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Straight and crooked signs
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Sun Feb 22, 2015 6:52 am    Post subject: Straight and crooked signs Reply with quote

The designation of signs of short ascension as 'rising crookedly', and of signs of long ascension as 'rising straight', goes back at least to Hephaestio, but what does it really mean? Sahl's Introductorium says (in Ben Dykes's translation) that the breadth of the straight signs is greater than their length, and vice versa for the crooked signs, but I can't visualize what breadth and length mean in this context.

A further level of confusion is added by a medieval Indian author reporting on this doctrine, who says that Aries and Libra are 'middling' (or possibly 'equal'). I can't recall seeing this anywhere else.

Any explanation of either or both of these problems would be very welcome!
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Ben



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Posted: Sun Feb 22, 2015 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Martin,

As for the crooked/straight vocabulary, think "upright" and "stooped over." The straight signs arise in a more upright fashion, pointing more upwards as they cross the eastern horizon, like someone walking with a straight back. The crooked signs are more slanted and point more forward, like someone stooped over.

What Sahl might have meant is that when the straight signs arise, their size from top to bottom (as we look at them) is bigger than their length from side to side. This probably reflects the Arabic words for latitude and longitude, which basically mean "breadth" and "length," where length is side-to-side, and breadth is up and down. (I did not care much about the straight-crooked distinction when I translated Sahl in 2007-08, so did not point this out).
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Sun Feb 22, 2015 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Ben. I did think of that, but my problem is that they're all more or less stooped over relative to the horizon -- that's why it's called oblique ascension. You're right that the so-called straight signs are somewhat less stooped, but it's a difference of degree. And of course it depends on where you are. (Near the equator, the distinction breaks down altogether.)

What about the Aries/Libra comment? Do you suppose the Indian author was just confusing this issue with the equinox one?
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Ben



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Posted: Sun Feb 22, 2015 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Martin,

Although the difference between them is one of degree (literally!), maybe they were also considering that as latitude increases towards the poles, they become MORE like that: the crooked signs get more and more crooked, while the straight signs get more and more straight.

Also, there is a limit to how much this can increase or decrease, in the sense that the straightness of a sign never becomes so small that it becomes more crooked than the straightest crooked sign. What I mean is, Leo can become less straight in terms of degrees, while Aquarius can become less crooked, but this range has a limit defined by the equator. Leo's angle will never become less than the greatest angle of Aquarius, so they still form separate categories of increasing crookedness and straightness as one moves away from the equator.

Those are my thoughts, anyway.

Yes, I forgot to mention I don't know what is meant by that statement about Aries and Libra. Their first degrees are precisely in the middle of the crooked and straight signs respectively (in the northern hemisphere), but other than that I'm not sure what one gets out of that.
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zoidsoft



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Posted: Sun Feb 22, 2015 11:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that the mention of Aries/Libra being middling has to do with being between the solstices.

Schmidt once said that there is a connotation to signs that are upright (rise more straight relative to the local horizon) as opposed to those that rise more obliquely. The crooked signs are thought to be more dishonest. When planets are in the crooked signs they require more time to escape the beams of the Sun and interestingly enough the degrees before the Sun (the degrees that rise before the Sun in the morning) are called the pious (clean) degrees while those on the other side of the Sun (the ones about to be burned up) are "impious". The result is that planets that are in "upright signs" come out of the beams more quickly at a given latitude and are therefore more "forthcoming with the truth". Those planets that require more degrees to become visible are thought motivated to hide the truth or act in secret more readily. This has some interesting implications for certain types of horary questions.
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zoidsoft



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Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 12:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I forgot to mention that Schmidt said about 10 years ago that he thought that the 15 degree interval is an ideal proposed by Ptolemy from which the standard of truthfulness or deceptiveness can be judged and that their actual visibility coming before or after that mean value helps to define the character of that planet.
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Ben



