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Equal House System in Renaissance Astrology?
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petosiris



Joined: 08 Oct 2017
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Posted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Therese Hamilton wrote:
It's a little late for this suggestion, but when only a Book number is given for a quotation from Valens or anyone else, it's too time consuming to check the quote when no chapter number or other specific reference is given. In general, only Martin had included chapter numbers in his quotes. (It wouldn't hurt for others to go back and edit posts to include chapters or more specific references in quotes.)

For Valens I'd like to compare the Schmidt and Gehrz translations, and now we have two editions of Dorotheus.

Petosiris, if you would shrink the size of your image, that would get rid of the too-wide screen for text.


I ''fixed'' the image (by making it a link). I am sorry for not including the relevant chapter and lines, I usually use the search function for the browser (usually CTRL + F) and write a part of the text to find it.

This approach probably takes less than to find the page of a given book. And I am also sorry for this offtopic reply.
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 10:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Petosiris wrote:
Quote:
I ''fixed'' the image (by making it a link). I am sorry for not including the relevant chapter and lines, I usually use the search function for the browser (usually CTRL + F) and write a part of the text to find it.

This approach probably takes less than to find the page of a given book. And I am also sorry for this offtopic reply.

Thank you for fixing the image! It's not really off topic to add a reminder to reference future quotes on this or any other topic on Skyscript. It's probably not too difficult after finding a quote on-line to backtrack to the chapter number and line number if there is one. Ben Dykes' (printed) Dorotheus is a master work of references with chapter divisions, line numbers and cross references with Pingree (Appendix A).
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Paul
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Posted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 11:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Therese Hamilton wrote:
It's a little late for this suggestion, but when only a Book number is given for a quotation from Valens or anyone else, it's too time consuming to check the quote when no chapter number or other specific reference is given.


You're right Therese, I updated my posts, let me know if I missed one.
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petosiris



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Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2018 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Not from the Lots, but from one Lot, Fortune.


Btw, I just remembered that he does use ''derivative'' signs from another Lot - the Lot of Daimon in Riley 2.36 on Melothesia from the two lots.
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul wrote:
Quote:
You're right Therese, I updated my posts, let me know if I missed one.

Thanks! Now I can go back and check the Schmidt and Gehrz translations.

Edit 10 June:
I've finally found enough time to begin a careful comparison of Schmidt's Volume 7 with Gherz. There is no doubt that Schmidt's translation is vastly superior as well as being accompanied by copious notes and references. (I haven't had time to compare Schmidt and Riley.)
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Konrad



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Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul wrote:
But it's not from the beginning to the end. He explicitly gives us examples of charts not apparently cast in whole sign houses, I've already provided one such example.


Dear Paul,

Obviously, I meant in all sections outwith the length of life chapter.


Quote:
Here's my theory, and you can tell me what you think of it...


I see where you are coming from, but I see your argument as unnecessarily complicated; it is a lot more simple (and likely) that Valens was using whole sign houses, for two main reasons: i) those who followed him interpreted him to be doing so (I am thinking of the Perso-Arab astrologers in particular); and ii) those who followed him chronologically in the Hellenistic period (like Paulus and Rhetorius) were doing so too. Added to this, there are sections in his work where equal houses just do not make any sense at all. For example:

Quote:
If the ruler of Fortune is found in the Lot or Place of Foreign Lands or
in opposition to it, or indeed if Fortune itself is located there in the Lot of Travel, and if Mars is in conjunction with the Lot or beholds that Place, this too causes nativities to travel. Riley trans. p91-2 of Pingree edition


Without it becoming pretty convoluted, I don't see how Mars can aspect an equal house, it is much more simple to assume that the place=sign.

Quote:
Later, in Book IV, he reminds us of the importance of exact degree positions where he says:


Yes, but in my opinion, his advice on exact measurement is to do with things like perfecting aspects and proper lot calculations rather than some under-the-surface advocacy of equal houses.

Quote:
My personal belief then is that many of Valens's examples are deliberately simplified...


Yes, the main issue is Valens doesn't drop sign based houses as they are found throughout the work, even after he outlines Porphyry houses. Added to that, his work doesn't display a very clear structure past the first one or two books - particularly from Book III on it becomes a hodge-podge of various topics, techniques and ideas. I get the impression that, at times, Valens is just listing everything he knows about astrology as it comes to him, or as he discovered it from other people during his life.
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Paul
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Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Konrad wrote:

Obviously, I meant in all sections outwith the length of life chapter.


