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Valens: equal houses not whole signs
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I may limit myself to the quotation from 2.6 for the present, I think it interesting to note that Schmidt's translation is actually the one that is more open to other interpretations than the 'sign = house' one. Riley has:

Quote:
If the benefics are in the Sign of the Good Daimon

whereas Schmidt has:

Quote:
If the benefics should be suitably situated upon the zoidion occupying the Good Spirit

What the text says in Greek is Ean epi tou agathodaimonountos zōdiou hōsin hoi agathopoioi epitopōs keimenoi, which literally means 'If the benefics should be suitably placed in the Good-Spiriting sign'. Making a noun into a verb like this (here in the form of a present participle) is a typically Greek construction, and it is not immediately obvious what it would mean for a sign to be 'Good-Spiriting'. It could be that the sign is the [place of the] Good Spirit; but it could also be that the sign occupies a space known as the Good Spirit (which is what Schmidt's translation suggests). In the latter case, it doesn't seem (to me) necessary to suppose that the demarcations of the sign and the demarcations of the place/house are identical.

Just some food for thought.
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waybread



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Posted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it is hard to say what house system/s Valens used himself in his astrology practice without calculating his charts and applying the descriptions he derived for their natives.

If we focus on house variables beyond the cusp problem for a moment, we can see how Valens compiled a lot of disparate material on houses from different sources, without attempting to integrate them. He wanted to give his readers the benefit of seeing what were the different methods on various topics, and in a clearer form than his original sources (8.5, 9.1, 9.10.) (Riley provisional translation, where "place" indicates "house", although its meaning seems more extensive in connection with different techniques.) Valens's title "Anthologies" seems apt, indeed, in the sense of a compilation of different texts, rather than a creative synthesis of them.

Houses actually seem irrelevant to much of Valens's practice (as they do even moreso in Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos.)

Valens oftentimes used a method other than a house placement to determine something that I would associate with a house. For example, he gives "the lot of foreign lands" vs. the 9th house (2.28-30) or "the lot of children" instead of the 5th house (2.39.) (Cf. Ptolemy's alternative methods.)

Valens lists a wide variety of interpretations of particular houses (with the 12th and 6th being most consistent-- and troublesome.) He offers several methods for using houses: "radical," based on the P of F, and derived.)

Yesterday I again scanned through the Anthologies (which some of you have done far more than I!) and counted four separate places where Valens itemizes houses (2.4-14, 2.15, 4.12, 9.2) (and their contents are different,) plus a few additional individual references to specific houses in different parts of the text. He also attributes a Place of Accomplishment to his Nechepso source, but I didn't see where he tied it to a particular house, although he may have meant something else by it. (7.279P)

Chris has noted the derived house system (9.2) and then we find similar usages where signs stand in for houses. (“The four Places which precede the angles serve as Places of Foreigners and of Slaves. Likewise, in any nativity Gemini and Sagittarius have the same General effect as the Place of slaves because of their zodiacal position: when Cancer is in the Ascendant, the Places of slaves falls in these signs.” This section might pull in the Thema Mundi. 4.12, 171P)

Valens in 2.17 also describes a method (cf. Manilius) of setting the house of the P of F as the first house. 2.20 links the 11th from the P of F to prosperity; 2.36; for medical astrology and body parts, which follows with a typical sign/part/disease listing.

Deb:
Quote:
With regard to the meanings of the houses, mostly it is possible to understand the basis of the symbolism - and that it derives from their placement in the 12-fold scheme, utilizing associations of power (angularity/cadency), visibility, aspectual connections to the ascendant, the sense of rising or declining, and the associations of the planetary joys.


The 12th and the 6th seem invariably harmful (excepting in the derived house system of 9.2), but even the troubled 8th house sometimes merely stands for livelihood relative to the 7th (9.2,) inheritance, law (4.12), or a decent location for the waxing moon (2.8.) The second house is a real mixed bag. However, so often we do see a house being favourable or unfavourable according to the above model, with its descriptive nature playing out according to the nature of the planet or lot that falls within it.

House meanings, however, do not seem to have been codified in Valens's day.

