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origins of the tropical zodiac
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waybread



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Posted: Tue Dec 15, 2015 11:34 pm    Post subject: origins of the tropical zodiac Reply with quote

This thread is a spin-off of the one titled, "Why astrology is not a pseudoscience." http://skyscript.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8963 We got sidetracked by a fascinating discussion of the rationale behind western astrology's tropical zodiac with its customary signs, planetary sign rulers, and solstice and equinox points anchoring the horoscope.

I hope we can continue that discussion here.

As a starting point, I've copied part of Graham F's comments from that thread:

Quote:
I don't mind what the first tropical sign is called, or whether the spring or autumn equinox, or on of the solstices, is chosen as the start of the year, but I would have "liked" the rulership scheme not to be skewed with respect to the solstice/equinox cross. It's not "which sign is first" that interests me, but how the rulerships are assigned in relation to the reality of the tropical year. .... of "putting" the rulership scheme on the solstice/equinox framework (it has to go somewhere, in that reality).

The tropical year IS essentially the solstice/equinox cross; as you say, we might not want to impose a rulership scheme (or a 12-fold division) on it at all, but most astrologers do, and they use one that LOOKS as if it was designed for an epoch when the VP was in Taurus (or between Tau and Ar).

I think there is a clear analogy which COULD be respected between the movement "up" to the summer solstice and "down" to the winter (I.e. the antiscial axis) on the one had, and the rulership scheme in which the sun (firstly, as defining the ecliptic) goes "up" to the frontier Cancer/Leo (the so-called lunar half), and "down" to the frontier Capricorn/Aquarius (the solar half), on the other.


So I want to first ask Graham F, if you're aware of the ancient Neoplatonic belief that the Cancer-Capricorn axis was the conduit through which newly arriving souls descended to earth (Cancer, the asterism Praesepe) and through which departed souls (Capricorn) migrated back to a celestial realm. An earlier version of this cosmology was present in ancient Babylon, according to Gavin White, Babylonian Star Lore, p.124.

Classicists are pretty clear that the ancient Greeks adopted a lot of their mythology from the Babylonians. In an eclectic syncretistic fashion, the early Greeks reshaped some of their Babylonian material to fit better with their own less developed mythology.

Not all ancient astrological cultures gendered the moon as female or Mother, but the ancient southern and middle Europeans seem to have done so. The Babylonian moon god Sin was actually more important in Babylonian astrology as defining the ecliptic than was their sun god. So we do get a shift from a Babylonian moon god to a European moon goddess.

The Babylonians had a system of exaltations but not of rulerships as domiciles. However, they did have some clear mythological links between planetary deities and constellations. For example, the goddess affiliated with Scorpio was a war goddess, so when Nergal (the planetary war god who morphed into Ares and Mars) was in Scorpio, the outlook was especially nasty. (White, p. 179.) Scorpions in the Near East can indeed be deadly, and the Babylonians called Scorpio "the sword of heaven."

The constellation Leo was associated with both the realm and its king. In Alexandria, Egypt, where Ptolemy worked, he could hardly have overlooked the primacy of the Egyptian solar god Ra. Unsurprisingly in early Hellenistic astrology the sun symbolizes royalty.

Unsurprisingly the Hellenistic astrologers identified Mars as malefic, and assigned his rulership to Scorpio. The hottest month of the year (which climatically comes after the solstice) would be a reasonable association with the sun.

If we can take a moon-Cancer affinity as the starting point of planetary sign rulerships based upon the cardinal cross, does the rest have a certain logic to it?

You are aware of the duo moon (mother)-- sun (father,) which the Greeks expressed as Phoebe (moon) and Phoebus (sun,) and for which Diana and Apollo eventually became the preferred deities. But interestingly, the sun was not the primary Graeco-Roman god. It was Zeus/Jupiter-- originally a rainfall and storm god with no early planetary association.

