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origins of the tropical zodiac
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
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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")?

The concept of the domiciles of planets, as I suggested two other possible scenarios of their origin: The Thema Mundi and Babylonian hypsoma which became the Hellenistic exaltations.
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Deb
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Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, but your earlier comment was "There is no evidence that I know of that suggests this concept originated earlier than Ptolemy".

This is what confused me - it seemed you were suggesting that there is no evidence of knowledge or use of planetary sign-rulerships in astrology prior to Ptolemy.
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waybread



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Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 7:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry that the following will be rambling, but this is how I think sometimes, in my dotage.

Graham, I'm not sure yet if this is what you are looking for, but are you familiar with Gavin White's remarkable book, Babylonian Star Lore? The author gives capsule discussions of each of the constellations known from ancient Mesopotamia.

He notes that the constellations did not remain constant throughout Mesopotamian ancient history, but older constellations disappeared and younger ones-- that were often similar in meaning-- took their places. White attributes much of this changeover to precession, which would have appeared as zodiacal constellations migrating westward.

Further, the constellations were associated with specific deities, some planetary, some not. White inferred the significance of a planet-constellation affinity from what the ancient omen sources said about a given planet-in-constellation episode, as well as mythology showing a particular affinity between a deity and a constellations.

Unsurprisingly, given the earlier pre-eminence of exaltations, affinities between planets in the signs of their exaltations were prominent.

White noted the affinity of Jupiter with Leo in early Babylonian star lore, but thought that this affinity shifted to the west over time, resulting in Jupiter's exaltation in Cancer. Conversely an association of a Mercury-precursor goddess with an early constellation formulation of Virgo persisted when The Furrow constellation was followed by the more western The (palm) Frond, and the two combined for one very large constellation.

White noted that the Pleiades in Taurus initially led off the Babylonian calendar year, to be succeeded by Aries by the 7th century BCE.

In terms of modern sign rulerships, there was a close mythological relationship between Inanna (Venus) and Taurus, and Nergal (Mars) and Scorpio. Other planet-constellation affinities like Libra and the sun seem to have disappeared.

I've got the Riley translation of Valens Anthologies, which unfortunately isn't indexed, but I've been scanning it quickly since my last post, and came across this nugget in book 2 (p. 48 ) where Valens introduces medical astrology according to sign-body part rulerships. He says,

"This becomes obvious if one begins with Leo and Cancer, then goes in order, since the moon <Cancer> is the Fortune of the Universe, and the sun <Leo> is Mind and Divinity.
"That is what the earlier astrologers stated."

The "one-off" placement you noted with antiscia might have been an amalgam with metaphysical treatments such as the above, which Valens liberally cites.

Subsequently in book 3 (p. 63) Valens itemizes rulerships and exaltations in a somewhat different system than he used in book one, with tutelary deities.

Good call, Deb, on that early horoscope with planetary sign rulers. My guess, from looking at it plus Manilius and Valens, is that our current sign rulership system was thought of earlier in the history of horoscopic astrology, but it wasn't the only way of considering the nature of sign rulerships. Eventually it got standardized, and we no longer think of Vesta or Pallas as tutelary deities of their signs.
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Graham F



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Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 9:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb

This isn't quite the same as what you say
Quote:
[Ptolemy explains] 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.

Ptolemy doesn't spceifically say that the first sign "has to be Aries", or indeed that an equinox rather than a solstice should be taken as the first sign, though I agree that is clear from his saying elsewhere that the VP is at the start of Aries (as it more or less was sidereally when he was writing). I never doubted that in tropical astrology, as derived from Ptolemy, the signs must start at the equinoctial and solstice points.

This still doesn't state that the rulerships are to be fixed as they seemed to have been sidereally at the time, with the first sign after the spring equinox point ruled by Mars, the first after the Summer solstice by Moon, etc. And i think it interesting that weh Ptolemy did expose the logic of the rulership system (Ch 17), he "got it wrong" and put the solstice between Cancer and Leo, as I do find more logical.

To answer your second question, I for one do not doubt that the planetary rulership scheme existed prior to Ptolemy. Not only do we have records like those you link to, but as I said, it looks like it was first designed for a time when the solstice was indeed between (sidereal) Cancer and Leo, making those "the most northerly", "at our zenith".

