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Valens: equal houses not whole signs
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Deb
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Posted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 7:37 pm    Post subject: Valens: equal houses not whole signs Reply with quote

It tends to be taken for granted that Valens used whole sign houses - although it has been pointed out before that he stresses the need to calculate by degree, and that he appears to use a combination of "counting" and "division".

What I find interesting is the lack of attention given to his clear description of the equal house method of division, which is obviously the system described by Firmicus, and the only system that fits the description of the places as described by Ptolemy. Here is the passage where Valens describes how the houses are calculated, and where he notes that it is a negative thing if the houses (i.e., "places") and signs do coincide:

Quote:
First of all, it is necessary to calculate the positions of the Places in degrees: count from whatever point has been determined to be the Ascendant until you have completed the 30° of the first Place; this will be the Place of Life. Then proceed until you have completed another 30°, the Place of Livelihood. Continue in the order of signs. Often two Places will fall in one sign and will indicate both qualities according to the number of degrees each one occupies. Likewise examine in which sign the ruler of the sign is and which Place it controls (according to its degree-position in the horoscope). With these procedures, the Place can readily be interpreted. If it is calculated that each Place exactly corresponds to each sign in the chart as a whole (a circumstance which is rare), then the native will be involved in confinement, violence, and entangling affairs.


This is from the Riley translation, p.154: Anthologies, Book IX
http://www.csus.edu/indiv/r/rileymt/Vettius%20Valens%20entire.pdf

Is this not reason enough to clarify that Valens advocated the use of the equal house system and not the whole-sign approach that is generally assumed?
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Konrad



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Posted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb,

doesn't this:

"Often two Places will fall in one sign and will indicate both qualities according to the number of degrees each one occupies"

deny the use of Equal houses?
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 7:50 pm    Post subject: Re: Valens: equal houses not whole signs Reply with quote

How very interesting! Thank you for this, Deb. Not only does it agree with Firmicus, but it also lends support to the most straightforward reading of Ptolemy's very brief description of the houses in Tetrabiblos III.10/11 (depending on the edition used).
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Deb
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Posted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't follow you Konrad - or I don't see how it does. I take that to mean that if, say, the ascendant is in 10° of a sign, two places (12th and 1st) fall in one sign. The alternative is to assume that he is referring to quadrant division where two places fall *in* one sign; but that seems to contradict the context of the passage. In any event, clearly this is not describing the whole-sign approach.
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Mark
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Posted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fascinating Deb!

Deb wrote:
Quote:
What I find interesting is the lack of attention given to his clear description of the equal house method of division, which is obviously the system described by Firmicus


I take it you disagree with Robert Hand's view of the Firmicus text in regards the approach to house system used by Firmicus?

In his book Whole Sign Houses : The Oldest House System
Robert Hand has a chapter entitled 'The Problem of Julius Firmicus Maternus'

http://www.arhatmedia.com/whole_sign.html

Hand suggested there that Firmicus was using whole sign houses but utilising equal house cusps as points of planetary strength or sensitivity. He has subsequently stuck to that interpretation in a more recent article, Signs as Houses (Places) in Ancient Astrology, Robert Hand, in The Winding Courses of the Stars: Essays in Ancient Astrology, Culture and Cosmos, Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter 2007.

I must agree it seems hard to fit Hand's interpretation with this section from Valens.

This calculation of 30° from the ASC is also found in Dorotheus of Sidon.

Mark
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Last edited by Mark on Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:19 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Deb
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Posted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin I agree with you in regard to the Tetrabiblos. But think we should also consider the fifth century account given by Rhetorius on how to calculate the 12 places, which he appears to attribute to Ptolemy. He describes the procedure, which generates houses by a quadrant division in some detail, explaining that Ptolemy discusses the matter as if "speaking of the ideal" when he makes reference to 30°. He shows how the calculations are made and what house cusps result - for example, the asc is 20;16 Taurus, the 11th: 4;8 Pisces, the 9th: 6;13 Capricorn.

I haven't had time to study the mathematics of the passage, but note that Van Hoesen and Neugebaur make reference to the use of seasonal hours, so perhaps this is a source of the Placidus system(?)

If you are interested, the passage is given in Greek Horoscopes pp.138-140, and the reference provided there is "No L428; CCAG 8,1 p.221,1 to p.222,28".
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Deb
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Posted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Mark, in response to your question on whether I agree with this argument:
Quote:
Firmicus was using whole sign houses but utilising equal house cusps as points of planetary strength or sensitivity.

No, I don't; mainly because it appears to be a speculation for which no historical evidence exists. The only time I heard Robert Hand suggest something like this he was clear to admit that it was speculation on his part. Not a fact, but an idea that he inclines to personally.

