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Valens: Schmidt, Riley and Gehrz
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 5:52 am    Post subject: Valens: Schmidt, Riley and Gehrz Reply with quote

This is a follow up to the discussion on the Gehrz translation of Valens in the News, Notices, Books section of this forum.

It's going to be very valuable having a properly published version of Riley's translation of Valens (Astrology Classics, The Astrology Center of America) to compare with Schmidt and Gehrz. I'm waiting for the printed text because I believe that Valens is important enough to pay the cost for an attractive well published book with an index. From what I've seen, the Riley translation is quite close to Schmidt, and can be relied upon. It's often more readable as well. So if anyone regretted not having the Schmidt translation (only partly complete), I believe the Riley translation will be accurate enough, though missing Robert Schmidt's and Rob Hand's notes.

I'm becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the Gehrz translation, although the layout and use of white space make it easy reading. Here's an example of an important translation difference between Gehrz and Schmidt/Riley:

Riley:
"Aries is by nature watery, with thunder and hail. From its first degree to the equinox, it is stormy, full of hail, windy, destructive. The middle degrees up to 15 degrees are mild and fruitful...."

Schmidt:
"Aries is watery in nature, full of thunder, hail. More particularly, the first parts up to the equipartite [place] are full of thunderstorms, hail wind and destruction; the middle parts up to the 15th degree are temperate..."

Schmidt includes this note: "Obviously here we are not dealing with a tropical zodiac in which zero Aries is assigned to the vernal point." (Rob Hand follows with more extensive notes on that point.)

But, here is Gehrz: "In regards to the nature of the weather, the constellation of Aries is watery. It produces thunder and can at times produce granular like hail. If we divide the constellation of Aries in half, then the first half would indicate a more windy and thundery rain, the kind that can be destructive and deadly. The middle degree through the last fifteen degrees are more temperate..."

We can easily see in Gehrz: No mention of the equinox! This is a curious omission and a critical point in the translation. This passage in Schmidt and Riley leaves no doubt that at least in this part of the text, a zodiac is indicated that doesn't begin at the spring equinox.

It's obvious in all the translations that Valens mixes traits of the signs with characteristics of the constellations, including extra zodiacal constellations that co-rise with the twelve signs. There is much to sort out, and Gehrz attempts this in her own way by interchanging the terms constellation and sign.
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Petr



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Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It would be interesting also comparison with translation:

Vettius Valens, Blütensträuße, trans. Otto Schönberger und Eberhard Knobloch, Subsidia Classica, 7, Scripta Mercaturae Verlag, St. Katharinen, 2004.

It is a complete translation of all nine books.
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Petr wrote:
It would be interesting also comparison with translation:

Vettius Valens, Blütensträuße, trans. Otto Schönberger und Eberhard Knobloch, Subsidia Classica, 7, Scripta Mercaturae Verlag, St. Katharinen, 2004.

It is a complete translation of all nine books.

Here it is (p. 5): 'Der Widder ist von Natur aus wässerig, auch donner- und hagelhaft. Der Reihe nach sind die ersten Zeiten bis zur Tag- und Nachtgleiche regnerisch, verhagelt, windig, verderblich. Die mittleren Zeiten bis zum 15. Grad sind gemäßigt, was folgt ist pestilenzialisch für Vierfüßler.'
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Petr



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Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Martin,

Thank you for publishing.I have only 8 and 9 part of book.

Petr
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James E.



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Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin Gansten wrote:
Here it is (p. 5): 'Der Widder ist von Natur aus wässerig, auch donner- und hagelhaft. Der Reihe nach sind die ersten Zeiten bis zur Tag- und Nachtgleiche regnerisch, verhagelt, windig, verderblich. Die mittleren Zeiten bis zum 15. Grad sind gemäßigt, was folgt ist pestilenzialisch für Vierfüßler.'


In english?

