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Quadrant House Systems in Hellenistic Astrology?
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Mark
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Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 12:34 am    Post subject: Quadrant House Systems in Hellenistic Astrology? Reply with quote

While I have a personal interest in whole sign houses I am growing rather uncomfortable at the new 'orthodoxy' emerging in some hellenistic astrological groups that whole sign houses are the only authentic house system for those wanting to practise the astrology of this period.

As I see it this isn't just an issue of one's preferred house system but acknowledging all the historical sources even if they do not fit into our preconceived view.

Hellenistic astrological authorities were confidently telling us 10-15 years ago that hellenistic aspects were all 'whole sign'. We now know that view was completely wrong. If we can be so wrong on something as fundamental as this isn't it premature to start adopting firm positions on this issue?

For example the late classical astrologer Rhetorius (6th-7th century AD) was calculating charts with the Alcabitius system. He doesn't claim to be the inventor of the system.

Also breaking the assumed whole sign consensus was the Roman astrologer Firmicus Maternus (4th century AD) who seems to have used the equal house system.

Before this the neo-platonist astrologer Porphyry writing in the 3rd century AD was using the quadrant house system given his name. However, Porphyry did not originate this system as it is referred to by Vettius Valens in his Anthology (2nd century AD).

This article picks up these issues on hellenistic approaches to the houses with some useful quotes from Valens.

http://accessnewage.com/articles/astro/houses.htm

Perhaps its just me but I find the evidence presented rather contradicts the conclusion of the author. Shocked

Then there is Ptolemy...... Was he using a Whole sign system, equal house or a quadrant system? There is no consenus.

Moving to Indian astrology. This is a connection used by some hellenistic authorities to bolster the case for whole sign houses. However, the facts are not so black and white. While Indian astrology does use whole sign it also utilises Porphyry houses. While it is likely the Porphyry house system was transmitted at a later stage to India, during the Roman period, this still seems to support the notion that quadrant houses have a very old pedigree.

I am not trying to contradict the view that whole sign house were the original approach to houses or topics. However, it seems to me the historical evidence is far more plural than some modern hellenistic authorities are currently willing to concede.
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GR



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Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 2:21 am    Post subject: Re: Quadrant Houses in Antiquity? Reply with quote

Hi Mark,

MarkC wrote:
While I have a definite interest in whole sign houses myself I am growing rather uncomfortable at the new 'orthodoxy' emerging in some hellenistic astrological groups that whole sign houses are the only true, authentic house system for those wanting to practise the astrology of this period.


Well that's interesting. For the most part, I think whole sign topics can be used rather fruitfully. As for the usage of 'quadrant' houses, the length of life procedure is one that uses then in tandem with the signs; there are apparently others but I am not aware of them.

MarkC wrote:

As I see it this isn't just an issue of one's preferred house system but acknowledging all the historical sources even if they do not fit into our preconceived view.


But what if these sources are not correct? They certainly don't all agree with each other, and I think a concept of some sort of 'evolution' of concepts doesn't hold. Without a critical analysis of these sources, only a mish-mash of techniques will result, without any guiding principals.

MarkC wrote:

Hellenistic astrological authorities were confidently telling us 10-15 years ago that hellenistic aspects were all 'whole sign'. We now know that view was completely wrong. If we can be so wrong on something as fundamental as this isn't it premature to start adopting firm positions on this issue?


Well, you should note who was saying what at the time. I seem to remember that the original translations were preliminary.

MarkC wrote:

Before this the neo-platonist astrologer Porphyry writing in the 3rd century AD was using the quadrant house system given his name. However, Porphyry did not originate this system as it is referred to by Vettius Valens in his Anthology (2nd century AD).


I believe Valens says that this system comes from Orion.

MarkC wrote:

This article picks up these issues on hellenistic approaches to the houses with some useful quotes from Valens.


Keep in mind this is a old (10+ years?) article, if you asked him now, Robert Schmidt might offer some different opinions on the matter.

