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Origin of The Alcabitius House System?

 
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Mark
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Posted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 10:45 pm    Post subject: Origin of The Alcabitius House System? Reply with quote

Most astrological histories suggest that the first astrological source to cite the Alcabitius house system was the Byzantine astrologer Rhetorius who was probably based in pre-Islamic Egypt in the the 6th or 7th century CE.

The implication being that all house systems being used before this time based, quadrant system were ecliptical ie whole sign, equal or porphyry.

However, I have noticed an interesting comment by Robert Schmidt on his website in a section called 'Catalogue of Hellenistic Astrologers and Their Sources'.

In particular on his section on the early 3rd century astrologer Pancharius

Robert Schmidt states:

Quote:
Pancharius (early 3th Century C.E.). Wrote a work on a astrological medicine entitled Concerning Bed-Illnesses, which survives only in a few fragments. He also seems to have been the first to write a commentary on Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos; Hephaistio (Bk II) cites this commentary frequently when discussing the issue of the house division to be used for the determination of length of life in Ptolemy's manner. In his attempt to read between the lines in the Tetrabiblos, he evidently invented what we might call a modified Alchabitius house system.


http://www.projecthindsight.com/reference/catalog.html

Has anyone studied this work of Pancharius?

Mark
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 1:02 pm    Post subject: Re: Origin of The Alcabitius House System? Reply with quote

I haven't studied it myself, but I remember that Holden discusses it in his paper 'Ancient House Division'. As I recall, though, the cusps of that system were identical to those of the Porphyry (rather than the Alcabitius) system, only Pancharius used them as the centres rather than the beginning points of the houses -- intriguingly, the same model that is later found in India.
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Mark
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Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin Gansten wrote:
Quote:
I haven't studied it myself, but I remember that Holden discusses it in his paper 'Ancient House Division'. As I recall, though, the cusps of that system were identical to those of the Porphyry (rather than the Alcabitius) system, only Pancharius used them as the centres rather than the beginning points of the houses -- intriguingly, the same model that is later found in India.


Thanks Martin,

I have subsequently noted that in his new book, Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune, Chris Brennan briefly touches on this issue on page 390 in his chapter on house division.

According to Brennan, Robert Schmidt and James Holden disagreed about which system Pancharius outlined with Schmidt claiming Alcabitius is described and Holden suggesting Porphyry houses. Brennan doesn't take a side in this controversy. It seems that our only source for what Pancharius wrote are the fragments of his text contained in Hephaistio (Book II) who cites this commentary frequently when discussing the issue of the house division.

Although I haven't read the text I instinctively incline more to Holden's interpretation than Schmidt. Historically, it seems less plausible that something as sophisticated as a time based house system was being used as early as the beginning of the 3rd century. The first texts mentioning the midheaven only date from the mid second century. It seems quite a leap from ecliptical systems like Porphyry to the level of mathematical and astronomical sophistication of a time based system like Alcabitius.

Martin Gansten wrote:
Quote:
As I recall, though, the cusps of that system were identical to those of the Porphyry (rather than the Alcabitius) system, only Pancharius used them as the centres rather than the beginning points of the houses -- intriguingly, the same model that is later found in India.


Thanks Martin. Fascinating point! If so this would mean the so called Sripati house system used in India really dated back to Pancharius in the 3rd century rather than Sripati in the 11th century! Its often suggested Sripati modified the Porphyry house system by placing the cusps in the centre of the house. But as with whole sign houses this is possibly proof of how conservative Indian astrology has been. The use of Sripati houses in India based on Porphyry cusps in the centre of houses surely add more weight to Holden's position.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%9Ar%C4%ABpati

I am thankful to you for pointing this out. I have personally been inclining more to an Indian approach to house cusps for some time so its encouraging to find ancient justification for this. Dorotheus also seems to lend some support to this way of thinking about house cusps.

Mark
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Paul
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Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Mark

I can't add a whole lot to this except to confirm that Holden believed it to be Porphyry and Schmidt believed it to be Alcabitius. You can read at least some of what Schdmit is saying here actually, where he mentions this very briefly in a footnote:

https://www.scribd.com/document/82878278/The-Facets-of-Fate

Holden has a translation and I can't imagine how one might define it any other way than Holden has unless it's a problem of translation.

Quote:
he first texts mentioning the midheaven only date from the mid second century


I'm curious what you mean by this? Manilius, in the first century, certainly mentions the midheaven. But, more to the point, we have charts from the first century ad as well which demonstrate the midheaven as well as at least one containing data from the first century BC likewise containing the midheaven, even to the degree (whether accurate or not).

Because this focus on the angles likely at the very least derives from Egypt, we can imagine that at least a (by modern standards) crude method of determining the midheaven existed long before this. In fact the Egyptian Book of Nut details the crossing of the stars over the midheaven, as does, of course, the ziqpu star texts from Babylon - putting aside whether these were used for astrological purposes, the point exists that understanding and knowledge of the midheaven existed not just from observation but from a manner that could in turn be calculated. Whilst I would not argue it's likely that a fully developed Alcabitius house system existed, I think that at least in the first century AD or BC, the Greeks could have conceived of such a theoretical division using the MC and their knowledge of the rising times of the zodiac to come close to an Alcabitius system - of course I'm not arguing they did.
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Levente Laszlo



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Posted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi everybody,

just some notes to the Pancharius (3rd or 4th century) issue:

- all known fragments of Pancharius' commentary on Ptolemy are found in Hephaestio 2.11, which is based a unique, rather faulty manuscript, Paris, BNF, gr. 2417; it can, however, be paralleled with chapter 25 of an epitome made in the school of John Abramius around 1400, called by Pingree "Epitome IV"
- at least sentences 8–15, 26–30, 45-50, 63-64, 70–73, and 83–94 are from Pancharius, but probably the whole chapter is to be attributed to him; Abramius' epitome possibly offers some further clues
- according to Pingree (DSB 8, p. 191, "Leo the Mathematician"), sentences 39-40 are referred by Leo the Mathematician as part of Porphyry's (!) commentary, who criticizes it; Schmidt (his translation, p. 36) approves the criticism, while Pingree (ibid.) says his solution is absurdly lifted from the anonymous commentary on Ptolemy (Wolf, p. 114)
- according to Neugebauer (HAMA, p. 954, n. 32), both the examples in sentences 39-41 (for the clima of the Hellespont) and 100-113 (for the clima of Lower Egypt) are calculated by using Ptolemy's Handy Tables, and are probably from Pancharius
- L428 (GH, p. 138ff.), a nativity cast by the imperial astrologer of Zeno (the most likely candidate being Julian of Laodicea, while the native is perhaps Zeno himself), and extant as chapter 12 of Rhetorius' Epitome IV is the only known example that calculates "Alchabitius" houses with the Ptolemaic 5 degree offset; according to Neugebauer's analysis, it was calculated with the help of the Handy Tables

Without further investigation it seems to me that it was Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos that inspired the introduction of quadrant house systems (with earlier attempts, namely, of Orion as cited by Valens) and his Handy Tables that made this sort of calculation ("Alchabitius" style) possible. Whether Pancharius himself made the step already or not, I can't tell, but I'm sure you'll have some ideas.
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