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Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 1:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good point about the moral qualities of the signs, Curt. I was thinking about the fact that in English we still say that a corrupt or evil politician is "crooked" while an honest person walks the "straight" path or lives a "straight" life, and I always connected that with bodily posture. But the point about crooked signs being under the rays (and so being secretive) is interesting.
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 9:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, many thanks to both of you -- several good points here. (And I'm inclined [no pun intended] to think that the Indian author probably confused rising times and seasons.) Straight/crooked as a metaphor for moral/immoral is a fairly widespread usage across languages, I think.
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Paul
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Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin Gansten wrote:
Yes, many thanks to both of you -- several good points here. (And I'm inclined [no pun intended] to think that the Indian author probably confused rising times and seasons.) Straight/crooked as a metaphor for moral/immoral is a fairly widespread usage across languages, I think.


Martin, I actually think the Indian author isn't so much confusing rising times and seasons as much as using a phrasing which must be a little bit opaque. Aries and Libra really do demarcate the middling point in terms of crookedness and straightness, by which I think he means to imply some kind of gradient of, say, crookedness, with Libra in the middle of it, the most crooked. I think the point the author may have been trying to make is that the crookedness centres upon Aries, and the straightness centres on Libra - using middling in the sense of Aries being in the middle/centre of signs which are straight, and so become progressively less straight the more you move out from this middle/centre/central sign, to Pisces and Taurus, Gemini and Aquarius etc. - similarly the same for crookedness and Libra.

So I think it's more a case of perhaps a not clear description, or perhaps some phrase which translate poorly. But as Aries and Libra really are in the middle then I think it's not a confusion between that and seasons.

Another way to look at it is to imagine/visualise a table of how long it took the signs to rise in a given day at a certain latitude, and we may imagine something like this (this is totally made up btw as I don't have time to actually try this out properly) - where the signs in red are crooked, and those in blue are straight, and where we see 0º Aries and 0º Libra in the middle:


Capricorn - 2 hours
Aquarius - 1hr 30 mins
Pisces - 1hr 10 mins
Aries - 50 mins
Taurus - 1hr 30 mins
Gemini - 2 hours



Cancer - 2hrs 15 mins
Leo - 2hrs 40
Virgo - 2hrs 50
Libra - 3hrs 15 mins
Scorpio - 2hrs 50
Sagittarius - 2hrs 15 mins


So whilst this may not actually reflect any real latitude (I didn't bother to even make them add up to 24 hours!), you can imagine an older astrologer noting that straightness and crookedness centre upon 0 Aries and 0 Libra and become more or less straight/crooked from there, and so refer to them as centre-ing or middling in that sense (as opposed to middling meaning something like average).

Just to add in response to the implied question put by Ben as to why that would be relevant or useful, or what someone would get out of this information, the problem is probably that we're all too used to knowing this stuff about the signs, but if we could project ourselves into the minds of someone totally ignorant of astrology or this kind of basic astronomy, it really may not be obvious that there is a sense of some signs being more crooked/straight than others, and so putting in this knowledge that they're not of the same degree of crookedness/straightness helps someone new to the concept to try to understand this fact better. Adding in that this effect centres upon Aries/Libra is likely to serve to make that simple fact understood to an audience otherwise ignorant of the effect, as though all the crooked signs were, for reasons unknown, all completely and equally crooked and vice versa for the straight signs.long
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your input, Paul. There are two problems, though. One is that the word in question (samāna) doesn't have the meaning 'placed in middle'; it is rather middling as in 'holding the middle between two extremes [...] moderate' (Monier-Williams). It can also mean 'equal'. But Aries and Libra are the extremes, as you point out, and they are also very unequal.

