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Valens: equal houses not whole signs
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waybread



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Posted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Valens is getting "curioser and curioser". I've now worked out 5 of his horoscopes (Riley transl.), roughly according to the dates of Neugebauer and Van Hoesen, Greek Horoscopes and Astrodienst software. Since N & VHs' order of charts is different than Valens, this is a bit of a challenge using a Google Book, but no matter. I simply wanted to take up the challenge posed by Deb and Curtis, to see what house system gave a decent fit with Valens's data. So far I have looked at Valens 2.21 charts #1, 12, and 14; 5.10 ("sun, Venus in Aquarius" and "sun, Jupiter in Capricorn".)

As noted above, I had to peg Neugebauer and Van Hoesen's dates one day earlier than they gave. Their rising times were approximate, and sometimes an hour's or 15 minutes' difference gave a better fit with the data. Also Valens had two errors in these charts of planetary placements that could not be considered rounding error. The big difference between Valens and Astrodienst, however, was locating the Part of Fortune. Astrodienst goes by degrees, but seemingly Valens went by signs only.

I've checked out the 5 charts using whole signs, equal houses, and Porphyry and have to say that with just these five cases, whole signs gives the best fit-- but with a big caveat: generally speaking, to get the charts to work out in whole signs, (namely, with the P of F in the sign and house where Valens said it was) I usually had to put the ascendant at an early degree of its sign. Therefore, unless a planet or P of F were in an early or late degree, there wasn't much difference between whole signs or equal house in these horoscopes. Pophyry didn't work well, but then, who knows how Valens computed his MC?

But Valens sometimes gives the planetary ruler for a particular sign/house which really only works well with a whole sign system-- perhaps not so much if by "ruler" he meant sign only.

To complicate matters, Valens doesn't give birth locations. I used LMT for Alexandria, Egypt, but played a bit with Athens and Rome.

I immediately realized that Valens didn't give horoscopic or Part of Fortune degrees in many of his charts-- at least not many of the ones where houses are important, vs. some other measure. So how did Valens calculate the Part of Fortune? In these five charts, he seemed simply to count by sign. He seemed to set Aries equal to 1, Taurus to 2, Pisces to 12, and so on. He used the day and night forumulas set out earlier in the Anthologies, but basically for a night birth with Scorpio rising, sun in Capricorn, and moon in Leo, we add (8+10)-5=13, ending up around the zodiac (-12) at Aries.

No degrees, just signs. So when Valens used a derived house method counting from the P of F, he also went by signs equated to houses, generally ending up at the derived MC or 11th ("good daimon") house.

In book 5 (Riley, p. 105), just above where others have noted Valens's seeming deviation from whole signs, he basically said one has to tailor the method to the horoscope native.

"As a result of not knowing that predictions are made using many methods, and since they have devoted themselves to applying one method to every case, most men have knowledge which is nonexistent, ineffective, or careless. Those who have accurately operated with many methods and who have used a scientific system which employs many methods appropriate to the nativity possess a careful grasp of the effects of causative influences."

Valens clearly used houses in 3 different ways in the charts I looked at so far: (1) in relation to the angles, (2) in relation to thematic meanings (as he lays them out: the 3rd relates to travel, for instance), and (3) derived from the Part of Fortune set equal to the first house.

Whether he used equal houses or Porphyry in his later books would be worth investigating.
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Paul
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Posted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

waybread wrote:
The big difference between Valens and Astrodienst, however, was locating the Part of Fortune. Astrodienst goes by degrees, but seemingly Valens went by signs only.


Yes, that's exactly it. I worked out a few of those charts last summer as I was curious about his use of the Lots.
I'm of the opinion that Valens was writing, specifically those earlier chapters, for his students. He was teaching them and keeping things as simple as possible. He at least admits this in part at the end of Book 3.
(pg 70 of Riley's translation)

Quote:
These chapters which I have composed may seem unprofessional because they have been addressed to a youthful audience, my students, in such a way that they might find my introduction to this art comprehensible. In view of this fact, I had wished to revise them for greater accuracy, but I have not had the opportunity


A little bit later, in book 4 he says (pg 78 )
Quote:

I urge them to observe the position of the stars in degrees when necessary for determinations to the degree, to observe their positions by sign when that level of accuracy is appropriate, so that what is said will have been said truly.


So I actually think that wherever possible Valens was trying to be 'loose' and approximate and not worry about measuring things to the exact degree, both to convey the gist/meaning to his students - where obviously the simpler the better - whilst suggesting that there are contexts in which accuracy is much more needed.

I think when he is mentioning degrees specifically he tends to use a house system that isn't the whole sign system, and so I believe that really he's using whole signs as a broad 'lens' and then when necessary we need to focus more specifically with degrees. And rather than see Valens as attempting to convey right from beginning to end the way to read a chart, we're seeing a beginner's manual to astrology which takes the student through the varying techniques which we're advised require accuracy but so as to teach the principle often sticks with conveying that principle more broadly.

