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Centiloquium of Hermes Trismegistus
    Annotated by Deborah Houlding

David Juste's library record for this text informs us that the Centiloquium of Hermes Trismegistus was translated into Latin from Arabic sources by Stephen of Messina, who addressed his text to Manfred, king of Sicily between 1258 to 1266. A date of 1262 has been proposed for the compilation in the pdf reproduction of his Latin work that was made available by the Warburg Intstitute.

The Latin text was repeatedly reprinted: at Venice in 1492, 1493, 1501, 1519; at Basel in, 1533, 1551, and at Ulm in 1651, 1674. Henry Coley was the first to produce an English translation, as part of his Clavis Astrologiae Elimata (Key to the Whole Art of Astrology), published in London in 1676.

The following is a reproduction of Coley's text.

The Centiloquium of Hermes Trismegistus.

1. The Sun and Moon next unto God, are the life of all things living: Yet many nativities have no hyleg; yet because the Sun and Moon friendly behold their ascendant, or be therein free from affliction, their lives shall be the longer continued.[1]

2. All diurnal nativities are strengthened by the Sun, when well beheld by the fortunes; nocturnal of the Moon, when she is so fortified. If this happen not, yet if good planets be found in angles, the nativity shall be good.

3. When Mars, lord of the ascendant, shall be posited in the tenth, it confers on the native dignity and power; which will be accompanied with injury and cruelty; and may therefore be said, a misfortune, rather than happiness.

4. Jupiter in good aspect with the infortunes, changes their malevolency into good. Venus cannot effect any such thing, unless assisted by Jupiter; therefore in procuring good, and prohibiting ill, Jupiter is found much better than Venus.[2]

5. The artist cannot make a commixion of the significations of the stars, before he know their friendships and enmities, which is threefold. First, according to their nature. Secondly, according to their houses. Thirdly, according to their aspects.

6. Venus is opposite to Mercury. He comprehends languages and discipline; she delights and pleasures, Jupiter the like to Mars; this coveteth mercy and justice; that, impiety and cruelty.[3]

7. Make the Sun, or any of the superiors to signify princes and great persons. Scribes and rusticks,[4] [are shown by] the inferior planets, and chiefly the Moon.

8. The signification of the conjunction, is not lessened by an aspect; but the aspect is by the conjunction; as having lesser force, than it.

9. Give not judgment, neither elect anything, while Scorpio is ascending, neither when the angles are oblique or crooked,[5] or if Mars be in the ascendant; the event will prove cross, and the matter come to no good end; for Scorpio is a sign of falsity.

10. Good planets, afflicted of the infortunes from the sixth or twelfth houses, signify ill.

11. Rumours spread when the Moon is in the first face of Scorpio are false, and knavishly forged.

12. The judgments of astrologers are not many times true, by reason of the error of their instruments, or querents' ignorance; or when the Sun is near the midheaven, or when the arguments of promise and denial of the thing are equal in the figure.

13. While the Moon shall be South descending in Scorpio or Pisces, begin not then to build; for a fabrick then erected quickly comes to ruin.

14. Mercury being strong and in proper places of the Heavens, well configurated of other stars or planets in nativities, denotes convenient dignity to the native thereby; but Mercury of himself is a planet weak.

15. Whosoever contendeth with another & overcomes when the significators are in signs bicorporeal,[6] gets a great victory; if overcome, looseth much; for then the good or evil is doubled.

16. Give not judgment before thou knowest the intention of the querent; for many ask they know not what, nor can they express what they intend.

17. When thou shalt be interrogated for a father, behold the fourth house; for a brother, the third; of a son, the fifth; of a wife, the seventh: But if for a sick person, behold the ascendant only.[7]

18. When the Moon shall come to the quadrate of the fortunes or infortunes, and the testimonies of the helps or hinderances of the matter doubtful; it is to be doubted that the strength of the bad planets will more impede, than the others can assist.