Bitte


james


Last edited by James E. on Mon Feb 06, 2012 8:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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margherita



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Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Petr wrote:
It would be interesting also comparison with translation:



Giuseppe Bezza translated these pages on signs too Of Aries he says "L’Ariete ha natura acquosa, porta tuono e grandine. Le sue prime parti, fino all’equinozio, portano pioggia, grandine, vento, sono devastanti; i gradi intermedi, fino al quindicesimo, sono temperati..."

"Aries has a watery nature, brings thunder and lightning. Its first parts, up to the Equinox, bring rain, hail, wind, are devastating; the intermediate, up to the 15° are temperate. "

I'm not Schmidt adept, but I don't like at all this new translation by Gehrz. It's wordy as only modern astrology can be....

margherita
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jerd wrote:
In english?

Bitte

It agrees perfectly with Riley's translation. The mention of the equinox is there.
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James E.



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Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin Gansten wrote:
jerd wrote:
In english?

Bitte

It agrees perfectly with Riley's translation. The mention of the equinox is there.


Danke schön! Martin

james
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Deb
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Posted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don’t yet have a copy of Andy Gehrz’s new translation of Valens so I can’t comment on that, but this point of reference to the equinox interests me and what follows relates to that. I see why this appears to hold a critical point of translation, but I’m not sure it helps to establish whether Valens, in his general chart work, employed an equinox-initiated tropical zodiac, a tropical zodiac which simply does not have the vernal point at the beginning (as Cyril Fagan suggested), or a sidereal zodiac, (as Robert Schmidt leaves open to question - see his footnote 7 on p.8 of his book I and Rob Hand’s introductory comment on p.ii).

It seems likely to me that Valens – in keeping with other authors - replicated details from an older source in a way that clumsily combines details that are supposed to relate to the signs with those that are supposed to relate to the constellations. Hence, at the start of the passage where Valens describes the nature of Aries (I.2) he clearly appears to be talking about the sign where he defines Aries as ‘fiery’ and tells us that it is a tropical and ascending sign (these descriptions would only apply to a tropical zodiac view). But at the end of the passage he appears to be talking about the constellation where he gegins by defining Aries as ‘watery’.

Unfortunately, ancient authors did'nt show great concern about clear distinction between signs and constellations, at least not where they described their associations. Even in Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos there are numerous comments that could be used to suggest he was a sidereal astrologer if we did not also have his clear explanation of the logic of how the circle of sign divisions begins. Ptolemy also presents similar information to Valens in regard to the weather effects of the constellations, although in a more summarized form. Whereas Valens includes this alongside sign-descriptions, Ptolemy orders the material differently and put this in his second book dealing with the general effects of mundane events. See Tetrabiblos, II. 11 in the Robbins edition:
http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Ptolemy/Tetrabiblos/2C*.html#11

To compare:
Quote:
Aries according to Ptolemy:
Now the sign of Aries as a whole, because it marks the equinox, is characterized by thunder or hail, but, taken part by part, through the variation in degree that is due to the special quality of the fixed stars, its leading portion is rainy and windy, its middle temperate, and the following part hot and pestilential. Its northern parts are hot and destructive, its southern frosty and chilly.

Aries according to Valens
Schmidt:
"Aries is watery in nature, full of thunder, hail. More particularly, the first parts up to the equipartite [place] are full of thunderstorms, hail wind and destruction; the middle parts up to the 15th degree are temperate [while the following parts are scorching and especially pestilential]* for quadrupeds (* restored by comparison with Hephaistio)
Riley:
"Aries is by nature watery, with thunder and hail. From its first degree to the equinox, it is stormy, full of hail, windy, destructive. The middle degrees up to 15 degrees are mild and fruitful...."

Taurus according to Ptolemy:
The sign of Taurus as a whole is indicative of both temperatures and is somewhat hot; but taken part by part, its leading portion, particularly near the Pleiades, is marked by earthquakes, winds, and mists; its middle moist and cold, and its following portion, near the Hyades, fiery and productive of thunder and lightning. Its northern parts are temperate, its southern unstable and irregular.