MarkC wrote:

Then there is Ptolemy...... Was he using a Whole sign system, equal house or a quadrant system? There is no consenus.


Ptolemy certainly doesn't make it easy. But then again, I don't know where to draw the line between his relating of older material or his innovations, but that is only a reason to treat him as a source of dread witchery. Lala Happy

MarkC wrote:

Moving to Indian astrology. This is a connection used by some hellenistic authorities to bolster the case for whole sign houses. However, the facts are not so black and white. While Indian astrology does use whole sign it also utilises Porphyry houses. While it is quite likely Porphyry houses were trasmitted separately and at a later stage to India during the Roman period this still seems to support the notion that quadrant houses have an old pedigree.


Actually, since Orion is one of the very early practitioners of western astrology, I'd say the Indians probably got the 'Porphyry' system quite early on.

MarkC wrote:

I am not trying to contradict the view that whole sign house were the original approach to houses or topics. However, it seems to me the historical evidence is far more plural than some modern hellenistic authorities are currently willing to concede.


I think a 'historical' analysis isn't going to provide much in the way of clarity. In fact, I think going that route is only going to go to the same place it has repeatedly lead before, a condemnation of the what has come before, and the desire for some silly reformation of astrology, that will only leave it in a worse place then before. It happened during the Renaissance, during the middle of the Arabic period, hell, Ptolemy himself is symptomatic of it, even in those early days. Remember, Ptolemy and Valens are about ~200-300 years after the probable origin of western astrology, plenty of time to make a mockery of things.

MarkC wrote:

Shouldn't we take pause from the previous mistakes made on hellenistic aspects and allow more patient historical research to be carried out before ruling out particular techniques?


This is one reason why Schmidt has been rather quiet for the last 10 years, as it is something quite sacred, and should be pondered into deeply and not divided up into tiny bits and pieces and hocked like some cheap trinkets along with other half-baked nonsense.
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Deb
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Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 9:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Mark

The implications for a more ancient quadrant system are there, and the matter certainly deserves a proper investigation - which we won’t get unless we become more open-minded to the possibility of it. If someone else doesn’t do it first (and hopefully they will), then one day when my current projects are finished I would like to spend a year or two on this. It is complicated because there are passages that, in the light of other passages etc, support a different understanding - and there is the need for understanding both the philosophical, mathematical and practical approach to the relationship between time and space.

But it does seem pointless to speculate further about what Ptolemy was doing, without translating more of his works and the commentaries on his work. I’m not sure why we are getting more translations of Firmicus (have two already) and Paulus (have three already), when there are other important works that are still waiting to be translated. I want to be able to study and analyse Ptolemy’s ‘Handy Tables’ and also his ‘Hypothesis of the Planets’, which I don’t think has ever been translated into English. They may or may not be relevant to his use of houses, but anything that adds to our understanding of his astrology is helpful; and we cannot over estimate his influence (even those of us who have been persuaded that we can like Valens, or we can like Ptolemy, but we cannot possibly like them both Smile)

Also, we must get rid of the notion that ‘Hellenistic Astrology’ had no history before it, (or after it). The roots of western astrology go back to the ancient civilizations, and their celestial philosophies and time-keeping systems are important to this matter too. The desire to big-up ‘Hellenistic Astrology’ is a distracting marketing ploy that has always masked its ambiguities, complexities, and uncertainties. There are a lot of young students who call themselves ‘Hellenistic astrologers’ and they want a nice neat system to work with. They will invent it if necessary. I am very reluctant to trust any secondary source that doesn’t give clear references to primary material – and that shows us what we really need: more translations of the primary material! More translations. It’s what we needed 15 years ago and it is what we still need now. The research period isn’t over, but with more translations we can fix the errors as they come to light.

BTW, I just received Rhetorius by James Holden. It is very interesting the way he has included the preface to all four editions; showing how his understanding of the work has improved over a long period of time, helped by the developments in other people’s work. That is wonderful. It is exactly what I am talking about.

