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An Egyptian Origin Of The Astrological Houses?
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Mark
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Posted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 3:09 pm    Post subject: An Egyptian Origin Of The Astrological Houses? Reply with quote

I am intrigued by the ancient text known as the Salmeschoiniaka which appears to be the earliest text on the astrological houses mentioning topics or areas of life in a work on horoscopic astrology.

The text is traditionally associated with Nechepso and Petosiris legendary founders of horoscopic astrology in Egypt along with Hermes Trismegistus. Only fragments of this work survive, but fortunately a piece quoted by Hephaistio of Thebes employs the 36 decans as places having governance over special issues. (II 18 [219]

Robert Schmidt translates this as follows:

Quote:
One must also examine the decans since the first one of the Horoskopos deals with birth; the 28th from the Horoskopos, which culminates early, deals with livelihood; the 25th, which culminates at noon, deals with sickness; the 9th, which rises late in the east, deals with injury; the 17th, which rises in the west, deals with marriage and wife; the 8th, the door of Hades, deals with children; the one in the subterraneous [pivot] deals with death. (II.1Cool.


I don’t know if this is the entire fragment or just a selection? It would be interesting to see a different translation of the text too.

There are fascinating parallels and contrasts to later astrology. For example, we see the 17th decan linked to marriage. This equates reasonably closely to the descendant in later astrology. Although it appears to be located in what would be below the ASC/DESC axis in the 6th house by WS. Just why it falls here below the horizon is unclear. It also falls short of a full 180 degrees from the ascendant. The eighth decan carries the association of children which is later assigned the fifth house. However, the decan would fall in the third house by WS. Its title 'Gate of Hades' was a title referring to second house in later hellenistic astrology. The ninth decan 'rises late in the east'. This decan would appear to fall in the 3rd WS house next to the IC. Is this a reference to it being the last decan in the eastern quadrant? This could be seen diurnally in terms of being the last decan in that quadrant from which planets rise. However, the portions from the IC-ASC are usually described as western?? Could the text be describing the whole hemisphere from MC/IC as eastern? The 25th decan would fall in the beginning of the ninth by whole sign house. Why sickness? Of this area would later be a cadent house. Still as it is linked to the Sun at midday one would have expected its link to the MC to make it connect to public matters. Instead livelihood seems linked to the 28th decan which would equate well to the 10th WS house. Equally we see a parallel in assigning the subterranean pivot to death. Although the 8th house normally takes this association there is a connection to death relating to the fourth house/IC in the ancient astrologers description of the life cycle through the four angles/quadrants. Of course the above analogies to whole sign houses only work in a very idealized way with the ASC forming the first decan in a whole sign house.

Robert Schmidt goes on to comment:

Quote:
Since the decans are clearly understood to be related to divisions of the signs, this might be called a whole-decan system of houses.


A simplistic approach to these decans could represent them as follows:

House 1 (1-3)
House 2 (4-6)
House 3 (7-9)
House 4 (10-12)
House 5 (13-15)
House 6 (16-1Cool
House 7 (19-21)
House 8 (22-24)
House 9 (25-27)
House 10 (28-30)
House 11 (30-33)
House 12 (34-36)

However, this approach would obviously fall down with an ascendant at the end of a sign as the first decan. The text itself says the ascendant or Horoskopos marks the first segment. So that approach doesn't work. If these are 'decans' they actually bear no direct relationship to the zodiac signs. They also cannot be precisely related to astrological houses. If this is a self sufficient system we do not know what version of decans was being used in terms of sidereal marker stars were. Indeed we cannot be certain stars are being combined with this approach at all.

This therefore poses the question how do we know this system is all equally 10 degrees? Its true we have 10 degree segments based on constellations in Teucer of Babylon, Vettius Valens and Firmicus Maternus. Equally, later we have equal planetary decans known as face that continued down to the early modern period. Other traditions of dividing a zodiac sign up into 3 portions are found in Manilius and in Indian astrology where signs of the zodiac rather than planets rule each decan.