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Paul
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Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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.


I emphasised part of Deb's text, because, at least as I would see it, I wouldn't include Fagan or Bradley as part of the history or development of western astrology - of course technically anything which happened yesterday or a second ago is part of history, it's not in the context of how I read Deb's post.

Therese Hamilton wrote:

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


What do you mean Therese? Do you mean the concept of domicile rulership itself? Because obviously we have recognition of rulership before Ptolemy, or is this what you contest? I can't help but think you mean this and are putting a question mark on the dating of those texts which may precede Ptolemy which mention rulership in some form?
Or do you mean the explicit linking of domicile rulership based on the seasons?

Graham F wrote:
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.


Speaking only for myself, I'm okay with other rationales for the origin of rulership. I always read Ptolemy as making an explanation that more or less makes sense to him - not necessarily that this explanation was an accurate description of its development. This is the point I was trying to make in the other thread, and for myself, I am happy to continue to make it. I realise that a lot of others may disagree with that, but I'm okay with that. For me, Ptolemy provides an explanation, but I see no reason to assume his explanation is correct, especially as the scheme predates him.

I agree with Deb that some of the comments seem to suggest that the scheme never existed prior to Ptolemy, but I'm not sure why anyone might think that. And when we recognise the pattern with the exaltations schema, which we know far far predates Ptolemy's lifetime, then it seems sensible to me that the two are linked to one another, and may have been for several centuries prior to Ptolemy's life. After that, in my opinion, all we can do is make educated guesses and inference.

We know that the planetary order based on orbital periods was known for centuries prior to Ptolemy (Plato cites a similar list but gets venus and mercury wrong). There are, for me, a whole host of ways in which we may have placed these in the zodiac. But it seems sensible that the order of the zodiac itself would feature in some way, and in that sense, with the order of the zodiac commencing in that sign which began the civil year in turn likely based on the vernal equinox which occurred more or less at the same time as the new civil year, that by extension the rulerships be associated with tropical positions - but personally I would happy to see the zodiac more abstract and so would be comfortable with sidereal astrologers applying the same rulerships to the sidereal zodiac.

Quote:
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.


I don't follow your thinking. If Ptolemy suggested the first sign be always aries, and that the sign of aries begins at the equinox, and also that the rulerships are based on the seasons, then in no way can it be sidereal zodiac in jumps. In fact you could ignore the stars altogether.

Quote:
Similarly, Curtis Mainwaring in an earlier thread re the straight and crooked signs (which are symmetrical around the antiscial axis):


I havne't double checked that thread, but the straight and crooked signs are symmetrical around the contra-antiscial axis. Is that what you meant? I don't know what Curtis' thoughts are on straight/crooked signs and rulership, or whether he'd be surprised. As I recall, rulership wasn't mentioned much or at all in that thread.

Quote:
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)?


I'm not sure what you mean, but I haven't read that article on antiscia (yet). But I have no idea what you mean by moving the point to 30º aries. In Firmicus' time, the vernal point and the beginning of aries weren't so far off. Keep in mind things like antiscia is not based on the zodiac per se, but rather based on declination of the sun, and it's only because so too is the tropical zodiac based on this, that we can make these sign based antiscia matches.

Now we can't simply move this around to suit ourselves, this is an actual astronomical property that we measure - the sun's declination. The only way it would make sense to move to 30º is if the solstice and equinox points are at 30º, because in effect this is what we're measuring here.

Quote:
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?


What do you mean? Again, remember that the antiscia points are essentially mirror images along the solstice axis.
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Paul
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Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

waybread wrote:

Good call, Deb, on that early horoscope with planetary sign rulers. My guess, from looking at it plus Manilius and Valens, is that our current sign rulership system was thought of earlier in the history of horoscopic astrology, but it wasn't the only way of considering the nature of sign rulerships. Eventually it got standardized, and we no longer think of Vesta or Pallas as tutelary deities of their signs.


I'm not sure if this post by Deb puts to one side some of the arguments of your earlier post, so I'm just putting that to one side (not ignoring you).