Deb
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Deb
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Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is great news - thanks for sharing the info. I'll try to find out more about this.
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Mark
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Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I think a 'historical' analysis isn't going to provide much in the way of clarity. In fact, I think going that route is only going to go to the same place it has repeatedly lead before, a condemnation of the what has come before, and the desire for some silly reformation of astrology, that will only leave it in a worse place then before. It happened during the Renaissance, during the middle of the Arabic period, hell, Ptolemy himself is symptomatic of it, even in those early days. Remember, Ptolemy and Valens are about ~200-300 years after the probable origin of western astrology, plenty of time to make a mockery of things.


Hello Gabe,

I disagree. Historical and textual evidence doesn't necessarily lead to dogma. The dogmatism of 17th century figures like Partridge or Morin was not based on on historical knowledge. Quite the reverse. Their prejudice against Islamic sources was often based on ignorance of the hellenistic origins of many concepts in medieval astrology. Check out James Holden's book 'A History of Horoscopic Astrology' for more on this.

I think to understand Ptolemy you need to appreciate the Aristolean framework he was operating from. His reforms or omissions were his attempt to rationalize astrology in a way that made it philosophically self consistent and more 'scientific'. So his paradigm was not based on purely on astrological tradition but also science as understood in his day.

Please correct me if I am misrepresenting you but you seem be suggesting that the founders of hellenistic astrology were a pure, unadulterated astrological tradition which was complete and fully developed. The implication being that astrology deteriorated as the pure transmission of the early founders was altered by later astrologers. Personally, I have always been sceptical about the idea of one astrological golden age. Golden moments yes.

I have seen many variations of this outlook in astrology and frankly I dont buy it. Firstly there are the traditional astrologers following a reniassance/early modern approach condemning modern astrology. However, we also encounter the reniassance/early modern approach criticised by medieval practitoners here on skyscript as a watering down of pure technique. Now some hellenistic astrologers are claiming the medieval tradition was really a less accurate transmission of astrology. Finally we have students of Babylonian techniques like Rumen Kolev claiming hellenistic techniques were nearly all Babylonian in origin. Where will this end? I am just waiting for someone to come along and claim the paleolithic has the pure original astrology!

Like you I am very keen to gain a better understanding of hellenistic astrology. It is after all the beginning of systematic horoscopic astrology in the west. However, the notion that the first hellenistic astrologers hold all the astrological answers seems unlikely to me. This sounds more like the doctrine of a religious cult than a student of astrology.

Mark
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margherita



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Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MarkC wrote:
This sounds more like the doctrine of a religious cult than a student of astrology.


Sometimes we are in agreement, Mark and me Smile

To me it's the same. I'm not Ptolemy adept but the 50% of what it is taught like Hellenist astrology abroad I can't understand. Zeus, Ares
(this is generally the part I understand) and the rest..

In CieloeTerra - ie in Italy - there is not such a war between Hellenistic astrology and Ptolemy's astrology. What it is translated in Italian inside CieloeTerra it is translated in the same style of Ptolemy's translations. I mean, even Ptolemy wrote in Greek, true?

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Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MarkC wrote:

The dogmatism of 17th century figures like Partridge or Morin was not based on on historical knowledge.


True, but they thought so. For them it was rather simple, here's something like Ptolemy, which to them represented a pristine original astrology, and then there's all these 'Arab fictions', which aren't in Ptolemy. Clearly, at least in the case of Morin, there could have been only one source for this ... Twisted Evil Lala Happy

MarkC wrote:

I think to understand Ptolemy you need to appreciate the Aristolean framework he was operating from. His reforms or omissions were his attempt to rationalize astrology in a way that made it philosophically self consistent and more 'scientific'. So his paradigm was not based on purely on astrological tradition but also science as understood in his day.


