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Equal House System in Renaissance Astrology?
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Levente Laszlo wrote:
The overwhelming evidence, therefore, suggests that if we must make a generalized statement about the practice of Hellenistic astrologers, we can't but say they used whole signs; there is simply no evidence for a practical usage of quadrant-based divisions before the late fifth century.

But if we do make this (arguably somewhat artifical) distinction between practical and theoretical evidence, it is quite possible to draw from it a conclusion more or less opposite to the one typically in favour among astrologers today: namely, that whole-sign places, never (?) explicitly presented as a system in the Greek sources, were a convenient approximation or 'general' (platikos) method, whereas the other two (equal and quadrant), which are so presented, were considered as actually more correct by astrologers themselves (or at least by the more educated practitioners).

I'm not saying that this is a necessary conclusion, but it certainly seems to me at present to be a valid one, with statements both in Valens (if I may use the name as a convenient place-holder) and Firmicus to support it.
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petosiris



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Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin Gansten wrote:
Levente Laszlo wrote:
The overwhelming evidence, therefore, suggests that if we must make a generalized statement about the practice of Hellenistic astrologers, we can't but say they used whole signs; there is simply no evidence for a practical usage of quadrant-based divisions before the late fifth century.

But if we do make this (arguably somewhat artifical) distinction between practical and theoretical evidence, it is quite possible to draw from it a conclusion more or less opposite to the one typically in favour among astrologers today: namely, that whole-sign places, never (?) explicitly presented as a system in the Greek sources, were a convenient approximation or 'general' (platikos) method, whereas the other two (equal and quadrant), which are so presented, were considered as actually more correct by astrologers themselves (or at least by the more educated practitioners).

I'm not saying that this is a necessary conclusion, but it certainly seems to me at present to be a valid one, with statements both in Valens (if I may use the name as a convenient place-holder) and Firmicus to support it.


I do not think that equal houses require particular ''education'' to calculate. But the abundant evidence of whole signs practice would also necessitate a theoretical and philosophical basis underlying it, which simply did not survive in the available now sources, but can only be inferred.

There are many reasons for preferring whole signs, otherwise no would be discarding other house systems in favor of them in modern times. I already gave an example with the lot.

Something stops being provisional when you depend on it.


Last edited by petosiris on Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:56 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Levente Laszlo



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Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin Gansten wrote:
[...] whole-sign places, never (?) explicitly presented as a system in the Greek sources, were a convenient approximation or 'general' (platikos) method, whereas the other two (equal and quadrant), which are so presented, were considered as actually more correct by astrologers themselves (or at least by the more educated practitioners).


Martin, I'd like to not misunderstand you. So, do you mean your quoted conclusion is the prevalent notion or its opposite? And what do you think its opposite is?

Martin Gansten wrote:
[...] if we do make this (arguably somewhat artificial) distinction between practical and theoretical evidence [...]


I don't believe we must make generalized statements about Hellenistic astrological practice, but I do think there is a more or less clear distinction between the actual cases and the rest of the astrological precepts. (The fictitious, didactic examples constitute the "less clear" instances.) What's your opinion?
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Levente Laszlo wrote:
Martin, I'd like to not misunderstand you. So, do you mean your quoted conclusion is the prevalent notion or its opposite? And what do you think its opposite is?

Sorry if I was unclear. It seems to me that the prevalent notion among present-day astrologers who identify primarily as Hellenistic-style practitioners, and even among some who don't, is that whole-sign places constitute the original 'house system'. It also very often follows from this assumption (because of an explicit or implicit belief that astrology was originally perfect or near-perfect and then deteriorated) that the whole-sign system is the best or even only valid system, except possibly in some very specific contexts. The later preponderance of other systems is, consequently, regarded as a result of innovation or misunderstanding of the original ideas.

All this may or may not be true; I'm just trying to formulate the position as I understand it. An opposite or at least significantly different view would be what I suggested in my last post.

Quote:
I don't believe we must make generalized statements about Hellenistic astrological practice, but I do think there is a more or less clear distinction between the actual cases and the rest of the astrological precepts. (The fictitious, didactic examples constitute the "less clear" instances.) What's your opinion?

I tend to agree with you on most things, Smile but in this case I generally find the 'actual cases' less clear and open to a greater number of interpretations than the didactic examples. (This in itself is, of course, an extremely generalized statement!)
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petosiris



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Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Levente, Martin pointed out to the exceedingly curious passage by Ptolemy - 3.10 where an ''equal house that starts 5 degrees before the ascendant'' constitutes a twelfth-part and sign. Can you elucidate how this difficult passage makes sense (like you do usually), because it uses terminology that is akin to whole sign aspects?

