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Heilen's unveiling of Nechepsos, Petosiris, Hermes and Asc..
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Deb
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Posted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 6:00 pm    Post subject: Heilen's unveiling of Nechepsos, Petosiris, Hermes and Asc.. Reply with quote

Stephan Heilen recently published an article on the metrical fragments of Nechepsos and Petosiris as a chapter in a new book. It is available in:

Quote:
La poésie astrologique dans l’Antiquité. Textes réunis par Isabelle Boehm et Wolfgang Hübner. Actes du colloque organisé les 7 et 8 décembre 2007 par J.-H. Abry avec la collaboration d’I. Boehm, Paris 2011 (Collection du Centre d’Études et de Recherches sur l’Occident Romain CEROR, vol. 38), 23-93.


The book should be appearing in libraries soon but unfortunately there is no online access. If any researcher needs further details on how Heilen's work might be obtained, send me an email.

I can only summarise very briefly some of the many interesting points in this important research project. It begins by exploring questions about the authorship of the Nechepsos-Petosiris texts that can now be answered due to the discovery of formerly unknown demotic texts. It is assumed that a corpus of works went under the name of Nechepsos and Petosiris and although there are no explicit references to books 1-12, references to the 13th, 14th and 15th books are preserved in the works of other writers. Heilen notes a theoretical possibility that books 1-12 comprise an earlier work and that the 13th book could be a later continuation “and the first book actually written by our Greek anonymous”. He concludes that “the author hidden behind the pseudonym Nechepso(s) and Petosiris was probably Greek because the preserved fragments were written at least partially in Greek verse, presuppose good knowledge of the major Greek dramatic authors from the classical period, and drew upon elements of Greek physics, mathematics and astronomy”. But he also admits that “it would be rash to assign the author this or that ethnic group” (p.24).

The recently discovered demotic texts indicate that the fragmentarily preserved Greek texts originated from a pre-existing Egyptian tradition, and on this Heilen acknowledges his debt to Kim Ryholt’s currently unpublished research, in summarising some of the new discoveries Ryholt has made. (Ryholt's forthcoming article will appear in a future issue of the Journal of Egyptian Archeology under the title 'New Light on the Legendary King Nechepsos of Egypt').

The name Nechepso(s) was formally believed to be unattested in Egyptian works but Heilen informs us that we now have a total of seven Egyptian sources that explicitly mention it. One tells how the sage Petesis discovered a hidden papyrus containing an astrological treatise composed by ‘Imhotep the Great, the son of Ptah’ which Petesis presented to his king Nechepsos. Another is a copy of an eclipse text that is commonly assumed to date to the 6th century BC. Heilen concludes that various details such as these “leaves no reasonable doubt that Nechepsos is to be identified with Necho II who ruled 610-595 BC as successor to Psammetichus I”. Although Necho II “in all likelihood was no astrologer … the missing link between Necho II and celestial phenomena is now provided by the demotic narrative which informs us that the death of Psammetichus, to which Necho II owed his ascension to the throne, coincided with an eclipse” (p.26). “According to Ryholt, the eclipse at Psammetichus’ death was probably the lunar eclipse of March 22, 610 BC” (p.27).

There follows a lengthy analysis of the correct form of the royal name which demonstrates that it should be Nechepsos rather than Nechepso, which in its original form meant “Necho the Wise”.

In regard to Petosiris, Heilen explains that it is a very common name (meaning “the one whom Osiris has given”) and there is not the slightest positive evidence tying the name to a historical priest Petosiris from the late 4th century BC whose tomb has been excavated in ancient Hermopolis (as often speculated in the past). Heilen supports Ryholt’s argument that the name derives from the sage Petesis, who is described as presenting the astrological manual to Necho II (Nechepsos).

