Exegesis Volume 5 Issue #20

From: L: Smerillo ;, X-Mailer: "Mozilla 3.01Gold"
Subject: Ptolemaeus-2

From: "William D. Tallman"
Subject: Time 2

From: L: Smerillo ;, X-Mailer: "Mozilla 3.01Gold"
Subject: three\zodiac

Exegesis Digest Fri, 31 Mar 2000

Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2000 00:21:10 -0500
From: L: Smerillo ;, X-Mailer: "Mozilla 3.01Gold"
To: exegesis
Subject: Ptolemaeus-2

Dennis Frank wrote:

 > Apparently the earliest surviving copy is from the 11th century.

Of what... Proclus' Paraphrase... or Ptolemaeus' Tetrabiblos?

For the Tetrabib. the MSS are from the XII, XIV and XV centuries. But this means _nothing_ in terms of the authenticity of the text, it merely means that we only possess copies of earlier copies. A collation of the variant readings, and external testimony, is what an modern critical edition is: it establishes the readings which are most likely, on the basis of the MSS evidence, to represent the original text. Sometimes there are additions or glosses to the text which in copying have come to be included into it, but these are able to be extracted. Othertimes there are errors in copying, such as jumping a line, or repeating a line, or misreading an abbreviation or a word. These too can be corrected. Citations of the text by external sources are also quite valueable. The editor collates these and can decide which are the readings most likely to represent the original text, and of course gives the variant readings in the footnotes. A complicatd and highly detailed paintaking enterprise.

The two critical editions of the Tetrabiblos are:

F. Boll and A. Boer, Tuebner, Lipsiae, 1957. (opera om. III.1, _Apotelematica_)

F.E. Robbins, _Ptolemy Tetrabiblos_, ed. and trans. Eng., Loeb, London- Cambridge, 1956.

The first printed editions of the Tetrabiblos are:

1) _Claudii Ptolemaei Pelusiensis libri quattuor... traductio in linguam latinam..._ Ioachimi Camerarii Pabergensis...Norimbergae, 1535.


edition, Basel, 1553

3) Hieronimi Cardani [Cardano] Mediolanensis... in Cl. Ptolemaei de astrorum iudiciis, aut ut uulgo appellant quadripartitae constructionis libros quattuor commentaria_ ab auctore postremum castigata et locupuletata, hic accesserunt... Cunradi Dasypodii mathematici academiae argentoratensis scholia in Claudii Ptolemaei quatuor libros apotelesmaticos, Basel, 1578.

The first editions of the 'Paraphrase' is:

1) _Procli Paraphasis in quattuor Ptolemaei libros de siderum effectibus,_ cum praefatione P. Melanthonis, Basel, 1554.

( I simply can not trace if there is a modern critical edition) [but see Lucas Siorvanes, _Proclus. Neo-Platonic philosophy and Science,_ Yale, 1996]

For Porphyry:

_In Claudii Ptolemaei Quadripartitum enarrator ignoti nominis, quem tamen Proclum fuisse quidam existimant, Prophyrii philosophi introductio in Ptolemaei opus de effectibus astrum, praeterea Hermetis philosphi de revolutionibus nativitatem libri duo incerto interprete, (edit. H. Wolf graece et latine), Basel, 1559.

--critical edition:

_Porfyrou philosphou eis tn Apotelesmatikn to Ptolemaou_, ed. S. Weinstock in CCAG V/4, p. 186-228.

I might add that extensive use is made of the text of the Tetrabiblos of Ptolemaeus by the following Late Antique astrological writers: Hephaestius of Thebes, Julian of Laodicea, John Lydus, Paul of Alexandria, Rhetorius, and later by compiler of the hososcope of Constantine VII Porphyrogentus. In the Mediaeval tradition he is used by Issac Argir, John Abramius, and Helius Eleuterios [[2]]. P. himself never refers to any sources, merely using the generic, *hoi palaioi*-- the ancients. It may well be that P. simply does not mention the other systems in circulation-- Dorotheus and Manilius, Hemetic practical astrology, or Egyptian priest-lore-- simply because he politely dissents from them, condemning them by silence. His concern seems to have been to construct a system which is clean and straightforward. I think it is also important to realize that P., like Hipparchos before him, was heavily dependent on Babylonian calculations and astrological traditions-- to the extent that some claim that Hipparchus would never have been able to formulate his theories if he did not have the Babylonian observational material. The same may be true for Ptolemaeus-- both astronomically and astrologically.[[1]]

Can it seriously be asserted that astrologers use the _Paraphrase_ rather than the easily (for the last 40+ years) available text of Ptoloemy? It says little which might be construed, however vaguely, as hopeful for the astrological community.

