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This webpage reproduces part of the

Claudius Ptolemy

published in the Loeb Classical Library, 1940

The text is in the public domain.

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 p373  Cam.2 p173 Book IV

[1. Introduction.]

The foregoing may be taken as what can be learned by investigation of matters antecedent to the nativity and contemporary with it, together with such of those posterior to the nativity as properly apply to the constitution of the subject by disclosing the general quality of his temperament. Among external accidentals, which should be treated next in order, the discussion of the fortune of both riches and honour comes first; and as material fortune is associated with the properties of the body, so honour belongs to those of the soul.

2. Of Material Fortune.

What the subject's material acquisitions will be is to be gained from the so‑called "Lot of Fortune";​1 174that one alone, however, to discover which we measure from the horoscope the distance from the sun to the moon, in both diurnal and nocturnal nativities, for the reasons which we stated in the  p375 discussion of the length of life. As it is constituted in this way, we shall be obliged therefore to take the lordship of the sign, and observe what is the condition of these planets with regard to power and familiarity, in the way which we specified at the beginning.​2 Further, we must consider the planets in aspect with them, or those of their own or of the opposite sect that overcome them. For when the planets which govern the Lot of Fortune are in power, they make the subjects rich, particularly when they chance to have the proper testimony​3 of the luminaries; thus Saturn brings riches through building, or agriculture, or shipping ventures, Jupiter through fiduciary relationships, guardianships, or priesthoods, Mars through military operations and command, Venus through gifts from friends or women, and Mercury through eloquence and trade. And in a special way, when Saturn is associated with material fortune, if he is in aspect with Jupiter, he is the cause of inheritances, particularly when this comes about upon the upper angles and Jupiter is in a bicorporeal sign or holds the application of the moon. For in that case they are adopted and inherit the possessions of others; and if the planets of the same sect as the ruling planets 175happen themselves to witness to the rulership, they retain their possessions without loss; but if the planets of the opposite sect overcome the governing places or rise after them, they bring  p377 about loss of possessions, and the general time​4 is discovered by means of the approach of the causative planets to the angles and the succedent signs.

3. Of the Fortune of Dignity.

It will be needful to determine the questions of dignity and happiness resulting therefrom from the position of the luminaries and the familiarity to them of their attendant planets.​5 For if both the luminaries are in masculine signs and either both of them, or even one of the two, angular, and particularly if the luminary of the sect​6 is also attended by the five planets, matutine to the sun and vespertine to the moon, the children will be kings. And if the attendant planets are either themselves angular or bear an aspect to the superior angle, the children born will continue to be great, powerful, and world-rulers,​7 and they will be even more fortunate if the  p379 attendant planets are in dexter aspect​8 to the superior angles. But if, while the others are in this position, the sun alone is in a masculine sign, and the moon is in a feminine one, and one of the luminaries is angular, they will be merely generals,​9 with power of life and death. 176If, however, besides this the attendant planets are neither angular nor witnessing​10 to the angles, they will be merely great and will enjoy partial dignities, those which involve the wearing of chaplets,​11 or those of superintendence​12 or of military command,​13 and not those of first rank. But if the luminaries are not angular, and most of the attendant planets are either angular or in aspect with the angles, they will not attain the more conspicuous honours but rather civil leadership and moderate advancement in their careers. If, however, the attendant planets are not associated with the angles, they are rendered obscure in their actions and without preferment, and they are entirely humble and miserable in their fortunes when neither of the luminaries is angular, or in a masculine sign, or attended by the beneficent planets. The general outline, then, of the investigation before us involves a gradation of dignities of this sort. Since there are very many  p381 conditions intermediate between these grades, one must estimate them from the specific qualities of the luminaries themselves, and the particular variations in the manner in which they are attended, and the government of the attendance. For if their attendance consists of planets of the same sect, 177or of the beneficent planets, greater independence and security will attend the dignities; but if it involves the opposite sect, or the maleficent planets, there will be dependency and less security. The kind of future honour is to be divined from the quality of the attending planets; for if Saturn governs the attendance, he brings about power based on wealth and the amassing of riches, but Jupiter or Venus that which rests upon favours, gifts, honours, and magnanimity; Mars brings power founded on generalships, victories, and the fears of subordinates, and Mercury that which depends upon intelligence, education, and the care and management of affairs.