Right, but the problem I have with this kind of thinking is that it amounts to "except when he doesn't, Valens always uses whole sign houses".

I mean it's the presence of the exceptions that should give us pause on making any generalised statement surely? This is even more the case when we consider that these sections represent the culmination of his work.

Quote:
I see where you are coming from, but I see your argument as unnecessarily complicated;


Actually I think it's a lot less complicated than some of the ideas out there. Particularly that Valens used whole signs for topics and then Porphyry for quantitive measurement and then maybe Equal for only some other specialised subject matter etc. Actually when you start to try to justify all that from the text you get a lot more suppositions and clauses than my much simpler "houses were like aspects, you can do it by sign or by degree".

Quote:
it is a lot more simple (and likely) that Valens was using whole sign houses, for two main reasons: i) those who followed him interpreted him to be doing so (I am thinking of the Perso-Arab astrologers in particular);


Can you expand on this? Where do they say that he used whole sign houses or define what that means? Also there's something of an anachronism here but before that...

[qoute] ii) those who followed him chronologically in the Hellenistic period (like Paulus and Rhetorius) were doing so too. [/quote]

Rhetorius describes a quadrant based system, which is likely Alcabitius. In fact Rhetorius strengthens my argument, rather than weakens it, because he sometimes will say that a given position is cadent by sign and angular by degree etc. which all suggest a much simpler explanation that both houses by degree as well as houses by sign (the theory I'm briefly setting forth here) was not uncommon. If anything Rhetorious seems to favour houses by degree (likely Alcabitius) over whole sign houses anyway so I don't think he's a good example to use if you want to suggest that they employed or favoured whole sign houses.

Now some people, such as Ben Dykes and Chris Brennan (I need to double check Chris), suggest that this is a liminal point in the evolution of houses in which whole signs were already giving way to quadrant divisions, but this is a like anachronistic argument in my opinion. It assumes a priori for example that whole signs was the original system of division and makes for a path of progress kind of argument from whole to essentially more modern house systems but there's no real reason to actually argue this.

When taken together what we get is a sense that examples of quadrants in an earlier tradition from Valens etc. are ignored and then when they show up later they're part of a path of progress (or perhaps a path of confusion) away from whole signs. There's a lot of big assumptions there, chief amongst them is to see the quadrant divisions in the earlier tradition as anomalous or non-standard.

But I think it's somewhat anachronistic anyway to imagine that there can be one tradition which stretches from Valens in the 2nd century to Rhetorius about 400-500 years later. Just because they're all a long time ago from our perspective need not mean that they're contemporaneous to one another or 'chronological' in any way that really matters. Proof against the argument is surely the inclusion of Alcabitius houses for example. It could be like comparing Liz Greene to William Lilly and imagining that Greene shows some tradition from Lilly. Perhaps that's too extreme an example but I hope it serves the point that a span of 400-500 years is no small thing.

I am personally less clear on Paulus Alexandrinus, but if we move to Firmicus he clearly is using an equal house division and likely alongside whole signs, again strengthening my theory. Olympiodorus appears to favour quadrant divisions.

Quote:

Added to this, there are sections in his work where equal houses just do not make any sense at all. For example:

Quote:
If the ruler of Fortune is found in the Lot or Place of Foreign Lands or
in opposition to it, or indeed if Fortune itself is located there in the Lot of Travel, and if Mars is in conjunction with the Lot or beholds that Place, this too causes nativities to travel. Riley trans. p91-2 of Pingree edition


On the contrary, I think this makes less sense in whole sign houses, but it's worth pointing out that I am focusing specifically on mundane houses rather than houses from the lots. A common idea is that there is whole sign Lots but that being the case the lot is the sign and starts to make less sense to speak of Mars as being conjunct a Lot rather than in the Lot, instead having the Lot as a degree but which affects the entire sign seems to be more sensible to me. In any event he later provides a formula to get the degree of the Ascendant from the degree of Lot of Fortune so we know that he envisioned the Lot as having a degree and not merely a sign.

Quote:
Without it becoming pretty convoluted, I don't see how Mars can aspect an equal house, it is much more simple to assume that the place=sign.