However, from what I have seen of this text so far it doesn’t mention fixed stars/constellations, zodiac signs or planets. How do we know these 36 segments are not derived by dividing up the quadrants? We have later examples of this in the ancient 8 house system and the early description of Porphyry houses. If these segments are whole sign as Robert Schmidt states why is the 25th decan or segment always 'culminating at noon'? By simple whole sign the 'noon' position wouldn't reliably fall reliably in the same place or order in the chart would it? Could this not instead be describing the MC as the beginning of this segment? Surely this would be the only way to ensure the noon/midnight pivotal decans fell in exactly the right place? Otherwise, the position of this decan or segment would need to shift as we see in the MC/IC in whole sign houses.

I may be wide off the mark here but this text poses lots of intriguing questions. Maybe I am guilty of imposing a later astrological perspective on this issue. It is possible as Schmidt suggests that the 'decans' were simply counted in 10 degree portions from the ascendant. If he has translated the word 'decan' correctly that does obviously indicate a straightforward ten degree division. Moreover, perhaps we give these early astrologers too much credit. They may have simply lacked the astronomical sophistication to calculate the MC/IC. Looking at later whole sign charts these points certainly not used to define segments. However, from ancient times sun dials and water clocks could calculate time very accurately.

The main problem with this theory is that the text may simply be too old for specific awareness of the ascendant let alone the Midheaven! I haven't managed to track their article down but Dorian Greenbaum and Micah Ross (2010) have recently written an article suggesting that the Nechepso-Petosiris texts may date back as far as the 7th century BCE. Equally, the Salmeschoiniaka may predate the development of horoscopic astrology based on the calculation of the ascendant in the 4th century BCE.

(Greenbaum, D. G., Ross, M. (2010). 'The Role of Egypt in the Development of the Horoscope', in Barres, L., Coppens, F., Smolarikova, K., Egypt in Transition: Social and Religious Development of Egypt in the First Millennium BCE (Prague: Czech Institute of Egyptology, Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague, 146-182.)

I am interested how these authors explain the reference to Horoskopos in the text! Was this based on calculating the ascendant to a degree or just a 10 degree decan? Could this be the origin of how the ascendant developed?

Possibly this was a stand alone astrological approach uniquely adopted by Egyptian astrologers that cannot be easily related to developments in later Hellenistic astrology. However, if it was combined with the zodiac
(as we see in the Denderah Zodiac) it may constitute one of the earliest if not the earliest house system.

If we take Robert Schmidt's statements as they stand though do they not actually undermine his position that sign division methods were only to assess planetary strength and not topics?

In particular he states:

Quote:
One of the earliest uses of zodiacal divisions for special topics or areas of life is in a work that antedates the root text of Nechepso/Petosiris. It is called Salmeschoiniaka and has to do with the decans.


He further states:

Quote:
Since the decans are clearly understood to be related to divisions of the signs, this might be called a whole-decan system of houses


As I see it this example weakens rather than strengthens Schmidt's case that sign division methods were only used to assess planetary strength. Clearly that is not what is going in the Salmeschoiniaka where a sign division method is either being used as a stand alone horoscopic tool or it is being used in combination with the signs of the zodiac to assess topics.

Below is an artistic representation of the Denderah zodiac with the zodiac signs highlighted and the 36 decans on the outer rim. In this instance though these seem like the traditional decans of ancient Egypt which were stellar. The decans always had a time keeping function for the Egyptians and this combined with the ideas of early horoscopic astrology may have fused together here in quite a unique way.



Just to be clear I have only offered some questions/speculations. The text seems like quite a Koan that requires a lot of thought and reflection. With it only surviving in fragments we may never solve some of the riddles it poses.