So maybe we can start with a sun-moon pair, link the moon to Cancer, and then domicile the sun in the neighbouring sign of Leo. This scheme would have the advantage of incorporating a more ancient summer solstice in Leo with the ca. 2000-0 BCE solstice in Cancer.

If we look to the winter solstice, we recognize winter as the rainy season in the Near East and Mediterranean regions, exemplified by a portion of the heavens nicknamed "the sea" and the older winter solstice in Aquarius, symbolized as a man pouring water from vases. Gavin White, Babylonian Star-Lore, 121-3 notes this connection with climate and rising rivers, and suggests that Aquarius could appropriately be called "the irrigator."

Then Venus and Mercury had different personalities depending upon whether they preceded or followed the sun, so it would not be a huge stretch to assign one planet to different signs. As the Mesopotamian planet Inanna or Ishtar, Venus was a god/ess of both love and warfare. (It apparently took them a while to determine that the morning and evening star were the same planet.) In her fertility persona, Inanna is suited to Taurus; whereas the Descent of Inanna myth works well with the fall equinox in Libra.

I don't know that Wikipedia is authoritative, but this article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inanna states that Venus was associated with Pisces (sign of her exaltation;) and her shepherd lover Dimuzi, with the constellation Aries. Aries was associated with sheep, not so much because of its shape, but because its solar month coincided with lambing and the hiring of shepherds. This would have been important to an agricultural, semi-pastoral society.

The Sumerian goddess of scribes, grain stores, astrology, and writing (more like accountancy) was Nisaba. She later morphed into the scribe god Nabu, or became his consort. From Nabu the Greeks developed their Hermes; and the Romans, their Mercury. The Babylonians initially had two constellations in the vicinity of Virgo: "the field" or "the [palm] frond," or "the furrow." This pair suggests a Virgo (grain)-Gemini (scribe) link.

The above bits & bytes are highly speculative, but suggest that Babylonian mythology may have provided some raw material that Ptolemy drew upon in his efforts to systematize and de-mythologize his new "scientific" (ca. 150 CE) astrology.
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Wed Dec 16, 2015 5:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If we're discussing the scheme of sign rulership, there was a thread earlier on Skyscript where I suggested that the earlier exaltations may be the foundation for the later Hellenistic rulership scheme. This would have been zodiac independent except that the exaltations (hypsoma) had their origin in Mesopotamia where planets were assigned to actual constellations in the sky. Thus, as Waybread indicated, much symbolism goes back to Mesopotamia.

http://skyscript.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8714

The origin of the tropical zodiac is a different question than the origin of the rulership scheme. I've just seen an explanation I hadn't considered before in Robert Powell's History of the Zodiac (Sophia Academic Press, 2007). Powell relates the (mistaken) origin of the tropical zodiac to the calendar of 12 months projected on to the sky.

I have to read his research more carefully before offering an opinion. In some ways Powell's studies and research seem to be careless and inconclusive, so (due to lack of time) I've avoided saying anything about his book which began as a doctoral thesis. Powell is a diehard proponent of the Aldebaran-Antares zodiac and is associated with the Rudolf Steiner school of philosophy. I'll try to explain more of his research on the zodiac in another post.

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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 2:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is what we know for sure about the relationship of planets to the zodiac:

In Mesopotamia stars were used to mark the beginnings of the twelve 30 degree signs of the zodiac. In the latest published list (John P. Britton, "Studies in Babylonian lunar theory: Part III: The introduction of the uniform zodiac", 2010) three stars are noted as beginnings of sidereal signs:

zeta Taurus (AlHecka), beginning of Gemini
beta Gemini (Pollux), beginning of Cancer
delta Capricorn (Deneb Algedi), beginning of Aquarius

Using today's measurements, two of these stars, Pollux and Deneb Algedi place Spica at 30 degrees of Virgo in the Lahiri zodiac used today by Jyotish astrologers. AlHecka places Aldebaran and Antares at 15 degrees of Taurus-Scorpio in the Fagan-Allen zodiac.

