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Paul - ancients using sidereal?
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Konrad



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Posted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
Quote:
If the Babylonians conceived of their zodiac as being based around the VP falling in the middle of Aries, why then did they recalculate the VP to 10 then 8 Aries relative to Aldebaran? There are omens talking of planets making appearances, disappearances etc. in certain months of the year but no conflating of month and zodiacal sign.


Are you talking about the period where reference was made to the Mul Apin Konrad? Because we do have fairly clear evidence of the zodiac signs being correlated with the months of the year from around the 7th century BC onwards, and the evidence is considered to show that reliably in tablets dated between 6th and 4th century BC. This is the period in which the tropical zodiac was developed.


Deb,

Can you explain your first question further?

Quote:
The early accounts of both Manilius and Geminos describe older schemes which align equinoxes and solstices with the middles rather than beginnings of the signs. We see this in Geminos’s antiscia demonstration (II.27) and Manilius’s seasonal accounts of quadruplicities: “at the middle of the Virgin summer on one side ceases and autumn on the other begins” (II.175); and “summer comes with the Twins, autumn with the Virgin, winter begins with the Archer, spring with the Fishes” (II.265).

If you have a copy of Goold's translation of Manilius's Astronomica, his introductory pages lxxxi-lxxxiv are worth reading for the accounts of how the earliest authorities such as Eudoxus placed the vernal point at 15 Aries, although the ancient account of Aratus placed it at the first (Aratus may have been the controversial "authority" that Manilius refers to, where he displays a sense of novelty that someone even places it at the first degree). What these varying references mean exactly is still subject to debate, because the principles embedded into sign-meanings are dependent on the scheme relating to the seasonal effects that we expect of the tropical zodiac. Goold's suggestion is that Hipparchus may have played a hand in modifying the constellation outlines, which could of course have been done for the purpose of creating a sidereal frame of reference that allowed the tropical zodiac to be placed among the visible stars.


Yes, I know of the mentions made of this alternate Tropical measurement, they match the scheme found in MUL.APIN. Thanks for the references anyway.
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Deb
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Posted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm just confused myself by your comment "There are omens talking of planets making appearances, disappearances etc. in certain months of the year but no conflating of month and zodiacal sign.", when we know that there are zodiac-sign and calendar month associations from the 7th century onwards; hence I wondered if you meant your comment to apply to the period before that only? Otherwise it doesn't seem to make much sense to me.
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Paul
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Posted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just want to make a really small point here.

Francesca Rochberg in at least one of her books (I can find a reference if needed) mentions the connection between the observation of the rising of Sirius with the computation of the summer solstice, which occurs on the 15th day of the month. If we link signs to months, then we can consider that the middle of a sign/month corresponds to the cardinal points of the year.

There's another reference (again I'll find a reference if needed), in which it is postulated that from these cycles and knowledge of the 19 year return, that actually the Babylonians didn't observe solstices etc., but rather computed them.

Now I don't know from memory how far back all this is going or the timeline. I mention it more as a point which someone else, more knowledgeable on this, can take up if indeed it's even relevant.

But it may mean that knowing, at one point, the solstice occurred in the middle of the month, which is in turn linked to a sign, and that the Babylonians actually didn't observe solstices once they knew how to compute them, that the solstice was always meant to be understood as the middle of the fourth sign.

(I appreciate I don't have references, I can get them if needed but only if anyone is actually interested)

In addition, Martin Gansten made an interesting point recently:
http://skyscript.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8679

Martin Gansten wrote:

(As an aside, the Greek fascination with this sort of pattern -- similar rising and setting times, etc -- predates the astrological use of the tropical zodiac, as reflected in one or two places in the Tetrabiblos, where it is clear that Ptolemy has taken over techniques originating in a zodiac that had the solstice/equinox points in the middle of their respective signs.)

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Konrad



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Posted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
I'm just confused myself by your comment "There are omens talking of planets making appearances, disappearances etc. in certain months of the year but no conflating of month and zodiacal sign.", when we know that there are zodiac-sign and calendar month associations from the 7th century onwards; hence I wondered if you meant your comment to apply to the period before that only? Otherwise it doesn't seem to make much sense to me.