Isn't it ironic though that Michel Gauquelin chose to adopt a more ‘scientific’ 36 division of charts in his research into planets and occupations in the 20th century. The main difference was that he ordered his sectors from the ascendant in clockwise or diurnal order.

Can anyone recommend any other articles? I would certainly like to hear from anyone that has read Dorian Greenbaum and Michah Ross's article referenced above. Have you studied this text? What do you make of it?

Mark
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Last edited by Mark on Tue Jan 03, 2012 12:53 pm; edited 3 times in total
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astroart



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Posted: Tue Jul 12, 2011 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Can anyone recommend any other articles


I recommend this article:

The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 27, Dec., 1941


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astroart



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Posted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 9:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Can anyone recommend any other articles? I would certainly like to hear from anyone that has read Dorian Greenbaum and Michah Ross's article referenced above. Have you studied this text? What do you make of it?



Dorian Greenbaum in her article talks about determining the rising sign(rising decan) in Egyptian astrology with the help of so-called “36 bright horoscopes” or decans.The accuracy of determining the ascendant with this method is one decan or 10°.
But for the first time tables for determining the ascendant can be found in Babylonian cuineform texts in so-called “ziqpu-texts”.These texts are may be the first “tables of houses” by which is possible to determinate the ascendant –the accuracy of determining the ascendant is one dodecatemoria or 2°30’.These texts can be dated to the V Century BC.The article related to this topic is :

Franchesca Rochberg ”Α Babylonian Rising-times Scheme in Non-Tabular Astronomical Texts” in ”Studies in the History of the Exact Sciences in Honour of David Pingree”, Brill,Leiden, 2004
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waybread



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Posted: Sat Aug 06, 2011 7:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark, I read your OP with interest...I just felt I didn't have anything to contribute. I still dont Confused but hope I can bump up this thread for someone else by responding.

The Dendarah zodiac shows highly stylized constellations, many of them off the ecliptic. Ophiuchus, for example, is the seated figure just above Sagittarius and Scorpio. Orion is shown in blue, below Gemini. It may be that the decans refer to such figures as well as the conventional zodiacal constellations.

I note that Manilius (1st century AD) gives all sorts of constellations as rising "signs", many of them non-zodiacal, as well. In his case, they aren't actually signs in our sense of the term, but actual visible constellations.
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SGFoxe



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Posted: Sun Aug 07, 2011 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i took a class or 2 at the planetarium some years ago ... the 10 degree decanates were marked by 36 stars -- 2 astronomer(s) sat watching carefully as each star culminated -- one to watch as the star passed over the others head was the way that it was explained --
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Mark
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Posted: Sun Aug 07, 2011 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is an article that summarises much of the 20th century academic research on the decans by writers such as Neugebauer , Parker etc.

http://members.westnet.com.au/Gary-David-Thompson/page11-18.html


From Garry Thompson's article:

Quote:
There were two systems of decanal stars. The first (and original) system used heliacal risings. The second (and later) system used meridian transits.


Quote:
Decan lists
The decanal system involved the arrangement of 10-day intervals throughout the year. The decan lists were essentially set out in tables consisting of 36 columns with (usually) 12 rows or divisions. The columns in the tables covered the year in 10-day intervals. The rows in the tables covered the 12 decanal hours of the night. In each of the 36 columns the decans are placed in the order in which they rise above the horizon (or transit the meridian). Every 10 days the 12 hours of the night are defined/marked by a different combination of 12 successive stars. With each of the successive 36 columns the name of a specific decan is moved one line higher to its place in the preceding column (i.e., the second decan becomes the first and so on). This results in a diagonal structure (diagonal pattern) which is the reason for the early name "diagonal calendars" being given to these texts (but properly "star clocks" or "diagonal star clocks"). A complete diagonal calendar contains 36 transverse columns.

Basically 2 lists of decans were constructed, one called the Seti I B family (of transit decans), the other the Tanis family.