Mesopotamia also had the trigons (later named fire, earth, air and water), terms (very recently discovered), dodekatemoria (division of each sign into 12), and there is even evidence that signs or planets were related to parts of the human body (the doctrine of Melothesia).

The latest known Babylonian chart we have is dated to April of 69 BCE. The earliest Hellenistic chart we have is dated 40 CE. (Kollerstrom, Neugebauer) What happened in the 70 years between those two dates? Alexander Jones has been able to conclusively nail down the date when astrologers began to use tropical calculations for their horoscopes. (plus/minus several years on either side of 350 CE) Prior to that period astrologers used sidereal calculations for their charts.

The rulership scheme was in place when the first century CE astrologers wrote--Dorotheus, Valens, Ptolemy and others. Thus the scheme was set in place in the sidereal zodiac and originally had no particular relationship to the equinoxes and solstices. Of course when tropical calculations began to be used, the entire planet-sign scheme was adopted to that zodiac. Because astrologers shy away from research, we still don't have evidence that the rulership scheme works in observable (scientific) ways in either the tropical or sidereal zodiac.

(I am working on a post that summarizes Robert Powell's early zodiac research.)
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Deb
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Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 3:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Alexander Jones has been able to conclusively nail down the date when astrologers began to use tropical calculations for their horoscopes. (plus/minus several years on either side of 350 CE) Prior to that period astrologers used sidereal calculations for their charts.


That says more about calculation methods than anything else. Before astrologers had the astronomical techniques to do otherwise, all forms of astrological measurement had to be done arithmetically using visible stars as reference points. Ancient astrologers did not have dual recognition of sidereal and tropical zodiacs in the way that we do: there was just 'the zodiac'. This had to be overlaid against the visible constellations, which were also made uniform to aid measurement of where the zodiac commenced. So always two frames of reference, but only one concept of the zodiac, with disagreement about where its starting point is placed in the constellations.

Quote:
Thus the scheme was set in place in the sidereal zodiac and originally had no particular relationship to the equinoxes and solstices.


Do you have any evidence that the rulership scheme was developed without reference to the equinoxes and solstices?

I also have Robert Powell's work, but found it too full of speculation to take it very seriously
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 6:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
Quote:
Do you have any evidence that the rulership scheme was developed without reference to the equinoxes and solstices?

Well, we have the diverse opinions of which degree of Aries held the vernal point concurrent with the accepted rulership scheme. We know that Valens didn't place zero Aries at the equinox, but Ptolemy did.

This point is actually good to research, but unfortunately we don't have precise birth dates for the early Hellenistic writers, so we don't know precisely when various texts were written. (Which writings came first.) There is indeed a mysterious period of time between the latest Babylonian tablets and the early Hellenistic writers. We only know that for astrologers, Ptolemy was the source of the Aries-equinox alignment. But it would be impossible to prove that there was a relationship between the equinoxes and the system of sign rulerships.

Manilius was supposedly earlier, but I keep remembering Rob Hand's opinion that Manilius may not be an authentic work as to its date. (Chronology of the Astrology of the Middle East and the West by Period, Arhat, 199_?, p. 7.)

To fully answer the rulership question, it would be necessary to review the Hellenistic writers as to the earlier sources they used for specific areas in their writings. I do have most (if not all) of the Hellenistic translations....time is the problem.

Edit: Just now I've found a relevant reference to the vernal point at 8 Aries in conjunction with a quote detailing rulerships in Thrasyllus (died 36 CE, so before Ptolemy). It's late tonight, but I'll try to post the quote tomorrow. (CCAG 8, 3; 99-101)

I do have to continue to review Powell's two books, but his work is very much based on his beliefs and opinions. In his research of later dates, he completely missed the role of Arab astrologers.
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Paul
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Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Therese Hamilton wrote:
Deb wrote:
Quote:
Do you have any evidence that the rulership scheme was developed without reference to the equinoxes and solstices?

