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Why is Virgo a bi-corporeal sign? What are its two bodies?
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Larxene



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Posted: Mon Mar 31, 2014 6:05 am    Post subject: Why is Virgo a bi-corporeal sign? What are its two bodies? Reply with quote

My understanding of bi-corporeal signs is that when the Sun is in them, humans experience both the effects of the current season and the next season. Hence, the bi-corporeal signs have images with two bodies, to reflect the seasonal effects.

With the exception of Virgo, it is clear that all of the bi-corporeal signs have two bodies in their images: Pisces the two fishes, Gemini the twins, while Saggitarius is an archer riding a horse.

What about Virgo?





This inquiry will also inevitably bring up the question of "what is so fixed/solid about the Bull, the Lion, the Scorpion and the Water Pourer?" and similarly with the moveable signs...

I think I can explain the solid part a bit...the Bull and the Lion are both four-footed and so they are more stable when they move. The Scorpion has eight limbs and a low centre of gravity, so again we get the notion of stability of movement. We stand still when pouring water from a vase.

This could turn into a complicated discussion, so let's start with Virgo first.
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Deb
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Posted: Mon Mar 31, 2014 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
With the exception of Virgo, it is clear that all of the bi-corporeal signs have two bodies in their images: Pisces the two fishes, Gemini the twins, while Saggitarius is an archer riding a horse.

What about Virgo?


A maiden and a bird - hence the ancient depictions of the woman with wings.

It is convenient that the mutable or 'common' signs have duality built into their symbolism, but the influence of the seasons, as marked by the definitions of moveable (anciently, the 'tropical' and 'solistical' signs), fixed and common, isn't dependent on the symbolism of the creature of each sign. Early references to this scheme appear in the text of Geminos, who talks about the change of seasons brought by the squares (i.e, quadruplicities) of Aries, Taurus and Gemini.
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gavin



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Posted: Mon Mar 31, 2014 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Going further back in time to Babylonia. Our Virgo corresponded to two distinct Babylonian asterisms - The furrow was a goddess with a barley head and Erua was another goddess with a palm frond (or sometimes a whip). The other bi-corporeal signs follow suit. The Babylonian Pisces was figured as a fish and a bird, Gemini was still a pair of twins, and Sagitarrius was a composite creature with two heads (human and dog) and two tails (of a scorpion and a horse).
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Larxene



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Posted: Mon Mar 31, 2014 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I see. Now the zodiacal glyph makes a little more sense (the part on the right are the wings.) Interestingly Valens described Virgo as being 'winged' (Schmidt translation). Do we have any Greek sources that describe Virgo as being a 'virgin/maiden and a bird'?


I was not trying to imply that the influence of the seasons were dependent on the images, but rather the other way around. I was saying that the images were dependent on the influence of the seasons. People made the images to reflect the seasonal effects.

Can you direct me to the text by Geminos?
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Michael Sternbach



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Posted: Mon Mar 31, 2014 11:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Larxene wrote:
Quote:
I was not trying to imply that the influence of the seasons were dependent on the images, but rather the other way around. I was saying that the images were dependent on the influence of the seasons. People made the images to reflect the seasonal effects.


This is totally in line with Ptolemy (at least in my German translation) stating that the mutable signs are "mediating", right before he calls them "bi-corporeal".

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Martin Gansten
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Posted: Mon Mar 31, 2014 11:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael Sternbach wrote:
Larxene wrote:
Quote:
I was not trying to imply that the influence of the seasons were dependent on the images, but rather the other way around. I was saying that the images were dependent on the influence of the seasons. People made the images to reflect the seasonal effects.


This is totally in line with Ptolemy (at least in my German translation) stating that the mutable signs are "mediating", right before he calls them "bi-corporeal".

Yes, Ptolemy and Geminus (about 100-200 years apart; Geminus is earlier, but difficult to date) represent the same sort of naturalistic/'scientific' approach. They are both far removed, however, from the people who 'made the images', so some caution is advisable in attributing the world-view of the former to the latter. (Geminus did not write on astrology at all, only on astronomy.)
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Deb
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Posted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 10:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Larxene

The text is Geminos's Introduction to the Phenomena, translated by James Evans and J. Lennart Berggren (Princeton University Press, 2006).

The relevant text, where he is talking about the influence of the quadruplicities is II.6 (p.126).
    “Called the first square is the one starting from Aries, in which the [the beginnings of the] seasons occur – spring, summer, fall and winter. Called the second square is the one starting from Taurus, in which the seasons have a midpoint – of spring, of summer, of fall, of winter. Called the third square is the one starting from Gemini, in which the seasons end their times”.

Although an astronomical work, the translators point out that the astronomy of that period could not be separated from the view that the planets were divine, and so there is a great deal within the text that is of direct relevance to astrology, astrological symbolism, and our understanding of aspectual influences.