Right. By that I meant the omens mentioning the months are based upon the Babylonian lunisolar calendar, not the Sidereal signs wearing the name of a month. That the zodiac developed from the ideal year found in MUL.APIN is obvious. However, this doesn't mean that the zodiac was "devised with the equinoxes and solstices in mind" as Michael said. I say this for two reasons: first, as has already been mentioned, the Babylonians recalculated the Vernal Point in Sidereal longitude and not the other way around. Obviously, this suggests the backdrop of the stars was the yardstick. Second, the zodiacal measurements we have from the Babylonians as mentioned in their astrological reports are taken with reference to the position of a star (calculated by Kugler as being Aldebaran) and not the Vernal Point or the name of a month. The association of months with signs (and I think they saw it in that order, not signs with months) wasn't really my point.
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Deb
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Posted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul - that's the point that I would make myself, that at the time the zodiac was developed the equinoxes and solstices fell approximately in the middle of the 'tidied up' constellations, but the addition I would make is that every reference we have of the use of the zodiac (which was not labelled tropical or sidereal but simply known as the zodiac) expects it to be based upon the ecliptic and associated with the solstices and equinoxes. The placement of these in the middle of the signs needn't suggest a pre-dating of the tropical zodiac, just a different origination of it: signs did not begin at these points but held them at their centres. This is how the scheme is said by Hipparchus (Commentary I 1.15) to be described in the 5th century BC work of Eudoxus of Cnidus - "Eudoxus made the division thus, so that these points [solstices] are the middles of Cancer and Capricorn".

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Michael Sternbach



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Posted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Konrad wrote:
Michael Sternbach wrote:
Moreover, placing the vernal point exactly in the middle of Aries strongly suggests that the Zodiac was in fact devised with the equinoxes and solstices in mind, despite the 15° offset.


You'll have to explain that one to me, Michael. The earliest system I know of that placed the Equinox in the middle of anything was MUL.APIN, but this was a calendrical system, not a measurement of longitude. The Babylonians used a division of the starry sky to measure their planetary longitudes. When looking at Babylonian astrological reports, I haven't seen any reference to "Jupiter at the 12th day of Nisan" for instance, but many for "Jupiter at the 12th degree of Aries" as a contrast.
And this is definitely a Sidereal Aries based around Aldebaran marking the middle of Taurus, as Martin has already pointed out. If the Babylonians conceived of their zodiac as being based around the VP falling in the middle of Aries, why then did they recalculate the VP to 10 then 8 Aries relative to Aldebaran? There are omens talking of planets making appearances, disappearances etc. in certain months of the year but no conflating of month and zodiacal sign.


The thing is that the VP at 15° Aries seems to be the oldest approach. Is it coincidental that it landed right there?

Maybe this was changed later when some astrologers insisted on a sidereal zodiac based on Aldebaran and the Four Pillars, respectively. (Maybe that was you in an earlier incarnation, Konrad?) Laughing

This topic also brings to mind the way some astrologers set the ASC in the middle of the first Equal house, which may be based on a similar line of thinking like the ancient Babylonians had.
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Konrad



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Posted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael Sternbach wrote:
Konrad wrote:
Michael Sternbach wrote:
Moreover, placing the vernal point exactly in the middle of Aries strongly suggests that the Zodiac was in fact devised with the equinoxes and solstices in mind, despite the 15° offset.


You'll have to explain that one to me, Michael. The earliest system I know of that placed the Equinox in the middle of anything was MUL.APIN, but this was a calendrical system, not a measurement of longitude. The Babylonians used a division of the starry sky to measure their planetary longitudes. When looking at Babylonian astrological reports, I haven't seen any reference to "Jupiter at the 12th day of Nisan" for instance, but many for "Jupiter at the 12th degree of Aries" as a contrast.
And this is definitely a Sidereal Aries based around Aldebaran marking the middle of Taurus, as Martin has already pointed out. If the Babylonians conceived of their zodiac as being based around the VP falling in the middle of Aries, why then did they recalculate the VP to 10 then 8 Aries relative to Aldebaran? There are omens talking of planets making appearances, disappearances etc. in certain months of the year but no conflating of month and zodiacal sign.


The thing is that the VP at 15° Aries seems to be the oldest approach. Is it coincidental that it landed right there?

Maybe this was changed later when some astrologers insisted on a sidereal zodiac based on Aldebaran and the Four Pillars, respectively. (Maybe that was you in an earlier incarnation, Konrad?) Laughing

This topic also brings to mind the way some astrologers set the ASC in the middle of the first Equal house, which may be based on a similar line of thinking like the ancient Babylonians had.


Michael, I'm not seeing a pertinent point in your post here, so unless you actually have something to add, I will leave it there with you.
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Deb
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Posted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just as a point of interest, Geminos, who wrote around the 2nd century BC, reports that all Greek astronomers placed the commencement of the zodiac at the first degree of Aries, although the Chaldeans at that time had it displaced by 8 degrees. The editors say that the placement of it at 0° followed the convention of Hipparchus, so this is why Aratus, though an ancient author does the same. So whatever was happening, attendance to the problem of precession was established well before the time of Ptolemy.