Why? Mars can of course aspect an equal house either as a mundane house or a Lot house. I'm not sure what you mean here.

Quote:
Yes, but in my opinion, his advice on exact measurement is to do with things like perfecting aspects and proper lot calculations rather than some under-the-surface advocacy of equal houses.


Why though? He doesn't suggest that himself anywhere and as I highlighted he says at one point that he's just being simplified for his young students and encourages more specificity. We don't need any "under the surface" advocacy of equal houses though. He explicitly describes them. Instead, the only time we can make an argument for whole signs is implicitly. If anything whole signs are what's under the surface and rests almost entirely on the argument that referring to a sign as a place means that the only way in which the house was understood was as a sign and all contrary examples and statements hushed up or left as the elephant in the room.

Not a single author describes whole sign houses. Isn't that a little short of amazing? They explicitly describe equal and porphyry so it seems like we should start there and make a case for whole rather than start at whole, a purely implied house system, and try to play down porphyry and equal, explicitly described house systems.

But anyway, we likely will have to agree to disagree.
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Paul
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Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

petosiris wrote:
Quote:
Not from the Lots, but from one Lot, Fortune.


Btw, I just remembered that he does use ''derivative'' signs from another Lot - the Lot of Daimon in Riley 2.36 on Melothesia from the two lots.


The question was derivative houses.

Are you saying he creates a house system from Daimon?

I don't think anyone would disagree that he derives body parts from, in this instance, Daimon, but then others derive them from the position of the Moon etc. as well, but I wouldn't consider these a house system. Are you? It's worth pointing out that Valens is describing this system only to abandon it and demonstrate his own preferred method.
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Konrad



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Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul wrote:
Right, but the problem I have with this kind of thinking is that it amounts to "except when he doesn't, Valens always uses whole sign houses".


But that's not what I am saying, is it? I am arguing Valens uses whole signs everywhere but one small section in Book III which suggests a particular usage of Porphyry houses rather than a general one.

Quote:
I mean it's the presence of the exceptions that should give us pause on making any generalised statement surely? This is even more the case when we consider that these sections represent the culmination of his work.


You think the length of life section is the culmination of his work?



Quote:
Actually I think it's a lot less complicated than some of the ideas out there. Particularly that Valens used whole signs for topics and then Porphyry for quantitive measurement and then maybe Equal for only some other specialised subject matter etc. Actually when you start to try to justify all that from the text you get a lot more suppositions and clauses than my much simpler "houses were like aspects, you can do it by sign or by degree".


I believe it was Schmidt and Hand who proposed that topical/angular distinction, I would not agree with that at all as I don't recall Valens using quadrants anywhere else in his work.

Quote:
Can you expand on this? Where do they say that he used whole sign houses or define what that means? Also there's something of an anachronism here but before that...


Yes, Valens is an important source for the Perso-Arabic astrologers (as was Dorotheus), and they used whole-sign houses. See Pingree's article on Iranian astrology: http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Journals/ISIS/54/2/Astronomy_and_Astrology_in_India_and_Iran*.html


Of course, Abu Ma'shar deviated from whole signs, but he was the only one from that time. I find it hard to believe that everyone from the Sasanians on is simply wrong, and that Valens actually meant for his students to use equal houses.

Quote:
Rhetorius describes a quadrant based system, which is likely Alcabitius. In fact Rhetorius strengthens my argument, rather than weakens it, because he sometimes will say that a given position is cadent by sign and angular by degree etc. which all suggest a much simpler explanation that both houses by degree as well as houses by sign (the theory I'm briefly setting forth here) was not uncommon. If anything Rhetorious seems to favour houses by degree (likely Alcabitius) over whole sign houses anyway so I don't think he's a good example to use if you want to suggest that they employed or favoured whole sign houses.


Yes, Rhetorius used whole sign houses explicitly, that is my point. Whether he used quadrants with them is inconsequential.

Quote:
But I think it's somewhat anachronistic anyway to imagine that there can be one tradition which stretches from Valens in the 2nd century to Rhetorius about 400-500 years later.


Of course, I mean chronological from our perspective. Regardless, the point is that the Hellenistic tradition is named as such because the authors all display strong commonalities within their work. The Greene/Lilly example is not really a good one since Greene comes from a tradition that explicitly disavowed Lilly's own.

