Rhetorius on inceptions

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The text is extant in two versions. The shorter version is attributed to Rhetorius on ff. 180v–181r of its unique manuscript, ms Paris, BNF, gr. 2425 (R), where it constitutes the second part of “Rhetorius”, Explanation 6.23. The extended version, which is obviously based on Rhetorius’s version, is found as the first part of “Rhetorius”, Explanation 6.23 (R, ff. 179v–180r), chapter 6 of “Balchus”, Book of Astrology — on ff. 96v–97v of ms Rome, Biblioteca Angelica, gr. 29 (E) and f. 99rv of ms Milan, BA, B 38 sup. (Martini–Bassi 88; A) — and as an unnumbered chapter on f. 163rv in the front matter of book III of ms Vatican City, BAV, Vat. gr. 1056 (V).

Extended version

Rhetorius’s version

On inceptions

In another manner, on inceptions according to Rhetorius

1) In each inception, take the supervisor and the administratorE1 and examine whether they are subtracting or addingE2. 1. In every inception, examine the supervisor and the administrator, and examine whether they are not subtracting.
(2) Then examine in what sign the Hour-Marker is: in a solid, a double-bodied, or a tropical one; and whether the sign is one of the straight or the crooked ones, and whether it is one of the aquaticE3, the terrestrial, the four-footed, or the lurking ones. 2. Then, above all, examine in what sign the Hour-Marker is: in a tropical, a double-bodied, or a solid one; and whether it is straight or crooked, moistR1 or aquatic, and so forth.

 

E1 The planetary lords of the day and the hour, respectively.

E2 Following RV; these expressions normally refer either to speed or acceleration, but in comparison with the other version, it seems that retrograde and direct motion, or, for Helios and Selene, slow and fast motion is meant here, respectively. — AE write “whether neither marks the hour.”

E3 Reading καθυγρῶν for the manuscripts’ ὑγρῶν, ‘moist’.

R1 Presumably, a result of a dittography (ἢ ὑγρὸν ἢ καθυγρὸν from ἢ καθυγρὸν ἢ καθυγρὸν), which perhaps should be read as εἰ καθυγρὸν ἢ χερσαῖον, “whether it is aquatic or terrestrial.”

“Rhetorius” on issues related to the ages and the length of life

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“Rhetorius” on issues related to the ages and the length of life

Latest revision: April 29, 2022

First edition: May 22, 2020

Translator’s introduction

One extant version of “Rhetorius’s” Explanation is a revision that was composed in Constantinople in 884 or 887. It consists of 29 chapters, of which James H. Holden (Rhetorius the Egyptian, Astrological Compendium) translated the second part of ch. 24 as “chapters 99–101”, ch. 25 as “chapter 102”, the first part of ch. 26 in footnote 2 for “chapter 104”, ch. 28a as “chapter [118]”, and chs. 12 and 13 as Appendices IV and V, respectively. Also, chapters 57–83 of Holden’s translation often contain passages or sections that are in fact from this Revision, not from the extant version of Explanation.

The Revision is extant in three primary manuscripts: in B (Pa10, chs. 1–28a on ff. 1–24v) as well as in Z (Pa9, chs. 1.0–28 on ff. 5v–33v) and H (Ve7, chs. A95–A119 on ff. 100–115).

16. On the ages of life (single column)

(1) (He1 says) that for the one that is examining the matters concerning the ages of life, it is necessary to use all the methods of Ptolemy, Valens, and the Egyptians, but in particular, they must also be supplemented with the ruler of the year that leaves off, the (stars) regarding the ruler, the transmissions and acquisitions of this year, the adherences that are formed, and the periods of the stars by degree — as Valens taught in chapter 2 of book VI — as well as with the complete rising times, periods, and returns of the signs and the stars, [and] their mutual returns according to the half, one-third, and two-thirds — as Valens said in chapters 4–6 of book VII; for he tells about the ages of life on the basis of the periods of the stars and the ascensions of the signs with examples. (2) Also, investigate the distribution of the (Lots of) Fortune and Daimon; for if you examine all these consistently and in a logical order, you will not be able to utterly fail in reckoning about the ages of life.