I'm not really sure what astrological value (if any) Manillius was expecting of the tutelary deities. Of course Manilius actually doesn't give us some of the things on the planets that he had intended or claimed he would, so perhaps some of this was intended to be clarified.

Graham F wrote:

This still doesn't state that the rulerships are to be fixed as they seemed to have been sidereally at the time, with the first sign after the spring equinox point ruled by Mars, the first after the Summer solstice by Moon, etc. And i think it interesting that weh Ptolemy did expose the logic of the rulership system (Ch 17), he "got it wrong" and put the solstice between Cancer and Leo, as I do find more logical.


Graham, I may be really misunderstanding some of your basic argument, but why do you suppose that the rulerships seemed to be sidereal in nature at the time? What evidence do you have that they were sidereal?

Once again you talk here, and earlier in some of the points I replied to in my previous reply, but also in the other thread, which I highlighted, as if Ptolemy 'places' the solstice somewhere in a pre-existing sidereally defined zodiac. But really that's not the case. It's not like ptolemy arbitrarily decided where the vernal point might go. These things are astronomical points which are measured. Rather than have the vernal point move into Pisces, he took the notion, basically, that so many of the qualities of Aries derive from the fact that the equinox is there, that he put aries on the equinox point (rather than put the equinox in aries).

So if Ptolemy got something wrong, what he got wrong was a clear definition of why the rulerships are related to the seasons. Not the tropical zodiac itself, which is what you appear to imply.

Quote:
Not only do we have records like those you link to, but as I said, it looks like it was first designed for a time when the solstice was indeed between (sidereal) Cancer and Leo, making those "the most northerly", "at our zenith".


Which, if it were true, would mean that the scheme of rulership, the logic of which Ptolemy talks about, derives from a time 30º (more or less) prior to where the vernal point was in his own time. Just working out precession to be 1º every 72 years, that's about 2160 years before he was writing. So about 2000 BC - so the same time would have passed between this, and Ptolemy's time, as between the birth of Christ and us writing today.
Considering we just don't have evidence of the rulership scheme anywhere near that far back (instead only within the couple of centuries or so prior to Ptolemy) there's really absolutely no need whatsoever to suggest that the rulership scheme existed 2160BC (or even earlier, but this at the latest) and that the logic for it was preserved for this time, not mentioned by others until a couple of millennia later.

I guess ultimately if you really want to feel that this is what Ptolemy meant, then I won't try to convince you otherwise. Ultimately I'm sure we're not likely to change our viewpoints too easily, but can agree to disagree.
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So as not to interrupt the flow of conversation, and with family acclivities today including the new Star Wars movie, I want to very briefly clear up two points:

(1) In my comments about the zodiac, I meant that I didn't believe there was mention in early writings prior to Ptolemy that rulerships were related to the Sun's northern hemisphere declination. Of course the rulerships existed earlier, and this relates to the second point,

(2) the "mystery" period between Babylonian astrology and the appearance of an intact Hellenistic system, in many ways very different from the astrology of Mesopotamia.

Robert Schmidt has emphasized this mystery, as there is no history of the development of the basic system of Hellenistic astrology. It just appeared "out of the blue" more or less. Schmidt suggests that it was the brain child of one man or a group of astrologers. Others have suggested that the system was known by priests in the temples and was made public at a certain date. All we have is references here and there to Hermes, Asclepius and Nechepso and Petosiris.
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Deb
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Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
All we have is references here and there to Hermes, Asclepius and Nechepso and Petosiris.

And (from Valens alone): Critodemus, Hermippus of Smyrna, Thrasyllus, Soudines, Kidenas, plus references to the works of Orion, Zoroaster, Abraham, etc.

We know that Berossus migrated from Babylon to Kos around 290 BCE to open a school, so I think the line of transmission is there, but we cannot judge it by the absence of charts because it was not the norm to publish charts (Valens knew he was being exceptional in that regard and criticises the older astrologers for not demonstrating charts out of a sense of possessiveness, or not wanting their teachings to go beyond the circle of their own initiates).

But still, Valens describes such difficulty in being able to dig out the principles from obscure teachings that we can only imagine that it was very difficult to get easy access to astrological works until much later.