The other problem is with your fictive rising times: in the tropical zodiac, Aries and Pisces necessarily share the same rising time, as do Virgo and Libra. Therefore, Virgo and Pisces will be just as 'straight' or 'crooked' as Aries and Libra, and there would be no justification for singling the latter out.
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Paul
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Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin Gansten wrote:
Thanks for your input, Paul. There are two problems, though. One is that the word in question (samāna) doesn't have the meaning 'placed in middle'; it is rather middling as in 'holding the middle between two extremes [...] moderate' (Monier-Williams). It can also mean 'equal'. But Aries and Libra are the extremes, as you point out, and they are also very unequal.


The other problem is with your fictive rising times: in the tropical zodiac, Aries and Pisces necessarily share the same rising time, as do Virgo and Libra. Therefore, Virgo and Pisces will be just as 'straight' or 'crooked' as Aries and Libra, and there would be no justification for singling the latter out.[/quote]

Ah okay! Thanks for the clarification!
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pankajdubey



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Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

samāna also means similar .
If you can give the name of the book and sloka maybe I can check what the hindi translators wrote about it.

PD
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pankajdubey wrote:
samāna also means similar .
If you can give the name of the book and sloka maybe I can check what the hindi translators wrote about it.

Thanks, Pankaj. (Yes, 'equal' and 'similar' are related meanings.) It's a bit complex, though: the verse in question is from a text which seems now to be lost, and even the title is in doubt. It is quoted by Balabhadra in the first chapter of his 1629 work Hāyanaratna, which I'm not sure has been translated into Hindi (or any other language). Here it is all the same, along with my translation -- let's see if the Devanagari script goes through:

विषमोदया मृगाद्याः षड्ढ्रस्वत्वेन कालमानस्य । कर्काद्याः षड्दीर्घत्वात् समोदया अजतुले समाने ॥

viṣamodayā mṛgādyāḥ ṣaḍ ḍhrasvatvena kālamānasya /
karkādyāḥ ṣaḍ dīrghatvāt samodayā ajatule samāne //


'The six [signs] beginning with Capricorn rise crookedly because [their] measure of time is short; the six beginning with Cancer rise evenly because [theirs] is long; Aries and Libra are middling.'
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pankajdubey



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Posted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin Gansten wrote:
pankajdubey wrote:
samāna also means similar .
If you can give the name of the book and sloka maybe I can check what the hindi translators wrote about it.

Thanks, Pankaj. (Yes, 'equal' and 'similar' are related meanings.) It's a bit complex, though: the verse in question is from a text which seems now to be lost, and even the title is in doubt. It is quoted by Balabhadra in the first chapter of his 1629 work Hāyanaratna, which I'm not sure has been translated into Hindi (or any other language). Here it is all the same, along with my translation -- let's see if the Devanagari script goes through:

विषमोदया मृगाद्याः षड्ढ्रस्वत्वेन कालमानस्य । कर्काद्याः षड्दीर्घत्वात् समोदया अजतुले समाने ॥

viṣamodayā mṛgādyāḥ ṣaḍ ḍhrasvatvena kālamānasya /
karkādyāḥ ṣaḍ dīrghatvāt samodayā ajatule samāne //


'The six [signs] beginning with Capricorn rise crookedly because [their] measure of time is short; the six beginning with Cancer rise evenly because [theirs] is long; Aries and Libra are middling.'


ajatule samāne: why are these two word in masculine locative singular- does it deal with their respective positions in the group ?

other than that, thinking like an Indian could be difficult- Very Happy

http://elisafreschi.com/2014/08/14/815/

Pankaj
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pankajdubey



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Posted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 3:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sanskrit commentary on Hayaratna:my sanskrit is limited to reading Bhagavad Geeta but this is what I could figure out.


rising times of various signs quoted:

Capricorn 283
Aquarius 203
Pisces 158
--------------------
Aries 158
Taurus 203
Gemini 283

Cancer 363
Leo 395
Virgo 398
-------------
Libra 398
Scorpio 395
Sagittarius 363

As you see there is a symmetry round Aries and Libra in their respective groups.

Looks like Paul's sanskrit was the closest to original commentary Smile

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