My initial interpretation would be to agree (with Martin's hypothesis) that Ptolemy uses equal places throughout the Tetrabiblos, but because the majority used whole signs, he uses whole signs terminology to explain his idea. Because Ptolemy does not like Lots and numbers and he believes that there is a moist and turbulent region just above the horizon that injures the emanations, this would make sense in his naturalistic conceptualization (not that others were not ''naturalistic'', it is just that Ptolemy is slightly more adamant about that).

My problem with that is that it often does not agree with aspects by signs and I have trouble imagining someone using non-zodiacal aspects.

Thanks
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Paul
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Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Levente Laszlo wrote:
Therefore, all claims based on the assumption that the structure of Anthologies in its present form exhibits anything of Valens's intentions are flawed.
...
As you know, however, there are no nativities in Anthologies utilizing quadrants either topically or dynamically or in any other ways, and this absence of evidence doesn't really substantiate your claim that "Valens used whole signs for topics and then Porphyry for quantitive measurement and then maybe Equal for only some other specialised subject matter".


Actually that's not my claim so I assume you haven't actually read my posts. What I was saying here is that my suggestion is less complicated (answering the charge that it was complex) than other suggestions out there, and offering this as an example of something that I think is more complex. This isn't my claim therefore, I'm giving an overview of a point I actually disagree with. I realise there a lot of posts here and it may be unreasonable to read them all.

Quote:
The rest, when any evidence is available, use the "whole-sign" method exclusively, and so do early Arabic astrologers, having adopted Hellenistic methods.


They don't though. I've already provided an example from Valens.

At this point I must say that the whole sign adherence starts to read like a religious article of faith.

Quote:
Therefore, all claims based on the assumption that the structure of Anthologies in its present form exhibits anything of Valens's intentions are flawed.
...
The overwhelming evidence, therefore, suggests that if we must make a generalized statement about the practice of Hellenistic astrologers, we can't but say they used whole signs; there is simply no evidence for a practical usage of quadrant-based divisions before the late fifth century.


Apart from of course where there is.

I have to assume therefore that all claims are flawed, except of course those claims which you yourself conclude with? Anyway I just wondered what Riley's survey had to offer to the arguments about whole sign houses and you haven't actually provided much in the way of that argument.

I have had many discussions about whole sign houses and I know from experience that these things become circular so let's just assume we disagree with one another. But it would be nice to at least get to a point where we disagree having both looked at the evidence without assumption that one person hasn't.
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Paul
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Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin Gansten wrote:
Levente Laszlo wrote:
The overwhelming evidence, therefore, suggests that if we must make a generalized statement about the practice of Hellenistic astrologers, we can't but say they used whole signs; there is simply no evidence for a practical usage of quadrant-based divisions before the late fifth century.

But if we do make this (arguably somewhat artifical) distinction between practical and theoretical evidence, it is quite possible to draw from it a conclusion more or less opposite to the one typically in favour among astrologers today: namely, that whole-sign places, never (?) explicitly presented as a system in the Greek sources, were a convenient approximation or 'general' (platikos) method, whereas the other two (equal and quadrant), which are so presented, were considered as actually more correct by astrologers themselves (or at least by the more educated practitioners).

I'm not saying that this is a necessary conclusion, but it certainly seems to me at present to be a valid one, with statements both in Valens (if I may use the name as a convenient place-holder) and Firmicus to support it.


Martin I am going to pull back from this conversation but your post here is such a breath of fresh air and sanity to me.

To anyone else, I'm sorry if I didn't get to any questions or points presented to my posts.
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Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul wrote:
They don't though. I've already provided an example from Valens.


Paul,

I meant to query this before since you have mentioned it a few times, but there is so much going on in this thread that it passed me by. Do you mean the quotation you provided where Valens talks about the 9th sign also being indicative of rank and occupation because the MC degree falls in it?
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petosiris



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Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
convenient approximation or 'general'


No source makes the claim that it is provisional either.
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Levente Laszlo



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Posted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin Gansten wrote:
It seems to me that the prevalent notion among present-day astrologers who identify primarily as Hellenistic-style practitioners, and even among some who don't, is that whole-sign places constitute the original 'house system'. It also very often follows from this assumption (because of an explicit or implicit belief that astrology was originally perfect or near-perfect and then deteriorated) that the whole-sign system is the best or even only valid system, except possibly in some very specific contexts. The later preponderance of other systems is, consequently, regarded as a result of innovation or misunderstanding of the original ideas.