Enjoy your Star Wars Therese!
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Deb
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Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Graham, the prospect that originally the equinoxes and solstices were expected to fall in the middle of the signs is very strong, not only because of the text references that allude to that, but because this fits the timeline of precession: earliest developments towards the zodiac occur around 8th-7th centuries BCE, with the ability to define the ecliptic and the Sun’s four quarters - we cannot assume a history of a Sun-based zodiac that goes back beyond this. So this fits with the VP sliding about 15 degrees to reach the first degree of Aries around the time that Ptolemy wrote about the matter.

There is not only no ancient text reference to suggest awareness of the VP at the end of Aries (rather than from the middle of it onwards); but astronomical reality would require the zodiac to be about 1000 years older than the historical reports we have of a breakthrough occurring around the time of Nabonassar, and that Thales of Miletus (640-545 BCE) had accomplished an astronomical feat by being able to teach knowledge of the Sun’s path from one end of the ecliptic to the other.

So that is the problem I am seeing with your proposal - a VP placement in the centre of Aries makes a lot of sense and has good support, a placement at the end of the sign doesn't.

With regard to how I paraphrased Ptolemy earlier, I was being a bit causal as I don't have a lot of time to follow this thread as closely as I’d like and my internet connection keeps dropping. There are other refs that I don't have time to dig out, but I hope you can see that what has been given already is sufficient to demonstrate the point. If anyone is seriously interested in this topic they should get a copy of the text of Geminios, who lived a couple of centuries before Ptolemy and gives the definition of the zodiac that Ptolemy gives, as well as explaining how Greek astronomers placed the VP at 0 Aries, whilst Babylonian astronomers placed it at 8 Aries (I don't have that book with me right now, so factor in that I am being casual here too).

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Geminoss-Introduction-Phenomena-Translation-Hellenistic/dp/069112339X
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margherita



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Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Therese Hamilton wrote:

Robert Schmidt has emphasized this mystery, as there is no history of the development of the basic system of Hellenistic astrology. It just appeared "out of the blue" more or less. Schmidt suggests that it was the brain child of one man or a group of astrologers.


That's not Robert Schmidt. This is Professor David Pingree. His very, very famous definition of "horoscopic astrology".
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Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Margherita wrote
Quote:
That's not Robert Schmidt. This is Professor David Pingree. His very, very famous definition of "horoscopic astrology".


Do you have a reference for where David Pingree suggests that Margherita? I would be interested in reading it. I am aware Pingree had a very limited definition of 'horoscopic astrology' which has been challenged over the last few years by scholars such as Francesca Rochberg, Dorian Greenbaum and Micah Ross. In particular he didn't consider charts without an Ascendant degree or 12 house division as a horoscope whereas later researchers have rejected his definition of 'horoscopic astrology'. Hence Pingree almost suggests horoscopic astrology developed ex nihilo. In contrast the research of more recent academics like Francesca Rochberg, Dorian Greenbaum and Micah Ross emphasize a more gradual historical continuity with the roots of many hellenistic horoscopic techniques dating back hundreds of years.

Still, like Therese, I had thought of Robert Schmidt as the leading champion of the idea of a 'rapid development' school of helllenistic astrology. In particular Schmidt repeatedly expressed his theory that the he bulk of the development of the hellenistic tradition was the product of a single or small group of thinkers associated with the Middle Platonic Academy. Schmidt has promoted his idea as 'The System of Hermes'.

Therese Hamilton wrote:
Quote:
Robert Schmidt has emphasized this mystery, as there is no history of the development of the basic system of Hellenistic astrology. It just appeared "out of the blue" more or less. Schmidt suggests that it was the brain child of one man or a group of astrologers. Others have suggested that the system was known by priests in the temples and was made public at a certain date. All we have is references here and there to Hermes, Asclepius and Nechepso and Petosiris.


I think the 'out of the blue' outlook has been losing ground academically over the last few years with mounting evidence against the Pingree/Schmidt view. In particular research suggesting a much more gradual development of many core hellenistic astrological techniques from its Babylonian and Egyptian antecedents.