Someone with more patience than I have could go through each of Valens's house sections and see how many houses indicate positions of government authority and wealth or their extreme opposites, slaves, children &c.

Conversely, it is hard to understand the connection between "brothers" and "goddess moon" for the third house, or prophecy and foreign travel for the 9th house, without hypothesizing an amalgamation of separate sources on house meanings. [On the latter house, we might see an amalgamation of the sun joying in the 9th; the later Greek attribution of the sun to Apollo, the god of prophecy; with a possible travel meaning from "Abraham" or "Hermippos", although I'm not convinced that the Place of Foreign Travel here meant the 9th house (2:29.)

Valens (9.2) attributes the origin of houses to the Egyptians but complains about his difficulties in making sense of them. Apparently Valens’s sources were at pains to conceal some astrological (or proto-astrological) knowledge as secret (Cf. Firmicus Maternus.) Valens cited Asclepius who “composed the most". (Just speculatively, he could have used a pseudonym after Imhotep, the Egyptian physican assimilated to the Greek deified physician Asclepius, as the medical nature of Egyptian star lore was strong.) Although Valens says that “many Egyptians and Chaldeans did likewise” Babylonian astrologers did not use houses. This preamble to book 9, however, highlights some of the confusion and diversity surrounding astrological house meanings.

"Asclepius" (9.2) is possibly the authority for what very much appears to be an equal house system, following the most carefully worked-out house delineations-- which include some derived houses, as Chris Brennan noted. Since Valens gives several methods for determining the rising sign and ascendant based on methods other than clock-time (cf. 9.6-7), it is hard to say how reliable Valens house cusps actually were once they became unhinged from the whole-signs system.

Here is Valens on the perplexity he faced in trying to decipher houses ("and their relationship to propitious and impropitious times." 9.2)

"The Egyptians, although they had received them in simple form from antiquity, locked them up with complex and interwoven distinctions, and they used sophistic talk and approaches. Having walled in this art with a myriad of bulwarks and with 'bars of unbronzed bolts' they then departed. As a result, those who enter these precints are like blind men: they wander at random because no gates have been placed there or because they do not change upon the location of these gates...I have knocked down a section of this barrier-gate and have shown the entrance, like a gate, to those who wish it."

This excerpt makes me imagine Valens telling his students: "I've done my best to make sense of this mess, but you're on your own," so far as astrological houses were concerned in the 2nd century CE.
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zoidsoft



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Posted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It seems to me that a solution to this issue is to find where it says that a planet is in such and such a house (a division of 30 equal degrees) where a planet is said to be in the "Good Spirit" when the ascendant is in Sagittarius and said planet is actually in Scorpio.

Or if a planet is said to be in the house of God in Gemini (9th equal house division) when the ascendant is in Scorpio. If you can find any such instances in the text where the place is mis-matched with a sign let me know.

The reason this is important is that statistically with the number of examples in Greek Horoscopes, if no such instances are found then it would be highly improbable that the context of that passage in Valens IX actually refers to measuring topics in the way shown in the previous chapters.

Like I said before, there's what Valens says, and then there's what he does.
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Deb
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Posted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 8:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Curtis,
Check the example Valens gives in pp.30-31 of Books V & V! (Schmidt edition) - where he gives the example of a man who had "Horoskopos in Virgo, the Moon [in] the subterraneous pivot in Scorpio; the midheaven in Taurus". He tells us:

    ...the subterraneous pivot, possesses the relation concerning foundations, buildings and parents [4th house matters], as well as that concerning god and siblings and a foreign land [3rd]


He unites the meanings of both houses because two places coincide on one sign (as he describes in the comment I opened the thread with). This is an example he uses to aid our understanding of it.

My time is short today so I haven't looked for the comparable passage in Riley, and I am using my laptop which is difficult to type on.

Mosty of his charts don't give enough detail on house placements for us to check the details as you suggest - but having said that, I do understand your point. We are coming to this from different perspectives - I am more interested in the ancient understanding of the principles of house division, you are more interested in what Valens appears to do in practice. I also consider that his practice was affected by the "practicalities" of his era ... but either way I am not making a case that one approach works better than the other.
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zoidsoft



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Posted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is the section on profections. Note that Valens says:

Quote:
The handing over is from the Moon to Ares by means of the pivot (kentron) and from the Horoskopos and Ares to Taurus (which is the Midheaven).


