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Ibn Ezra and House System
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carriere.francois



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Posted: Wed May 27, 2009 12:58 am    Post subject: Ibn Ezra and House System Reply with quote

Hello,

I have quite a short question Wink Does anyone know which house system Ibn Ezra used? I suspect either whole sign houses or Alcabitius. But I may be wrong!...
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Wed May 27, 2009 7:43 am    Post subject: Re: Ibn Ezra and House System Reply with quote

carriere.francois wrote:
I have quite a short question Wink Does anyone know which house system Ibn Ezra used? I suspect either whole sign houses or Alcabitius. But I may be wrong!...

I just returned North's Horoscopes and History to the library, so I can't recount the details, but there is evidence (an astrolabe? a description of an astrolabe?) that ibn Ezra favoured what we know as the Placidus system. Whether he did so for all of his astrological career I can't say. Alcabitius would have been the 'default option' in his day. Perhaps someone else can give a more detailed answer.
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carriere.francois



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Posted: Wed May 27, 2009 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin,

Indeed! I have found out late yesterday that apparently, according to Anton Grigoryev, there are two manuscripts of Ibn Ezra's The Book of Reasons, "A" and "B". The one called "A" has a text that would describe what we now know as Placidus and he shows how to get the results:

http://www.antonblog.net/astrology/ibn-ezra-as-placiduss-preincarnation/
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margherita



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Posted: Wed May 27, 2009 9:51 am    Post subject: Re: Ibn Ezra and House System Reply with quote

carriere.francois wrote:
Hello,

I have quite a short question Wink Does anyone know which house system Ibn Ezra used? I suspect either whole sign houses or Alcabitius. But I may be wrong!...



Dear Francois,

Alain Cablais in 1986 wrote for CieloeTerra this article about IbnEzra preferences about house system, with Latin quotes from his text and examples, which is the source for many other articles about the same subjiect.

http://www.cieloeterra.it/articoli.cablais/cablais.html

Margherita
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Deb
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Posted: Wed May 27, 2009 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From what I can see, this is essentially the same calculation that Ptolemy explains in the Almagest II 9 & 10.
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carriere.francois



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Posted: Wed May 27, 2009 12:00 pm    Post subject: Re: Ibn Ezra and House System Reply with quote

Gjiada wrote:
Alain Cablais in 1986 wrote for CieloeTerra this article about IbnEzra preferences about house system, with Latin quotes from his text and examples, which is the source for many other articles about the same subjiect.
Hello Margherita,

Thank you for the link. Unfortunately I do not understand neither Latin nor Italian (not in regular cursus in school at the time I went Thumbs down )... However, with an awful French Google translation ("Girolamo Diedo" becomes "Jrme is Dead" or "Medio cielo" is "Middle East"... crying ), I think I understand that Grigoryev and Cablais have a different source: the latter used Ibn Ezra's astronomical tables (Liber de rationibus tabularum)... and that the calculation iterations would have been lost in some way with Alcabitius (although Ibn Ezra came latter then Alcabitius!?)...

I wished Cablais had written the paper in French or English also...

Update: Alta Vista's Babel Fish gives a little better translation...
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Levente Laszlo



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Posted: Wed May 27, 2009 12:21 pm    Post subject: Re: Ibn Ezra and House System Reply with quote

Martin Gansten wrote:
carriere.francois wrote:
I have quite a short question Wink Does anyone know which house system Ibn Ezra used? I suspect either whole sign houses or Alcabitius. But I may be wrong!...

I just returned North's Horoscopes and History to the library, so I can't recount the details, but there is evidence (an astrolabe? a description of an astrolabe?) that ibn Ezra favoured what we know as the Placidus system. Whether he did so for all of his astrological career I can't say. Alcabitius would have been the 'default option' in his day. Perhaps someone else can give a more detailed answer.