Rising decans
The decanal system consisted of 36 rising stars and used the heliacal risings of stars/asterisms on the eastern horizon as markers. Each period of 10 days was first marked by the heliacal rising of the next decan on the eastern horizon. They rose heliacally 10 days apart and all had the same invisible interval of 70 days prior to their heliacal rising. (At least ideally all the decans had the same duration of invisibility as their leader Sirius. All decans were invisible for 70 days between acronychal setting and heliacal rising - because of being in the light.)

By the time of the New Kingdom period (circa 1550-1100 BCE) the usefulness of the original decan system of hours had ceased. By the 10th Dynasty and 11th Dynasty the original decan system had become completely unusable and in the 12th Dynasty were subjected to a radical revision. Many old decans were dropped out and many new decans were introduced.

Transit decans

From the Book of Nut texts we can identify the introduction of a new decanal system that can be termed transit decanal clocks. This new system, termed the Ramesside star clocks, used the transiting of the meridian by decans (their culminations) to mark the night-time hours. The new system of meridian transits of stars for time-keeping purposes used stars belonging to both constellations and asterisms. (The time of decan transits involved the time they crossed the meridian i.e., reached the highest point in the sky (culmination).) This new method of indicating the night hours arose by combining only those stars which behave like Sirius with 10-day weeks of the civil calendar. Likewise with the previous system of decans, this attempt to substitute the culmination of stars for their heliacal rising also did not last.

The Ramesside (20th Dynasty) star clocks are star tables which measure hours by means of transits, in half month intervals (i.e., 15-day cycle/"week"). (One of the most important documents relating to Egyptian astronomy is the long table of (decan) star transits (culminations) for each hour of the night on every fortnight of the year. This is given with most accuracy in the tomb of Ramses VI.) These are different star clocks to the earlier system of decans. Only a few of the stars/asterisms used in the earlier decanal star clocks are the same as, or near to, those used in the Ramesside star clocks. The evidence for these later star clocks comes exclusively from the ceilings of a number of Egyptian royal tombs of the Ramesside period (Ramses VI, Ramses VII, and Ramses IX of the 12th-century BCE). The term 'Ramesside star clocks' denotes they were painted for the benefit of the deceased Ramesside period Pharoah. Two sets of star tables appear in the tomb of Ramesses VI, one set of star tables appears in the tomb of Ramesses VII, and one set of star tables appears in the tomb of Ramesses IX. The texts consist of 24 star clock tables (panels) for the 24 half-month intervals of one year. These particular ceilings also include other astronomical information: (1) lists of decans and their divinities, (2) constellations, and (3) the days of the lunar month.


The contemporary American researcher Joanne Conman has some different ideas on the decans that contradict Neugebauer and other earlier researchers. I given her the link to this thread and hope she might decide to join Skyscript to set out her own views at some point in the future. I really only started to think about the Salmeschoiniaka after Joanne raised this subject on her private forum.

Mark
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pitenius



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Posted: Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:48 pm    Post subject: Re: The Salmeschoiniaka: The Original House System? Reply with quote

Mark wrote:
I haven't managed to track their article down but Dorian Greenbaum and Micah Ross (2010) have recently written an article suggesting that the Nechepso-Petosiris texts may date back as far as the 7th century BCE. Equally, the Salmeschoiniaka may predate the development of horoscopic astrology based on the calculation of the ascendant in the 4th century BCE.


I've read that article, but I don't think they dated the N-P texts to -700. FWIW, I think Salmeschoiniaka may well predate the horoscope.
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waybread



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Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am hoping to revive this thread, in a slightly different direction: to talk about whether the 12-house system of Hellenistic astrology had an Egyptian origin. I think it did, but I am not looking so much in the decans as in Egyptian religious beliefs about the souls' journey after death.