Quote:
I am personally less clear on Paulus Alexandrinus, but if we move to Firmicus he clearly is using an equal house division and likely alongside whole signs, again strengthening my theory.


Or showing that you are also guilty of attributing a tradition to authors separated by significant chunks of time?

Quote:
On the contrary, I think this makes less sense in whole sign houses, but it's worth pointing out that I am focusing specifically on mundane houses rather than houses from the lots.


As am I. In the quote I provided, the 'Place of Foreign Lands' as Riley has translated it is topos in Valens' Greek text - the house.

Quote:
Why? Mars can of course aspect an equal house either as a mundane house or a Lot house. I'm not sure what you mean here.


You mean it can aspect a cusp? I don't see anywhere in that quote that suggests that Valens is talking about Mars aspecting a specific degree (he would not have used topos if that were the case), hence my statement about a convoluted argument.


Quote:
We don't need any "under the surface" advocacy of equal houses though. He explicitly describes them.


Yes, in Book IX, and never at any other point in the countless example charts he provides. As I said, I understand your argument, I just think that small paragraph you posted in which he talks about his students is severely outweighed by the other 8 books worth of whole sign examples.

Quote:
Instead, the only time we can make an argument for whole signs is implicitly. If anything whole signs are what's under the surface and rests almost entirely on the argument that referring to a sign as a place means that the only way in which the house was understood was as a sign and all contrary examples and statements hushed up or left as the elephant in the room.


Well, no, because Valens is not the only author who uses whole signs. If most of the astrologers we have record of from his time until the later Perso-Arab astrologers used whole signs (as well as the early Indian astrologers), and Valens lists his charts in whole signs, I think it is fair to assume that the use of whole signs was more than mere convenience; I think he actually used them.

Quote:
Not a single author describes whole sign houses. Isn't that a little short of amazing? They explicitly describe equal and porphyry so it seems like we should start there and make a case for whole rather than start at whole, a purely implied house system, and try to play down porphyry and equal, explicitly described house systems.


Not really. If something has to be explained, it usually means it is not well understood or that it is unusual.

Quote:
But anyway, we likely will have to agree to disagree.


Well I can certainly agree with that!
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Paul
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Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Konrad

I could go into how these examples go beyond Book III (in fact I quote from Book IV and there are more still, as well as comments on how a house starting at 0 of a sign is rare and not a good thing), but I think I won't waste either of our time. I know you say it's inconsequential that Rhetorius used quadrant divisions, but it's not immaterial to me because that's precisely the very point i'm making - they used both.

In any event I think I've posted enough on this topic for now fully in the knowledge that I wasn't going to change anyone's opinions.
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petosiris



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Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul wrote:
The question was derivative houses.

Are you saying he creates a house system from Daimon?

I don't think anyone would disagree that he derives body parts from, in this instance, Daimon, but then others derive them from the position of the Moon etc. as well, but I wouldn't consider these a house system. Are you? It's worth pointing out that Valens is describing this system only to abandon it and demonstrate his own preferred method.


I do not see that technique as anything but derivative houses. All signs signify something depending on their relationship to the lot.

Quote:
Why? Mars can of course aspect an equal house either as a mundane house or a Lot house. I'm not sure what you mean here.


What Konrad was trying to show you is that those statements are only applicable in whole signs. Here is an example: Aries 1 Rising, Mars at 7 Scorpio, Saturn at 2 Taurus, Lot of Fortune at 10 Aries. No malefic aspects the Lot of Fortune, but obviously they are all conjunct the first and seventh equal house from Fortune (it becomes absurd because that would mean they are conjunct and opposite with it respectively). Obviously Aries is in aversion or disjunct Taurus and Scorpio (just like-engirding with the latter).

I told you that some Hellenistic techniques require whole signs and do not work with any house system. This is one of the things I had in mind.

The example I give is particularly interesting because they are also quite far from it, if someone was allowing for out of sign aspects. This is why I also have problems with Ptolemy using equal house exclusively, because that effectively mean that Ptolemy is using whole house aspects. I personally have never heard or seen anyone doing that, and my first impressions are not enthusiastic on that methodology.
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Konrad wrote:
Quote:
...Added to that, [Valens'] work doesn't display a very clear structure past the first one or two books - particularly from Book III on it becomes a hodge-podge of various topics, techniques and ideas. I get the impression that, at times, Valens is just listing everything he knows about astrology as it comes to him, or as he discovered it from other people during his life.