Heilen also presents news of evidence discovered by Ryholt in a papyrus which talks of Petosiris and Nechepsos receiving instruction from Hermes and Asclepius where Asclepius is “explicitly identified with Imouthes son of Hephaistos, i.e., Imhotep, the son of Ptah … the same authority that allegedly composed the book found by Petesis”. This is described by Heilen as “an obvious and most welcome link between the preserved Greek and Egyptian traditions”. He further reports the argument of Ryholt that “Hermes can hardly be any other than the deified Amenhotep son of Hapu”. Hence the two instructors of Nechepsos and Petosiris – Hermes and Asclepius – are now identified as Imhotep son of Ptah and Amenhotep son of Hapu.

This is obviously hugely important information on the history of our ancient sources. I cannot hope to do justice to Stephan Heilen’s 73-page paper in pulling out a few details like this – what I have reported comes only from a very brief summary of heavily referenced information given in the first few pages. It continues to discuss the transmission of fragments and preservations in later astrological works such as Valens. I hope it is enough to point other researchers who want to know more about the paper in the right direction.

Stephan Heilen’s work is important research and we will have more published contributions coming from him soon. He has two works in preparation by De Gruyter, one on the work of Antigonus of Nicaea and the other being his delayed preparation of David Pingree´s edition of Rhetorius. When more information is available I’ll post it here.


Last edited by Deb on Sat Feb 11, 2012 8:43 am; edited 1 time in total
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Astraea



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Posted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, Deb, this is fascinating and - as you say - very important.
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Mark
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Posted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 9:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Deb,

These are fortunate times for students of ancient astrological history!

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GR



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Posted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Deb,

This is very interesting. Here's a WP link on Necho II http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necho_II. Interesting that he's a biblical pharaoh, and that his name was apparently given the damnatio memoriae treatment.

It could be also a possiblity that the first 12 books are more a literary device than actual yet lost texts, but that is a speculation.

I'd also wonder if there could be, or if it were even possible, to have some sort of "critical edition" of these papyri. But I guess if you only have a single copy, there isn't much to go on in determining an archetypal text and so forth.
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Deb
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Posted: Sat Feb 11, 2012 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I edited my post to add the details of Ryholt's forthcoming article: Kim Ryholt, New Light on the Legendary King Nechepsos of Egypt, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology.

Good idea to add the link Gabe. I'm not sure therse are the best resources, but for quick access:

Imhotep son of Ptah (identified as Hermes) - see 'Imhotep, the world's first multi-genius' (lived around 2980 BC) http://www.blackhistoryjohnmoore.bravehost.com/imhotep.html

Amenhotep son of Hapu (identified as Asclepius) - see Wikipedia (lived about 1350 BC) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amenhotep,_son_of_Hapu
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astroart



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Posted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This opinion of prof.Heilen is confirmed by the paper of D.G.Greenbaum and Micah Ross “The Role of Egypt in the Development of the Horoscope” (Egypt in Transition, Proceedings of the International Conference, Prague, September 1-4, 2009, p.176) where D.Greenbaum says:

“Greek sources indicate that much of Egyptian astrological doctrine was developed by the king Nehepso and Petosiris.Like many epigraphies, the value of this citation has been contested.The earliest Egyptian astrological text, pVindobonensis D.6286, contains eclipse omens and calendrical material which indicates the time of composition fell between 627 and 484 BCE.This span of dates agrees with the Nehepso-Petosirian tradition: the reign of Necho II(610-595 BCE) falls within the range of likely dates for this adaptation of Babylonian eclipse omens to an Egyptian audience.Because of the early dates of this adaptation, a Greek intermediary can be ruled out, but the means of transmission demands closer scutiny.
The approximate date for the introduction of Babylonian astrology into Egypt provides marginal confirmation of the epigraphies preserved by Greek authors.Of course, the name of a king might indicate little more than the approximate era of his regin. At least one individual by the name of Petosiris can be confirmed to have been in Assyria at about the time of the reign of Necho II.
The earliest administrative records from Nineveh represent the reign of Sargon in 721 BCE, but this records continued until the destruction of the city in 612 BCE. Among these tablets, the name of Petosiris occurs at least once, writen as Pu-ti-si-ri.LU-mu-sur-a-a: Putisiri, an Egyptian man. The redactor of the list mentions only the nationality of “Putisiri” and neglects his activities, but he was not the only Egyptian counted among among the tempel personnel. In another list, a body of “three Egyptian scholars” and “three Egyptian scribes” .The compiler of the list included these Egyptian scholars alongside Assyrian astrologers, exorcists and diviners. The administrative records inventory not only people, but several tablets also list books – including polyptychs and tablets of Enuma Anu Enlil and other divinatory manuals.”