This is just the view I have when I read Valens, I appreciate that people see this very differently, and I have no investment in it either way. I think it's interesting to examine of course from a historical point of view, but I really feel that some context is lost if we don't recognise that Valens is writing not as a comprehensive "this is what astrologers today do" and more like a progression which took him many of his years of life and describes the journey from beginner of astrology to someone much more proficient. And just as we wouldn't take a beginner's book to astrology today and see it as a fully comprehensive account of astrology as practiced by professionals today, I don't think we should do so with all of Valens either.

But then I've not read Valens from beginning to end and I don't speak Greek, so I am happy to bow to people who are authoritative on the matter, whoever they may be.
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waybread



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Posted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Paul.

I've stressed Valens's "project" as one of compilation, because he often indicates that this is what he does. He cites Petosiris frequently, often calling him "the Compiler" as well. Ptolemy seems remarkable for attempting a synthesized textbook.

You've indicated a second and equally important project of Valens, which is teaching astrology to novices. They have to walk before they can run!

We can truly sympathize with Valens, these many centuries later, in wanting to go back to his Anthologies to clean up discrepancies, but not having the time to do so.

Without having a decent index to either Riley's provisional translation or to Neugebauer and Van Hoesen's match-ups with Valens's horoscopes, it would be time-consuming to find locations where he used both degrees and house identities. I found a few of the nativities where he mentions degrees (as in predicting length of life,) but then these didn't make much use of houses. And actually without several houses or angles given as anchors for the charts, it is more difficult to reconstruct them in order to learn how Valens used house cusps.

If somebody here has got better examples than the charts I cited, I will probably have some time to reconstruct them.

Like you, Paul, I do not have a particular horse in this race. If anything, I've been sceptical of claims that whole signs were ubiquitous until late Antiquity, because from a sky-gazing perspective, it would be difficult to determine when a planet moved from one 30-degree pie-sector to the next (contra both whole signs and equal house methods, but pro Porphyry or an 8-house scheme.) With the latter, one could easily determine the locations of sunrise, MC, and sunset (or even easier, perhaps, with the moon on a clear night) and thereby set the angles. Then it is easy to measure a two- or three-part division of the southern/upper hemisphere quadrants-- using something like the ancient equivalent of a big protractor.

In favour of whole signs, they are easiest to use, notably if one is drafting horoscopes on an astrologer's board. It is interesting how few of the archaeological and "literary" horoscopes analysed by Neugebauer and his associates appeared in graphic form. Either the ancient astrologers kept the complex visual reprepresentations in their heads, graphic horoscopes have been disproportionately lost, or else they used astrologers' boards, or.....?

The more I look around in the "house problem" however, the more I realize that astrologers dealt extensively with a symbolic universe.

They also dealt with an increasingly abstract universe. Ancient astrologers and weather forecasters at a very early stage moved from sky-gazing to consulting an ephemeris, tables of rising signs, table of essential dignities, &c rather than marking positions in the heavens. Calculations of lots, length of life, derived houses, and so on, aren't in the sky any more than the Man in the Moon.

Just a final aside. I deeply respect astrologers who have learned ancient Greek, which is far more than I have done. It would be nice to get more philologists of ancient Greek and Latin on-side, as well. They are the scholars who could determine whether different sections of compiled texts came from different periods of ancient history or from different locations. I've come across a few sources from philology (like Prof. Riley) but more would be helpful to unravel the secrets of horoscopic astrology's origins.
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zoidsoft



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Posted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 7:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found this little bit from the Riley translation of Valens interesting (pg 27):

Quote:
/61K/ The sun inheriting the hour or Fortune and in the Ascendant: if Jupiter is in conjunction or square, the native will be fortunate. If Mercury is also in conjunction, he will succeed through his words. If Mars is in conjunction or square along with Jupiter, the native will be great, a master of life and death. If, given the previous configuration, Saturn is square or in opposition, the native will fall into mishaps and penalties.


This is in the section about each planet when it inherits the lot or the hour (ascendant). What I find strange is that Mars is given a favorable delineation while Saturn is negative here which suggests that the Sun is below the horizon due to being contrary to sect. Maybe Valens is using equal houses after all.

Martin, what does the Greek say here? (in bold)
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Deb
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Posted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Curtis

I'm not sure if this has any relevancy to your point or not (I'm beset with trying to sort out computer problems today, so my brain is elsewhere), but I see I have some kind of highlight across the chart published on p.22 of Schmidt's Book II (conc) & Book III). noting Fortuna in 4th shows the Sun (in 7th) was below the horizon. Not sure if that impacts on this issue but you might find it worth noting if you haven't already.
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

zoidsoft wrote:
Martin, what does the Greek say here? (in bold)

It says ὡροσκοπήσας, hōroskopēsas, an aorist participle meaning something like 'having horoscoped' or 'while it is horoscoping'. What exactly it means 'to horoscope' is another matter...
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zoidsoft



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Posted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin Gansten wrote:
zoidsoft wrote:
Martin, what does the Greek say here? (in bold)

It says ὡροσκοπήσας, hōroskopēsas, an aorist participle meaning something like 'having horoscoped' or 'while it is horoscoping'. What exactly it means 'to horoscope' is another matter...