Well, this seems a very nicely and carefully articulated description of the whole issue. Given the facts that the notion of "places" appears to have originated from decans already incorporated into the signs, the whole-sign system is prevalent in the actual case horoscopes, and it's the simplest system conceivable, the assumption that it constitutes the original "house system" (both in the topical and dynamical sense) perhaps isn't entirely unfounded. Still, even if it's true, it doesn't entail that it's the best or only valid system. The other systems may have been regarded either as purposeful innovations or irreverent degenerations (like they're considered as such even now) but it's a question of personal preferences (or, to use Paul's words, "a religious article of faith"). But, at the end of the day, it has nothing to do with the fact that when the astrologers published their cases, they were apparently happy with using this original and valid (or: old-fashioned and schematic) system.

Martin Gansten wrote:
[...] in this case I generally find the 'actual cases' less clear and open to a greater number of interpretations than the didactic examples.


OK, the "actual cases" may be selective or even stretched (like Lilly's examples, which sometimes override his rules) but I guess we can agree that they exhibit the form their author intends to show us. In other words, they're authoritative.
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Posted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Levente Laszlo wrote:
Given the facts that the notion of "places" appears to have originated from decans already incorporated into the signs, the whole-sign system is prevalent in the actual case horoscopes, and it's the simplest system conceivable, the assumption that it constitutes the original "house system" (both in the topical and dynamical sense) perhaps isn't entirely unfounded.

To me it actually seems that the decan connection points more in the direction of equal houses (because the decans associated with given topics are limited zones within a sign) and/or quadrant houses (because not only the rising decans were used, but also the ones culminating [in the accepted sense of the word] at the meridian, the so-called transit decans). I am no Egyptologist, though, so this topic touches the outskirts of my range of knowledge.

Quote:
OK, the "actual cases" may be selective or even stretched (like Lilly's examples, which sometimes override his rules) but I guess we can agree that they exhibit the form their author intends to show us. In other words, they're authoritative.

I'm not entirely sure what this means. Many of them seem extremely bare-bones, so that I would imagine that they were accompanied by verbal expositions which are, of course, entirely irretrievable.
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Levente Laszlo



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Posted: Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

petosiris wrote:
Martin pointed out to the exceedingly curious passage by Ptolemy - 3.10 where an "equal house that starts 5 degrees before the ascendant" constitutes a twelfth-part and sign. Can you elucidate how this difficult passage makes sense (like you do usually), because it uses terminology that is akin to whole sign aspects?


That's a tough passage, indeed, and I'm afraid I'm not able to solve this old riddle. All I can do is present the available facts.

The earliest manuscript that contains the passage (3.11.3) is from the thirteenth century, but in the tradition, there are a couple of texual variants that considerably affect the interpretation. The text lifted from the critical edition is the following:

Quote:
τόπους μὲν πρῶτον ἡγητέον ἀφετικοὺς ἐν οἷς εἶναι δεῖ πάντως τὸν μέλλοντα τὴν κυρείαν τῆς ἀφέσεως λαμβάνειν τό τε περὶ τὸν ὡροσκόπον δωδεκατημόριον, ἀπὸ πέντε μοιρῶν τῶν προαναφερομένων αὐτοῦ τοῦ ὁρίζοντος μέχρι τῶν λοιπῶν καὶ ἐπαναφερομένων μοιρῶν εἴκοσι πέντε καὶ τὰς* ταύταις ταῖς λʹ μοίραις δεξιὰς ἑξαγώνους (τὰς† τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ δαίμονος) καὶ τετραγώνους (τοῦ ὑπὲρ γῆν μεσουρανήματος) καὶ τριγώνους (τοῦ καλουμένου θεοῦ) καὶ διαμέτρους (τοῦ δύνοντος).


A translation (a slightly modified version of Schmidt's), with additions for better understanding in round brackets:

Quote:
First, one must consider as places (topos) for releasing (those places) in which it is always necessary for the star which is going to assume lordship over the releasing to be: the twelfth-part around the Hour-Watcher, from the five degrees pre-ascending the horizon itself to the remaining twenty-five degrees post-ascending it; and the hexagonals (i.e., degrees*) to these 30 degrees on the right - those† of the Good Daimon; and the tetragonals - of the midheaven above the earth; and the trigonals - of the so-called God; and the diametricals - of the descendant.