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Posted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 12:49 am    Post subject: Re: Heilen's unveiling of Nechepsos, Petosiris, Hermes and A Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
Heilen also presents news of evidence discovered by Ryholt in a papyrus which talks of Petosiris and Nechepsos receiving instruction from Hermes and Asclepius where Asclepius is “explicitly identified with Imouthes son of Hephaistos, i.e., Imhotep, the son of Ptah … the same authority that allegedly composed the book found by Petesis”. This is described by Heilen as “an obvious and most welcome link between the preserved Greek and Egyptian traditions”. He further reports the argument of Ryholt that “Hermes can hardly be any other than the deified Amenhotep son of Hapu”. Hence the two instructors of Nechepsos and Petosiris – Hermes and Asclepius – are now identified as Imhotep son of Ptah and Amenhotep son of Hapu......

This is obviously hugely important information on the history of our ancient sources.


Deb, thanks for this. I am still getting my head around the evidence for astrological houses having an Egyptian origin, so it is really interesting to see new scholarship on the names consistently mentioned by Hellenistic astrologers.

I haven't read the book yet, so please excuse me if my comments are out of line.

But I really would urge astrologers to be cautious before claiming that merely because ancient authors attributed information to older sources in their own antiquity, that these can be accepted at face value. The Greeks and Romans were great ones for assigning origins of various things to mythical figures (such as Orpheus), to legendary figures who existed but couldn't possibly have invented or founded whatever was attributed to them (such as Pythagoras), or to the gods themselves.

If King Nechepso actually were the biblical pharoah Neko, it wouldn't surprise me. (He was also credited with sending a crew of Phoenician sailors to circumnavigate Africa, and trying to dig the first Suez canal.) However, an attribution from ancient sources to this figure as a founder of astrology doesn't necessarily make it so.

It is possibly more accurate to talk about "Nechepso texts" or some term that indicates some kind of integrity and history for a group of documents without making the leap to claim foundership by a particular individuals.

Deb, does the author saywhat is the evidence that by Aesclepius the sources didn't mean the god or mythical physician Aesclepias? Ditto for Haiphaistos, the lame god of smithing (anciently understood as a magical art?) Hermes would almost certainly have been the god Hermes who in planetary form even today is credited as the ruler of astrology.

In ancient Egypt, it wouldn't have surprised anyone to have pharoahs communicate with the gods.

Just wondering....
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Posted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 6:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think we run into error when we take too literally what is said in ancient texts as if they were written for journalistic integrity (getting who, what, when, where, and why correct as if they were facts). Many of these texts mixed fact and fiction in order to make a point (Something like we would do by making an effigy of George Bush standing on Saddam's statue holding the Iraqi flag upside down in Baghdad - such instance never happened and we understand that to be a political statement of Bush's hatred or victory over Saddam, not that he was actually there doing exactly that.)

While I have no reason to doubt Heilen's findings so far about what was actually said, I would be more hesitant to accept what it might imply, but was not explicitly stated so far here; the reason being that many such statements occur with the intent to make a parable, not elicidate facts. Such linking of names could be a literary device such as GR said above and it offers no proof that other "authorities" did not take the fragments of earlier civilizations and construct meaning based upon symbols and other points of view.