Mark
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waybread



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Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 10:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark, I think you're right that many of the antecedents are to be found, by retrospectively examining earlier Babylonian, Hellenistic, (and Egyptian) sources. Researchers are intrigued by vacuums, and there is more scholarship coming out all the time with intriguing pieces to put into the puzzle of the origins of horoscopic astrology.

To take Therese's point, this doesn't mean that everything we would wish to know has been learned!

Therese, one book you might enjoy reading if you haven't yet done so is Frederick H. Cramer, Astrology in Roman Law and Politics. He doesn't uncover horoscope analysis during your black-out period, but quotes all kinds of Latin authors on astrology in Roman society through those centuries BCE when horoscopic information is sparse. He cites, for example, Roman authors critical of "circus astrologers," astrologers as foreigners, and European astrologers as introducing foreign ideas; suggesting a continuing Babylonian influence.

One wonders what passed for astrology at a Roman circus during the 2nd century BCE. We learn only that the astrologers were there.

I do see a thread like this one as allowing ideas, postulates, and questions to bubble up and mix. Nobody here is being tested on an exam, and some of us learn best by sending out trial balloons. If they pop, that's OK.

One of my current trial balloons (or clay pigeons) is that it took centuries for Hellenistic astrology to become standardized. We learn about different astrological traditions in considering Babylonian vs. Egyptian terms, Valens's palpable frustration with his more mystical source materials, and his unsynthesized juxtaposition of different techniques for calculating the same point. Firmicus Maternus hesitates to divulge religious mysteries, while writing a matter-of-fact astrological cookbook.

The astrologer/s who introduced our venerable system of sign rulerships had competition before the dust settled.
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Graham F



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Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb

You wrote:
Quote:
Graham, the prospect that originally the equinoxes and solstices were expected to fall in the middle of the signs is very strong[...] this fits with the VP sliding about 15 degrees to reach the first degree of Aries around the time that Ptolemy wrote about the matter.
There is not only no ancient text reference to suggest awareness of the VP at the end of Aries (rather than from the middle of it onwards); but astronomical reality would require the zodiac to be about 1000 years older than the historical reports [...] So that is the problem I am seeing with your proposal - a VP placement in the centre of Aries makes a lot of sense and has good support, a placement at the end of the sign doesn't.

I agree, sidereally. But Ptolemy was proposing a new tropical organisation of the rulerships, in relation not to divisions marked by the fixed stars, but to the solstice/equinox cross. He (and others, no doubt) was thinking (at times, at least) outside the box. Although he continued to use the names of the constellations to label those divisions (and it's easy to get confused because he chose to use the names in the sequence that they actually were in sidereally at the time, and may have been used sidereally or ambiguously before him), he was, surely, adopting a scheme fully disconnected from the stars.

Maybe one day something will turn up to show that the rulership scheme existed even as early as when VP was at 0° Tau/030° Ar, but that's not the point. In Ptolemy's system, those divisions had there own logic, independent of any sidereal-based position or division. Correcting the "error" to 30 Aries/0 Taurus would bring it in line with Ptolemy's scheme as set out in his chapter on the Houses of the Planets (even if this was a mistake, perhaps an "unconsciously deliberate" one). That's why I think it's a better correction, not because astrology was already established when the VP was really at 0° Taurus sidereally, of which there is no evidence, and which I agree may well not have been the case.

My point about 15° was really that from 15°, the previous and the next sign-cusp are equidistant, so if you just want to line up the solstice/equinox cross (and hence the 30° subdivions of each quarter) to sign-cusps, you can correct either way, theoretically. This is supposed to be tropical, it might be a new approach, you don't need to justify it by the stars or historical precedent at all.