The textual issues are well summarized in Schmidt's translation (p. 30, fnn. 1-2), but, fortunately, there is a little help from the indirect textual tradition that confirms the readings: (1) William of Moerbeke's 13th-century Latin translation, based on a lost Greek manuscript; (2) Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq's 9th-century Arabic translation from the Greek (as I have no access to the Arabic, I rely on the Latin translations by Plato of Tivoli and Aegidius de Tebaldis); (3) Hephaestio's exposition from the fifth century, and its better preserved version re-written by Isaac Argyrus in the fourteenth century; (4) the so-called "Proclus paraphrase" of uncertain age; (5) partial quotations from elsewhere.

* This is the reading of the better manuscripts (also quoted as such by "Rhetorius" [probably Zeno's astrologer from the late fifth or early sixth century]) and "Proclus", and it probably refers to degrees, which is Ḥunayn's interpretation too. Hephaestio doesn't have an article (see this below), and Moerbeke either leaves it uninterpreted and untranslated, or it was missing in his text.

† The reading of the best manuscript, referring back to the hexagonal degrees; it's confirmed by Moerbeke, Ḥunayn, Argyrus, and "Proclus".

Now, there seem to be two elements that suggest Ptolemy is introducing a "house system": (1) the use of the word "place", and (2) the use of the traditional names (Good Daimon, God, later also Bad Daimon) of the places.

(1) The question of "place". The word topos occurs 180 times in the Apotelesmatics, and mostly it's used in its trivial meanings like "location" or "topic". In 1.22.1 a special meaning is introduced, which is the equivalent of our "dodecatemorion", and it's never used again. Another technical meaning attested in the book is a "place" in the zodiac, that is, a degree occupied by a star or a cardine, or an interval of degrees. It's never used in the sense of "place/house" with the possible exception of 4.6.1 (which see below).

(2) The traditional names. While Ptolemy seems to apply the traditional place names to the new 30-degree sections (provided we accept the readings as above), he actually refers to "the so-called God" and later (3.11.4) to twelfth-part, "which is called Bad Daimon". (The reading is confirmed by Moerbeke, Ḥunayn, Argyrus, and "Proclus".) This suggests he's referring an "equal" convention known by others.

Let's assume he's introduced a new, equal "house system". Curiously enough, he resumes it only once (4.6.1):

Quote:
[For the topic of children,] it will be necessary to examine (the stars) present or configured with the place at the peak (i.e., the zenith) or (the place) following it, that is, (the place) of the Good Daimon.


Although Hephaestio explicitly tells that Ptolemy selected the whole chapter from the works of Petosiris, which may allow the speculation Ptolemy's simply using whole signs, he might also be bringing in his new "house system" again. Anyway, the earliest horoscope interpretation I know that uses Ptolemy's method, that of Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (Hor. gr. nat. 905.IX.3), interprets (12.1) the midheaven and the Good Daimon as signs.

Let's now see what the interpretations and commentaries say, roughly in chronological order until the late antiquity.

(A) According to Hephaestio (2.11.6-7, skipped by Argyrus), most people would interpret Ptolemy as introducing 30-degree zodiacal sections. The same seems to apply to the Greek "anonymous commentary". However, no instructions are given in either of the sources whether it was used by them outside the length of life calculations, and the issue isn't rehearsed for the topic of children.

(B) The omission of the article enables Hephaestio to hint (2.11.4-5, also Argyrus 25.13) that Ptolemy might be referring to "sides" instead of 30-ecliptical-degree sections and that by this he must be alluding to the expansion or shrinking of the 30 degrees as necessitated by the size of the quadrants. A commentator, Pancharius is reported to have done exactly this (as described in Hephaestio 2.11.8-15 and also, better, in Argyrus 25.14-26), introducing a curious division in which the "cardinal houses" consist of 30 degrees uniformly, and the remaining "houses" are of equal size within a quadrant (one-third of the length of the quadrant, each). Hephaestio doesn't represent Pancharius's system as a new "house system" or as anything for general usage, though.

(C) The fragment of a commentary (preserved in "Porphyry" 43, which is most probably not by Porphyry) attempts to third the quadrants and shrink or expand the 5 degrees pre-ascending proportionately and concludes it's impossible to constitute 30-degree zodiacal sections in this manner. It's likely, therefore, that this author wasn't aware of Pancharius's solution. There's, however, no hint that the author conceived Ptolemy's description as introducing a new "house system".