This may well be exactly the case with chapters in Valens. Sometimes we forget that before the days of the printing press, computers for math, typewriters and word processors with delete, add and re-arrange options, spell checking, thesaurus look-up, etc. everything had to be written out by hand, probably on whatever materials could be found at the moment. And we know that Valens travelled widely. He probably did write down whatever came his way through the years pretty much in the order we have it today. In a way it's amazing that we have any coherent texts from that time period, at least from authors who were always on the move.
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Levente Laszlo



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Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is an excellent survey of the Anthologies by Mark Riley, downloadable here, where the structure and composition are also analyzed. I recommend everyone to read it, so they avoid making flawed and anachronistic claims on the author's intentions and the work itself.

Please also let me point out that the authorship of the texts attributed to Rhetorius isn't without doubts, and it's also a compilation from different (and mostly lost) sources. For example, the Pamprepius horoscope where a quadrant-based topical system is used (it can be "Porphyrian" as well, though) is from the emperor Zeno's astrologer, but its inclusion into the compilation surely doesn't allow such inferences as "Rhetorius used this or that house system." This is a very bold overstatement, based again on anachronistic thinking.

For the "Olympiodorus and the quadrant-based houses" myth please see Chris Brennan's Hellenistic astrology, p. 365 fn. 2. Otherwise, it'd also be prudent to read at least this chapter of this easily available and readable book before getting involved into a debate like this.
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Paul
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Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Levente

I’m quite familiar with Riley’s survey though it’s been a while since I read it. Do you have specific examples of anachronism and flawed intent in this discussion that can be clarified by Riley’s survey?

I need to pull away from this discussion as I just don’t have time to devote to it and I think we’re at a point where we all may have to agree to disagree but curious what you have in mind.

Ignoring the Olympiodorus comment as it opens a bigger can of worms than I have time to explore.
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Levente Laszlo



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Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 2:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul wrote:
I’m quite familiar with Riley’s survey though it’s been a while since I read it.


Excellent! Then you know that the text called "Vettius Valens's Anthologies," divided into nine books with some as yet untranslated additions, is a Greek-language compendium finally edited in the fifth century, with some possibly later insertions. Initially, there may well have been separate works, bearing own titles (e.g., The Predominances, now 3.1-11) and composed between the late 140s/early 150s and 173, which would be then edited together, roughly in chronological order, but this absolutely doesn't warrant that all of Valens's writings had been included into the compendium.* (See, e.g., the Greek text titled On the ingresses of the stars in respect of the chart and the nativity, specifically attributed to Valens and translated by Robert Schmidt in 1995, and the vast array of the Arabic references.) Therefore, all claims based on the assumption that the structure of Anthologies in its present form exhibits anything of Valens's intentions are flawed.

On the other hand, the material we have is a mixture of copied and adapted ideas, theoretical instructions, rhetorical and poetical digressions, and practical examples. If any claim is to be made about what Valens actually "did" (that is, what his professional practice might have been), we can only rely on his practical, real-world examples since otherwise we don't know if his own or inherited theories with no attestable practical applications had ever been put into practice. As you know, however, there are no nativities in Anthologies utilizing quadrants either topically or dynamically or in any other ways, and this absence of evidence doesn't really substantiate your claim that "Valens used whole signs for topics and then Porphyry for quantitive measurement and then maybe Equal for only some other specialised subject matter".

In fact, among the ca. 350 Hellenistic horoscopes, three refer to quadrants. Two are from Zeno's astrologer (late fifth/early sixth century), but these both apply a quadrant-based computation together with the "whole-sign" method; the third one is Eutocius's nativity from 497 (a description in rather a theoretical vein, without interpretation), where "Porphyrian" houses are used in the chart. The rest, when any evidence is available, use the "whole-sign" method exclusively, and so do early Arabic astrologers, having adopted Hellenistic methods.

The overwhelming evidence, therefore, suggests that if we must make a generalized statement about the practice of Hellenistic astrologers, we can't but say they used whole signs; there is simply no evidence for a practical usage of quadrant-based divisions before the late fifth century.

* There is also some evidence that some passages would be lost after the fifth century.


Last edited by Levente Laszlo on Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:57 pm; edited 1 time in total
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