(3) Phnaës the Egyptian2 and Valens in chapter 33 of his book III say that one needs to examine how the domicile-master of the birth is situated concerning its appearance [and] place. (4) If he is pivotal, he allots his complete years, but if he should be under the beams or in declination, he allots his minor years, months, days, or hours. (5) If he should be together with the Lot of Fortune, examine by how many hours he is remote from the pivot, and multiply the number of his complete or minor years, months, days, or hours by twelve, subtracting one-twelfth for each hour, and say that (the native) will live as long time as the remainder is. (6) In this manner, if the domicile-master should happen to be between the Hour-Marker and the Midheaven or the ninth or eighth place, do the releasing of the hours from the Hour-Marker to the domicile-master. (7) However, if the domicile-master should happen to be between the Setting and the fourth or third or second place, do the releasing from the Setting to the domicile-master.

1 Presumably, Ῥητόριος.

2 An unknown author, whose only other testimony is found in “Rhetorius”, Explanation 5.15, where he is mentioned together with Antigonus of Nicaea.

3 The manuscripts write “chapter 5.” In this chapter (3.3.2), Valens specifically mentions a certain “man of old”, who should be, therefore, Phnaës.

“Rhetorius” on the systematic interpretation of nativities

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The following chapter, which is now the only known Hellenistic exposition of how to interpret nativities systematically, is extant in three versions.

Version X

Revision

The Byzantine version

An exposition of instructions on how to interpret births

22. Instructions on how nativities must be interpreted

218. How to examine (nativities)

(1) After you have ascertained the positions of the stars to the degree, the natures of their signs, their bounds according to the Egyptians, their trigons, participations,X1 exaltations and depressions, their decans and the faces of these decans, their individual degrees and bright degrees, their twelfth-parts, their latitudes in reference to the winds and the steps, their obliquities — that is, their distances from the Ecliptic, just as from the Meridian — their appearances, additions or subtractions or stationing, and, according to the degree, the co-risings of the fixed stars that are close to them, with reference to their magnitude, winds, and temperaments, then come to the Hour-Marker and the Midheaven, and the pivots, succedents, and declines to the degree. (2) And when you have already ascertained the seven stars in respect of their places, cast the seven lots that are subjoined in the introduction of the book,X2 and ascertain the appearances of Selene — that is to say, the conjunction or whole moon before birth — her third, seventh, and fortieth days, and her applications and separations by longitude and latitude. 1) After you have ascertained the positions of the stars to the degree, the naturesR1 of their signs, their bounds according to the Egyptians and Ptolemy, their trigons, participations, exaltations and dejections, their decans and the faces of these decans, their individual degrees and bright degrees, their twelfth-parts, the latitudes of their winds and steps, the obliquities, the appearances and stationing, and, according to the degree, the co-risings of the fixed stars that are close to them and their temperaments, then come to the Hour-Marker, the Midheaven, and the pivots of the twelve places to the degree — as you have learned in chapter 15R2 — then to the seven lots and the appearances of Selene — that is, the conjunction or whole moon before birth — her third, seventh, and fortieth days, and her applications and separations by longitude and latitude. (1) After you have set out the Hour-Marker and the remaining places of the chart, fixed the stars in these places — that is, signs — where they are making their journey, and written down their longitudinal positions, you must examine their domiciles, trigons, exaltations, and bounds; that is, who of the stars is on his own throne, exalted, in his bounds or those of a benefic, additive, out of the beams; or the opposite, who of them is in the domicile, exaltation, or trigon of another star, or opposing his own domicile — that is, himself — depressed, and whether he is under the beams and subtractive. (2) Then examine their decans — that is, the faces — participations, individual degrees, bright degrees, twelfth-parts, the latitudes of their winds and the steps, their appearances and stationing, and, according to the degree, the co-risings of the fixed stars that are close to them and their temperaments, the familiarities and antipathies — that is, belonging to the same and the other party — then examine the appearances of Selene — that is, the conjunction or whole moon before birth — her third, seventh, and fortieth days, and her applications and separations by longitude and latitude.
(3) Then, after setting the general fixity of the birth and the pivots, succedents, and declines to the degree, examine the domicile-master of the birth according to the aforementioned methods.X3 (4) Then, after considering and calculating the conception, cast the leading and following trigonal, tetragonal, and hexagonal sides of every star to the degree, note them down separately, and keep them at hand in order that when during the interpretation of the circumambulations of the stars, we are making the adherences, we should not only take the trigonal, tetragonal, and hexagonal sides according to the sign but also to the degree; for they are more forceful, especially in the signs of short and long ascension.X4 (5) After noting down all these said sides, examine the lifetime from the domicile-master of the selected releaser, but when you are making the circumambulations of all the stars, do not forget that the adherences of the stars, the Hour-Marker,X5 the Midheaven, and the lots that occur with the fixed stars have enormous performance in accordance with their temperaments, especially if both of them have the same wind. (2) Then examine the domicile-master of the birth and consider the conception based on the writings of ValensR3 in the manner we shall teach you after these instructions.R4 (3) Consider the trigonal, [tetragonal,] and hexagonal sides to the degree — as you learned them in chapter 16R5 — both the right and left ones. (4) Keep these separately after noting them down in order that when, during the interpretation of the circumambulations of the stars, you are making the adherences, you should not only take the sides according to the sign and place but also to the degree; for they are more forceful, especially in the signs of short and long ascension. (5) Then examine the matters of the lifetime based on the writings of Ptolemy and Valens.R6 (6) And in the circumambulations of the stars, the adherences of the stars, the Hour-Marker, the Midheaven, and the lots occurring with the fixed stars have enormous performance in accordance with their temperaments as long as they have the same latitude. (3) Also, examine the Hour-Marker of the conception as the ancient Egyptians do, the domicile-master of the birth, and the trigonal, tetragonal, and hexagonal sides to the degree, both the right and left ones. (4) Keep all these separately after noting them down in order that when, during the interpretation of the circumambulations of the stars, you are making the adherences, you should not only take the sides according to the sign and place but also to the degree; for they are more forceful, especially in the signs of short and long ascension. (5) For in the circumambulations of the stars, the adherences of the stars, the Hour-Marker, the Midheaven, and the lots occurring with the fixed stars have enormous performance in accordance with their temperaments as long as they have the same latitude.