Fortunately, I did make some notes from this book. It says (p. 23) Ibn Ezra seems to have invented the 'hour circles (fixed boundary)' method, that is popularly known as 'Placidus system'. It's his reconstruction of Ptolemy's system (which turns to be erroneous, however, as Ptolemy probably used simple whole-image system, except for the special purposes of obtaining the length of life) and his ideas may have found their route to Placido via Magini. The description is in his Book of the Fundaments of Astronomical Tables and the relevant sections are quoted by Cablais on Cielo e Terra website as Margherita points to.
Things being so, one wonders that, although Ibn Ezra vehemently criticises the 'standard method' (that is, the 'Alchabitius' system) and attributes it to al-Khwārizmī and Ibn al-Muthannā, in the only surviving chart cast by him he uses this very method (p. 109). It's dated 29 October, 1136. It is to be found in a separate work of his.
(A final word: there are several charts in the later version of his Book of Nativities, but they appear to have been supplemented by the printer, Erhard Ratdolt, since the dates are from between 1462 and 1485.)
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Deb
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Posted: Wed May 27, 2009 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Osthanes

Quote:
It's his reconstruction of Ptolemy's system (which turns to be erroneous, however, as Ptolemy probably used simple whole-image system, except for the special purposes of obtaining the length of life)


As that text reads, it sounds like you are passing on what North wrote, but it would surprise me if J.D. North made that remark about Ptolemy probably using simple whole-sign, so could you clarify for me if that is part of your paraphrase of what North wrote, or whether it is your own remark based upon more recent suggestions?

And thanks for your interesting post,
Deb
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margherita



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Posted: Wed May 27, 2009 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
From what I can see, this is essentially the same calculation that Ptolemy explains in the Almagest II 9 & 10.


I believe that this is the idea Cablais wants to highlight, in fact.
Cablais implies the idea that Placidus was just an heir of IbnEzra, and both took from Ptolemy.

About the language, yes it's a pity they have the site just in Italian, but last Sunday I went in Milan for Giuseppe Bezza's lecture and I understand they desire having some of their articles translated in English too, so people can read directly their site. I believe they will do very soon,


Margherita
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Levente Laszlo



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Posted: Wed May 27, 2009 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Deb

Deb wrote:
As that text reads, it sounds like you are passing on what North wrote, but it would surprise me if J.D. North made that remark about Ptolemy probably using simple whole-sign, so could you clarify for me if that is part of your paraphrase of what North wrote, or whether it is your own remark based upon more recent suggestions?


Well, the words in parenthesis are not North's, it's an addition by me. But I see I should clarify my statement.
As it appears, places doesn't play an important role in Ptolemy's astrology. In fact, he doesn't speak about domification matters, and the rare usage of traditional names of places ('Hour-marker', 'Midheaven', 'Good Spirit' etc.) doesn't seem to differ from standard astrological practice of that time.
The only 'exception' (which is not an exception, though) is his own method concerning the length of life (III. 11). There are two crucial parts: the allocation of segments for the possible releaser and the detailed method of the releasing itself. Although this section is by no means about domification, generations did read it as a key for Ptolemy's understanding of division. It might have begun with Porphyry but I'm far from being sure, for his so-called Introduction to the Apotelesmatics of Ptolemy is in fact not a commentary to his work, as the title suggests, and its extant form comes from Demophilus who added and perhaps inserted new chapters. In any case, I saw Hephaestio making no implication that could be perceived as he and his predecessors interpreted Ptolemy's description pertaining for domification matters.
Therefore, it seems to have come later, possibly from al-Khwārizmī. It's not sure, but I'm convinced it began with the Arabs, since I found no definitive example in Greek literature, except for a case which I describe later.* The terminus post quem is the first Arabic translation of Ptolemy: it was made by al-Biṭrīq on the request of Umar al-Ṭabarī, thus at about 810. The terminus ante quem is, I think, the time of Abū Mashar whose On Solar Revolution shows a prime example of 'Alchabitius'-style domification; it means the years between 834 and 886. All the other attempts to establish place-division (Abū 'l-Hasan Alī, al-Bīrūnī, Ibn Ezra, al-Jayyānī and the later re-inventors and advertisers, like Roger of Hereford, Gil Gazul, Regiomontanus, Cardano, Magini and Placido) are going on the same way, interpreting Ptolemy.