(D) "Rhetorius" (5.46, copied into the manuscripts of "Porphyry" as 52) third the quadrants with an offset of 5 degrees. This is actually the introduction of the "Porphyry" houses, and the first attestable time Ptolemy's instructions are taken as referring to a "house system". In the same recension of "Rhetorius" appears Pamprepius's horoscope (Hor. gr. nat. 440.IX.29), where whole-signs and a quadrant-based computation are used together.

(E) "Rhetorius" (actually, probably Zeno's astrologer; Ep. IV 12) gives a detailed computation of something that would be called the "Alchabitius" system for a horoscope (Hor. gr. nat. 428.IX.8; possibly Zeno's) with a 5-degree offset, explicitly referring to Ptolemy. The other version of the same horoscope, preserved by Māshāʾallāh and Abū ʿAlī al-Khayyāṭ, apparently uses whole signs, which implies the two computations may have been used together.

(F) Eutocius's horoscope (Hor. gr. nat. 497.X.28 ), as reported by "Rhetorius" (6.52), depicts "Porphyry" houses without the 5-degree offset.

To sum up, until ca. 500, the interpretations of Ptolemy's instructions ranged from an "equal system"-like to a quadrant-based proportional, but there's no evidence that the instructions were considered to be introducing a "house system". It's "Rhetorius" who describes modified versions of the "Porphyry" and "Alchabitius houses" as "house systems" proper, but apparently together with a whole-sign system. It seems the medieval commentators (the earliest available to me being ʿAlī ibn Riḍwān from the early 11th century) would continue interpreting Ptolemy's words as instructions for a house system while the use of whole-signs parallelly or independently ceases.

That's all.
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Impressive as always, Levente! But I don't understand this:

Levente Laszlo wrote:
Now, there seem to be two elements that suggest Ptolemy is introducing a "house system": (1) the use of the word "place", and (2) the use of the traditional names (Good Daimon, God, later also Bad Daimon) of the places.
[...]
To sum up, until ca. 500, the interpretations of Ptolemy's instructions ranged from an "equal system"-like to a quadrant-based proportional, but there's no evidence that the instructions were considered to be introducing a "house system".

Is it the 'house system' part that you find doubtful, or the 'introducing' part? Because if it is the former, I don't see how there could be any reasonable doubt that Ptolemy is referring to the standard dodecatropos, using what we today would call an equal-house system. If it quacks like a duck...

With similar descriptions found in both Valens and Firmicus (and a precursor of sorts, as I said yesterday, in the form of particular decans from the rising one being assigned particular meanings), Ptolemy's brief outline seems neither surprising nor problematic to me.

On the aspect question: Whether one uses whole-sign or equal houses, it is a fact that the 11th place will form a sextile -- that is, one side of a hexagon -- with the 1st place (or, in other words, each of the degrees making up the 11th place will form such a figure with the corresponding degree in the 1st place). This geometrical configuration is not in itself an aspect, that is, an act of a planet witnessing something by sending out a ray of light or vision. I won't presume to 'channel' Ptolemy or any other ancient author with regard to the relationship between house division and aspects, but I think this conceptual distinction is worth keeping in mind.
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petosiris



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Posted: Fri Jun 15, 2018 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
On the aspect question: Whether one uses whole-sign or equal houses, it is a fact that the 11th place will form a sextile -- that is, one side of a hexagon -- with the 1st place (or, in other words, each of the degrees making up the 11th place will form such a figure with the corresponding degree in the 1st place). This geometrical configuration is not in itself an aspect, that is, an act of a planet witnessing something by sending out a ray of light or vision. I won't presume to 'channel' Ptolemy or any other ancient author with regard to the relationship between house division and aspects, but I think this conceptual distinction is worth keeping in mind.


Ok, but it is worth mentioning that the Lots should be calculated in whole sign house system, because they do not make any sense in an equal house system, as explained in previous posts. It is interesting that Ptolemy uses only one Lot - Fortune.

Quote:
I said yesterday, in the form of particular decans from the rising one being assigned particular meanings


As for the decans, what Levente probably meant (and I also pointed out a few pages before) is that the first rising decan decides the places of the 35 decans in the same way as the first rising sign decides the places of the other eleven signs. The meanings are similar because of their relationship.

Equal houses are contrary to this approach, as the decans are specific 10 degrees segments (with strict boundaries like the twelvefold zodiac) - for example only the 1st to 10th degree rising of Cancer is Sothis, while using equal houses with the 2nd and 8th degree of Cancer will produce radically different results.