Taurus according to Valens:
Schmidt:

It is a calm zoidion. By parts, from the 1st degree up to the 5th degree, the place around the Pleiades, it is undistinguished, destructive, pestilential, thunder-causing, productive of earthquakes and thunderbolts and generative of lightning. The next two degrees are fiery and full of fog; the parts on the right near Auriga are temperate, cooling, the parts on the left are undistinguished and excite motion, and are sometimes chilling, other times scorching; the head, up to the 23rd degree has temperate air, but pestilential and destructive of living things; the [following] are destructive, undistinguished, full of pestilence.

Riley:
It is calm. From its first degree to 6° (the section of the Pleiades) it is worthless, even destructive, disease-producing, thundering, causing earthquakes and lightning flashes. The next two degrees are fiery and smokey. The right part (toward Auriga) is temperate and cool. The left parts are worthless and changeable, sometimes chilling, at other times heating. The head (to 23°) is in a temperate atmosphere, but it causes disease and death for living things. The rest is destructive, worthless, disease-ridden.


The references to the fixed stars makes it clear that Ptolemy is presenting summary information that relates to the constellations, even though Robbins translated the title of that passage as “Of the Nature of the Signs, Part by Part, and their Effect upon the Weather.” The jumbling up of signs and constellations is so widespread in this sort of literature I close my eyes to it.

Wouldn't it be more informative to look at the details of where, for example, Valens describes the Pleiades as being around the 5th degree of Aries? This is a point that needs careful checking but from the quick glance I just made with Janus software this appears to match with the position of the Pleiades according to the tropical zodiac around the time that Valens wrote. But that’s not a very careful check, so I could be wrong and hopefully someone can look into those kinds of references. But this still leaves us to ponder what we can establish for certain if the material was not unique to Valens. Since astrology has a long history of authors reproducing material from earlier sources, sometimes uncritically, we might never get more than enough information to know we can’t know anything for sure!
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
I’m not sure it helps to establish whether Valens, in his general chart work, employed an equinox-initiated tropical zodiac, a tropical zodiac which simply does not have the vernal point at the beginning (as Cyril Fagan suggested), or a sidereal zodiac, (as Robert Schmidt leaves open to question - see his footnote 7 on p.8 of his book I and Rob Hand’s introductory comment on p.ii).

Unless it can be shown that Valens definitely knew about precession, he may not have understood the difference between a sidereal and a tropical zodiac, but simply believed (like so many others) that the zodiac was fixed with regard both to the seasons and to the constellations. What we can say for certain is that Valens' zodiac was not defined as beginning with the vernal equinoctial point.

Quote:
Wouldn't it be more informative to look at the details of where, for example, Valens describes the Pleiades as being around the 5th degree of Aries? [My correction: Taurus.] This is a point that needs careful checking but from the quick glance I just made with Janus software this appears to match with the position of the Pleiades according to the tropical zodiac around the time that Valens wrote.

Around the time that Valens wrote there would have been very little difference (or almost none, depending on the fiducial star used) between sidereal and tropical values; and as the Pleiades furthermore consist of several stars, I am not sure how helpful this passage will be.
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Deb
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Posted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it is unlikely that Valens (or many competent astrologers of the time) did not know about precession; although whether he cared is another matter. From the text of Geminos knowledge of precession appears to be fairly basic astronomical information long before the time of Ptolemy. If there is a serious argument for Valens using a sidereal frame of reference I don’t see it - by this I mean a division of the zodiac that is based on star-positions and not a standardised division of the Sun's path.
The comment by Rob Hand in the footnote to Schmidt’s translation of Valens reads “It is usually considered (by Cyril Fagan et al.) that this is a tropical zodiac which simply does not have the vernal point at the beginning” (n7, p.8). If this is the case, then the main contender was what Geminos describes (I.9) as the "Chaldean system" rather than the "Greek system" which measures 0 Aries from the equinox. So even though the sidereal and tropical zodiacs were closely aligned at that time, the 8° displacement is significant enough for us to check whether Valens was using the conventional approach of the Chaldeans rather than Greeks. This is what I was thinking could be checked if someone has the interest and the time.