As I've tried to make clear several times, it's not the constellation-derived names of the signs I'm interested in, but the rulership scheme in relation to the tropical year. Having (I'm trying to avoid using "put" here...) the first division from the VP ruled by Mars, the next by Venus, then Mercury, Moon etc, with the solstice between Mercury's and Moon's sections, does not have an inherent logic with respect to the solstice axis. Ptolemy's "mistaken" (unconsciously deliberate?) exposition of the "Houses of the Planets" does have such an inherent logic, as it arranged symmetrically around the solstice (antiscial) axis, making the solar and lunar halves (rulership scheme) correspond to the northward and southward paths (the solsticial/antiscial axis). The quote again:
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


Subsequent practice chose to ignore this bit of Ptolemy, this elegant arrangement, in favour of the standard skewed arrangement (vis-a vis the sostice axis) corresponding to Ptolemy's better-known assertion that the VP=0° Aries. This did indeed represent a "correction" from earlier sidereally-specified placings of the VP at 15, 8 and 5 Aries to have the VP at 0° Aries, and then leave 0° Aries on the VP for good. (It is the placings that were sidereal, 15>8>5, not necessarily how the significations or effects of the 30° divisions were construed, which may well have been partly or even wholly tropical).

I think this departure of subsequent practice from Ptolemy's "rulerships-around-the solstice" (even if it was a "mistake") is a pity. With my limited experience of tropical astrology, I find that Ptolemy's "mistaken" scheme works better. I thought and felt this well before reading the passage in Ptolemy (I'd seen it some time ago, and forgotten about it till the other day...). Also a pity that completely new names were not chosen for the signs, to avoid the confusion with the stars or with sidereal equal divisions, whihc muddles what we're talking about, and cramps our thinking.

These are just my problem only, it seems, but I'm not prepared to ditch them just because they're in some way heretical. I'll have to work it out on my own, but I do think we should be ready to think outside the box.

And anyway, I'm only agreeing with Ptolemy...

Graham


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Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul

Thanks for your replies. Yes, we can agree to disagree, but I'd like at least to be understood! So another try:
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Graham F wrote:

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This still doesn't state that the rulerships are to be fixed as they seemed to have been sidereally at the time, with the first sign after the spring equinox point ruled by Mars, the first after the Summer solstice by Moon, etc. And I think it interesting that when Ptolemy did expose the logic of the rulership system (Ch 17), he "got it wrong" and put the solstice between Cancer and Leo, as I do find more logical.


Graham, I may be really misunderstanding some of your basic argument, but why do you suppose that the rulerships seemed to be sidereal in nature at the time? What evidence do you have that they were sidereal?
I meant that though the particular quote from Ptolemy in question, which Deborah gave (Ashmand I.25, Schmidt I.22), doesn't mention rulerships, or indeed sign-names, we know that elsewhere Ptolemy said, and subsequent practice has assumed, that the first sign starting from the VP was "Aries". Aries is the constellation-area that the VP was at the beginning of in Ptolemy's day, i.e. where it was sidereally. And Aries was, I thought, already deemed to be ruled by Mars at least a certain time before he wrote. It's the placement that is sidereal, not necessarily the astrological practice. That's all.

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Once again you talk here, and earlier in some of the points I replied to in my previous reply, but also in the other thread, which I highlighted, as if Ptolemy 'places' the solstice somewhere in a pre-existing sidereally defined zodiac. But really that's not the case. It's not like ptolemy arbitrarily decided where the vernal point might go. These things are astronomical points which are measured. Rather than have the vernal point move into Pisces, he took the notion, basically, that so many of the qualities of Aries derive from the fact that the equinox is there, that he put aries on the equinox point (rather than put the equinox in aries).

In bold: yes, that's what I meant by "that was where it was sidereally". And (or therefore?) Ptolemy put it there tropically too. You're saying again that the characteristics of Aries pre-existed Ptolemy. OK. You also contested the suggestion that the rulerships were sidereally defined before Ptolemy. So you must believe that if he had been writing in 2000BC or today, he would still put Aries on the VP, not Taurus or Pisces. Fair enough, but I don't think so.

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So if Ptolemy got something wrong, what he got wrong was a clear definition of why the rulerships are related to the seasons. Not the tropical zodiac itself, which is what you appear to imply.

Not sure what "the tropical zodiac itself" is, without the rulerships. If it's just saying that the VP is the best place to start the circle, I agree. My problem is with calling it Aries (for ever) and having it ruled by Mars, which looks like a carry-over from the sidereal situation at the time. Elsewhere Ptolemy says Spring is dominated by a dominance of moisture, not very Martial per se. But as per the quote I gave from The Houses of the Planets, Ptolemy did, quite literally, have a clear and coherent definition (even if it "slipped out by mistake") of why the rulerships are related to the seasons (via a symmetrical relation to the North/South solstice axis).

