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The reason signs are named after constellations?
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Larxene



Joined: 22 Sep 2012
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Posted: Thu Jun 05, 2014 10:14 am    Post subject: The reason signs are named after constellations? Reply with quote

Are there any sources that explain why the zodiac signs are named after the constellations?

My hunch is that it's because at the time zodiac systems were invented, many of the fixed stars in all twelve constellations lie within their respective 30-degree segments.

It's just something that intrigues me. At the time of Ptolemy we had like, what, 48 known constellations? Yet, it is these twelve constellation names that were selected...were they selected at random? I prefer to think not. Lala Happy

Maybe I just like zebra thinking? Mr. Green
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Thu Jun 05, 2014 11:48 am    Post subject: Re: The reason signs are named after constellations? Reply with quote

The twelve equal signs were named in Babylon, long before Ptolemy's (and Hipparchus') tropical zodiac. They were named after the chief constellations falling within them. (Many constellations lie outside the zodiac.)
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Konrad



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Posted: Thu Jun 05, 2014 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd also add that these constellations all lie on the Ecliptic.
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Larxene



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Posted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin Gansten wrote:
The twelve equal signs were named in Babylon, long before Ptolemy's (and Hipparchus') tropical zodiac. They were named after the chief constellations falling within them. (Many constellations lie outside the zodiac.)


Interesting. Is there an old source that lists these chief constellations?

So my hunch is right then. Most of the fixed stars making up the constellations were inside their respective zodiacal signs at the time the equally sized zodiac was created.



Konrad wrote:
I'd also add that these constellations all lie on the Ecliptic.


I see, sounds intuitive.



As I anticipated, the people who would respond are sidereal astrologers. Maybe I should have posted this in the sidereal forum as I originally intended.
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Konrad



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Posted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, Rumen Kolev theorises that the 12 equal divisons of the Eclitptc is the result of the imposition of the Mesopotamian Ideal Year of 12 months of 30 days onto the starry sky. The Ideal Year is outlined in the Mesopotamian text MUL.APIN and places the Equinox in the middle of the month, not the beginning as the Ptolemaic Tropical measurement does.
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james_m



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Posted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Larxene wrote:

As I anticipated, the people who would respond are sidereal astrologers. Maybe I should have posted this in the sidereal forum as I originally intended.


i didn't see the post til now or i would have commented pointing out what konrad already has. those 12 constellations lie on the path of the ecliptic..

the 2nd quote konrad gives from rumen kolev also makes a lot of sense.. it motivated me to see why the months were named as they were. here is a link discussing this - http://www.pantheon.org/miscellaneous/origin_months.html
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Larxene wrote:
As I anticipated, the people who would respond are sidereal astrologers. Maybe I should have posted this in the sidereal forum as I originally intended.

No, I think this is the right forum for most questions on the history of astrology -- and like it or not, sidereal definitions of the zodiac are at least as ancient and traditional as tropical definitions. I for one identify more as a traditional astrologer than a sidereal one: that is to say, I have more in common with astrologers who embrace traditional techniques and perspectives but a tropical zodiac than with astrologers who use a sidereal zodiac but whose outlook is essentially modern.
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin wrote:
Quote:
I for one identify more as a traditional astrologer than a sidereal one: that is to say, I have more in common with astrologers who embrace traditional techniques and perspectives but a tropical zodiac than with astrologers who use a sidereal zodiac but whose outlook is essentially modern.

Martin, it would be helpful to readers if you could elaborate a little on a "sidereal outlook that is essentially modern." Also, what sources or authors would you recommend for those new to traditional perspectives and techniques?
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Michael Sternbach



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Posted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 5:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Larxene,

Excuse me for not answering any quicker; it's not because your topic would be intrinsically sidereal in nature. I simply didn't find the time due to some "real life issues". Smile

Regarding the question of whether the earliest types of zodiac were tropically or sidereally oriented, you will find this article by Robert Hand very revealing, I believe:
http://cura.free.fr/quinq/01hand.html

Hi Konrad,

Quote:
The Ideal Year is outlined in the Mesopotamian text MUL.APIN and places the Equinox in the middle of the month, not the beginning as the Ptolemaic Tropical measurement does.


As you can read in the article linked above, it seems that there was already a Tropical zodiac in use at the same time.

Also, there are early examples of Greek astronomers explicitly employing it.

Hand's article highlights that we cannot hope to solve the problem of which zodiac is the "authentic" one based on a historical survey.


Last edited by Michael Sternbach on Fri Jun 06, 2014 5:32 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Therese Hamilton wrote:
Martin, it would be helpful to readers if you could elaborate a little on a "sidereal outlook that is essentially modern." Also, what sources or authors would you recommend for those new to traditional perspectives and techniques?

