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Classical Astrology

Vettius Valens
    Vettius Valens: an Ancient Judgement of Wealth

    by David Plant

Chart drawn for Midnight, 1 Jan. 105 AD
Source: Greek Horoscopes by Neugebauer & Van Hoesen
(APS., Philadelphia, 1959), p.103

As might be expected, the judgement of wealth has interested astrologers and their clients since ancient times. The nativity above is taken from the Anthology of Vettius Valens, an astrologer of the 2nd century AD, who left the earliest known collection of astrological case histories. At first glance Valens's methods seem very simple. He rarely bothered to record the degrees occupied by the planets and angles, and the 12 houses simply followed the signs. In this chart Libra holds the Ascendant so Scorpio takes rulership of 2nd house; Sagittarius the 3rd, etc. Aspects were generally measured by sign position alone with no consideration of orb. Thus any two planets placed four signs apart were in trine, any planets three signs apart were in square, etc. On the other hand, Valens routinely used a number of techniques forgotten in modern astrology.

An important consideration was the rulership of the triplicity of the Moon. In this example the Moon is in the fiery triplicity which is governed by the Sun and Jupiter. Both are strong in angles so the native was prosperous. Unfortunately they are also in opposing signs. This foreshadowed an eventual reversal of fortune.

Valens always considered the Part of Fortune (fortuna) and its dispositor as indicators of prosperity. To find the Part of Fortune in a diurnal chart, he counted the number of signs between the Sun and Moon then counted the same number from the Ascendant. In effect this is the same principle we use today. But if the chart was nocturnal Valens reversed the procedure by counting the signs from the Moon to the Sun and projecting that result from the Ascendant. Most classical astrologers followed this convention with the notable exception of Ptolemy. So great was his influence that the technique later disappeared from mainstream European astrology.

In matters of wealth Valens placed great emphasis on the 11th house from the Part of Fortune. The 11th was the house of 'Good Fortune' and 'Accomplishment', so the 11th from the Part of Fortune represented the native's financial accomplishment. Here he found Mars, dispositor of Fortuna, in a sorry state. It is cadent from the Ascendant and afflicted by a square to Saturn. This enabled Valens to predict the native's reversal of fortune more explicitly: he was 'well provided and prosperous at first', but later 'reversed and needy, with forecast of burning and plunder'.

The original translation reads as follows:

The rulers [Jupiter & Sun] of the triangle [of the Moon] were found in centre [MC & IC] but in opposition. Wherefore the nativity, though well provided and prosperous at first was later found to be reversed and needy, with the forecast of burning and plunder. For the ruler of the Lot [of Fortune] Mars, was found in the [11th] locus of accomplishment, in apoklima* and in aspect with Saturn.

* Apoklima - in the 12th place

© David Plant. More of David Plant's work is available on his English Merlin website, devoted to all aspects of the life and times of William Lilly and his contemporaries