Initially Egyptian priests and scribes traced this journey for the sun and pharoah, then eventually it became "democratized" for important yet ordinary people as well. By the time the authors of Hellenistic astrology texts got hold of the narratives, most of its religious content had yielded to materialist interpretations for consumers in the here-and-now. Interestingly, Franz Cumont, an academic scholar and leading historian of astrology, believed that astrologers like Firmicus Maternus were Egyptian priests! (Cumont, L'Egypte des Astrologues.)

(BTW, this isn't to agree that Nechepso et al. actually existed, but we might consider that Hellenistic astrologers did point to an Egyptian foundation for their craft.)

If anyone reading this post knows of sources that would point me in the right direction, or can comment on my proposition, I would be really grateful. This is very much "a work in progress." I will share what I am learning as time permits.

Maybe I can tempt readers with a brief discussion of the 12th house.

So far as I know, the Babylonians didn't use houses; and Greek star-lore and astronomy prior to astrology's introduction didn't use them either.

Deborah Houlding mentions Egyptian solar religion in her book, Temples of the Sky.

Essentially Egyptian religion posited a series of stations through which the deceased had to pass in the underworld (which was also a sky-region) in order to attain divine status. This journey paralled that of Re (Ra) the sun-god on his boat, during the hours between sunset and sunrise. Eventually the deceased would live in a beautiful abode resembling the Nile Valley, where s/he would partake in the divinity and powerful attributes of the gods; just as Re emerged (symbolized as a scarab beetle) from the horizon to the higher heavens.

So it is hard to explain why the 12th house--the sky sector through which the sun passes right after the sun happily breaks through the horizon--i.e., early morning-- should have such a bad reputation. Sure, it's cadent, but so is the 9th house which was called "the house of God" and it had a very favourable reputation. The 6th house was bad, but the 3rd house was so-so.

A quick run-down of some early astrologers on the 12th house:

Neugebauer and Parker ("Demotic Horoscopes", J. Am. Oriental Society 63 (1943):115-127) discuss six first and second-century AD horoscopes found in Luxor. "Demotic" was the Egyptian language written in Greek script. The 3rd one gives a complete run-down of 12 houses, but they include names like "The Lake of Dwat" (the underworld, #4) and "The house of the goddess" (#3) The 12th is the "house of the evil spirit," which seems consistent with other astrologers of this period.

Manilius, Astronomica 2: 856-78, 1st century AD, says the 12th "temple" is one of "ill omen," and gives the cadent house explanation-- that the 12th and the 6th house "each alike moves dejected from a cardinal point with the spectacle of ruin before its eyes." These houses, however, are also bad because they "are held to be the dread abodes of Typhon," a thoroughly nasty giant or god of Greek mythology, responsible for "war against heaven" and natural disasters. He was also associated with wind, from which we get our word "typhoon."

Dorotheus of Sidon (Carmen Astrologicum, 1:5, 1st century AD) says the 12th house "is the worst of the worst."

Firmicus Maternus (2:xvii) calls the 12 house Malus Daemon, or bad spirit. This seems to be a common interpretation. He is one author who uses material from Manilius, so we might guess that the bad spirit is Typhon or something like him

Plutarch (1st-2nd cents. AD (Isis and Osiris) doesn't discuss astrology but it really seems to lurk in the background of this book on these two principals of the Egyptian pantheon. Plutarch suggests that Typhon was a demi-god or daimon (sec. 25-27.) Typhon in an Egyptian narrative, given the wealth of material on Egyptian dieties, is none other than the Latin name for Osiris's brother and arch-enemy Set (Seth.)

Set was a god of the desert as well as the ocean where the Nile empties into it. Taking all of his miserable attributes collectively, Plutarch says that what he really represents is the principle of disorder and destruction, of which desert and sea are merely manifestations. Set stands opposed to the very order that Re, Isis, Osiris, and other Egyptian gods (as well as the pharoah) symbolize.

Set is a much older prototype of the evil trickster god than the Graeco-Roman god Typhon, given Set's appearance in archaeological materials dating from the beginning of Egyptian civilization.