Well, we have the diverse opinions of which degree of Aries held the vernal point concurrent with the accepted rulership scheme. We know that Valens didn't place zero Aries at the equinox, but Ptolemy did.


But surely that tells us nothing at all about rulership?
Why would it matter where the vernal point is in regards the question of rulership? Surely if the VP was anywhere in Aries, but particularly if it were close to, say, the centre of Aries, that would even suffice as well?

I really don't follow your logic here, because of course measuring something in relation to a star, tells us nothing about the philosophy of rulership whatsoever:
Quote:
The rulership scheme was in place when the first century CE astrologers wrote--Dorotheus, Valens, Ptolemy and others. Thus the scheme was set in place in the sidereal zodiac and originally had no particular relationship to the equinoxes and solstices.

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Deb
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Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to agree with Paul here Theresa, I don't see how the placement of the VP could suggest a disassociation of the sign rulerships with the equinoxes and solstices. The most ancient sources give reason to believe that the tropical zodiac divisions were centred upon these points as they fell in the background constellations anyway.

I also don't understand the relevance of the "mysterious period of time between the latest Babylonian tablets and the early Hellenistic writers" - you are talking about a gap of a few years really, in which we do have evidence of charts dated to the intermediate period - see Greek Horoscopes pages 14-19 which describes charts found in original documents that can be dated to 61, 9 and 3 BCE, and 5/22, and 32 AD. By comparison they report a 200 year period between 190 and 380 CE where there is an absence of datable charts in literary sources, so even if there was a 70 year absence of chart material I don't understand why that would be so significant to this matter.

Greek Horoscopes on Googlebooks

What Ptolemy did was explain the principle that had already been decided in generations before him: that when the VP moves out of Aries we shall continue to call the first division of the zodiac Aries and commence it from the VP instead of the constellation it was originally attached to. No astrologer that has played an important part in the history and development of western astrology appeared to have questioned that - later astrologers such as Masha'allah, who were using what we might call a sidereal zodiac because it took reference from fixed stars, were using what they understood to be the best method of determining the zodiac that Ptolemy used.
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lifestudent



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Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
No astrologer that has played an important part in the history and development of western astrology appeared to have questioned that


Actually a few have actually questioned that. Fagan, Bradley f.ex. and the Gauquelin's data seems to fit much better with the Fagan Bradley sidereal zodiac than it does to tropical. That is the biggest sample of data and research that has been undertaken on astrology.
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
Quote:
I don't see how the placement of the VP could suggest a disassociation of the sign rulerships with the equinoxes and solstices. The most ancient sources give reason to believe that the tropical zodiac divisions were centred upon these points as they fell in the background constellations anyway.

There is no evidence that I know of that suggests this concept originated earlier than Ptolemy. There are two other candidates for the assignment of planets to domiciles: the Thema Mundi (discussed by Robert Schmidt) and the alignment of planets in signs in relation to the more ancient Mesopotamian hypsoma. As it's necessary to provide textual support for astrological concepts (or arguments), a longer post will follow this one as time allows. Also I still want to summarize Powell's early research on the zodiac just so the information is out there.

It's the holiday season with family visiting until after New Years, but I expect that there will be time here and there for this project.
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Deb
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Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Therese Hamilton wrote:

There is no evidence that I know of that suggests this concept originated earlier than Ptolemy.


I don't want to misunderstand you Therese and it might save time to be clear about what concept are you referring to - the notion that the zodiac should use the vernal point as its commencement point, or the concept of planetary rulership of signs ("planets to domiciles")?

lifestudent wrote:
Quote:
No astrologer that has played an important part in the history and development of western astrology appeared to have questioned that


Actually a few have actually questioned that. Fagan, Bradley f.ex. and the Gauquelin's data seems to fit much better with the Fagan Bradley sidereal zodiac than it does to tropical. That is the biggest sample of data and research that has been undertaken on astrology.