Addition - by the way, the time when I heard this, was when he delivered the paper that was then published in C&C (which you mention above). I remember, because at that time, I wasn't quite comfortable with some of the points made, but felt it was fair enough that he distinguished clearly between assumption and fact.
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Posted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
I don't follow you Konrad - or I don't see how it does. I take that to mean that if, say, the ascendant is in 10° of a sign, two places (12th and 1st) fall in one sign. The alternative is to assume that he is referring to quadrant division where two places fall *in* one sign; but that seems to contradict the context of the passage. In any event, clearly this is not describing the whole-sign approach.


I suppose...does anyone have Schmidt's translation (if he even did one of book 9)?
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Posted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Robert Schmidt did not publish translations of books 8 and 9. There are passages in the earlier books that make it clear he did not simply equate houses with signs, I've posted them in the forum before, but don't have them to hand now.
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Posted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Konrad - I am pasting below a copy from a post I made elsewhere in the forum, which gives the Schmidt translation of chapter 6 from book 5 (PH, 1997) - the italic insertions are mine.

Quote:
And since the 12 places are signified for each nativity, and most things will be discovered through these and the nature of the stars, one must observe the pivot-positioning and the changes of the places; for often two places coincide on one zoidion, or else a pivotal figure is shown in the manner of a declining figure. And this happens by the opportunities for the Horoskopos.

As with the Horoskopos in Gemiini, the Midheaven in Aquarius by degree [*by whole sign; MC would be Pisces*]. This place, then, possesses the relation concerning activity and reputation and children [all 10th house associations of that time], and also that concerning a foreign land and god since zodiacally it is found in the 9th from the Horoskopos; and also, in its case the handing over through 4 and 5 zoidia to the Horoskopos is found to be prospering, and the handing over from the Horoskopos through 9 and 10 zoidia to the Midheaven itself prospers. Similarly also, the diameter of Aquarius (that is, Leo), which is the subterraneous pivot, possesses the relation concerning foundations, buildings, and parents, as well as that concerning god and siblings and a foreign land; and the handing over through 3 or 4 zoidia from the Horoskopos to the subterraneous pivot itself is taut, and also that from it through 10 or 11 zoidia to the Horoskopos. Similarly also, let the same be conceived in the case of the remaining zoidia of long ascension when the Midheaven falls in the hexagon. Whence if we examine the places or the intervals to the degree, we will not make a false step.
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Posted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Deb,

In an old post I recall you highlighted another section of the Anthology that demonstrates Valens not only utilised Porphyry houses but also seemed to have assigned the idea of topics to these houses.

Mark Riley’s translation states:
'
Quote:
'It is necessary to calculate likewise from MC, and to consider the first third of the distance between angles as operative, the second third, following MC, as of average influence (thus it was called Good Daimon by the ancients), and the last third, up to the Ascendant, as afflicting and inoperative. The Places in opposition to these will have the same force. Orion expounded all this in his book’’ The Anthology, (III.2)


While Schmidt and his followers (Hand, Brennan etc) have argued the Valens use of Porphyry houses was exclusively for length of life calculation you have raised the valid question why is Valens calling this place from the MC 'Good Daimon' if that is so? That doesn't sound like just a strength sector otherwise why is Valens using the name of a particular topic i.e. house?

On the other hand in describing houses derived from the Lot of Fortune Valens does seem to be relying on a purely whole sign perspective.

I think its worth remembering that The Anthology doesn't seem to have been written as one project. Riley believes Valens added to the book over many years. So its quite possible Valens adopted different practices in regards houses over this period of time.

Mark

PS There is an interesting discussion on ancient house systems in this old thread from 2011. The link is to page 5 of that thread. On her last post on that page Deb sets out a far more extensive post on the point very briefly alluded to above regarding Valens use of porphyry houses as topics not just as planetary strength indicators.

http://skyscript.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?t=6203&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=60&sid=fc2bbb5be356c5f2be6f3c5adc7281a4
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Posted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
Konrad - I am pasting below a copy from a post I made elsewhere in the forum, which gives the Schmidt translation of chapter 6 from book 5 (PH, 1997) - the italic insertions are mine.


Thanks Deb, I am aware of Valens' writings on this matter. I was just interested to get another perspective on the original passage you quoted as Riley himself admits his translation isn't perfect. I guess this highlights the real need for more of us to learn the languages these texts were written in.
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Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
Martin I agree with you in regard to the Tetrabiblos. But think we should also consider the fifth century account given by Rhetorius on how to calculate the 12 places, which he appears to attribute to Ptolemy. He describes the procedure, which generates houses by a quadrant division in some detail, explaining that Ptolemy discusses the matter as if "speaking of the ideal" when he makes reference to 30°. He shows how the calculations are made and what house cusps result - for example, the asc is 20;16 Taurus, the 11th: 4;8 Pisces, the 9th: 6;13 Capricorn.

I haven't had time to study the mathematics of the passage, but note that Van Hoesen and Neugebaur make reference to the use of seasonal hours, so perhaps this is a source of the Placidus system(?)