He is counting years for each topos, one for each year. The midheaven is found to be "prospering" because it has the "goad" that I explained earlier, but note that he says that:

Quote:
For a time he fared well upon a foreign land.


This suggests that he is using the 9th house meaning and that he fared well because it was on a pivot. I doubt very much that he was counting off 30 degree divisions for the reasons you stated about practicality. We already know that when the 10th and 4th pivots fall in signs that the character of the sign is changed to have dual meanings.

But in the example above the one you cite on pg 30, previous paragraph Valens gives another example in the same context bout profections where he says:

Quote:
As with the Horoskopos in Gemini, the Midheaven in Aquarius by degree. This place, then, possesses the relation concerning activity and reputation and children, and also that concerning a foreign land and god since zodiacally it is found in the 9th from the Horoskopos.


Valens makes it clear that we are counting signs here. The context suggests that it is the pivot which marks the zoidion such that it can have dual meanings, not the other way around.

What I suggested in my previous post to be more clear is to find examples that don't involve the MC or IC but are mismatched by sign and place. For example if you can find a planet in Virgo in the Good Spirit when the ascendant degree is in Libra, or the ascendant in Cancer with a planet in Aries in the Good Spirit or in Taurus in the Evil Daimon, etc...
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Deb
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Posted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
This suggests that he is using the 9th house meaning and that he fared well because it was on a pivot


No - you make it sound like the 9th house theme was raised to prominence because it gained the power of angularity, whereas what Valens tells us is that the MC in Aquarius by degree marks the place that concerns activity and reputation and children (10th house matters) and so this is reason the meanings of the 9th and 10th become combined.
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Posted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, you are seeing what you want to see ignoring the part where he says he is counting signs.

He uses the term "prospering" which is probably that term "chrematistikos" again which means "busy" or "telling". The reason that a "prospering zoidia" is such is because it possesses the kentron (goad) and it is also a "phasis". Schmidt says that a "phasis" is "an appearance which speaks". In other words it draws attention. Why? Schmidt uses the metaphor of geese flying in formation; when one of them breaks formation and goes in a different direction, it has the natural effect of drawing our attention. This is why the MC and the other 3 angles qualify as phasis points because they are where the planets shift into another direction and from the context of the legal paradigm, the testimony is more powerful.

You make it sound like one can simply take the modern practice of delineating houses similar to the way Valens did when in fact his thinking is quite different from what we now currently do. This is what Schmidt warned us against; that our preconceived notions could cloud what the text intends. Valens warns us about such glib assumptions in book IX. If we continue to do this, we will miss out on the deeper subtleties and fail to get into the mind of the actual author but instead see only our own mind as a reflection.
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Deb
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Posted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is going nowhere. I'm not particularly interested in analysis of what Schmidt has to say - just so you know, I've read (several times) all the translations he made of this work and the remarks he has published, but also make my own analysis of Valens text and note parallels, not to my own techniques or use of houses (I don't double up the meanings of house or use the 10th to signify children); but to details explained by other contemporary authors. Metaphors of flying geese are not of such interest to me.
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zoidsoft



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Posted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
No - you make it sound like the 9th house theme was raised to prominence because it gained the power of angularity, whereas what Valens tells us is that the MC in Aquarius by degree marks the place that concerns activity and reputation and children (10th house matters) and so this is reason the meanings of the 9th and 10th become combined.


PS - The goad (angle) raises the 9th to prominence by creating a phasis condition and at the same time that makes this zoidion a place giving testimony for 10th house matters.
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Posted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
This is going nowhere. I'm not particularly interested in analysis of what Schmidt has to say - just so you know....