*The only, however often cited example of a Greek nativity with 'Alchabitius'-style division is the one dated 8 September, 428 that is attributed to Rhetorius. As a matter of fact, it appears (as far as I know) at three places: in the [Smaller] Book of Nativities of Māshāallāh, in the Book of Nativities of Abū Alī, and in Epitome IV of Rhetorius. It's curious that the division differs: while the 'Rhetorius' text contains an elaborate treatment of 'Alchabitius'-style division, the Māshāallāh version gives different cusps which appear to have been computed for the latitude of Provence and the Abū Alī version doesn't give cusps at all. It's clear that the cusps of the Māshāallāh version come neither from Māshāallāh, who lived at a rather lower latitude, nor from Rhetorius whose nativities are from the Eastern Roman Empire. Moreover, the Epitome IV of Rhetorius comes from the same Demophilus who edited the Introduction of Porphyry, and this very section (chapter 12) has no parallel with other epitomae of Rhetorius (although chapters 1-11 and 24-28 do so). To sum up, I suspect it was Demophilus who introduced 'Alchabitius'-style division for this nativity and in this move he could well rely upon Arabic sources as the existence of a selection of Arabic astrological works available to him definitely proves.

And a final remark: I think there were three steps which led to the confusion of domification matters. First, the invention of the quadrant trisection method by Orion, possibly in 1st century CE, as Valens reports. Second, its idiosyncratic application by Valens which was echoed also by early Arabic astrologers, like Umar and Sahl ibn Bishr. (I mean the statement that the MC falling on the 9th image infers meanings pertaining to both 9th and 10th place.) Third, the Arabic discovery of Ptolemy and his sophisticated releasing method which was interpreted as a key for divisions too. After that, the history of favoured and unfavoured methods are only a history of interpreting Ptolemy and a history of fashion.
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Eddy



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Posted: Wed May 27, 2009 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

carriere.francois wrote:
Martin,

Indeed! I have found out late yesterday that apparently, according to Anton Grigoryev, there are two manuscripts of Ibn Ezra's The Book of Reasons, "A" and "B". The one called "A" has a text that would describe what we now know as Placidus and he shows how to get the results:

http://www.antonblog.net/astrology/ibn-ezra-as-placiduss-preincarnation/


Interesting, the method reminds me of an equation formula with spherical trigonometry in it. Except that in this case no sine cosine etc is used because the tables already have done this part. Since Placidus cusps cannot be calculated directly, such an equation formula is needed to approximate it till the desired exactness is attained. This calculation is a constantly repeating of calculations and can be a bit tedious. This may have restrained the popular use of it in Ibn Ezra's days.

In his introduction to an article on Placidus' method, Michael Wackford mentions Ibn Ezra as someone who ascribed the method to Ptolemy.
http://www.skyscript.co.uk/placido.html

Osthanes wrote:
Hi Deb

Deb wrote:
As that text reads, it sounds like you are passing on what North wrote, but it would surprise me if J.D. North made that remark about Ptolemy probably using simple whole-sign, so could you clarify for me if that is part of your paraphrase of what North wrote, or whether it is your own remark based upon more recent suggestions?


Well, the words in parenthesis are not North's, it's an addition by me. But I see I should clarify my statement.
As it appears, places doesn't play an important role in Ptolemy's astrology. In fact, he doesn't speak about domification matters, and the rare usage of traditional names of places ('Hour-marker', 'Midheaven', 'Good Spirit' etc.) doesn't seem to differ from standard astrological practice of that time.