I agree we need to be cautious in assuming that all sign symbolism will work to this scheme. I am sure a great deal of it did originate out of seasonal associations, but as Gavin has shown, older constellations got merged as the number of constellations along the ecliptic became reduced to twelve, so not everything may fit to what we'd expect if a 12-sign zodiac was invented without need to accommodate the older legacy of constellation imagery.
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johannes susato



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Posted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Marcus Manilius in his Astronomica, Book II, Verses 175-177, refers to the seasons when he states Virgo to be a double sign not because of her appearance but because in or under her middle the summer comes to its end and the autumn is about to begin.
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Deb
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Posted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, the Manilius reference is very interesting in suggesting that the vernal point was originally expected to be in the middle of the signs rather than the beginning; especially combined with his reference to the shifting position of the vernal point at the end of his third book, and details provided by Goold (p.lxxxi) which shows how older accounts placed it at the 15th degree of the signs. That makes a lot of sense to me, given our knowledge of the history of the zodiac and how long it was employed before the period when the 1st degree of the constellation Aries coincided with the VP.
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johannes susato



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Posted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This hint is very interesting. Manilius stresses only one day alone [una dies] to be decisive within each of the tropical (and equinoctial) signs [in tropicis]. And without giving his own opinion he refers to other not nominated authors, who allot the 8th, 10th or even the 1st (indeed the First!) degrees to these days of equinoxes and solstices. M. Manilius, Astronomica, Book III., Verses 680-682.
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Geoffrey



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Posted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
Yes, the Manilius reference is very interesting in suggesting that the vernal point was originally expected to be in the middle of the signs rather than the beginning;...


That would make sense of how the "seeing" and "hearing" signs are paired, as shown by Dykes in "Hephaistion".

This is in contrast to signs that "behold" each other, which is related to the Vernal Points at the beginnings of Cancer and Capricorn - and so are related to the antiscia and contra-antiscia, which has come down to us as a aspect relationships
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Mjacob



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Posted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Geoffrey wrote:


That would make sense of how the "seeing" and "hearing" signs are paired, as shown by Dykes in "Hephaistion".



I did not see that when I read it so thank you for pointing it out

As an aside it bugs me when people outside astrology say spring starts on the 21st March at the equinox even if you tell them the date can vary anyway and the daffodils are already blooming. Next year I hit them with Manilius
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waybread



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Posted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 4:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've searched through a lot of graphic images of Virgo, and oftentimes she was depicted merely as a young, wingless, and very human-looking woman.
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Mark
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Posted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 4:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
Quote:
Yes, the Manilius reference is very interesting in suggesting that the vernal point was originally expected to be in the middle of the signs rather than the beginning; especially combined with his reference to the shifting position of the vernal point at the end of his third book, and details provided by Goold (p.lxxxi) which shows how older accounts placed it at the 15th degree of the signs. That makes a lot of sense to me, given our knowledge of the history of the zodiac and how long it was employed before the period when the 1st degree of the constellation Aries coincided with the VP.


I'm not sure I concur with you that the older sources do all coalesce with the idea that the equinoxes/solstices were located in the 15th degree of the signs. On the contrary in fact some of the very oldest references actually suggest the VP was taken as the start of Aries by the Greeks. At the very least the history of this was never such a linear progression. There were a lot of zig zags. No doubt reflecting the confusion on where the VP was located.

Most general histories state that the astronomer Hipparchus (c. 190– c. 120 BCE) was the first to propose a tropical zodiac starting at 0 Aries. However, this is contradicted by other evidence. While most of the writings of Hipparchus are lost we do still have a surviving text which is his Commentary on the Phaenomena of Aratus and Eudoxus.

Hipparchus makes it clear that the tropical zodiac is an ancient tradition even in his time. He also specifically, states that Aratus (c.315 /310 BCE – c.240 BCE) was using a tropical zodiac calculated from the VP.

Quote:
’First of all it, must be considered that Aratus so divided his zodiac, that the tropical and equinoctial points should form the commencement of signs…and in this way almost all the old astronomers divided their zodiac’’ Commentary on the Phaenomena of Aratus and Eudoxus, by Hipparchus.


Aratus wrote his Phaenomena in 276 BCE so we have a much older source than either Manilius or Gemino suggesting the use of a tropical Aries which began at the VP.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aratus

Mark
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Deb
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Posted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark wrote:
I'm not sure I concur with you that the older sources do all coalesce with the idea that the equinoxes/solstices were located in the 15th degree of the signs. On the contrary in fact some of the very oldest references actually suggest the VP was taken as the start of Aries by the Greeks. At the very least the history of this was never such a linear progression. There were a lot of zig zags. No doubt reflecting the confusion on where the VP was located.


Hi Mark, since you placed this under my quote I should point out that I didn't suggest that older sources do "all coalesce with the idea that the equinoxes/solstices were located in the 15th degree of the signs"; only that some of the older sources show this, and then we have reports of the VP dropping back through Aries, until it gets 'fixed' around the 1st degree in the centuries preceding Ptolemy.
What is interesting about the Virgo reference in Manlius, is that it talks about the change of seasons occurring in the middle of that sign. As others have noted this also makes sense of his description of the signs of seeing and hearing - I wrote about this in my article on the antiscia, to point out how the principle described by Manilius is the same as that reported by later authors, allowing for the movement of the VP ( http://www.skyscript.co.uk/antiscia.html - the relevant text begins immediately after the first diagram, and the article gives the refs; ref 7 is particularly relevant).
I agree that there are a lot of conflicting and confused reports, and the text of Manilius itself does not reference the 15th degree. However, what we have in the Astronomica is a poem, and whoever did the versification possibly had more skill at versification than astronomy. Its quite feasible that he applied those talents to older works without looking too critically at their technical details. I haven't come to a conclusion on this matter myself, I just note these references as being of interest.
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