History and texts might, I should suggest, be a priority more urgent than theory about theories, which lacking the former are thus proportionally, or perhaps geometrically, meta-confusions (pun intended!).

with best regards,

Lorenzo Smerillo

[[1]] see: A. Jones, 'The adaptation of Babylonian methods in Greek numerial astronomy' _Isis_ 82(1991)p. 441-453. ibid., 'On Babylonian astronomy and its Greek metamorphoses' in _Tradition, transmission, transformation_, Leiden, Brill, 1996, p.139-155.

[[2]] see D. Pingree 'The Astrological School of John Abramius' _Dumbarton Oaks Papers_, XXV, 1971, p 189-215.


Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2000 18:30:20 -0800
From: "William D. Tallman"
To: Exegesis
Subject: Time 2

In the first of this series of posts, I suggested that time is a metric of process. I started the development of some understanding of what is meant when we use the term, and in doing so, showed why a necessary attribute of time in this description of it must be that of cyclicity. I commented on how that attribute is relevant to our experience, and that we are all dependent on the use of that attribute. I suggested that our acceptance and understanding of this matter is problematic, in that we tend to reject cyclicity as limiting, choosing to view time as linear (at least to the extent we can do so successfully, I think).

Again, I deliberately stipulate that these matters can appear trivial, as we are commonly and somewhat intimately, though tacitly, aware of them. I suggest that this familiarity implies a thoroughness of understanding that may well not exist, and so I assert that it is appropriate to reconsider them.

I propose that in order to more fully understand time, we must gain a better understanding of process itself. I suggest that in order to effectively evaluate time, we need to do so by approaching it as a function of process. I suggest that we do not normally do this, even though we may think that we do, and in order to understand that we do not, we can look at our historical experiences in the matter.

We understand that, for the Greeks, time was a function of the celestial sphere only, and did not have inherent existence outside of that context. Time, then, was considered an expression of celestial perfection, to which the earthly plane may aspire but never achieve. From the point of view of my argument here, it would seem that the only real process was that of the heavens, which raises an interesting question: is this the source of the notion that all that is sublunar is illusion, having no inherent reality? That the answer is probably no does not detract from the value of the question itself, I think.

We can, however, identify this separation of the heavens and the earth into that which is perfect and real and that which is imperfect and (unreal?) as a source for the notion that there exists an external standard of appropriate definition for what may or may not be a valid process. We can call this external standard a Primary Process. Clearly, other kinds of considerations have power in this issue, but it's worth recognizing that the Greek view of time supports the contention that objective time is the only real kind of time that exists. Indeed, there is a spectrum of considerations and assumptions that are supported by this idea, and it may be of value to identify some of them.

One matter comes to mind immediately, and that is that the question of the inherent value of the human being may have connections here; those are almost certainly not roots or origins, but could conceivably arise from a common source. A great deal of attention and effort has been put to achieving some resolution to this question, it would seem: a significant percentage of human concern is taken up with the task of discovering or inventing ways in which we can justify ourselves as having some sort of inherent worthiness. It is not sufficient to call ourselves earthly life forms and therefore possessed of some intrinsic and substantial reality; we conceive that humanity possesses some extraordinary aspect or attribute that makes us inherently separate from the natural earthly realm. We note that this issue is addressed in ways not directly relevant to this discussion.

It was evident to the Greeks, of course, that the natural sphere seemed to possess some sort of intrinsic link to the heavens, and so could reasonably be viewed as an extension thereof; this is, in fact, the basis for the rationale for astrology itself. It also had, however, the effect of further separating us from our environment. The natural environment did not share the inevitable imperfection of man, and so could be seen as an only incomplete, and therefore not irretrievably flawed, expression of perfection.

In the centuries during and after the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, other rationales for supporting our assumptions about the nature of humanity and the nature of the celestial sphere arose that enforced the concept of man's imperfection, although there was less agreement about the details of the nature of the celestial sphere. Some of these rationales were used as justification for agenda that was other than philosophical: the concepts of the perfection of the heavens and the imperfection of mankind were widely recognized as tailor made for the justification of a variety of tyrannies.