In an article on house division in the Hellenistic astrology, Robert Schmidt mentions something similar that Ptolemy doesn't appear to use his own system but may have used whole sign houses. http://cura.free.fr/quinq/02schmi.html
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margherita



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Posted: Wed May 27, 2009 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Osthanes,

Osthanes wrote:


Well, the words in parenthesis are not North's, it's an addition by me. But I see I should clarify my statement.
As it appears, places doesn't play an important role in Ptolemy's astrology. In fact, he doesn't speak about domification matters, and the rare usage of traditional names of places ('Hour-marker', 'Midheaven', 'Good Spirit' etc.) doesn't seem to differ from standard astrological practice of that time.
The only 'exception' (which is not an exception, though) is his own method concerning the length of life (III. 11)..


True, I believe that supporters of Placido - like in CieloeTerra- take as reference Almagest, the chapters quoted by Deborah,

Margherita
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Deb
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Posted: Thu May 28, 2009 12:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Osthanes

A very interesting post, thank you.

I have a different perspective because, for some time now, I have been increasingly convinced that ancient (pre-Ptolemaic) astrology was much more integrally bound to concepts of time than we currently make allowance for. The tropical zodiac was designed to represent the year; the zodiac signs were designed to represent the months of the year; the degrees were intended to represent the days of the month; and therefore it seems quite possible that, even from the start, houses were intended to represent the 2-hourly divisions of the day. There seems to be a number of ancient references where terminology related to houses and hours is used interchangeably (just as words related to days and degrees are often used interchangeably too). 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).

Quote:
Although this section is by no means about domification, generations did read it as a key for Ptolemy's understanding of division.


The reason being, of course, that Ptolemy includes within it a definition of what the powerful places are. Although this is not detailed enough to avoid debate, he does clearly reference the degrees of the ascendant, and most scholars who have analysed that approach see no evidence of a whole-sign approach. Since that passage in the Tetrabiblos is inconclusive, and since Ptolemy left no diagrams or details of actual charts, I cannot see the justification for the remark that Eddy pointed to:

Quote:
In an article on house division in the Hellenistic astrology, Robert Schmidt mentions something similar that Ptolemy doesn't appear to use his own system but may have used whole sign houses. http://cura.free.fr/quinq/02schmi.html


Because when we also consider the passage in the Almagest, where Ptolemy begins by instructing us how to determine diurnal from nocturnal, and how the seasonal hours are calculated, and how they relate to the civil hours, and right ascension, and so forth, it doesnt seem unreasonable that astrologers such as Ezra and Placidus acknowledged Ptolemys text as the written authority for the system of domification that they used.

You wrote:
Quote:
As it appears, places doesn't play an important role in Ptolemy's astrology. In fact, he doesn't speak about domification matters, and the rare usage of traditional names of places ('Hour-marker', 'Midheaven', 'Good Spirit' etc.) doesn't seem to differ from standard astrological practice of that time.


I agree with this, but let's not consider it meaningless that the tenth place is called the midheaven, or that the first place is called the horoscope: the hour marker - which is what the ascendant is, and which brings me back to my earlier point. The ancient civilisations had an overarching need to discover and record the passage of time. That they had a temporal basis to their division of the heavenly sphere makes a lot of sense. I admit that we presently appear to lack the evidence within extant astrological texts; but the calendrical basis of astronomical/astrological technique gives us good reason to assume that it possibly/probably existed.

Eddy, with regard to Schmidts article, (and taking into consideration that it is quite old now, and possibly he would choose to update some of his points), my view is that some of those conclusions are overly dramatic and not supported by the available evidence. In particular I am unconvinced by the suggestion that early astrologers used a quadrant division to obtain angular placement which determined planetary strength, whilst using a whole sign approach for house meaning. Not only is there no evidence to support this, it is also contrary to the very clear evidence we have that house meanings - to a large extent - convey the sense of strength or weakness of the angular placement!

Then we have comments where he makes dramatic statements such as
Quote:
Paulus still uses whole-sign houses exclusively in his topical delineations, despite his admiration for Ptolemy.