Sorry I didn't make myself clearer - we have had this conversation before where the point was made more fully, so I took it for granted people would realise that I am talking about historical astrologers, and especially those of the ancient - medieval periods. Hence I wrote: "later astrologers such as Masha'allah, who were using what we might call a sidereal zodiac because it took reference from fixed stars, were using what they understood to be the best method of determining the zodiac that Ptolemy used." Clearly, that doesn't apply to Fagan, Bradly, or modern siderealists who argue against Ptolemy's system on principle. (The thread is discussing the origins of the zodiac, so we don't want to get side-tracked into which system any of us prefers or feels is best suited to data analysis, etc).
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waybread



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Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, yes! Here's sending all good wishes to everyone for the holidays. Not the least of which might be our upcoming winter solstice-- at 0 degrees Capricorn and a Christmas full moon.

Perhaps we can agree that the majority of the basics of Hellenistic astrology derived from Babylon, and that the equinoxes and solstices were significant dates for them. Their calendar was based upon a solar year, with lunar months named for constellations/signs, and an intercalary month in year 17 to get the cycles to work out properly. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylonian_calendar (It's Wikipedia, I know, I know.)

The sun wheel or cross (a cross or "x" inside a circle, or an 8-pointed star) and its variant the swastika are really ancient, and one of the most widespread cross-cultural symbols of archaeoastronomy. An 8-arm version of it was the glyph for Shamash, the Babylonian sun god. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tablet_of_Shamash (Whoops. Another Wikipedia link, sorry.) The MUL.APIN (ca. 1000 BCE) recorded dates of equinoxes and solstices.

If we look at the Babylonian calendar (of lunar months plus an inter-calculated month) based upon the solar year it goes back to Sumer. I. e., seriously ancient. It begins in the spring during the month of Aries. Each month corresponds to one or more gods, and the fall equinox or 7th month is ruled by the sun god Shamash. The summer solstice given to Tammuz (Dumuzi) was widely commemorated in the ancient Near East with laments for a dying god of the sun and vegetation, as the region entered its accustomed period of scorching summer drought, while day lengths perceptibly declined. Nergal (Mars) was a god of scorching summer heat, as well, but he was also an underworld god which might account for his affiliation with Sagittarius-- the month facing the solstice.

By the time astrology transmitted to ancient Greece in the 3rd century BCE, the Babylonians essentially had a tropical zodiac in full swing, although they seem to have restricted its use to their civic and religious calendar. (I could be wrong on this: anybody?)

The Babylonian calendar gods affiliated with the 12+ months are not identical with Ptolemy's planetary gods associated with each month, but Babylon established a more general principle of a god presiding over a month identified as an astrological sign.

The Babylonians also introduced into astrology the concept of signs in a trine relationship, which predates the Aristotelian/Ptolemaic introduction of elements into astrology. (Rochberg-Halton, 1988, J. Am. Oriental Soc. 108: 51-62.

Therese, I don't think that classicists have questioned the approximate dating of Manilius's life. What they have questioned are particular passages that seem to have been inserted later by his copyists/editors. (A real problem for Dorotheus, who was heavily glossed by a later Muslim editor.)

If you're not already familiar with them, you might be interested in K. Volk, 2009, Manilius and his Intellectual Background, Oxford U. Press; and P. Brind d'Amour, 1983, "Manilius and the Computation of the Ascendant," Classical Philology 78: 114-48.
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Graham F



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Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Deborah, Paul, Waybread et al

Thanks to Waybread for starting the new thread. The origin of the tropical zodiac is not really what I was asking about, it was about the relationship of the classical rulership scheme to the tropical year (i.e. to the antiscial axis). I asked in the other thread if anyone knew of any logical reason or explanation for it being skewed 30° with respect to the antiscial axis, thus creating two separate "mirror systems", 30° out of phase with each other.