19. In the beginning of journeys, and returns therefrom, let not the Moon be in the ascendant, fourth, or ninth houses, although she be not afflicted. In the entering of a city, place her neither in the ascendant, second, or fourth houses.[8]

20. There are three ways of discovering the accidents proper to men; viz. from the geniture of the native, birth of his first child, or by a question propounded, with which the mind was solicitous and affected.

21. Every beginning when the Moon shall be joined to a Retrograde planet will soon be destroyed, and if she shall be otherwise impedited, the mischief will happen the sooner.

22. Make Saturn and Sun significators of kings and princes, with the planet, and planets of the tenth; but their helpers take from the eleventh, and the assistants of vulgar persons from the second house.

23. When a king or prince sets forth to journey, be sure reject that time when Cancer ascends.

24. Gemini and Sagittarius obey the head and tail of the Dragon, more than other signs: therefore do they work more mischief in those signs than they do in any other.[9]

25. When either Taurus or Libra ascend in women's nativities, and Mars therein, the native will be immodest and unchaste; the same if Capricorn shall ascend.

26. The virtues of the planets are received by the Sun, when he is posited either in the ascendant or midheaven, in conjunction of them. The Moon in the night-time receives them also, if in the aforesaid places, she be joined to them.

27. Jupiter dissolves Saturn's malice; and Venus dissolves Mars's.

28. When a question is propounded of a woman, take Venus as her natural significatrix: but more particularly the seventh house. But if a question be asked of an Enemy, respect the twelfth house; but, then more particularly, the seventh also.

29. When any one goeth to war, especially a king, let the ascendant be one of the houses of the superiour planets, or of the Sun. And let the lord of the ascendant, and the Sun be potent in the figure; but the lord of the seventh weak and unfortunate.

30. The Moon increasing in light and motion, and in conjunction of Saturn or Jupiter, is generally good in all things: but if she be diminished in light, 'tis ill; understand the contrary wholly, when she is in conjunction of Venus and Mars.

31. Let not Jupiter be under the Sun beams, or otherwise impedited, when you either pawn or lend things; which if he shall be so, and not received of the planet impediting, there will be little or no hopes of redemption.

32. Fortunate planets going to conjunction or aspect of one of the infortunes, in any figure, diminish their evil influence. If the figure be good, the greater good they do; if ill, the lesser. But the malevolents in square or opposition of the benevolents diminish and abate of their virtues, the other aspects hinder not.

33. Saturn passing out of one sign into another, causes strange apparitions in the heavens, which the Arabians term Assub; or certain other signs of a Fiery nature.

34. The conjunction of Jupiter and Sun produceth temperate air, chiefly, when celebrated in aerial signs. From the conjunction of Saturn & Sun, comes cold; and from conjunction of the Sun & Mars, in the Spring season, proceeds a cloudy dark air, it happening in double bodied signs, whence diseases very frequently follow.

35. In summer, when the Sun enters the terms of Mars, heat is caused; in winter, drought, and scarcity of rain and waters.

36. In the nativities and questions of men, make hyleg, and alchocoden, and their directions; chiefly, in questions concerning kings and great persons, by which their accidents are chiefly known, let them be good, or evil.

37. If the ascendant be fortunate, and the lord thereof unfortunate, it indicates a sound and healthful body, but an afflicted mind. But if the contrary happen, judge the contrary.

38. Always note the configurations of the stars, not by their signs, but orbs.[10]

39. Let the Moon be increasing in light, and free from the aspects of the infortunes, when you would cure sore eyes.

40. The Part of Fortune with ill planets in the fourth, ninth, or tenth houses, denote death to the sick.

41. When the significator of either good or evil shall be stationary, and angular, it shall be more durable. But it shall be the more mutable and variable, if the significator shall be cadent from angles, and retrograde.

42. The lord of the second house hath the same strength in hurting, as the lord of the eighth; the lord of the sixth, the same with the lord of the twelfth.

43. Mars occidental in Cancer not beheld of Saturn, Jupiter, Venus, or Sun, makes a good phlebotomist. But if Mars shall be in Capricorn, it makes a destroyer of men, and one that delights to shed blood.