We don't have the evidence to determine that Paulus used whole-sign houses exclusively. And this sort of comment ignores the very passionate plea in the scholia of chapter 28 of Paulus' work, which states that he discusses the division of the places, stressing
Quote:
the Horoscopos is primary for every inception and nativity both foundation and prelude, not only of the pivots, but also the rest of the places. (Greenbaum p. 61)

Why should the ascendant be necessarily known to determine the rest of the places, if those places are simply assigned to the signs?

This passage then leads into a discussion on the principles of quadrant division. Olympiodorus elaborates further, admitting that there is ambiguity and difference of opinion, but stating that those who define the place as the sign use a reckoning that causes faults. And he states:

Quote:
But one of the ancients, whose name time has handed down in the depths of forgetfulness, taking as a starting point what has been said by the most divine Ptolemy, that one must take the hour-marking place from 5 degrees of those pre-ascending the hour-marking degree, sets out a method that seems better than all the others (Greenbaum, p.119).


Olympiodorus is quite late, but we find a similar passage, informing the astrologer not to rely upon the signs to define the houses, in the text of Valens, Rhetorius, and others. Hence I personally find it hard to believe that of all the astrologers who wrote out this passage, not one of them took it seriously.

BTW, I am not trying to argue against the whole sign approach, because I admit that this clearly was a common approach. I just don't feel comfortable about glossing over the ambiguities. I dont know whether Ptolemy was intending to explain the technical basis of a house system, but I am quite happy to leave it hanging in the air as a possibility that deserves more research and discussion.

Deb
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Levente Laszlo



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Posted: Thu May 28, 2009 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Deb,

thank you for your detailed answer. I think this issue is highly important, so I am very happy to hear your opinion. However, I'm afraid I'll need some time to reply in a more complete form; first I have to check some critical editions to see more clearly.

In the meantime, I'd pose a question.

Deb wrote:
There seems to be a number of ancient references where terminology related to houses and hours is used interchangeably (just as words related to days and degrees are often used interchangeably too).

Deb wrote:
Olympiodorus is quite late, but we find a similar passage, informing the astrologer not to rely upon the signs to define the houses, in the text of Valens, Rhetorius, and others.


Could you mention some passages?

Thanks,

Levente
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Deb
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Posted: Thu May 28, 2009 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, it needs some time to be properly researched, which is why I have to admit that some points are currently speculative. The terminology of house and hours is something I do want to check for myself more carefully, but I am happy to give you similar references to the interchangeable words for degrees and days, and will list some examples below. As for the passages regarding division: some other refs I have to hand are - Rhetorius How one has to find by degree the 12 loci CCAG 8.1, p.221,1 to p.222,28 (translated in Greek Horoscopes p.138); Valens concerning the notable degrees of the pivot points (ascribed to Orion), at the end of III.2; and Antiochus Thesaurus, I.46 (Schmidt translation p.32-33). If you compare the passages closely, it seems very clear that they share the same purpose.

Interchange of words for degrees and days:

Dorotheus 1.8 (Pingree p.167). Pingree translates the word as 'days' but includes a bracket to show that 'degrees' are meant. (The same section is possibly interchanging terminology for hours and houses. It is entitled Knowledge of the masculine and feminine hours of the nativity).

Liber Hermetis, XII (Robert Zollers Latin translation reads on the 13th degree of February and is corrected by Robert Hands footnote 2 (p.31) where he says that clearly the text means the day of February, not the degree).

Haly, Judgements; Pars Sexta, p.295

Mashaallah: Chapter IV: A question from a sick man

The Latin says diebus, which Hand and Dykes translate as days, but it seems clear that degrees is meant. Its meaning is shortly clarified when Mashaallah repeats the statement that Venus is 7 degrees separated from Saturn, this time using the word gradus. This comment is used by Hand, and I think Dykes (I am remembering) as proof that only the whole sign system could have been used, but taking the word to mean degrees instead of days, cancels that argument.

Lilly Look at the text under his picture in the frontispiece, where the 1st of May is written as 1 (degree symbol) May.

Regards
Deb
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