Oh, Ptolemy was clearly an "Aristotelian" and what we'd probably call now a natural philosopher. And clearly at the time he was writing, the bits and pieces of doctrine that he had access to would have appeared fragmented and require some gaps being filled and some reconceptualization in order to make astrology an intelligible idea. Naturally, he followed his own genius in this manner, and made astrology conform to his understanding of the world. I think this, and the 'scientizing' of astrology, are mistakes, flawed approaches (not that they are the only ones) that ultimately lead to an astrology that may be personally fulfilling, but are fundamentally unrelatable to other people. Personally, I not interesting in what ultimately is my take on astrology, I’m interested in what the people who made astrology thought of it, what their take was and the principals that they themselves followed in establishing astrology.

MarkC wrote:

Please correct me if I am misrepresenting you but you seem be suggesting that the founders of hellenistic astrology were a pure, unadulterated astrological tradition which was complete and fully developed.


They also had unicorns, why do you people always forget the unicorns! Tongue Out

But seriously, the way you put that, you make it seems as if we're talking about Camelot or Narnia or something. Let me put it to you this way: would you think that the Greeks, a people who are notorious for their systematic thinking, would either create astrology or develop a Bablyonian or Egyptian (actually these are the people who always get forgotten) astrology in some slap-dash sort of way? Now, there are most certainly some astrological doctrines out of both Babylon and Egypt. How they came about and what were they exactly is more of a matter for those disposed to either history or necromancy. (As an aside, I’d have to offer my opinion that whatever they were, those doctrines (and probably a not small number of the later Indian or Arabic ideas) were probably influenced if not whole devised by some theurgic process.)

Now Robert Schmidt has his theory, which he hasn’t presented completely either in public or privately that I know of, that the founders of Hellenistic astrology were individuals belong to or associated with the Platonic Academy and that they devised to practically apply their understanding of Plato’s work in people’s lives in order that those lives may be made intelligible. Alas, they did not have unicorns. Thumbs down

MarkC wrote:

The implication being that astrology deteriorated as the pure transmission of the early founders was altered by later astrologers.


Honestly, I question the idea of "pure transmission". It makes sense to me, that what happens later on is the combination of some of the old astrological doctrines being made more available to the profane, involving both innovations from other individuals or groups and portions of the Platonic astrological being occasionally released either delibrately or by accident. It also possible that there might be more or less cohesive groups working in the original system for a while, perhaps lasting until sometime into the Arabic period perhaps; one must remember, that when the emperor Justinian closed the Academy in 529 CE (and other pagan institutions of learning), many persons escaping persecution fled to Persia.

MarkC wrote:

Golden moments yes.


There are horrible ways I can go with this. Better not to. Very Happy

MarkC wrote:

I have many seen many variations of this outlook in astrology and frankly I dont buy it. Firstly there are the traditional astrologers following a reniassance/early modern approach condemning modern astrology.


They have a point though, don't you agree? At least in that there are some pretty large gaps in how modern astrolgy goes about things, else why would you have strayed into the dark and unenlightened past? Wink

MarkC wrote:

However, I have seen the early modern approach criticised by medieval practioners here on skyscript as a watering down of pure technique.


And again, they have a point as well; look at how radically paired down something like Patridge or Morin is compared to Bonatti, al-Khayatt, or Abu Mashar.

MarkC wrote:

Now some hellenistic astrologers are claiming the medieval tradition was really a less accurate transmission of astrology.


Very Happy
Personally I think the early Arabic period, say Masha'allah or al-Khayatt, for example, is probably just as fruitful as something like Valens or Ptolemy.

I do believe, regardless of period, that there has to be a critical determination of who seemed to have a really good idea of what they were doing that is explainable, and who had maybe an interesting concept or technique but is otherwise full of nonsense. I do have my opinions on the matter, which in the interest of self-preservation I try to keep silent on.

MarkC wrote:

Finally we have students of Babylonian techniques like Rumen Kolev claiming hellenistic techniques were nearly all Babylonian in origin.


I've no idea what Kolev is talking about most of the time, and he is possessed of a frightening enthusiasm. Shocked Can't really judge it until I see more of his arguments, though I am sceptical, esp. because of the enthusiasm.