In short, how does this elucidate meaning in astrological technique so far and further advance our understanding of how to read charts?
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Philip Graves



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Posted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the notification of this important new publication, Deb! Rather than trouble you for ordering information, I decided to investigate on the Internet and see where it could be obtained. Very few places indeed, with Amazon.fr not being among them, which suggests that it does not have widespread distribution at all.

However, I was able to place an order here:

http://www.deboccard.com/francais/menu.asp

For the sake of anyone else who wants to buy this book, I would have to say that the procedure is a little arcane: you have to search for the title first, select the option to order it, and then go to a separate order page in the main menu. Once complete, you should get a message "Votre Commande a été envoyé". Given that it is Saturday, this will be a case of processing some time next week, I imagine. But the cost is reasonable enough at 38 Euros, although the delivery cost is undeclared on the website, and this may conceivably add something.
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Posted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

D.Greenbaum continues on the next page –p.177(see my previous post):

This appearance of Egyptian scribes, in particular Petosiris, may fall short of the strictest standards of prosopography, but the circumstantial evidence is tantalizing. The Petosiris of legend should have survived into the reign of Necho II (610- 595 ВСЕ). Although this date excludes the earliest tablets, the palace at Nineveh was active until 2 years before this span. Unfortunately, neither the Greek tradition nor the Assyrian tradition preserves any patronyms, matronyms or regional descriptors, but this lack of evidence cannot disqualify Putisiri from being the Petosiris of legend. Likewise, the name Petosiris is quite common, but the presence of an Egyptian as a resident in Assyria is notable. This foreign residency helps establish a context in which Putisiri might be a likely advisor to a king - a context which conforms to the Creek tradition. This context grows even more specific with the consideration that Putisiri resided in a center of astrological study. As usual, certitude remains elusive, but as more Demotic fragments of the stories of Nechepso and Petosiris emerge, an interesting bellwether will be whether the names of the scholars and scribes appear in the astrological narratives.
Even if Petosiris gained astrological knowledge from Nineveh as the visitor Putisiri during the reign of Nechepso, the doctrines he learned there seem unlikely to have contained personal natal astrology. As stated in the opening of this article, the earliest cuneiform horoscopic texts date to 410 ВСЕ - nearly a century too early to fully confirm the citations of Greek astrologers. However, the ancient writers might have been generally right to pay homage to their Mesopotamian and Egyptian forebears. The horoscope may have developed through a reworking of Mesopotamian personal natal astrology to incorporate Egyptian traditions. However, in one important sense, "Hellenistic" astrology remains undeniably Greek -without Greek as the vehicular language, horoscopic astrology would neither have entered Sanskrit nor would it have survived in Europe. Once recorded by Greek authors, the practice of casting a horoscope - by any definition - found a wide audience and entered the western tradition.”

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Posted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

zoidsoft wrote:
I think we run into error when we take too literally what is said in ancient texts as if they were written for journalistic integrity (getting who, what, when, where, and why correct as if they were facts). Many of these texts mixed fact and fiction in order to make a point (Something like we would do by making an effigy of George Bush standing on Saddam's statue holding the Iraqi flag upside down in Baghdad - such instance never happened and we understand that to be a political statement of Bush's hatred or victory over Saddam, not that he was actually there doing exactly that.)

While I have no reason to doubt Heilen's findings so far about what was actually said, I would be more hesitant to accept what it might imply, but was not explicitly stated so far here; the reason being that many such statements occur with the intent to make a parable, not elicidate facts. Such linking of names could be a literary device such as GR said above and it offers no proof that other "authorities" did not take the fragments of earlier civilizations and construct meaning based upon symbols and other points of view.

In short, how does this elucidate meaning in astrological technique so far and further advance our understanding of how to read charts?


Curtis, I agree with your perspective.