Thanks. I'm thinking that at least as far as trigon lords are concerned that cadency from an angle is at least partially a hindrance even if it is in a whole sign angle. It makes me wonder once again how correct Obama's chart is because the first trigon lord is Mercury which while in the whole sign 7th is well below the horizon and the 2nd is Saturn which is completely cadent. Jupiter isn't really much better than Mercury. I think Saturn being in a possible 10th from fortune and in own domicile and bounds might bail it out to some extent. Valens hints in his first example that the angles aren't the only consideration. I think he also said somewhere that when a planet is to the right of an angle that it will be considered a hindrance and impediment, but I can't seem to find that text right now. I'd sure like to know if the word he used was "kentron"...
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zoidsoft



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Posted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
Hi Curtis

I'm not sure if this has any relevancy to your point or not (I'm beset with trying to sort out computer problems today, so my brain is elsewhere), but I see I have some kind of highlight across the chart published on p.22 of Schmidt's Book II (conc) & Book III). noting Fortuna in 4th shows the Sun (in 7th) was below the horizon. Not sure if that impacts on this issue but you might find it worth noting if you haven't already.


I think the reasoning here is that because Fortune was in the 4th, they must be using the nocturnal formula, but Valens says to only use the nocturnal formula if the Moon also happens to be above the horizon at night (you will find this option in Delphic Oracle - F3 | Hellenistic | Lots tab). In practice though I haven't verified that he actually used this rule with any of his examples yet so I'm not even sure that this proves the use of whole sign houses in this instance. Valens in other places seems to say that it depends upon where the lots fall as to whether you switch due to how "chrematistikos" such positioning is. In my own experience, I would explain it like this; if you're left handed, you'll still be inclined to use your strongest hand for fortune and will not want to use your weak hand to support yourself unless forced.
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Larxene



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Posted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 4:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:

Larxene - have you checked the Holden translation of those quotes you gave from Firmicus earlier? I noticed yesterday that Bram's translation of the Latin is so abbreviated as to be pretty useless. I was hoping to take a closer look today, but can already see I won't have time for that. If anyone else has the Holden translation it would be useful to compare.



Unfortunately, the book never arrived and I was given a refund due to lack of stock for replacement. To think I timed it during Mercury day and hour too...

Maybe some time in the future...
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zoidsoft



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Posted: Fri May 30, 2014 4:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Having compared Schmidt's translation of Book II (part 1) to Riley's, I've noted that Schmidt has the word "zoidion" transliterated in several places in the text, but Riley seems to favor the translation "place" which is more vague (could mean either house or sign). If the original text does indeed use "zoidion" which I think very likely, this seems to indicate that in this part of the delineation of the lord of the ascendant or the lot that one should use whole sign houses.

In particular, compare the first paragraph with Schmidt's translation on the Gate of Hades (2nd house) on page 17, which corresponds to Rileys translation on page 30 (book 2).

The only other option I can think of is that perhaps "zoidion" isn't exactly a "sign", but rather a concatenation of the meaning of a sign with a house, but I find that to be a stretch.
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Posted: Fri May 30, 2014 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Greek text does indeed read en toutō tō zōdiō (or en toutōi tōi zōidiōi, if we're transliterating all the subscript iotas).
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zoidsoft



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Posted: Wed Jun 04, 2014 3:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another section from Valens bk II, part 1, pg 27-28 (Schmidt):

Quote:
Zeus square Ares - If the one should mark the hour while the other is culminating or occupying the Good Spirt, will be powerful. For this figure becomes more powerful than the square, especially if a tropical [zoidion] should be in between.


From Riley book 2, pg 34:

Quote:
Jupiter square with Mars is strong, if one is in the Ascendant and the other is either at MC or in <the> Good Daimon. This configuration will be stronger than that of trine, especially if a tropic sign is between.


I might have brought this up earlier in the thread as I remember Martin's "good spiriting" quote... At first I thought that the square could be from the ascendant to the 11th, but on second thought I think what it is saying is that the first configuration (culminating) is the square and that the second is thought of as a sextile but not mentioned. Otherwise, why say "for this figure becomes more powerful than the square" suggesting that there is a distinction here between the culminating figure and the one that is in the good spirit?

Notice that Riley mentions trine here whereas Schmidt has square. Which is it?

Now with the tropic sign being in between, that seems to point to only a single sign between the one on the Ascendant and the one in the Good Spirit. If it was square, then there would always be at least one tropical sign "in between" and no reason to mention it when measuring by degrees. If measuring by whole signs then it is possible for the square to not have a tropical sign "in between" because they could be at the angles.
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Posted: Wed Jun 04, 2014 7:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

zoidsoft wrote:
Notice that Riley mentions trine here whereas Schmidt has square. Which is it?

It's trine (in both the Kroll and the Pingree editions). Probably just a slip of the pen on Schmidt's part. 'The square is stronger than the square' would require a lot of exegesis. Wink
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