Konrad, I am not looking to dismiss your valid points.
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Thu Apr 30, 2015 2:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From a star list in Hunger and Pingree's Astral Sciences in Mesopotamia (Brill, 1999):

The star list below makes it clear that the signs of the zodiac in Mesopotamia were measured in relation to various fixed stars, the Normal Stars. My notes below include the current positions of the relevant stars and don't take into consideration any small proper motion that might have occurred over the centuries. I have compared the Fagan-Bradley (F-B) positions with the Krishnamurti (K) degrees because there are 59 minutes between the two, which rounds off nicely to one degree.

Astral Sciences in Mesopotamia
THE NORMAL STARS

Page 148:
"The Normal Stars are stars near the ecliptic, about 30 in number, whose "conjunctions" with the Moon and the planets are recorded in the Diaries and in the Normal Star Almanacs..."

Page 150:
"A study by Huber [1958] of some Almanacs and Normal Star Almanacs of -122/1 to -110/09 demonstrated the following beginnings of the zodiacal signs to be in use at that time:" (Here I have excerpted a few stars from the list; TH)

Beginning of Gemini: "30 minutes before or after Normal Star 7" (zeta Tauri, Al Hecka)

Today's positions: K= 1° 01 Gemini; F-B= 0° 02 Gemini (A near perfect fit for F-B)

Beginning of Cancer: "With Normal Star #12" (Beta Gemini, Pollux)

Today's positions: K= 29° 28 Gemini; F-B= 28° 29 Gemini (K is within approximately half a degree.)

Beginning of Libra: "ca. 2 degrees after Normal Star 23" (Alpha Virginis, Spica)

(This puts Spica at 28 degrees of Virgo rather than the 29 degrees claimed by western siderealists or zero Libra as used in India.)

Beginning of Aquarius: "35 minutes before or after Normal Star 32" (Delta Capricorn, Deneb Algedi)

Today's positions: K= 29° 47 Capricorn; F-B=28° 48 Capricorn (K is close to zero degrees of Aquarius.)
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb, I assume you have been drawing material from Geminos' Instroduction to the Phenomena? Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Aratus' Phenomena was a practical manual in verse to teach the reader to identify constellations and predict weather according to Aaron Poochigian who recently translated the text. (John Hopkins University Press, 2010) The Phenomena was not an astrological text. Geminos's Introduction to the Phenomena is subtitled by the authors A Translation and Study of a Hellenistic Survey of Astronomy. (Translated by James Evans and J. Lennart Berggren, Princeton University Press, 2006) This introduction also isn't primarily an astrological text, but rather an astronomical compendium.

What seems to have happened (based on my limited understanding) is that for astronomical purposes the zodiac became linked to the equinoxes and solstices from a particular early date, but astrologers continued to use a sidereal zodiac related to the stars. Based on existing horoscopes that have survived to our time, they followed their Babylonian precursors in that regard.

Ptolemy himself was an astronomer, mathematician, and geographer, but not a fully practicing astrologer as Valens apparently was. There are even questions as to whether Ptolemy was an astrologer at all. So my perspective is that early astronomy became mixed up with astrological principles. Thus, the birth of the astrologers' tropical zodiac.
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Deb
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Posted: Thu Apr 30, 2015 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Therese,
With concern that I don’t have time to make more than quick points in this thread, let me clarify that I am not rejecting the use of fixed stars by early astronomer/astrologers to determine the place of the zodiac. My argument is that the original, theoretical intention, and that of Arabs which you mentioned above, was for the zodiac to be associated with the equinoctial and solstitial points. However, the zodiac is a non-visible theoretical construct, so in order for an early astronomer to get out his astrolabe, quadrant, etc. and check, measure or monitor the movement of planets by celestial longitude, they needed to be able to place the zodiac amongst the fixed stars. So a sidereal framework of reference was a necessity for an ancient astronomer wanting to fix positions according to the zodiac – we shouldn’t apply to that the modern assumption that if an astrologer today uses a sidereal frame of reference for the zodiac, they chose to reject the principles of the tropical zodiac. The ‘either/or’ debate is representative of a modern dilemma, not theirs - at that time all astronomer/astrologers believed they were working with the one valid system of zodiac measurement, though there were various astronomical methods used to locate it in the stars.

In regard to your second post, yes, that’s the title of Geminos’s work, the only English translation of which was made by Evans and Lennart Berggren and published by Princeton University Press in 2006. It’s an essential text for anyone who wants to understand the early definitions of the zodiac – true is it not primarily an astrological text, but that should not imply any lack of relevancy for astrology. Geminos does not differentiate between the two studies in the way Ptolemy does (by keeping his Almagest free of the astrological principles he discussed in the Tetrabiblos), and Geminos offers theoretical explanations of many purely astrological points, such as the basis of antiscia connections, the principles of aspects, and many more important points that give meaning to zodiac divisions.
I don’t agree with the comment that Aratus’ work was not an astrological text either, for similar reasons, and think it is pointless to question Ptolemy’s involvement or commitment to astrology – but this thread would probably go way off track if I elaborated on my thoughts on those kinds of suggestions Smile
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Paul
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Posted: Thu Apr 30, 2015 10:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Therese Hamilton wrote:

What seems to have happened (based on my limited understanding) is that for astronomical purposes the zodiac became linked to the equinoxes and solstices from a particular early date, but astrologers continued to use a sidereal zodiac related to the stars. Based on existing horoscopes that have survived to our time, they followed their Babylonian precursors in that regard.