44. The best artist in the world may chance to err, when he mistakes a true significator for a false one.

45. When Saturn shall be elevated above Venus, and in square of her, it makes the native shameless, and a perfect woman-hater. But if Venus be elevated above Saturn, he shall be a great friend unto women.

46. If in any nativity Mercury shall be in the ascendant, oriental, and swift; the native will be eloquent, and learned in the liberal sciences: the same happeneth, if he shall be in Sagittarius in his proper terms.

47. The first of the angles is the ascendant: the second, the M.C., the third, the seventh house, the fourth Imum Coeli. But of the rest of the places, the eleventh is first, then the second; after that, the fifth; then the ninth, and third; but the sixth, eighth, and twelfth, are accounted the worst.

48. Mars's influence is never abated, unless by the interposure of a benevolent planet.

49. Let your significator agree with his, whom you intend to supplicate.

50. The ascendant, or a planet found in the last degree, the signification must be taken from the following sign; but if in 29 deg. in the same sign, the strength of a planet is considered three ways, viz. in the degree where he is found, and next preceding and succeeding.

51. We should consider of future contingents from the conjunctions of the planets, but things past or present from their separations.

52. When Jupiter shall be in Cancer removed from the ascendant, and no way impedited of any other star, the native will be rational, and very expert in science; but delighting to lead a recluse life, and shall not have the due applause of his learning.

53. In the world many evils will happen, when in one month there shall happen an eclipse of both luminaries; chiefly in those places subject to the sign in which they happen.

54. When the Moon shall be in the combust way, or peregrine, in the beginning of a journey, the person will either fall sick in his journey, or shall be otherwise grievously troubled and molested.

55. It behooves the astrologer to consider the time in directions of the planets; but in the fixed stars it is not so needful.

56. The father's estate shall pass to the son, if Saturn shall be fortunate, and in friendly aspect of the lord of the ascendant: but this more freely, if Saturn shall be lord of the fourth.

57. Fortunate planets being in signs wherein they have no dignity, their benignity is translated another way.

58. Mars almuten of a nativity, and not joined to good planets, signifieth the native to suffer by envy and hatred.

59. The fortunate stars confer great felicity, when they shall be received of each other in their proper houses; and when the evil planets are so received, they refrain from doing much mischief.

60. The native will be sickly and weak, when Saturn is elevated above Mars; but if Mars shall be elevated above Saturn, he shall be fat and lusty.

61. In men's nativities, if the part of marriage shall fall in signs obedient; and in women's in signs imperant, the woman shall rule the man, and the man shall obey; sin autem contra, dic contra.[11]

62. If the lords of the triplicity of the conjunction of the lights shall friendly respect each other, the first to the second, the second to the third, it shows eminent prosperity, and a freedom from sorrows.[12]

63. Mercury in Pisces, in deep or pitted degrees,[13] makes the native foolish and slow of speech; and if Jupiter shall be in the houses of Mars, in pitted degrees, he will be sordid and needy, and receive hurt from soldiers; but if in the houses of Saturn, chiefly Capricorn, and in such degrees, he will be morose, rigid, and odious to all men.

64. Mercury in reception of Mars by houses, or if he shall be in aspect of him falling from an angle, the native will be a lover of hunting, and to play at dice and tables: but if they shall not be cadent, he shall prove an excellent soldier.

65. Planets under the Sun's beams, or within twelve degrees thereof, are unfortunate, unless in the same degree with him, but when passed 12 degrees from him (existentes orientales)[14] they are fortunate.

66. The North Node with the infortunes denotes terrible mischiefs, for he increases their malice; but with the fortunes he works good, and augments their benignity. But the significations of the Dragon's tail are to be noted the contrary way.

67. Mercury in the sixth house of a nativity, the native shall change from one religion to another, & will have his felicity in part impedited by reason of his inconstancy.

68. The first sign hath pre-eminence in signification, when there be two signs have to do with the thing.[15]

69. Accept the beginning of every thing from the Moon, but the end from her dispositor.

70. If Jupiter in the revolution of the world shall be in his house, exaltation, or oriental in an angle, and otherwise freed from evil, he signifies plenty, [my author says penury, if time and ill handling have not abused him] of all things.

