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Ibn Ezra and House System
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Deb
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Joined: 11 Oct 2003
Posts: 4130
Location: England

Posted: Thu Jun 04, 2009 8:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
To conclude, I still haven't found any instance of using a quadrant method in Greek literature. The exceptions are, of course, Valens and the interpreters of Ptolemy.


That comment is loaded with contradiction don't you think? For example, the passages you say are suspect because they come from the translation efforts of later scholars, and are not whole and uncontaminated in the earlier sources, would be suspect if there were no earlier precedent - but since we have the example from Valens, which he ascribes to an earlier source, it doesn't seem sensible to suggest that later translators falsified all the other documents and inserted additional passages of text that looked similar to the one that Valens included; though obviously not the same.

But at this point, of course, I am accepting a lot of your opinions until I can check the details of the manuscript transmissions for myself. For example, going back to the start of your critical analysis of the sources, you say

Quote:
As I pointed out, the nativity itself might or may not have come really from Rhetorius, but having compared the chart to the other surviving versions, I'm rather convinced that the step-by-step instructions come from Demophilus himself.


You see this point alone is going to take quite a lot of research, unless I simply accept your opinion without justification for why I should. It is too big a shift from the matter I am currently working on, for me to try to do justice to that discussion right now, but I do hope to be able to spend more time on that, because it is a hugely important passage, and the points made were relevant to the ancient astrologers. Hence, why would it not be authentic? At this moment of time I believe it is, because of so many connecting arguments, but if it is not, an even more interesting question arises of why should someone try to falsify it, and how we moved from a situation where everything was whole sign, and then everything changed so dramatically and suddenly without evidence of massive astrological aguments and internal debate. Simply does not make sense.

You say that you "haven't found any instance of using a quadrant method in Greek literature" but I think it has to be born in mind that Greek charts did not publish house cusp details, which might suggest that they were using a whole sign approach, but it doesn’t disapprove an easy to calculate system such as Porphyry. The only chart diagram which portrays any degree of detail in Neugebauer's and Van Hoesen's Greek Horoscopes (p.163) shows a reproduction of a literary horoscope held in the Laurentian library, which appears in three ancient manuscripts, one of which affirms that it was constructed by the philosopher Eutocius, at Alexandria in 497 AD. The one demonstrated example shows the use of Porphyry house cusps, and although this is a 10th century reproduction we would have to assume that a lot of minor details were being falsified if they were not being simply copied from an older authentic source. Now that we have computers, we can check how perfectly the details of this chart fits to computer reconstruction of the cusps and planetary hours, etc. I can't see what motivation later copyists would have for inventing chart details, for which they would have had to have recalculated using planetary data, original time recording methods, local sunrise information - it would not have been at all easy for them.


On the matter of my speculation re days and degrees:
Quote:
The only thing I say is that a single, perhaps garbled passage by Māshā’allāh and a somewhat dubious section from the ‘Umar Dorotheus makes the proof of your theory about interchangeability of “day” and “degree” in astrological context really difficult.


I am still increasingly convinced about what I wrote, but I am happy to accept that. After all, it was hardly a 'theory' or a submission for verification and acceptance Smile From the start, didn’t I make it crystal clear that I was sharing some speculative thoughts that were coming out of some deeper research I am currently working on? I said

Quote:
However, this is a point that I do need to research more deeply, clarifying the possible purpose of original terms, etc. and it is likely to be some time before I can give this the attention it needs. So I can only offer my view that the notion of the ascendant and the temporal house system is much older than we realise, with the admission that it is currently speculative (but not unreasonable).


The quotes I gave following that were quite casual, offered from a casual collection of casual notes, because I didn’t expect anyone would want to take apart an argument that had not yet been made. (And as I also said, there is some other evidence that I don’t want to offer so casually because it needs explanation and relates to what I am currently working on). The whole point of my post was simply to open other people’s mind to this prospect, which I said then, and say again now, is speculative but not unreasonable - because it is amazing how people see exactly what they are told to see. That’s the reason why, from the start, your explanation of North’s comments sounded suspect to me. I have never read his work, but I do know that at that time, scholars of ancient astrology were not seeing the whole sign house system everywhere as modern scholars are, because they were not being told that they should see it everywhere. I don’t see the evidence as being black and white and I think it is better to admit some ambiguity and confusion than to try to make a stronger argument than the evidence suggests.

So I am happy for the suggestion about the interchangeability of the degree and day to be left as ‘currently difficult to prove’. It is not a theory, but something I wanted people to consider. And it has certainly been considered, so that's OK Smile

Regards
Deb
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Eddy



Joined: 04 Feb 2009
Posts: 922
Location: Netherlands

Posted: Thu Jun 04, 2009 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I still haven't found any instance of using a quadrant method in Greek literature. The exceptions are, of course, Valens and the interpreters of Ptolemy.

In:
Babylonian Astronomy. III. The Earliest Astronomical Computations
Author(s): B. L. van der Waerden
Source: Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 10, No. 1 (Jan., 1951), pp. 20-34
Published by: The University of Chicago Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/542419
on p. 26-27 §VIII
I found something that might be seen as a sort of 'Proto-Placidean' method. I don't think that this is wishfull thinking of my side because Placidus isn't my favourite system.