Therese

Measuring a zodiac from the stars can mean one of two things - the modern way is to derive the zodiac's meaning from the stellar background itself. The other way is to measure the ecliptic (or something else) from star positions, but not necessarily derive meaning from those stellar backgrounds.

I think that ancients didn't have this problem (which is I think the same thing Deb is saying if I understand her right) and so this distinction wasn't necessary in the ancient world. We should keep in mind the examples of Babylonian horoscopes we have also include, apparently for astrological purposes, the data of the nearest cardinal point - either solstice or equinox.

But in addition can have the position of the Moon in relation to fixed stars. I think the ancients applied astrological significance to all of the above. We also know, as per my previous post here, that the used the fixed stars, and observation of them, to determine when solstices and equinoxes were. So when, for example, sirius rises in the middle of the fourth month we have the solstice, and there's some evidence that the solstices were not observed but rather calculated in this manner. So here we're using stars, in effect, to measure the position of the cardinal points. So when we measure something sidereally we cannot be sure if when we derive astrological meaning if we're deriving it from the stars themselves or something we're using those star positions to in turn calculate, like the cardinal points or something derived from them. Especially when in fact the whole zodiac could be related to either the stars or the cardinal points, even if those cardinal points are originally placed in the centre of signs, which are in turn measured sidereally.

Personally I think astrological meaning as ascribed to stellar positions as well as tropical ones.
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Posted: Thu Apr 30, 2015 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, Paul and I are pretty much making the same point. In addition - as Paul suggests - astrologers had no reason to limit themselves to the symbolic principles of the zodiac signs without also taking meaning from the alignment with stars - there wasn't any theoretical need to think that one principle would conflict with the other.

Recently, Martin gave me some valuable help in my coverage of the sidereal view within the article on the zodiac I wrote as a response to the BBC's suggestion of a 13-sign zodiac. There was a point in history where astrologers had to make a decision on whether they wanted to keep the zodiac's symbolic emphasis on seasonal correspondences, or let that go by use of a sidereal zodiac that also lets go the principle of the zodiac being aligned to the equinoxes and solstices. I am not sure when that happened but it wasn't within what we think of as the 'Arabic era'. At that time the Sun's return to the vernal point as a definition of the Aries ingress acted like a foundation chart for a whole host of astrological techniques. Even their rulers were characterised by this, their accession chart (defined by the Aries ingress of the year of their reign) being used to determine the length and quality of their reign, in the way we would use a personal nativity.

BTW, my reason for commenting in this thread at all, was because of the earlier assertion that the Arabs used a sidereal zodiac, so their techniques are not relevant to the tropical zodiac; because that's a very black and white, but unreliable, conclusion to draw.
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
Quote:
BTW, my reason for commenting in this thread at all, was because of the earlier assertion that the Arabs used a sidereal zodiac, so their techniques are not relevant to the tropical zodiac; because that's a very black and white, but unreliable, conclusion to draw.

I don't know if I or anyone else actually said that. I only questioned why there hasn't been research done on astrological principles in comparison studies of the zodiacs. This seems to me to be a glaring oversight in our field.

Just yesterday a book arrived in the mail that was recommended by Waybread on another thread. (Ancient Egyptian Sky Lore by Joanne Conman) I haven't had time to read this book yet, but a quick scan shows that the author's research attempts to overturn sacred beliefs of Egyptologists. Conman precedes her Introduction with a quote that I suggest might apply to our accepted astrological beliefs and practices:

"For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie--deliberate, contrived and dishonest--but the myth--persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forbearers. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."

John F. Kennedy
Commencement Address
Yale University, June 11, 1962

As just one example, Robert Hand has pointed out that Ptolemy apparently didn't apply the four elements to the triplicities. But these became attached to the astrologers' zodiac early on. This may have led to a system of interpretation that one day in retrospect may turn out to be the basis of long held mis-interpretation of sign principles.
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Deb
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Posted: Thu Apr 30, 2015 6:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What Hand means is that Ptolemy doesn't refer to the four triplicities as 'fire, earth, air and water', but rather as the Aries-triplicity, Libra triplicities, etc; the elemental principles are still there. Valens is the oldest source I know of to include those labels, but even in his text the references are very oblique - they are not directly made as they are in later texts. I'm not sure what this is supposed to be an example of though.

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