MarkC wrote:

Where will this end? I am just waiting for someone to come along and claim the paleolithic has the pure original astrology!


Problem was it was all oral or painted on leaves. Razz I think we're out of luck examining that.

MarkC wrote:

However, the notion that the first hellenistic astrologers hold all the astrological answers seems unlikely to me.


An honest question, why do you think that exactly?
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GR



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Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Margherita!

Gjiada wrote:
MarkC wrote:
This sounds more like the doctrine of a religious cult than a student of astrology.


Sometimes we are in agreement, Mark and me Smile


Now what did I ever do to both of you to be have such accusations hurled at me? crying

Gjiada wrote:

To me it's the same. I'm not Ptolemy adept but the 50% of what it is taught like Hellenist astrology abroad I can't understand. Zeus, Ares
(this is generally the part I understand) and the rest..


Funny that the Zeus and Ares stuff is what many people cry about. Is there some particular example that sounded quite odd to you?

Gjiada wrote:

In CieloeTerra - ie in Italy - there is not such a war between Hellenistic astrology and Ptolemy's astrology.


I'm not sure where this notion of a war on Ptolemy is coming from, but I'm probably missing something. I certainly would put water on the idea that I am advocating something like that. I would have tried to help Ptolemy, if I could, with some wood, and some torches, maybe some kerosene ... Twisted Evil

But seriously now, I do think an excessive amount of attention on Ptolemy has been a problem in the historical fluctuations of astrology and while he is important, his influence needs to be dialed down several notches.
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Mark
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Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Margherita,

Quote:
Sometimes we are in agreement, Mark and me


Lets not make a habit of it. It would get so boring for a pair of Scorpio Moons like us. Very Happy


Hello Deb,

Quote:
Also, we must get rid of the notion that ‘Hellenistic Astrology’ had no history before it, (or after it). The roots of western astrology go back to the ancient civilizations, and their celestial philosophies and time-keeping systems are important to this matter too.


I so agree. Gavin White's excellent articles here on skyscript are making that point very clearly.

Quote:
They may or may not be relevant to his use of houses, but anything that adds to our understanding of his astrology is helpful; and we cannot over estimate his influence



Quote:
it does seem pointless to speculate further about what Ptolemy was doing, without translating more of his works and the commentaries on his work
.

I guess so but it is fun! Lala Happy

I took this from your article on The Problem of House Division

http://www.skyscript.co.uk/houprob5.html


Quote:
More than anything else, it should be remembered that, when we query the methods of the ancients, the gaps in our knowledge are filled by conventional knowledge as it currently stands. It could be argued that any translation of terminology is largely a personal interpretation of the intent of an author, so we can never be entirely confident about the meaning of passages that refer to a lifestyle and a viewpoint we no longer possess.


A good point. Even when the translator tries to immerse themselves in the mind-set of an astrological era there is always a danger they can be way off the mark at times due to their own pre-conceptions.

I find the next section in your article very valuable.

Quote:
In this, I am as guilty as anyone else, but my summary is that the modern astrologer, seeking to resolve the problem of house division by reference to historical sources, will ultimately conclude that these sources do not, will not, and cannot provide an authoritative voice. The problem exists because there are so many valid frames of reference, and it is impossible to fully recognize the symbolic potential of them all within any one technique. So, we must make our selection according to where our own inclinations lie. When we individually accept this as part of our own responsibility for shaping the personal astrology that we use, then the problem of the houses ceases to exist. It can be seen as nothing more than the dilemma of choosing from the range of styles, techniques, and rulerships that runs through every other multifaceted branch of our art. Our reliance upon houses comes from our desire to find a more personal relationship between the planetary positions as they shape themselves to the unique qualities of the space and time surrounding the chart. We must accept another level to this: that the truly personal relationship emerges from the central position of the astrologer, who strives to draw meaning and symbolic appreciation of celestial movements and cycles and, in this, holds true to the principles of astrology as a study that extends from astronomical principles rather than resting on them entirely.