Plutarch gives a whole overlay of Platonism and Pythagorean number theory which is relevant to astrology, but I won't go into it here.

At the end of Isis and Osiris (sec. 79), however, Plutarch cryptically notes that there are three periods when the Egyptian people burn incense, which roughly equate to the time-periods of the worst houses: the 12th, the 8th, and the 6th. One period is to purify the air just after sunrise, as the night air "becomes dense and oppresses the body and brings the soul into depression, as if it had become befogged and heavy..."

Ptolemy (of Alexandria, Egypt, 2nd cent. AD, Tetrabiblos who says hardly anything about houses, and nothing about religion; does call the 12th the "Evil Daemon" (IV:7, III:10.) However, he attributes its bad influence to: "...the thick, misty exhalation from the moisture of the earth [that] creates such a turbidity and, as it were, obscurity, that the stars do not appear in either their true colours or magnitudes." Which sounds nearly like Plutarch.

I spent some time today googling photographs of Egyptian sunrises, and found several showing the sun well above the horizon, yet greatly dimmed by humidity or dust in the atmosphere. Egypt is normally dry, but the humidity near the sea and Nile River can be fairly high--around 70%. A "thick" atmosphere would especially be troublesome during periods of khamsin (hamsin, sorocco) winds off the desert that can cause major sandstorms in Egypt.

Here we have a bad daemon/Typhon/Set who symbolizes both disruption of the sun's natural brilliance and the desert intruding on orderly civilization. He confronts and dims what would otherwise be the triumphal emergence of Re from the underworld into the upper sky.

Fortunately, Set's portion of the eastern sky is followed by the good spirit, the Egyptian god Kneph, in the 11th house, who symbolizes milder atmospheric conditions! (Evidence on p. 269 of J. F. Quack, "Les Mages Egyptianises?..." J. Near Eastern Studies 65 (2006): 267-282.)

Feedback, anyone?
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Mark
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Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi All

I was going to summarise the Dorian Greenbaum , Micah Ross article here but the holiday season is over and I am tied up in deadlines until late January now.

I will certainly participate again here when time allows.

However, I will open a separate thread to discuss yet another hellenistic astrologer who seems to be using topics for quadrants. This will take less time so I will put that up as soon as I can.

Further on I also plan to open a thread for critical evaluation of Ptolemy's use of houses since I remain unconvinced by what I might call for convenience the 'American school' of thought (Schmidt-Hand-Brennan) that Ptolemy was almost certainly using whole sign houses. As Chris Brennan seems keen to put forth his views quite widely on this theory I think we need space for counter views to be aired. And there certainly are many over the last 1800 years! However, we need careful, insightful and respectful discussion not a personalised criticism of anyone. The last thread on this was very troubled. I really hope we can avoid that kind of unpleasant atmosphere in future.

Mark
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waybread



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Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark, thanks. When you have a moment, could you give the citation for the article? I'll see if I can find it.

I'll post more here when I have time about probable Egyptian myths transposed into Hellenistic horoscopes so far as the house contents or themes are concerned. I do want to infill with citations so that anyone else interested in the topic can check my work.

Another thread on systems of house division would be really interesting.
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Mark
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Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Waybread,

I already gave the citation at the top of the thread. Smile

Here it is again:

(Greenbaum, D. G., Ross, M. (2010). 'The Role of Egypt in the Development of the Horoscope', in Barres, L., Coppens, F., Smolarikova, K., Egypt in Transition: Social and Religious Development of Egypt in the First Millennium BCE (Prague: Czech Institute of Egyptology, Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague, 146-182.)

The whole book is very pricey I am afraid. Rolling Eyes

Unless you are into all aspects of Egyptology (including Egyptian pottery) much of the book would not be of enough general interest to justify a purchase.

http://www.oxbowbooks.com/bookinfo.cfm/ID/90802//Location/DBBC

Definitely, a book to check out at the University or State library I think.