Actually, it's the earliest preserved source of the Alcabitius system (except that Rhetorius subtracts 5 degrees from the cusps (the actual ascendant in his example is 25 Taurus).

With the progress of time, Ptolemy was credited with most if not all of the major house systems, including Alcabitius, Placidus and Regiomontanus. Very Happy
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Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To add to the confusion, there are some passages in Mathesis that talks about configurations that would be impossible if Equal House is used:

Quote:
Located on the ascendant by day with Saturn, the Sun will make emperors or kings...If the Sun is on the ascendant by day, Jupiter on any angle...[Bram's translation, Liber Tertius, Chapter V, 2-3.]


Quote:
Mercury together with the Sun in the seventh house or on any other angle...The Sun, Saturn and Mercury together in this house by night produce stone workers, corpse-washers...[Bram's translation, Liber Tertius, Chapter V, 22-23.]


When using Equal House (or indeed any angular house division), the Sun cannot be in the first house by day, and similarly, he cannot be in the seventh house by night.
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Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Mark,
The passage you mention (Book III.2) is important, because it is in an addendum to this point that Robert Schmidt proposed his argument that quadrant house systems - one of which is undeniably being described here - “do not seem (here at least) to be for the purpose of discriminating house matters, or subject areas of one’s life. Presumably the whole sign-system would continue to be used for that purpose”.

Robert Hand follows with a comment of his own, pondering whether we can consider these references to be a later interpolation, admitting there is no good reason to do so, and then speculating “a new line of enquiry” that signs are intended to be used for the interpretation of the house meanings, and the quadrant division is to be used to determine the matter of strength. (The Anthology, Book II (concl.) & Book III, pp.34-35.)

I always felt this was a case of “adding another epicycle” to a flawed proposition, and believe that anyone looking at the passage impartially will see the weakness of the argument. The Riley translation (p.59) is even clearer in its reference to the portion of degrees that constitutes the place of the Goddess (3rd house), and its opposite the place of God (9th), as well as its reference to that which follows the midheaven as being named “Good Spirit”. (The earlier points can be recognised in Schmidt’s translation, but they are not so clearly made). When we compare this with the meaning of the 12 places Valens gives in book IV, it is obvious that the notion of strength, idleness, and weakness is embedded in the meanings of the houses and their relation to “subject areas’s of one’s life” – the 8th house, for example, being associated with death because it is an “idle place”, conveying weakness.

We have to ask why Hand and Schmidt would propose something so unlikely - and for this I do think it is necessary to bear in mind that Schmidt was translating Valens sequentially, with sometimes a matter of years between his publication of one volume and the next. The content of the third volume had not been translated at the time that the introduction to the previous volume was written, and so the argument had already been pushed out to the reader (under the title “Whole-sign Houses” in the introduction to Bk II) that “The signs themselves were considered to be the houses, topoi, or places. There was no problem of house division at all… All of the house references in this work are to zoidia [signs] and their relationship with each other” (Bk II., p.i).

We can now clearly see that those statements were precipitously published. Unfortunately, by presenting assumptions as matters of fact, impartiality was lost, and many readers paid a great deal more attention to the points highlighted in Schmidt and Hand’s introductions than they did to the details of Valens lengthy work.

To be clear, I have huge (HUGE) respect for Robert Hand and his many astrological contributions, but published arguments merit criticism if they are not well made yet affect our understanding of the history of astrological technique. I am not interested in the arguments of which system is supposed to be the most useful in practice. That is one of the reasons I prefer Riley’s translation – it may not be entirely perfect, but the meaning of passages like this can be seen more clearly, and we can be sure that he is not affected by any subconscious desire to highlight the techniques he prefers himself, or diminish the significance of passages that conflict with his own approach to astrology.

Mark wrote:
On the other hand in describing houses derived from the Lot of Fortune Valens does seem to be relying on a purely whole sign perspective.


Not according to Valens Bk II. 37, (Schmidt translation pp.79-80):

Quote:
It is needful then, to examine the lots more precisely and to the degree. For often times, the lot falls out in a certain zoidion by the platic consideration, but by the consideration of degree in another zoidion. This results from the degrees of the lights and the Horoscopos, when [they] are found either at the end of beginning of the zoidia.


Although Valens does generally speak and demonstrate with generalities, I think we have to be attentive to the places where he stresses the importance of calculating precisely - by degree and not just by sign.

Martin, thanks so much for clarifying that Rhetorius describes the Alcabitius system. I think it is worth noting that this fifth century passage presents no sense of novelty or self-invention. And of course, it’s a marker for the use of the Alcabitius system in a period that is often assumed to be devoid of clear explanations of house division.

Confusions remain of course, but we can only strengthen our understanding of the history of technique by admitting what we don't understand, rather than pretending that inconsistencies don't exit.
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