71. When the Moon and lord of the ascendant shall be impedited by the lord of the 8th, the sick person hath cause to fear.

72. 'Tis ill to begin any lawsuits or other controversies when the Moon is ill dignified: the plaintiff without doubt will be overcome.

73. All rebellions breaking out at the beginning of the year, are not easily suppressed.

74. The Moon in ruminating signs joined to retrograde planets, it is not then good to purge; the potion will work upward to the patients injury.

75. Oriental planets signifying either good or evil, perform their work speedily; occidental, more slowly.

76. The middle stay of a solar eclipse is by the degree of the conjunction of the lights.

77. There will many wars and difficulties happen, when in a revolutional figure of the world, Saturn and Jupiter shall be in their exaltations.

78. Be wary and circumspect in your judgment, when a fortune is with a malevolent; nor be you overconfident that the malice of the infortune shall be averted.

79. There are twelve signs, one of which is constantly ascending: the ascendant signifies the body, and the lord thereof the mind. Let not that sign ascend for your purpose, whose lord is impedited.

80. Planets in fixed signs show the matter durable; in bicorporeal signs, doubtful; in movable, convertible to good or evil.

81. In matters of secrecy, let not the Moon be combust, but going from combustion.

82. When the Moon is in a fixed sign, neither cut out, or put on any new garments, chiefly in Leo, for 'tis extreme dangerous: 'tis the same if she be in conjunction or opposition of the Sun, or impedited of the infortunes.[16]

83. The Moon hath great power in all questions, except when Leo, Capricorn, or Aquarius ascend: for either of those signs abate of her significations; chiefly Leo or Aquarius.

84. Saturn is under the Sun beams until he be 15 degrees distant from him. Understand the same of Jupiter.

85. Refuse the Moon in Cancer or Virgo for marriages, unless it be in marrying of widows.

86. An infortune in his own house or exaltation, and oriental, is better than a fortune retrograde, or impedited.

87. There will be some impediment about that part of the body represented by that sign which was afflicted at birth.

88. Immense prosperity is portended, when the lords of the triplicity of the luminaries shall have virtue in an angle or succedent house, and be in their proper places, remote from the aspects of the infortunes; and if the lord of the ascendant shall be well seated also, the happiness shall be the more and the greater.

89. The aspects of the sextile or trine have the same quality: but the sextile is less forcible than the trine, either in good or evil.

90. Saturn performs evil slowly, but Mars swift; and therefore Mars is reputed to hurt more than Saturn.

91. When the three superiour planets shall be conjoined in regal signs, it is termed a great conjunction; and when the Sun beholds them, they make most potent and flourishing kingdoms.

92. Those doubts are soon resolved, that are propounded when the Moon and the planet to whom she applies are in signs, having voice, and in the first or third houses, or in opposition of them.

93. The infortunes in the eighth house have their malice increased; but the benevolents being there, portend neither good nor evil.

94. There will neither good or evil be performed, but when the good or bad planets in a nativity or revolution shall aspect the Moon by a quadrate.

95. If Mercury be afflicted in the sixth house, the native shall die in prison: if Saturn shall be in the twelfth, and Venus in the eighth, he shall end his days by precipitation.

96. When the Sun in the daytime, and the Moon in the night, in the beginning of any sickness, is impedited, the person is to be feared.

97. The significations of the stars are always varied, as they vary in their configurations and latitudes.

98. The Moon in the fourth, seventh, ninth or twelfth houses shows the true cause of the question propounded: the same is known by her separation from Mercury. And if the ascendant and Moon shall be in double-bodied signs, the cause of the question is confirmed.

99. An infortune in his house or exaltation denotes the matter by him signified to come to a good end, but with delays: but if he shall be impedited in the ascendant, though in his house or exaltation, the matter will be obstructed, and come to an ill end.

100. The event of every enterprise that is doubtful, is terminated by these significators, viz., by the fourth house and his lord, and the planet strong in the same; also by the light of the time and the lord thereof; and by the planet, and his dispositor to whom the said light of the time is conjoined.