Geminos wrote (around 1st/2nd century BC):
Quote:
“The two solstices and the two equinoxes occur, in the thinking of the Greek astronomers, in the first degrees of these signs, but in the way of thinking of the Chaldeans, they occur in the 8th degree of these signs… There is no difference between the Greeks and Chaldeans except in the division of the signs, since the first points of the signs are not subject to the same convention for them: among the Chaldeans, they precede by 8 degrees. Thus, the summer solstice point, according to the practice of the Greeks is in the first part of Cancer, but according to the Chaldeans, in the 8th degree. The case goes similarly for the remaining points.” (Geminos’s Introduction to the Phenomena by Evans and Berggren, p.115)
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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
I think it is unlikely that Valens (or many competent astrologers of the time) did not know about precession; although whether he cared is another matter.

I have to disagree with you here, Deb. The dissemination of knowledge in the ancient world was not very fast or efficient, and in fact many astrologers well into the Middle Ages appear to have been blissfully ignorant of precession (and some believed in trepidation instead).

Quote:
From the text of Geminos knowledge of precession appears to be fairly basic astronomical information long before the time of Ptolemy.

It was known since Hipparchus; the question is to whom (and to how many). We have discussed this before: as far as I can see, astrologers and astronomers were generally two different groups even in Hellenistic times. Ptolemy, writing on both topics (though in different works), seems to have been something of an anomaly.

Quote:
If there is a serious argument for Valens using a sidereal frame of reference I don’t see it - by this I mean a division of the zodiac that is based on star-positions and not a standardised division of the Sun's path.

I don't think anyone would suggest that Valens used the actual constellations. The normal 'sidereal frame of reference' since the 5th century BCE would have been a 'standardized division of the Sun's path' determined by one or more fixed stars. (There would have been no reason to place the beginning of Aries randomly at 8° before the equinox.) Of course, the Babylonians did not know about precession, so to them the zodiac was simultaneously 'sidereal' and 'tropical' -- although obviously they thought the stars somewhat more important, as they chose not to put the equinox at 0°.

As for Valens, James Holden's paper on The Classical Zodiac covers the actual horoscopes cited by Valens, which Holden says agree with the 'Perpetual Tables' based on a fixed (that is, sidereal, or not moving with the equinoxes) zodiac. I haven't checked, but I see no reason to doubt him.
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perhaps the latest research on ancient horoscope calculation has been done by Dimityr Kojuharov. Below are two of his posts from the ACT Astrology Forum. Dimityir does admit that some of his conclusions may be in error. This suggestion refers to the possible/probable dates when sidereal chart calculation changed to tropical. (As per his research.)
---------------------------------------------------

Re: Research Studies: Tropical vs. Sidereal & Related

by Dimityr Kojuharov on Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:26 pm
The main problem in the study of ancient charts(for nativities and events) is incorrect methodology which was used from the previous scholars.
Most of ancient charts give only the longitudes of planets.Data for the month and the year of the chart most often are missing.First O.Neugebauer and later D.Pingree and others used incorrect methodology for recomputation of the charts:
1.They used MODERN, not ANCIENT astronomical tables for these calculations - what is a wrong approach.
2.They used Tuckerman's tables[1962 and 1964] which have systematical errors-the error is in all longitudes of Mars.These errors in Mars are avoided in corrected tables of Houlden and Stevenson[1986]
3.They don't test in which zodiac are the Greek horoscopes after Ptolemy-in the tropical or in the sidereal one. Neugebauer just assumed that after Ptolemy and Theon Alexandrinus all Greek horoscopes are calculated in the tropical zodiac which is a wrong thesis.

Only in the researches of one modern scholar, Alexander Jones, we can see a right approach:
-first he gives the longitudes from the original text
-then he used Handy tables from Theon's book for recalculations of the charts together with Theon's instructions from his Small Commentaries to Handy tables
-finally he gives modern computations for these charts

This is the correct way to reconstruct the ancient astrological charts.
Dimityr Kojuharov

by Dimityr Kojuharov on Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:43 pm
What we can see as a result for the nativities and events charts (not for solar return charts)?
Below are the results of my preliminary study of the scientific papers which deal with old nativities and events charts.This problem-with which zodiac are worked the ancient astrologers needs new comprehensive and serious study involving recalculation of all survived charts with the methodology described above. Errors or erroneous conclusions are possible and are not excluded in this my survey.