But someone else might be. I too have read these translations more times than I can remember since they first came out in the early - mid 90's and I have other works too (not just Schmidt's). I also studied Greek in the mid 80's for about 3 years under pastor Bob Lowe using Strong's exhaustive concordance (not in a way to speak it). One of the things I worry about is when passages read too "clean". Because of semantic differences in language, translations are supposed to be a bit "rough" if fitting the semantic fields the best one can. A warning sign that semantic fields might not be matched well is when a translation reads too clearly. Just ask any seminary student if what I'm telling you is wrong...
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Mark
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Posted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin Gansten wrote:
Quote:
If I may limit myself to the quotation from 2.6 for the present, I think it interesting to note that Schmidt's translation is actually the one that is more open to other interpretations than the 'sign = house' one. Riley has:

Quote:
If the benefics are in the Sign of the Good Daimon

whereas Schmidt has:

Quote:
If the benefics should be suitably situated upon the zoidion occupying the Good Spirit

What the text says in Greek is Ean epi tou agathodaimonountos zōdiou hōsin hoi agathopoioi epitopōs keimenoi, which literally means 'If the benefics should be suitably placed in the Good-Spiriting sign'. Making a noun into a verb like this (here in the form of a present participle) is a typically Greek construction, and it is not immediately obvious what it would mean for a sign to be 'Good-Spiriting'. It could be that the sign is the [place of the] Good Spirit; but it could also be that the sign occupies a space known as the Good Spirit (which is what Schmidt's translation suggests). In the latter case, it doesn't seem (to me) necessary to suppose that the demarcations of the sign and the demarcations of the place/house are identical.

Just some food for thought.


I think Martin's post has really got to the heart of the matter. I have seen other hellenistic authors, apart from Valens, using terms like Good Daimon or Bad Daimon in a manner which unequivocally demonstrates these places are not describing whole signs. Instead they were being applied to Porphyry houses. This doesn't seem to be some idiosyncracy by Valens.

I find it interesting Neugebauer and Van Hoesen translate the places as locus or loci. I have wondered for some time if some of the sections Robert Schmidt chooses to translate as references to whole sign houses wouldn't have been better translated with this more neutral terminology.

It appears increasingly clear many hellenistic authors didn't see the places/houses as always synonymous with sign boundaries.

Maybe its anathema to even think this but perhaps Robert Schmidt simply made some errors in regards the assumptions that underpinned his early translation work?

Mark
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zoidsoft



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Posted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark wrote:
I think Martin's post has really got to the heart of the matter. I have seen other hellenistic authors, apart from Valens, using terms like Good Daimon or Bad Daimon in a manner which unequivocally demonstrates these places are not describing whole signs. Instead they were being applied to Porphyry houses. This doesn't seem to be some idiosyncracy by Valens.


Schmidt has said that this appears to be where the confusion on house division originated. I'd like to see the sources that "unequivocally demonstrate" these are not describing whole signs. If your sources predate Valens, then it's worth closer scrutiny. After Valens, then it might just be picking up the divergence from Valens time.
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Posted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zoidsoft wrote:
Quote:
I'd like to see the sources that "unequivocally demonstrate" these are not describing whole signs.


I have one. Its quite a bit later than Valens. But that certainly doesn't invalidate it. Indeed it shows the approach mentioned by Valens regarding Porphyry houses was possibly quite mainstream by then. The similarities to what Valens and Porphyry were doing with Porphyry houses indicate the old Schmidt theory that these were just used for length of life calculation is looking rather questionable at best.

No time to post it up in full today. It will need to wait until Monday.

Mark
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zoidsoft



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Posted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark wrote:
I have one. Its quite a bit later than Valens. But that certainly doesn't invalidate it. Indeed it shows the approach was possibly quite mainstream by then.


But we already know that trisections of the angles were being used by the later Hellenistic era. Can you prove that Valens trisected the angles because of a source that comes before him? Ptolemy is slightly before Valens and seemed to work with what Schmidt calls "dynamical" divisions...
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Posted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zoidsoft wrote:
Quote:
But we already know that trisections of the angles were being used by the later Hellenistic era.


Ok. My point was just that passage I intended to put up looks very similar to the process Valens was describing earlier.

Zoidsoft wrote:
Quote:
Can you prove that Valens trisected the angles because of a source that comes before him?


Well if we are to believe Valens' own words then yes! In The Anthology Valens himself states that he acquired the technique of trisecting the angles in a chart from the work of an earlier astrologer called Orion.

Mark
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