And so, after the millennium of western intellectual darkness that followed, Greek thought arose once again, and was the foundation for our modern views of these matters; the emergence of this intellectual heritage set the stage for modern intellectual development, modern science, etc. These concepts of perfection and imperfection, however, could be debated and argued, but not tested. The assumptions made by Newton in these regards were thus deemed to be self-evident: there existed a static frame of reference against which we could measure our observances of nature, which provided a basis for defining and evaluating dimensions, of which time was one. This became the assumed Primary Process.

We now recognize that these assumptions were/are without basis, that, thanks to Einstein, et al, there appears to be no invariant frame of reference against which all dimensions can be evaluated. We appear to have become comfortable in the notion that everything is relative, and that nothing can be taken as cast in stone, using this observation to negate and avoid issues as we wish, it seems. Indeed, it often is asserted that nothing is intrinsically robust, and so there is nothing that is not ephemeral, and therefore unworthy of anything but conditional acceptance and usefulness.

It seems evident that this idea, when used as a basic point of view, is highly problematic. Taken as an axiom, we find this notion quickly leaves us adrift in irresolvable ambiguity, especially when applied directly to human experience. The result is that we seem to have concluded that there is no inherently robust frame of reference within which a Primary Process can be observed, much less described. This has consequences, of course.

Although we recognize the concept of Process, we find it difficult in envision it as having useful primary purpose, I think. The concept of Process as a basic standard of identity for any on going purpose is rejected as being in violation of the new concepts of relativity and indeterminacy, and so is regarded as having no intrinsic value of its own. The result is that we are left with a set of options that are less than optimal, even acceptable.

We must return to the natural sphere as the basis for the Primary Process, or we must turn to the construct we have developed that represents observable reality as itself the Primary Process. The first way of going produces the naturalist movement that eschews much of that which our civilization has built in favor of Luddite life on Walden's Pond, and the second demands that we either acquire a working expertise in science and technology or accede all such concerns to those who do have. This is, to a recognizable extent, manifest in a recent culture/counterculture clash: the hippies wanted to return to the woods while giving over the current standard of living, and the establishment was happy to let things continue as they are with no more than lip-service to any larger concerns.

Neither of these ways of going were, or are, acceptable as described, and so we all find ourselves somewhere on the spectrum between the two. The significance of this is that each of us can identify our own place there, because these issues are relevant to us all. Further, it is obvious that they directly involve that of astrology itself, and so I assert that what may seem a more general human matter of indeterminate relevance here is in fact specifically of concern to astrology.

The central matter in all this is the ability, or lack thereof, to identify and establish the parameters of a Primary Process. If this ability exists, then we can establish a frame of temporal reference as well, and that is the subject at hand here. There are several parametric issues here: the frame of reference and so the nature of the process of choice must be variable, must be capable of relational manipulation, must be robust without recourse to the necessity for constant and invariant primacy; the process type itself must have universal application, must be capable of manifesting without fundamental limitations, must have at least potentially general-case usefulness.

We have, of course, addressed and answered this concern, and the answer we have derived is arguably the source of much of the world's recent problems: it does not, nor does it seem intended to, satisfy the requirements I have presented here.

We have determined that the most natural place to orient the Primary Process is in the Self. For each of us, then, there is a specific Process against which all others are measured, and it is that of the given individual; we can and do regard that process as the subjective reality. The problems inherent in this solution are obvious: if we determine that there is no intrinsic Primary Process which asserts itself as the proper frame of reference for all others, and we elect to assume that role for ourselves, we are confronted with the need to synchronize and harmonize our own Process with all the Processes manifest by other people. That this is difficult to do is probably the most significant understatement of our times.

To the extent that we have actually made this choice, we find we are not at liberty to avoid the responsibilities inherent therein. Clearly, not all people appear to have done this, but there seems to be a movement in that direction: we deem ourselves at liberty to choose that which defines the Primary Process, even if we decline to place it within ourself. It appears that this idea has come to describe these aspects of our current cultures, and to that extent it is useful to examine the results of this sort of choice.

We might conclude that we have simply chosen to repudiate the need for a Primary Process. Without further comment, we can observe that the institutions of religion and the ideas underlying theology were in large part intended to address the matter of the Primary Process, and this repudiation is a subject of importance in these regards. We can also further observe that this has become a fundamental concern in general, couched sometimes popularly as "Greed is (not?) good!".