Thus decans are similar to whole signs. If we are in Egypt in the time of Hephaistio, and if Sothis (Septet?) is rising between 1 - 10 Cancer indicating birth, then the 28th culminating decan Chontare (Bekatha?) signifies livelihood, the anti-culminating 10th Souchoe (Qet?) decan signifies death.

In the same way if Cancer Rising signifies birth, the culminating Aries signifies livelihood, and the anti-culminating image of Libra signifies death.

Thus, the ecliptic boundaries (powerful, scientific and allotted by the gods, and espoused by those who have observed the heavens for 490 000 years) must be taken into account with decans and signs.
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Levente Laszlo



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Posted: Sat Jun 16, 2018 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin Gansten wrote:
Is it the 'house system' part that you find doubtful, or the 'introducing' part?


Neither, actually. I just wanted to record that there were different interpretations on what Ptolemy exactly meant already in the antiquity, and the most trivial equal-type interpretation is only one of them. But, admittedly, I used the expression "house system" in quite a vague way, so let me clarify my position on it: when I say "house system" I refer to such a division resulting in a dodecatropos that can be used in lieu of another similar "house system". (This is a circular definition, so let's have the axiom that the whole-sign system is such a "house system".) Now, I'd call Ptolemy's scheme outlined in Apot. 3.11.3 a "house system" if it were used for topical investigation consistently throughout the work. Sources D, E, and F described above clearly introduce "house systems", D and E even apparently inspired by Ptolemy, but in the Apotelesmatics there are several passages that make it obvious Ptolemy didn't mean to make it a "house system"; on the contrary, whole signs seem to be considered outside chapter 11 of book III.

My definition of "house system" may appear artificial and strained, but only "house systems" defined in this way may entirely supplement or substitute other "house systems". Consequently, we can say that a transposed "Porphyry" and a transposed "Alchabitius" house system is attested from ca. 500 but before that only two house systems are described, the whole-sign and the "equal". Apparently, only the whole-sign system is used in extant horoscopes.*

The very reason why I'm introducing this definition of "house systems" is to enable us to separate full-fledged systems from their partial and schematic predecessors. For example, the transposed and untransposed "Porphyry house system" (or, to use the Kennedy-North classification, the "Dual Longitude Method") appears around 500, but its main motivation - that is to acknowledge the horizon-Asc and meridian-MC as cardines - had been known long before, and the reasoning had been applied for investigating the topic of length of life (Orion and Pancharius, the latter in a modified form to reconcile it with Ptolemy's description; also "Porphyry" [source C above]).

I think perhaps we can agree on the following: although the astrologers mostly seemed to be happy with sign-based considerations (positions of stars, the ascendant, aspects, lots), there was also a tendency to fine-tune the system to degrees, which resulted in dilemmas. (Hence the "equal systems"**.) Another aspect of this fine-tuning was the notice of the meridian-MC as something important. Now, various authors acknowledged and approached these dilemmas differently; but in practice, they seem to have resolved the problems most reasonably: using the good ol' "whole-sign" system.

* I think we've been talking at cross-purposes. Excluding the "the Sun is here, the Moon is there, the rest is not important; hasta la vista, baby!"-type "original" horoscopes (which were probably interpreted orally, perhaps even using a tablet), and focusing on the horoscopes appended with any interpretation - in other words, concentrating on relevant data -, we (1) never meet instructions that would basically mean an "exotic" (that is, not whole-sign) "house system" is being used, and (2) the data comply with the whole-sign rationale.*** I don't think in these cases we're entitled to doubt on the author's motivations.

** Besides the well-known "equal system" that begins with the ascendant, there are traces of another "equal" one that has the ascendant in its middle (15th degree). (The soul of Johannes Vehlow must be rejoicing now.) Besides the known passages of Dorotheus and Antiochus (referring to Timaeus, who in turn referred to Hermes), the position of the ascendant to Cancer 15 in the thema mundi may confirm its existence, but the most immediate description is given in the "anonymous commentary" to Ptolemy (3.11.3): "he (i.e., Ptolemy) doesn't follow the opinion of the Egyptians, that is, that one must take the 15 pre-ascending [and] (the 15) post-ascending degrees." However, even if this "Vehlowish" system existed, there is simply not enough evidence to call it another "house system".

*** The two or so examples from Valens that append 10th-place interpretations to the sign where the meridian-MC falls are no exceptions as they don't satisfy the criterion of a "house system" outlined above. That's why I dismiss Paul's objections.
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