1.Hellenistic period
-all charts from Hellenistic period are calculated in the sidereal zodiac, including charts from the late Antiquity or many centuries after Ptolemy
-only occasionally in the late Antiquity we can see charts calculated in the tropical zodiac-chart of Proclus(for 412 A.D.) and a anonymous chart from Oxyrhynchus(for 508 A.D.)

2.Sassanian(Persian) period
-all Sassanian astrologers used sidereal zodiac and give the longitudes in this zodiac

3.Arabic period
-first generation of astrologers, which are in most cases Persians, calculated charts in sidereal zodiac.These calculations are based on Shah's zij from Sassanian period and other zijes from Indian origin which contain sidereal parameters
-later generations of Arabic astrologers after the translation of Ptolemy's Almagest, Theon's Handy tables and Tetrabiblos too, started to calculate the charts in the tropical zodiac
-only in Maghreb and al-Andalus regions to the middle of XIV Century we can see continuation of this tradition-calculation of longitudes in sidereal zodiac

3.European period
-in which zodiac are calculated charts in the first centuries after the entry of astrology in Europe is difficult to say at the moment, but the first European tables-Toledan tables(1080) and Alphonsine tables(1240) are sidereal .After Prutenic tables(1551) and Rudolphine tables(1627) we can say with certainty that astrologers calculated charts with tropical longitudes.
Dimityr Kojuharov
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Deb
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Posted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Theresa, I would like to know more about Kojuharov’s research – has he published? His work sounds very interesting, although without demonstration of data and argument it’s hard to know what to do with a comment like “all charts from Hellenistic period are calculated in the sidereal zodiac, including charts from the late Antiquity or many centuries after Ptolemy”, especially where he admits his conclusions may be erroneous. I do agree with what he’s saying though about the problem of reconstituting ancient charts according to modern computations. That’s why I hesitate myself. For example, I can check star positions against those listed in Ptolemy’s Almagest, but how would I even know that the position was that listed by Ptolemy himself, rather than an updated position in a later edition of the work? We are in need of researchers like him who will not only do this work, but also demonstrate it in ways that other researchers can follow it clearly. One point that struck me from his post is how much the calculation preferences probably fell down to convenience and the availability of tables – I wouldn’t be surprised if far fewer astrologers deliberated on the philosophical and astronomical principles involved than we assume would do that.

With regard to Valens and ancient works, one point that bothers me is that the discussion of ancient zodiacs gets blighted by confusion when methods of division are exclusively defined as either sidereal or tropical, without clear explanation of what is meant by those terms. Any use of an equally divided zodiac which is centred upon the ecliptic has ceased to be fundamentally ‘sidereal’ as it was in the ancient systems that preceded identification of the equinoxes and solstices. The older planetary measurements were properly sidereal, drawn from reference stars and (at least by the Babylonians) the constellations that lay in the path of the Moon. Since the Moon is never more than about 5 degrees off the ecliptic, and the rest of the visible planets remain close to it (because they are all revolving around the Sun on a similar planet of orbit) this draws attention to the constellations that are close to the ecliptic – hence we get similarity in where the focus lies but conceptually it is an entirely different scheme from that based on zodiac measurement along the ecliptic. The latter generates a radically altered astronomical/astrological mechanism which significantly advanced knowledge of planetary cycles, but could not be introduced until the knowledge of the Sun’s turning points had first been astronomically established. Hence when modern siderealists talk about sidereal astrology being the original system of astrology with a very ancient legacy they are correct, but it should also be made clearer that what constituted that very ancient sidereal astrology bears little relevance to any modern use of an ecliptic based zodiac scheme – or to anything Hellenistic astrologers such as Valens were using.