Perhaps the ultimate extension of this way of going is solipsism; in any case, the inevitable question seems to have arisen: is there any such thing as an objective reality? For our purposes here, we may rephrase this as: Is there any such thing as a Primary Process that has existence independent of the individual perception of reality? Is there a Primary Process such that its primacy is inherent or intrinsic in the process itself? It seems to me that it is this very question which lies at the root of recent philosophical concerns, such as have been proposed on this list; these concerns, then, appear to establish this question as the current state of the matter of a) how Process in general is perceived, and b) how the question of Primary Process is being addressed.

I can imagine that the reader has found the material discussed here rather familiar, although presented from a somewhat odd and evidently dispassionate perspective. If so, then I have achieved part of what I have intended: I am presenting concerns with which we are all more or less intimately familiar in a different format, with unfamiliar concepts with which to contemplate and analyze these issues. In fact, I want the reader to understand that these ideas have been deliberately made less than readily accessible, because the issues raised here deserve and should require that some real effort be expended to seek a deeper understanding thereof.

In short, I am suggesting that existing attempts to express such understanding fall short of general applicability, and we are not well served by the assumption that any such are definitive. This, of course, includes my efforts as well. Thus, the effort to argue any extant views may be fruitless: what is needed is an examination of this, or any other, view with the intent to see how well relevant questions are answered. The idea is to determine the merit of a view in its own terms, and that is what leads to better understanding, I think.

These, then, are some of the main attributes of the concept of Process as it manifests itself in human experience. The reader may assess the extent to which the use of this concept as a functional point of view succeeds in addressing effectively a significant portion of human concerns, both historically and in our time. In the next post, I will consider how the attributes of time may serve as tools to treat with these concerns; in doing so, I will lay a part of a foundation for an approach to a theoretical basis for astrology.




Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2000 00:19:31 -0500
From: L: Smerillo ;, X-Mailer: "Mozilla 3.01Gold"
To: exegesis
Subject: three\zodiac

Patrice Guinard (Exegesis Digest V5 #15) wrote:

 > After, why to divide by 3, and not by
 > 2, 4, 5?... It's this question which has lead Kepler to remain very
 > sceptical about the 12 zodiacal signs, as about the houses. Of course
 > there is the synchronization between solar and lunar cycles in a year
 > (12/13). There is also, and mainly, the existence of the 12 months of
 > the calendar, before the invention of the zodiac, in the VIth century
 > B.C., by Babylonian astronomers. Now, it seems to me, that in tropical
 > astrology (I don't refer here to the supposed "sideralist astrology"),
 > no astrologer were never able to justify this division by 3.

1.This would in the main be true, that the signs chronologically follow the month numbering. However it may be important to remember that Babylonian mathematics was sexagesimally based. 60 can be factored by 2,3,4,5,6,10,12; factor 8 produced 7,30:60 and factor 9 produced 6,40:60(two-thirds). Also the Babylonians had 12 hours in their day (roughly equivalent to 2 of our hours), so perhaps the problem of division by 3 is not the problem: 12 was a readily available mathematical container for the number of signs in the zodiac. The real problem is perhaps the determination of the ecliptic: what stars are in that line, when and how they were determined and catalogued. The constellations are as a concept older than the use of the zodiac in astral computations. But the observational catalogue of the ecliptic constellations can involve more than 12 constellations. The determination of 12 of those as significant remains the problem, exaserbated by the fact that the constellations overlap and some extra ecliptic constellations intrude upon the apparent path of the sun (at least from a modern's point of view, so accustomed to 'seeing' only 12!!). Further the earlier catalogues of constellations-- a slight misnomer, contain specific bright stars as well as constellations-- indicating their functional value as markers or measures rather than as mythological types or figures, at least for the Babylonian astronomers.

2. Which might lead one to consider the notion of the _three_ 'paths' or 'ways' of Enlil, Anu and Ea in Sumerian astronomy,[[**]] the constellations and stars in each of these paths are listed in the Mul-apin (the earliest portions of which can be dated to 2048 BCE and the latest to 1296 BCE). [[1]] The path of Enlil has 32 designations (constellations and stars) of which 17 are circumpolar and the planet Jupiter; the path of Anu has 19 constellations and the four remaining planets; the path of Ea has 15 constellations. Figures representing Enlil, Anu and Ea are found on *kudurru* (boundary stones) from the time of Nabucodonosor I (c. 1150 BCE) along with figures of the Sun, Moon, Venus and various constellations, frequently Scorpion, a fertility symbol for the Babylonians, as well as Sagittarius, Capricornus, Pisces. The same can be found on the circular stones from Susa now in the Louvre (acutally there are 12 figures on the rim Sun, Moon, Venus, Fish-Goat, Aries, Anu, Enlil, Ea, Ninhursag,Marduk &c. So the representation of the three paths and _some_ of the 'zodiacal' constellations is attested at this date).