On that that basis I think I detect a sneaking sympathy for Placidus houses from your article as possibly the original system of sign-division. Maybe I am reading too much into your comments here...


Quote:
The Placidus system is purely time-based and thus offers perfect harmony with the use of planetary hours, adding credence to the claim that this could have been an original method of house division, based upon the two-hourly 'watches' of ancient astrologers, who numbered the constellations in the order that the stars within them rose to the ascendant during the twelve watches of the 24-hour period. There seems little doubt that the symbolism attached to the interpretative use of the houses has been greatly influenced from their use as 'time-markers', in which the movement of the planets' passage through the heavens, following the diurnal arc, is recognized. Each of the houses represents two planetary hours, the first starting at dawn with the ascendant. The area between the ascendant and the 12th house cusp represents the first two planetary hours, that between the 12th and the 11th the 3rd and 4th hour, and so on. The MC represents the end of the 6th daytime planetary hour, while the descendant corresponds to sunset. The 6th house is made up of the first two nocturnal hours, and so on round to the Ascendant. The division between the two planetary hours in any house is found by dividing the house exactly in two (see diagram above).

Not only is the system sympathetic to the use of these astrological hours, but it is also the system that lends itself to the most 'natural' system of Primary Directions endorsed by Ptolemy, and it is for this reason that its advocates claim it as the system he would have preferred. We have to accept an element of speculation here - we have no actual evidence from Ptolemy's work to endorse this view or suggest otherwise. Placidus does, however, remain the most popular quadrant system of house division in use today. It is often said that the reason for this is the ready availability of Raphael's Tables of Houses which refer to the system, but this seems a little unfair as its underlying philosophy is also clearly to be respected.



I found this other article by you on a Greek horoscope very interesting too. It underlines how much respected academic research by non-astrologers could have missed out important astrological symbolism in early horoscopes.

http://www.skyscript.co.uk/greek_horoscope.html

I do hope you find the time for that research project on quadrant houses one day. Thumbs up
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Mark
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Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Now what did I ever do to both of you to be have such accusations hurled at me?


Hello Gabe,

As I said if you feel you are being misrepresented please point out where you take issue. Thats the great thing about skyscript!

I wasn't seeking to give personal offence although I accept i did make my points quite robustly. Although I addressed my reply to you my comments were really quite generic in terms of my disagreement with the unique 'golden age' approach to early hellenistic astrology.

Quote:
I'm not sure where this notion of a war on Ptolemy is coming from, but I'm probably missing something. I certainly would put water on the idea that I am advocating something like that. I would have tried to help Ptolemy, if I could, with some wood, and some torches, maybe some kerosene ...

But seriously now, I do think an excessive amount of attention on Ptolemy has been a problem in the historical fluctuations of astrology and while he is important, his influence needs to be dialed down several notches


Perhaps a war on Ptolemy is putting it too strongly. More an attempt to move him from the centre of astrological discussion to the periphery.

To dismiss Ptolemy as an aberrant or idiosycratic source that distracts from mainstream hellenistic astrology seems quite bizarre to me. However, representative or unrepresentative Ptolemy was of his peers is beside the point. The fact is his influence on the western astrological tradition is immense. To seek to de-emphaszie Ptolemy strikes me as comparable to to a history of western Christianity which airbrushes out Martin Luther and the Reformation as they are seen as 'unrepresentative' of the Roman Catholic thinking that preceded them.

Taking down Ptolemy down a notch is fine. What I object to is the way some traditional astrologers suggest that Ptolemy should be treated as an idiosyncratic source as his views are outside the mainstream of hellenistic astrology.

Mark

PS Somehow your long post above completely escaped me. So you are going to get the chronologically confusing scenario of a reply to your second post first. Embarassed
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margherita



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Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MarkC wrote:
To seek to de-emphaszie Ptolemy strikes me as comparable to to a history of western Christianity which airbrushes out Martin Luther and the Reformation as they are seen as 'unrepresentative' of the Roman Catholic thinking that preceded them.