I wrote:
Not only do we have records like those you link to, but as I said, it looks like it was first designed for a time when the solstice was indeed between (sidereal) Cancer and Leo, making those "the most northerly", "at our zenith".

Paul:
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Which, if it were true, would mean that the scheme of rulership, the logic of which Ptolemy talks about, derives from a time 30º (more or less) prior to where the vernal point was in his own time. Just working out precession to be 1º every 72 years, that's about 2160 years before he was writing. So about 2000 BC - so the same time would have passed between this, and Ptolemy's time, as between the birth of Christ and us writing today.
Considering we just don't have evidence of the rulership scheme anywhere near that far back (instead only within the couple of centuries or so prior to Ptolemy) there's really absolutely no need whatsoever to suggest that the rulership scheme existed 2160BC (or even earlier, but this at the latest) and that the logic for it was preserved for this time, not mentioned by others until a couple of millennia later.

Yes, but I did say it looks like it was designed for such a time, not that that anyone did actually design it at the time. I don't think this can be completely excluded, but it's highly speculative, and I shouldn't have brought it up here, it just confuses things. I've tried to clarify in my previous post, to Deb.

Hope I've succeeded a bit more in saying what I'm trying to mean ( I'm not expecting to convince...). If not, never mind!


Graham


Last edited by Graham F on Fri Dec 18, 2015 11:45 pm; edited 1 time in total
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waybread



Joined: 05 Mar 2009
Posts: 901
Location: Canada

Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 11:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, Graham-- you write like a fellow Mercury retrograde, wanting to get all the puzzle pieces to fit before accepting an explanation.

Your discussion is really above my pay grade, but I would like to throw out some possibilities.

With the Leo-Cancer duo, we could be looking at a palimpsest of a Taurus spring equinox, and Gavin White's Babylonian Star Lore suggests cases where this was probably done with the exaltations and some of the planetary god-constellation affinities. We might be looking at some precursors of our rulerships with Innana (Venus) and Taurus, and Nergal (Mars) with Scorpio. If these became commonly accepted anchors, then the rest of the system might be adjusted to fit it.

But there are other options. In Hellenistic "science" weather/climate were often combined with astronomy/astrology. In fact, the star calendar was used to forecast seasonal weather patterns-- dating from Hesiod in the 8th century BCE. Ptolemy follows this venerable tradition in Tetrabiblos, where he devotes a lot of space to climatology (Cf. 2:11, including the climatic natures of the months of Cancer and Leo.)

When Ptolemy says,

Quote:
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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.....


Let's hold off on the solstice for a moment, and look climatically at the months that are "most productive of heat and warmth" in Alexandria, Egypt. http://www.holiday-weather.com/alexandria/averages/

We see from the linked temperature bar chart that the hottest months in Alexandria (today) are September, August, and July, followed by June. Possibly there's been a little climate change since 150 CE and I'm not sure how Mr. Pt would have measured temperature, anyway; but climatically I could buy into the months of Cancer (mostly July) and Leo (mostly August) back then being the hottest months assuming our same tropical zodiac.

So Ptolemy may be correct there-- climatically.

The month of Gemini (May-June) might be more logical to pair with Cancer in terms of its lead-up to the solstice, but June is a climatically cooler month. It is less "productive of heat and warmth."

Ptolemy's assignment of the luminaries to July and August could be arbitrary, yet as Deb's early date for rulerships suggest, secularist Ptolemy may have preferred a system that at least would be more to his liking than the alternative contemporary system of tutelary deities.

Another justification of the tropical zodiac occurs in Tetrabiblos 2: 10, on the stellar calendar's timing of climate events and their relevance for agriculture. Mr. Pt in this section refers to the ancient Egyptian practice of starting their calendar with the rising of Sirius-- which occurred in Cancer in the 2nd century BCE but closer to the start of the month of Leo than Gemini. Given the primacy of the sun in Egyptian life-- and afterlife-- there might have been another logic underlying Alexandrian Ptolemy's preference for the sun in Leo to head up the antiscia system of sign rulerships.
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