3. The material of Astrolabus B [[2]] would indicate that the rationale behind the division stars and signs into 12 sections, corresponding to the months, was to assign one of the three stars and constellations from each of the three 'paths' to each month. There is also a separate list of twelve stars for each 'path' with indication of their positions with respect to the others and to the directions of the four cardinal points. To note here, important for other reasons, I think, is the division of the months by stars, and the division of the month into three: one division for each 'path' of Enlil, Anu and Ea.

3.a. Here I think we can find two nascient ideas: the zodiac, and the 36 division of it, usually credited to the Egyptians as the decans, but known to have been introduced into Hellenistic astrological parlance by the Babylonian Teuker (fl. I cent. BCE?). I would posit that the 'Idea' of the Egyptian origin of the decans is about to pass over the mountains: the idea of the _planetary_ rulers of the decans is absolutely Babylonian, not Egyptian, and here we have a very old Babylonian system which mirrors perfectly in its 36 divisions the system universally credited to the Babylonian Teuker. It would be a simple step indeed to press the planets into service, in an already existing Babylonian 36-fold division of months (which an Hellenistic audience would have understood as signs), particularly in a Hellenistic Pythagorean context where 7 planets over 36 over 360 (or 60) would have been an appealling mathematical concept.

4. However to return to the development of the zodiac constellations, Dr. Guinard is quite correct to say that the earliest textual evidence for this is from the 6th cent. BCE-- actually it is a bit earlier, in the 7th century, from the library of Sippar [[3]], a round tablet divided into 12 sections, each bearing a SUMERIAN names of the zodiac, that is, not translated into Akkadian, may lead to the conclusion that the Sumerians had a system of zodiacal constellations.

5. The sexagesimal system is a much more convenient mathematical tool than the decimal system as it considerably eases the computation of fractions in terms of numbers, 60 being divisible by more factors than 10 is. Factoring by 7 remains a problem in both systems. Is it perhaps a clue to division of the zodiac that 7 never comes up as a possiblity when it would be the most logical from the point of view of the astrological planets, each planet having a sign? But such a system is not found in the ancient material. An eight house system does exist (eg Manilius) but this is clearly based on the four quadrants, 4:2.

6. In conclusion therefore I would say that the division of the zodiac into 12 signs is a refection of the combination of the 12-monthly cycle with the three paths of Enlil, Anu and Ea, as well as being a reflection of the mathematical insight that an arc of 360 degrees when divided by 12 gives a very easily managed and measured 30 degrees, which can be further divided by 12 again to give 2.5 segments. Precision and exactitude were high virtues amongst the Babylonian astronomers, as well as a certain geometric congruence.

with very best regards,

Lorenzo Smerillo

[[**]] In what follows I am indebted to Giovanni Petinato,_La Scrittura Celeste_, Milano, 1998, pp.85-99.

[[1]] Text: 'MUL.APIN An Astronomical Compendium in Cuneiform' _Archiv fu+r Orientforschung_, 24, Horn, 1989. Dates: E. Weidrer, _Handbuch der babylonische Astronomie (Assyriolische Bibliothek 23)_ Liepzig, 1915, p.17ff.; and more recently, V.S. Tuman, 'Astronomical Dating of MUL.APIN Tablets' in D. Charpin, F. Joanns (edd.), _La circulation des biens, des persons et des ides dans le Proche Orient ancien, (XXXVIIIe Recontre Assyriologique Internationale)_, Paris, 1992, p.401.

[[2]] E. Weidner, cit., p.70ff.

[[3]] Pettinato would see the inscription as a copy of an older document, from the period of Nabonassar c. 747 BCE, a period when we find regular observation of the planetary movements, the introduction of the Saros cycle. For the inscription see: Walid Al-Jadir,'Une bibliothque et ses tablettes' _Archologia_ 224 (1987) p.47.


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