Mark
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Nixx



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Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

waybread wrote:


Initially Egyptian priests and scribes traced this journey for the sun and pharoah, then eventually it became "democratized" for important yet ordinary people as well. By the time the authors of Hellenistic astrology texts got hold of the narratives, most of its religious content had yielded to materialist interpretations for consumers in the here-and-now. Interestingly, Franz Cumont, an academic scholar and leading historian of astrology, believed that astrologers like Firmicus Maternus were Egyptian priests! (Cumont, L'Egypte des Astrologues.)

Feedback, anyone?


What do you mean by ''materialist'' here?

I'm assuming you aren't suggesting these Platonic and/ or Neo - Platonic Hellenist astrologers were reductionalists or physicalists? If you are that would be most interesting, and bewildering.
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waybread



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Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 3:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark, thanks. If a library in my province has the book I can probably get it through Interlibrary loan, but it would take a few weeks! Any chance that someone on this site who knows Dr. Greenbaum could convince her to post the article on-line?

Nixx (alias Charley, Rusty, Language, &c.) How nice to hear from you again. Perhaps I could let Plutarch, himself a priest at Apollo's temple at Delphi, respond to your question.

"Therefore, Clea, whenever you hear the traditional tales which the Egyptians tell about the gods, their wanderings, dismemberments, and many experiences of this sort, you ... must not think that any of these tales actually happened in the manner in which they are related.... If, then, you listen to the stories about the gods... accepting them from those who interpret the story reverently and philosophically [i.e., allegorically]... you may avoid superstition which is no less an evil than atheism."

The Egyptian narratives of the passage of the deceased through different stages in the after-life maps pretty well onto Hellenistic astrological house meanings, but the Egyptian meaning was deeply spiritual. I'll give examples for each house, time permitting, and unless I (hopefully) hear from someone that this has already been worked out by someone else.

What we see in an author like Vettius Valens of Alexandria, in contrast, is a very practical discipline of genethliacal astrology, much of it oriented towards determining the client's length of life, material success, and here-and-now personality traits. So the "house of the child" (#5) no longer refers to the divine child Horus or Harpocrates, but to the clients' own children. The house of the Father (#4) no longer refers to the soul's unification with the divine Father as a spiritually regenerative rite of passage, but refers to the client's own father.

There are several ways to look at this shift: (1) as part of a Greek philosophical or religious system, an "as above, so below" transfer from the celestial to the terrestrial (depending upon one's horoscope.) (2) Or, that the esoteric meanings of Egyptian houses were either (a) hidden by initiated astrologers or (b) simply unknown to the uninitiated ones, who picked up texts on house meanings without understanding their esoteric intent.

There are some interesting allusions in several of the ancient astrology texts. Firmicus Maternus (4th century AD, and a religious pagan at the time he wrote his treatise) prayed to a trinity of deities as well as to the moon and stars (in 4: preface) for pardon if he impiously revealed material that should be kept hidden "Our purpose is to convey to the temples [of Jupiter] of the Tarpeian Rock [an execution site near Rome] whatever the divine ancients of Egypt brought forth from their shrines."

While we have to reserve wholesale adoption of ancient astrologers' comments on the authority of Egyptian antiquities, perhaps these comments about Egyptian shrines do point us in the right direction.
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GR



Joined: 14 May 2005
Posts: 451
Location: USA

Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

waybread wrote:
Nixx (alias Charley, Rusty, Language, &c.) How nice to hear from you again.


We can safely add trevor and lisa to the mix, I think.
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Nixx



Joined: 10 Dec 2011
Posts: 295

Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Waybread,

I can't grasp the relevance of Plutarch to my question. but speculate with Valens this could be the emergence, and assimilation, of the demiurge as mundane intellect. So not exactly what we mean today by Philosophical Materialism.

Anyway, possibly a slight tangent to your mission.
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