X1 ‘Participation’ (μετοχή) is a concept rarely encountered in astrological literature. I am aware of three different usages, of which the one probably originating from Antiochus of Athens (Summary of Antiochus’s Introductory Matters 1.16; “Porphyry”, Introduction 26; Hephaestio 1.13; “Rhetorius”, Explanation 5.30) is best known; however, the context suggests that either of the two other versions must be understood here. According to one definition, which is implicitly embedded in the birth chart of Eutocius of Ascalon (dated to 28 October 497, found in “Rhetorius”, Explanation 6.52), the participating star is the out-of-sect triangular lord, while only the in-sect triangular lord is considered as the lord of the trigon. The other version appears in an undatable birth extant in a late second-century or early third-century papyrus (P. Oxy. 4277); here Kronos is the participating star in the Goat-Horned One, the Bull, and the Water-Pourer, Ares in the Lion, and Zeus in the Scorpion, but the logic of this system remains unclear in the absence of its description.

X2 A reference to “Rhetorius”, Explanation 5.47.

X3 Perhaps referring to the original of what is now chapter 16 of the Revision. There the procedure described in Valens 3.3 is recommended.

X4 P omits the signs of short rising.

X5 XP add: “the hour.”

R1 Reading φύσεις with version X and Z2 for φάσεις, ‘appearances,’ of BH and Z1.

R2 It is now chapter 12 of the Revision.

R3 See Anthologies 1.21.

R4 A reference to the following chapter 23 of the Revision.

R5 It is now chapter 14 of the Revision.

R6 Ptolemy, Apotelesmatics 3.11 and most of book III of Valens.

Blockquote

Some more details are disclosed in a letter (CCAG 5.1, 118.18–119.2 and 119.9–13 Cumont) written by the emperor Manuel I Comnenus (born on 28 November 1118, reigned between 8 April 1143 and his death on 24 September 1180):

“When he (Constantine) used this kind of investigation (astrology) with the aid of that very wise Valens, (he was advised) to wait for fourteen years to observe (the phenomena) contributing to the (wished) aim. (…) What is more, that the star of Kronos lying in the second place of the zodiac apparently indicated that the money of the citizens is spent on monks, as he (Kronos) himself also happens to be solitary, in the way we see this occur even until now.”