I asked this because I had the impression that since Ptolemy, there had just been a gradual slide towards 0° Aries=VP=ruled by "Mars on the way up the lunar half", without anyone thinking it out or clearly stating the doctrine. But Deborah says Ptolemy clearly specifies that, for all time, the first 1/12th division from the VP is to be called Aries:
Quote:
What Ptolemy did was explain the principle that had already been decided in generations before him: that when the VP moves out of Aries we shall continue to call the first division of the zodiac Aries and commence it from the VP instead of the constellation it was originally attached to. No astrologer that has played an important part in the history and development of western astrology appeared to have questioned that


I can't find where Ptolemy says that so explicity, I would like to have the reference.
If he was so explicit, then we probably can assume he would intend the rulership scheme to be kept associated with the old names, otherwise it's just a sidereal zodiac "in jumps", with the names of the signs periodically changing.

But in what looks to me like a nice "Freudian slip" (an unconsciously deliberate mistake), Ptolemy actually "gets it wrong" when explaining the rulership scheme, placing it squarely on the antiscial axis (which would give the sign starting at the VP to Venus), and reasons this out:
Quote:
17. OF THE HOUSES OF THE SEVERAL PLANETS.
Since of the twelve signs the most northern, which are closer than the others to our zenith and therefore most productive of heat and of warmth are Cancer and Leo, they assigned these to the greatest and most powerful heavenly bodies, that is, to the luminaries, as houses, Leo, which is masculine, to the sun and Cancer, feminine, to the moon. In keeping with this they assumed the semicircle from Leo to Capricorn to be solar and that from Aquarius to Cancer to be lunar, so that in each of the semicircles one sign might be assigned to each of the five planets as its own, one bearing aspect to the sun and the other to the moon


In the other thread ("Astrology/pseudoscience?") Paul and Waybread seemed to disagree with my conviction that the rulership scheme could not be arbitrarily placed in respect of the tropical seasonal (antiscial) cross, i.e. be "put" somewhere within it, but now the argument seems to accept that there is probably a connection. Ptolemy's slip seems to me to show that the analogy between the two symmetries is strong enough for him to unconsiously expect that connection to be a true matching of symmetries (not a skewed one), and to reason as if it was.

Similarly, Curtis Mainwaring in an earlier thread re the straight and crooked signs (which are symmetrical around the antiscial axis):
Quote:
The upright signs approximate the solar half of the zodiac (Cap being the exception) and the lunar half the other side.
(...with Cancer being the exception - To me, this implies that, on some level, at least fleetingly, he also felt it a bit surprising that the rulership symmetry doesn't fit more neatly with the straight/crooked dichotomy around the antiscia, but seems to be skewed by one sign.)

I've just re-read Deborah's excellent and very clear article "The Classical Origins of Antiscia" (on this site), and remembered that that was where the point about "correcting the error" was made:
Quote:
Firmicus, in moving the reference point for antiscion reflection from 15° of the tropical signs, to 0°, was merely correcting the error which had accumulated with the movement of the vernal point - a problem which the establishment of the tropical zodiac eradicated. 

Couldn't this error (from a tropical perspective), if corrected from 15° Aries (as given by Manilius, clearly from an earlier tradition), have just as validly been corrected to 30° Aries rather than to 0° (since ephemeral sidereal considerations, the source of the error, shouldn't count in a new tropical perspective)? And if the error had "accumulated" to 15° and later 8 and 5 Aries, shouldn't we remove the accumulation, rather than adding more, in order to correct it? (The fact that the 15° reference exists at all must surely mean that there was some sort of astrological tradition already in place or taking shape when the VP was in mid Aries.)

Also in Deborah's article, a clarification of how antiscial signs work, in space and time:
Quote:
[Ptolemy] explains that they 'behold' one another, partly because they rise and set in the same part of the horizon, and partly because:
when the Sun comes into either of them the days are equal to the days, the nights to the nights, and the lengths of their own hours are the same

Isn't it surprising that the "beholding" segments (equivalent in terms of daylight time, of location on the horizon and (by projection) of location on the ecliptic, shouldn't have equivalent rulers (as Ptolemy mistakenly says they do)?