Martin, you write “Of course, the Babylonians did not know about precession, so to them the zodiac was simultaneously 'sidereal' and 'tropical'”. I'm not so sure that the Babylonians were ignorant of precession. Greek astronomical knowledge before Thales was rudimentary compared with that of the Babylonians and many scholars hold the view that Hipparchus made a rediscovery (or a Greek discovery) of something that was pre-existing knowledge to more ancient civilizations. I not certain of anything myself but being interested in the development of ancient astronomical and astrological principles I’ve come to consider it more likely than not that the Babylonians were aware of precession. There are many reasons for this – partly because one of their major drives for astronomical development was calendar precision; partly because their astronomical observations were strongly focussed on horizon events, which is where it needs to be to monitor the seasonal changes of the Sun’s cycle; partly because the events that interested them most (eclipses and lunations) cannot be advanced to the extent they were without reliable knowledge of equinoxes and solstices, and partly because we have the historical reports of the equinox slipping backwards, which identify it being marked at the 15th, 12th, 10h and 8th degree (after which the controversy of whether it should be fixed at the first degree arises). The sophistication of Babylonian astronomy and mathematics is often overlooked, and it seems illogical to me that a society which is known for creating the most exhaustive record of daily celestial observations was not also capable of applying their known astronomical/mathematical expertise to analyse the data and note the same obvious drift of position over time as Hipparchus did. But here I am talking about Babylonian astrologers who were also acting as astronomers and had to understand astronomical matters. You are right to question whether an astrologer in subsequent times would be so astronomically aware.

For the record, my own belief is that the zodiac was introduced as a mathematical arrangement around the 8th century BC, with the equinoxes and solstices purposely aligned to the centre of the idealised constellations that lay behind them. Hence I assume that many ancient associations of Aries develop out of the fact that it simply held the equinox, and that the issue of whether Aries should continue to act as the initiating sign didn’t create a huge problem until Ptolemy’s time, a thousand years later, when the equinox was moving out of Aries. This makes sense of older references carried forward in Hellenistic works, which describe the equinoxes, solstices and antiscia connections as if they are aligned with the centres, rather than the beginnings of the signs. Plus we have some telling phrases in works such as Manilius where Virgo is described as a ‘double sign’ with the explanation that “the duality in her appearance is not the reason; for at the middle of the Virgin summer on one side ceases and autumn on the other begins” (2.175). The Astronomica was clearly out of date by the time that the Roman poet took on the job of versifying information that we know to be drawn from older astronomical works.

My interest in the Valens quote on Aries is that I’d love to know whether the Greek text only allows a correct interpretation which describes the thunder and hail “up to” the equinox, or whether it could be interpreted as “around” the equinox. We see from Ptolemy that association with the equinox marks the whole sign out as characterised by thunder and hail, but of course at that time the whole sign was characterised by the fact that the equinox fell at its beginning. I like the idea that it is the equinox itself that has this association – it’s the place where something astronomically dramatic occurs so as an astrologer I want this to see this reflected in dramatic effects!
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Posted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, Deb, we are neither of us assyriologists, so I won't argue with your views on Babylonian astrology/astral divination; I will only say that as far as I know they are not mainstream.

I do question this line of argument, though:

Quote:
Any use of an equally divided zodiac which is centred upon the ecliptic has ceased to be fundamentally ‘sidereal’ as it was in the ancient systems that preceded identification of the equinoxes and solstices.

There is nothing intrinsically sidereal or tropical about the ecliptic. It is a great circle defined by the Sun's apparent motion against the background of the fixed stars (sidereal) and crossing the celestial equator at the equinoctial points (tropical). Astrology in no way ceases to be fundamentally sidereal because it recognizes the ecliptic.

Quote:
My interest in the Valens quote on Aries is that I’d love to know whether the Greek text only allows a correct interpretation which describes the thunder and hail “up to” the equinox, or whether it could be interpreted as “around” the equinox.

The Greek word used is μέχρι, which means 'as far as, up to, until'.
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