Two used methods of time were used, astronomical and popular/astrological. Astronomical division of the (equatorial) circle was in 12 Bêru of 30 Us each (it resembles the schematical year). Further there was the division into 'seasonal hours'. Based upon three 'watches' per day and three per night divided by two and four.

Every quote in this post is from Van der Waerden's article.
v.d. Waerden wrote:
We have seen that the seasonal hours
occurred already on the circular astrolabe,
and that they were obtained by halving
and again halving the three "watches"
of the day.
It is clear that these watches, halfwatches,
and quarter-watches or seasonal
hours, were, in Babylonia, just as well as
in Greece and Rome, popular units of
time.

&
Quote:
the older astrological
texts use the popular division of
day and night. The omen of an eclipse
depends on the night watch in which it
takes place.

&
Quote:
If, e.g., the time
of an eclipse was measured in beru and
us by water clocks, this time had to be
converted into watches and quarterwatches
in order to be used for astrological
predictions.


The article mentions a Babylonian recording of an eclipse in astronomical time and a recording by Ptolemy (possibly based upon Hipparchus) of the same eclipse yet expressed in seasonal hours.

Quote:
The scientific record is found
in line 19 of the text Strm. Kambys. 400
and runs:17
Year 7 Duzu 14 in the night 1 2/3 beru after
sunset a lunar eclipse, visible from the beginning
to the end, extending over the northern
half of the disk.
The other record is found in Ptolemy
(Syntaxis v. 14) and runs:
In the seventh year of Kambyses, in the
night following the seventeenth Egyptian
Phamenoth, one hour before midnight, a lunar
eclipse was seen at Babylon, extending over
half of the diameter from the North.


Quote:
So a
Babylonian astrologer, starting from the
observed 1 2/3 beru, would convert this time
with the aid of his table and report to his
lord that the eclipse took place five seasonal
hours after sunset, or one hour before
midnight.


So perhaps these seasonal hours inspired the use of (Placidus-like) quadrant systems. I wonder when the planetary hours first came into use.
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Deb
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Posted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for this reference Eddy. This is one of the sources I used years ago when I was researching my book on the houses, but all the old research notes are lost now, and I had forgotten about this. I do feel that we need to put the probes into this older material to understand how it underlies the techniques of classical astrology.

This again seems to be what Ptolemy is explaining in the Almagest, and I don’t think there is any doubt that this acts as the philosophical basis of the ‘Placidean’ house system. What we lack at the moment is clear evidence that the inspiration was deliberate, and not mistakenly assumed centuries later. I would only be repeating myself to say that I believe the links between the division of time and space were too relevant to ignore, and this is exactly the kind of material that needs more research.

One point that gets stressed a lot by academic researchers, which astrologers sometimes overlook, is that Ptolemy did not invent the ‘Ptolemaic world-view’ – he merely offered an explanation and justification for the system that was in place at his time; and he was doing a similar thing with a lot of the material in the Tetrabiblos and Almagest – much of it was based on the older material of the Babylonians.

The ascendant was known as the most important point in any nativity – the rudder, and we shouldn’t overlook its name ‘the hour marker’. The oldest example of its use has currently been dated to 4 BC, but we make a big mistake if we say that the ascendant was not used until 4 BC. All this tells us, is that, at least by 4 BC, the ascendant was being marked upon charts. I would bet my life blood that knowledge and notation of the ascendant was much, much more ancient. It had to be, because as Waerden says, one of the first things the Babylonian astronomers learned to compute was the duration of the day and night; and this involved the use of the planetary hours. I know the planetary hours are extremely old, but I’m not sure exactly how old. We also get the use of the decans, of course, which were using the constellations as time markers from the 3rd century BC in Egypt.

Gotta go - Lilly had it right didn’t he? about art being longer than life Smile
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Eddy



Joined: 04 Feb 2009
Posts: 922
Location: Netherlands

Posted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
The ascendant was known as the most important point in any nativity – the rudder, and we shouldn’t overlook its name ‘the hour marker’. The oldest example of its use has currently been dated to 4 BC, but we make a big mistake if we say that the ascendant was not used until 4 BC. All this tells us, is that, at least by 4 BC, the ascendant was being marked upon charts. I would bet my life blood that knowledge and notation of the ascendant was much, much more ancient. It had to be, because as Waerden says, one of the first things the Babylonian astronomers learned to compute was the duration of the day and night; and this involved the use of the planetary hours.
In the articles I read about Babylonian astrology it is emphasized that the Babylonians used arithmetical methods, counting the times, rather than geometrical/spherical trigonometry methods used by the Greeks. So I think that the Greeks were the first to use the exact position of the geometrical ascendant while the Babylonians used the rising moment of a planet in their astrology.

Hence we can read in Babylonian texts something like:
"If a child is born when Jupiter comes forth and Venus (had?) set, it will go exceptionally well with that man; his wife will leave......."
http://www.smoe.org/arcana/diss1.html This doesn't only illustrate the Babylonian view of rising/setting but perhaps their view on marriage as well.
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