Graham


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Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 10:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul, The following is highly speculative (due to my lack of expertise,) but my best-guess is that we can look to the Babylonians and Egyptians for very rough prototypes of Ptolemy's sign rulerships.

What they established were: (a) exaltations generically as the idea of a planet being particularly powerful in a given place; and (b) the idea of deities presiding over constellations, signs, asterisms, or individual stars, based upon earlier ideas that stars and planets were divine beings. Ishtar (Innanna=the planet Venus) was the deity of Virgo in the Babylonian calendar I linked in my previous post, for example.

When I have a moment I'd like to go back over Graham F's idea that our Aries-point tropical zodiac has a kind of palimpsest of an earlier zodiac based upon the spring equinox in Taurus. Of the planetary gods listed in the Babylonian calendar linked above, there seems to be a one-off displacement for those gods identified with planets (and not all calendar gods were,) but I'll have to check and see if they're consistent For sure, the Pleiades were a major figure in ancient celestial calendars.

Ptolemy's genius, if I can call it that, seems to have been in taking all kinds of Hellenistic, Egyptian, and Babylonian empirical and religious materials, and organizing them in a systematic way. Out goes the magic, but he seems to have retained some of the more fundamental meta-narratives stripped of their religious origins. He retained the meta-narrative of signs presided over by planetary gods, and then remodeled it to fit with more "rational" concepts of secular planets' distance from the sun and time from the summer solstice.

This is different than Manilius, who retains the (Babylonian?)meta-narrative of signs having tutelary gods whether or not they are planets.

Manilius's scheme (2:440 ff)

Pallas: Aries (the warrior goddess!)
Venus: Taurus (!)
Phoebus (sun): Gemini
Mercury: Cancer
Jupiter/Juno: Leo
Ceres: Virgo
Vulcan: Libra
Mars: Scorpio (!)
Diana (moon): Sagittarius
Vesta: Capricorn
Jupiter/Juno: Aquarius
Neptune: Pisces

Then Vettius Valens has a partial Ptolemaic system of domiciles in book 1, suggesting that sign rulerships predate both him and Ptolemy, in saying that Aries is the house of Mars, Gemini is the house of Mercury, &c; but he gives other tutelary deities, as well. Some of these are the same as in Manilius (italicized):

Aries: (house of Mars)
Taurus: (no planet house) Venus, the moon, Ceres, Vesta, Mars, Mercury
Gemini: house of Mercury. "The gods Apollo, Hercules, Vulcan, Juno, Saturn are associated with it."

Cancer (house of the moon) Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Neptune, Venus
Leo: (house of the sun)
Virgo: (house of Mercury)

Libra through Sagittarius: our conventional domiciles, without additional tutelary gods

Capricorn: (house of Saturn) "These are the gods: Venus, the moon, Ceres, Mercury."
Aquarius: (no planet house) or deities listed
Pisces: (no planet house) Neptune, Mars, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter

If Valens has got the notion of domiciles, he's more of a teacher and an eclectic compiler than a systematizer and textbook author, as Ptolemy was.
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waybread



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Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 10:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Graham, we've crossed in the mail. More later, but I'd be interested in what you think of the Babylonian religious and civic calendar as the prototype tropical zodiac.
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Deb
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Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Graham - is this what you are looking for from Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos?
Quote:
The beginnings of the signs, and likewise those of the terms, are to be taken from the equinoctial and tropical points. This rule is not only clearly stated by writers on the subject, but is also especially evident by the demonstration constantly afforded, that their natures, influences and familiarities have no other origin than from the tropics and equinoxes, as has been already plainly shown. And, if other beginnings were allowed, it would either be necessary to exclude the natures of the signs from the theory of prognostication, or impossible to avoid error in then retaining and making use of them ... (Ashmand I.25 Robbins and Schmidt, I.22)


Are people in this thread doubting that the planetary rulership scheme existed prior to Ptolemy? We know that it did because we have extant texts that show it being employed before the lifespan of Ptolemy. [For example]
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