I don't think it takes anything away from the history of astrology to recognize that Hellenistic authors in Egypt liked to attribute far greater authority and antiquity to their work than a careful historian, philologist, or archaeologist today would find to be the case. Rather, the very information that early astrologers credited to gods, kings, or mythical mortals says something interesting about how these astrologers conceptualized the issues of claiming expertise and generating respect for their work.

That establishing a reputation as an astrological authority was of some material consequence is suggested at the end of Valens's book 7, where Valens says he put an awful lot of work into his compilation; and he adjures "Marcus", the recipient of this astrological knowledge, not to share it with the unlearned. Valens says that his works are actually worth a lot of money, and could bring Marcus a secure income and personal honour if he uses them wisely!

Today, we might accord a practising astrologer respect if s/he demonstrates facility with recent techniques (such as software development!) Or maybe if s/he discovered a breakthrough technique. Just the opposite seems to have been the case in antiquity; where the older and more prestigious the sources cited, the more authority the astrologer could claim.

In terms of an understanding of how to read charts today using recent research advances on Egyptian astrology, my sense is that we would have to look to ancient Egyptian religious belief. It is probably not something most astrologers today would care to adopt.
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astroart



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Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 7:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Heilen also presents news of evidence discovered by Ryholt in a papyrus which talks of Petosiris and Nechepsos receiving instruction from Hermes and Asclepius where Asclepius is explicitly identified with Imouthes son of Hephaistos…


Same things we can find in CCAG, VIII.4, Brussels, 1921, p.95 down:

After examining in many books how [this science] was handed down by the wise ancients, i.e. by Chaldeans and Petosiris and King Nehepso, which are based on the Hermes and Asclepius, who is Imouthus, son of Hephestus, in accordance of the time given for the first year of Caesar Antoninus.”

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Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just by way of a follow-up footnote on how to acquire the volume recommended by Deb,

De Boccard processed my order efficiently and without fanfare, charging my card a total of 44,50 Euros, inclusive of international delivery (which itself was charged at a very reasonable 6,50 Euros. Packing was high-quality stiff cardboard, delivery was signed-for, and the volume itself is a large-size paperback of 263 pages.

Apart from the fragments on Nechepso and Petosiris edited by Stephan Heilen (72 pages), the volume contains (at first glance, using only the table of contents as a guide):

A 30-page essay (in French) on the place of Manilius's Astronomica in ancient astrological poetry, by the late J.-H. Abry;

A 40-page essay (in French) by Wolfgang Hübner on Pingree's edition of Dorotheus;

A 12-page essay (in French) by Christophe Cusset on the influence of Aratos on the works of Manetho

A 14-page essay (in Spanish) by Esteban Calderon on poetry and astrology in antiquity;

A 12-page essay (in French) by Aurelio Perez Jimenez, on poetry and astrology in the work of Antiochus;

A 16-page essay (in French) by Isabelle Boehm, on the description of diseases in the "Peri Katachon" of Maximus;

A 12-page essay (in Italian) by Paola Radice Colace, on the 'Katarchai' of Maximus; and

A 10-page essay (in Italian) by Simonetta Feraboli, on hints of a star catalogue in the work of a Byzantine poet.

This is the kind of new academic work on astrology that I consider essential to any serious library that has the history of astrology as one of its themes. I appreciate Deb's efforts in pointing it out, since it was all but invisible through the usual retail channels.
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Astraea



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Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Philip, you are so gracious and helpful, letting us know how to go about acquiring materials we seek. I also appreciate your assessments of various works. My thanks again to Deb for her initial heads-up, and to you for providing information on how to obtain this one.
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Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Philip Graves wrote:


A 10-page essay (in Italian) by Simonetta Feraboli, on hints of a star catalogue in the work of a Byzantine poet.


Feraboli is my favorite author on stars catalogues. She taught (now I believe she is retired) Ancient Greek at Genova University. My fav work is her comment to Manilius' Astronomica, especially the 5th book on paranatellonta.

Anyway everything of this book seems VERY interesting

margherita
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