[ - The End of Hermes his 100 Aphorisms- ]

Notes & References:

  1 ] A planet that qualifies as the hyleg is considered to have the greatest influence upon the length of life. Such a planet would need to be in one of the qualifying places, as detailed in the glossary item of Hyleg. This aphorism is suggesting that where there is no hyleg, we look for signs of support from the Sun or Moon.
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  2 ] It is a traditional principle that superior planets are resistant to the effects of inferior planets, but inferiors are very impressionable to the influence of superiors. Since Venus is an inferior planet, and the two traditional malefics (Mars and Saturn) superior, Venus cannot hope to produce the moderation of effect that Jupiter can.
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  3 ] This aphorism demonstrates how many of these short comments were extracted from lengthier discussions in older texts without conveying the full philosophical principles. We find a more informative source to these comments, for example, in chap 7 of the 2nd century Thesaurus of Antiochus: "Concerning exaltations and depressions".

Venus is said to be exalted in the place that Mercury experiences fall (Pisces), and Mercury is exalted where Venus experiences fall (Virgo), because Mercury "is the master of arguments" while Venus "is the overseer of desire and intercourse". So "where the intellectual increases, there the desire and pleasure in intercourse is depressed. And where the appetitive and pleasurable is exalted, there the intellectual is depressed".

Mars is exalted where Jupiter experiences fall (Capricorn), and Jupiter is exalted where Mars experiences fall (Cancer), because Jupiter "is the overseer of the life-breath and abundance" whilst Mars "is the overseer of death". Hence "where the life-breath increases, there the bringer of death is depressed; and where death increases, there life is depressed".

Antiochus gives similar treatment to the Sun and Saturn because the Sun is the master of heat and day, whilst Saturn signifies dark and cold. The Sun is exalted in Aries where Saturn experiences its fall, and Saturn is exalted in Libra where the Sun experiences fall. Antiochus adds that the Moon is the "fortune of all" and so "whom fortunes exalts, no one may depress; while he whom fortune depresses, no one is able to exalt".

So the source of this aphorism is clearly very ancient, but we should also note how little of the original philosophy remains in the celebrated aphorism.

Antiochus, The Thesaurus, trans. R. Schmidt, ed. R. Hand. Project Hindsight Greek Track Vol. II-B. Berkeley Springs: Golden Hind Press, 1993.
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  4 ] Rustics = ordinary, country people.
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  5 ] The signs of short ascension: Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus and Gemini.
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  6 ] The double-bodied signs: Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces.
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  7 ] In other words, treat the chart as a decumbiture, where the health and body of the sick person is represented by the first house.
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  8 ] The feminine, nocturnal qualities of the Moon, and her propensity for quick changes, gives the Moon a sense of wandering without purpose. So it was often sought to avoid the Moon being too powerful in important matters, or journeys where someone could get lost. For the same reason aphorism 23 rejects Cancer on the ascendant.
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  9 ] According to the most common representation of the table of essential dignities, the north node is exalted in the 3rd degree of Gemini; the south node in the 3rd degree of Sagittarius.
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  10 ] A pertinent aphorism for those who maintain that in ancient astrology, aspects were principally calculated according to sign relationships.
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  11 ] Imperant (or commanding) signs are: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo and Virgo

Obedient signs are: Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces.

sin autem contra, dic contra = in other cases, the opposite.
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  12 ] This is referrring to the older triplicity rulership scheme, which considers three planetary rulers for each triplicity. For more information see The Classical Use of Triplicities by Deborah Houlding.
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  13 ] Deep or pitted degrees (which are the same) are shown in the table of traditional degree influences.
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  14 ] Becoming oriental.
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  15 ] Ie, when signification is taken from a house, and the house contains more than one sign, priority is given to the sign on the cusp.
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  16 ] It's not clear why it should be so dangerous to put on new garments when the Moon is in Leo, but this rule is also contained in Ptolemy's Centiloquium, as aphorism 22.
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© December, 2006. The transcription of this text was generously provided by a site supporter who prefers to remain anonymous. Mark up and annotations are by Deborah Houlding.

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