic tradition, I certainly don't think the Hellenistic tradition is where the core of horary principles were established. My current view is that - historically, we're still blanking out whole regions where important developments and transmissions took place.


The library of Alexandria was burned down (a habit of reigning despots) which was probably one of the largest collections of astrological works ever recorded. There were probably hundreds of different techniques written down which have never seen the light of day in the west. Perhaps some of these made it into Sanskrit where they are currently rotting in India.
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Deb
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Joined: 11 Oct 2003
Posts: 4130
Location: England

Posted: Tue Dec 31, 2013 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The library of Alexandria was burned down (a habit of reigning despots) which was probably one of the largest collections of astrological works ever recorded. There were probably hundreds of different techniques written down which have never seen the light of day in the west. Perhaps some of these made it into Sanskrit where they are currently rotting in India.


Sure, but also consider that before it was destroyed, many books were stolen and disseminated. Can't remember my source off the top of my head - could have been O'Leary's How Greek Science passed to the Arabs but I remember reading that there was a noted problem of Jewish slaves stealing books from Alexandria, which then made their way to Hellenised colonies in Khurastan, Persia - an area which was definitely pivotal in the transmission of astrological technique and which has been badly underestimated for its importance to astrological history.
Another point to bear in mind: the Alexandrian library was set up to house the texts that Alexander stole from the cities he conquered. According to the historian Strabo, Aristotle was tasked with the design of it. According to the Fihrist of Al Nadim, Alexander took any important work out of the Persian cities and sent them back to Egypt, along with their captured scholars, and utterly destroyed everything else, so that those communities were bereft of their scientific works. The Sassanian rulers made attempts to reclaim their books and re-establish their libraries centuries later - the work of Dorotheus was one they targeted. Hence I don't accept the commonly reported assertion that the Greeks transmitted to the Persians but the Persians did not influence the Greeks until after the Sassanian period - the Persian influence was always been there and the significance of ancient sources such as Osthanes probably deserves a lot more recognition than modern historians allow. With regard to horary, I'm sure the area around Khurastan, which is close to Balkh (the Palchus charts) was an historical 'hotspot'. Astrologers in that region were unlikely to dismiss or underplay 'non-rational' techniques and were ideally placed (on the Silk route) to receive and transmit influences between India and Alexandria.

I'll catch up with you personally Chris when I get back from the FAA conference in Jan and if you are still interested we can sort out a date for discussion then.

All the best to you both for the New Year.
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