I don't know if Martin Luther can be the first thing I think about the story of Roman Catholic Church :p but in my opinion since the end of XV century astrology is Ptolemy's astrology, maybe mixed with some Albumasar, ingresses and great conjunctions.

And which Hellenistic texts could be read in the Middle Ages? I'm not an expert but I believe many of them are unknown even to us. Or am I wrong?

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Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Mark,

MarkC wrote:

As I said if you feel you are being misrepresented please point out where you take issue. Thats the great thing about skyscript!


What, the great thing about Skyscript isn't the infuriating bragging by others about their nonsensical "techniques"? Smile

MarkC wrote:

I wasn't seeking to give personal offence although I accept i did make my points quite robustly.


I don't believe you were being deliberately offensive, Mark, but I do frankly think there is a feeling on the board that anything coming from Robert Schmidt’s work is going to be challenged, whether adeptly or not, and this ‘cultic’ talk is only one example of this, though mercifully this particular example isn’t very much here on Skyscript.

MarkC wrote:

I actually commented on Ptolemy before I saw your latest post. Taking down Ptolemy down a notch is fine. What I object to is the way some esteemed hellenistic authorities imply that Ptolemy should be treated as a peripheral figure as his views are outside the mainstream of hellenistic astrology.


Well, part of this problem is the supposed “esteemed” nature of some of these people. I have opinions on this matter, and certainly I would recommend in regards to Schmidt, not “esteeming” him, but engaging him and see what it is he is actually saying; I have other, perhaps less politic, opinions about some others. And making Ptolemy a peripheral figure is simply not possible, as he is, by his own admission, presenting some pretty ancient doctrine, and he is also responsible for remarkable mathematical and astronomical advances. Making an idol out of Ptolemy is a notion to be disabused of, and we should regard with considerable skepticism any one who has done so, even if and especially if they are highly revered.
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GR



Joined: 14 May 2005
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Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Margherita,

Gjiada wrote:

I don't know if Martin Luther can be the first thing I think about the story of Roman Catholic Church :p


Who needs Martin Luther when there are plently of Borgias to be had? Very Happy

Gjiada wrote:

but in my opinion since the end of XV century astrology is Ptolemy's astrology, maybe mixed with some Albumasar, ingresses and great conjunctions.


This is probably "Renaissance astrology in a sentence".

Gjiada wrote:

And which Hellenistic texts could be read in the Middle Ages? I'm not an expert but I believe many of them are unknown even to us. Or am I wrong?


In the Middle Ages, probably yes, even the Arabs didn't have much of them, though it is appearing that some like Masha'allah had more then was previously thought. It was those Byzantines who were sitting on them, and when they made it to Italy, they appear to be recorded, and then conveniently forgotten, for the most part.
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GR



Joined: 14 May 2005
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Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Mark,

You're constantly editing your posts, aren't you? Smile

MarkC wrote:

The fact is his influence on the western astrological tradition is immense. To seek to de-emphaszie Ptolemy strikes me as comparable to to a history of western Christianity which airbrushes out Martin Luther and the Reformation as they are seen as 'unrepresentative' of the Roman Catholic thinking that preceded them.


This is an apt analogy, as the almost fetishization of Ptolemy in the Renaissance is like taking a Protestant viewpoint that the preceding 1500 years of practiced Christianity was just trash perpetrated by foul marinara-soaked Papists. What we need is a more reasonable approach to his material, and not some mindless crazy either way.

MarkC wrote:

PS Somehow your long post above completely escaped me. So you are going to get the chronologically confusing scenario of a reply to your second post first. Embarassed


I was wondering about that ... Wink
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mattG



Joined: 21 Sep 2007
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Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
And which Hellenistic texts could be read in the Middle Ages? I'm not an expert but I believe many of them are unknown even to us. Or am I wrong?


Ben Dykes thinks that only four or five were available according to the notes in his intro to Sahl and Masha'Allah. Maybe Ibn Ezra knew some more though, but I am no expert myself.

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