Honestly, I'd recommend everything that's been translated from Greek, Latin and Arabic so far. It's not a huge corpus. I won't try to define the 'modern outlook' here, but I think most of us know modern astrology when we see it. Basically, it's the sort of astrology that completely dominated in the west from the late 19th to the late 20th century.
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Larxene



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Posted: Sat Jun 07, 2014 2:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

*bangs head on the wall*

Okay, it seems I've opened a can of worms. I did not intend to invite a tropical vs. sidereal conversation, but it seems to have created that effect. I can be sued for negligence! Smile

Anyway, my thought was that because the sidereal practitioners tend to study more sources pertaining to the fixed stars than their tropical counterparts, they are more likely to come across information on the constellation-sign relation.



Alright, so these constellations are on the ecliptic. Martin, do you know any historical sources that details the "chief constellations" present around the time the equally sized zodiac was created? Were there only 12 of these?
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Sat Jun 07, 2014 3:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Larxene, please see this related link:
http://skyscript.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7423

However, that topic doesn't cover the Mesopotamian evolution from the 17 constellations in the path of the Moon to the 12 sign zodiac of 30 degree signs. This is covered in a number of texts for which Martin probably has the references. (I have the references, but for various reasons including spring allergies, can't look them up at the moment.)

P.S. I just found this article, which looks very comprehensive. The 12 sign zodiac is discussed on page 23. The entire article can be printed.

Origin of the Ancient Constellations: the Mesopotamian Traditions

http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-iarticle_query?bibcode=1998JBAA..108....9R&db_key=AST&page_ind=0&data_type=GIF&type=SCREEN_VIEW&classic=YES
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Sat Jun 07, 2014 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Larxene wrote:
*bangs head on the wall*

Okay, it seems I've opened a can of worms. I did not intend to invite a tropical vs. sidereal conversation, but it seems to have created that effect. I can be sued for negligence! Smile

I agree that we should leave out the 'versus', but the original question is inherently about the difference between sidereal and tropical definitions, so that part is unavoidable. And why should we avoid it? It's a major part of the historical development of astrology.

Quote:
Alright, so these constellations are on the ecliptic. Martin, do you know any historical sources that details the "chief constellations" present around the time the equally sized zodiac was created? Were there only 12 of these?

I'd prefer to let others answer questions directly related to the Mesopotamian period (Konrad?), as it's been a long time since I read about it and it's not a specialist subject of mine (though I'd recommend Rochberg's The Heavenly Writing, Cambridge UP). I believe they had defined more than 12 constellations that were in the zodiac (that is, near the ecliptic), so that the division into 12 was based at least partly on other (calendrical/mathematical) considerations.
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Sat Jun 07, 2014 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This quote from Francesc Rochberg's The Heavenly Writing (noted by Martin) may be helpful. However, the historical development of Mesopotamian constellations is very well described in the link I posted yesterday. (Article by John. H. Rogers)

4.1.1.2 Norming of the Zodiac

"Since Prtolemy's Almagest, the beginning of the zodiac at 0° Aries was fixed in relation to the vernal equinox, which, however moves westward at a constant rate (1/72° per year). The Babylonian zodiac was not counted from the vernal point, but was generally normed by end points of zodiacal constellations, each one counted form 0° to 30°. This implies a ecliptic of 360°, but Babylonian astronomy employed degrees within signs rather than a strictly numerical count of longitudes from 0 to 360.

"Also, the longitudes assigned to the fixed stars were done so arbitrarily with the result that the zero point of the ecliptic did not coincide with the vernal equinox. That the Babylonian zodiac was sidereally fixed implies that regardless of the date the fixed stars do not change their positions (degree of longitude) with respect to the norming point of the ecliptic." (Rochberg, pp. 131-132)

Here is a key point from Rochberg which is at variance with Rumen Kolev and other scholars as to the norming of the Babylonian zodiac which places Aldebaran at precisely 15° of Taurus (termed "The fixed Babylonian zodiac"):

"More precisely, however, we still cannot establish the star that originally served as norming point for the ecliptic. Even were we to assume the vernal point was determined correctly when it was assigned to 10° or 8° Aries, the corresponding dates for those zodiacal norming points cannot be pinpointed, as we do not sufficiently understand the ancient methods used to obtain those values. Comparison against modern values for the longitudes of equinoxes is therefore uninformative for this purpose." (Rochberg, p. 133)

Quoted from Francesca Rochberg, The Heavenly Writing, Cambridge University Press, 2004.
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Larxene



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Posted: Sun Jun 08, 2014 7:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin Gansten wrote:
Larxene wrote:
*bangs head on the wall*

Okay, it seems I've opened a can of worms. I did not intend to invite a tropical vs. sidereal conversation, but it seems to have created that effect. I can be sued for negligence! Smile

I agree that we should leave out the 'versus', but the original question is inherently about the difference between sidereal and tropical definitions, so that part is unavoidable. And why should we avoid it? It's a major part of the historical development of astrology.


I was under the impression that there would be no difference between them. There are different definitions?

I was mainly asking about constellations...but I guess the position of the constellations would be different with different zodiacs, now that I think about it.



Therese,

Thanks for information. So there were about 17 or 18 constellations according to the Babylonians's catalogue.
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