4. Of the Quality of Action.

The lord of action is apprehended by two methods, from the sun and from the culminating sign. For it will be needful to look both for the planet that has made its morning appearance closest to the sun, and that which is at mid‑heaven, particularly when it occupies the application of the moon; and if the same star occupies both the aforesaid positions, this alone must be employed, and similarly if none  p383 occupies one of these places, we must use only the one which occupies the other of the places. And if one planet has made the nearest morning appearance and another is associated with the mid‑heaven, and with the moon, we must employ them both, 178giving preference to the one which by reason of its strength has the greater number of claims to domination according to the scheme which we have already set forth.​14 But if not one is found which either has made an appearance​15 or is at mid‑heaven, we must take the lord of the latter region, with reference however to the occasional pursuits of the subject, for persons with such genitures are for the most part inactive.

Thus, then, we shall determine the planet that governs action. The quality of the action, however, is to be discerned from the character of the three planets, Mars, Venus, and Mercury, and from that of the signs through which they happen appear to be passing. For if Mercury governs action, to speak generally, he makes his subjects scribes, men of business, calculators, teachers, merchants, bankers, soothsayers, astrologers, sacrificers, and in general those who perform their functions by means of documents, interpretation, and giving and taking. And if Saturn testifies to him, they will be managers of the property of others, interpreters of dreams, or frequenters of temples for the purpose of prophecies and inspiration. If it is Jupiter that witnesses, they will be law-makers,  p385 orators, sophists, who enjoy familiarity with great persons.

If Venus rules action, she makes her subjects persons whose activities lie among the perfumes of flowers or of unguents, in wine, colours, dyes, 179spices, or adornments, as, for example, sellers of unguents, weavers of chaplets, innkeepers, wine-merchants, druggists, weavers, dealers in spices, painters, dyers, sellers of clothing. And if Saturn testifies to her, she makes them dealers in goods used for pleasure or adornment, sorcerers, poisoners, panders, and those who make their living from similar occupations. If Jupiter testifies, they will be athletes, wearers of the wreath, persons deemed worthy of honours, and men who derive advancement from women.

Mars, in aspect with the sun, makes his subjects those who use fire in their crafts, such as cooks, moulders, cauterizers, smiths, workers in mines; if he is not with the sun, those who work with iron, such as shipbuilders, carpenters, farmers, quarrymen, stone-dressers, jewellers, splitters of wood, and their subordinate workers. If Saturn testifies to him, he produces seamen, drawers of water, tunnelers, painters, gamekeepers,​16 cooks, embalmers.​17 If Jupiter testifies, he produces soldiers,  p387 servants, publicans, innkeepers, ferrymen, assistants at sacrifice.

Again, when two planets are found to rule action, if Mercury and Venus take the rulership, they bring about action expressed by the arts of the Muses, musical instruments, melodies, or poems, and rhythm, particularly when they have exchanged places. 180For they produce workers in the theatre, actors, dealers in slaves, makers of musical instruments, members of the chorus, makers of strings, painters, dancers, weavers, and wax-moulders. and again, if Saturn testifies to them, he produces those in the aforesaid callings, as well as dealers in feminine finery. If Jupiter testifies, he produces lawyers, supervisors of counting houses,​18 public officers, teachers of children, leaders of the populace.19

If Mercury and Mars together assume lordship of action, they produce sculptors, armourers, makers of sacred monuments, modellers, wrestlers, physicians, surgeons, accusers, adulterers, evil-doers, forgers. If Saturn testifies to them, they produce murderers, sneak-thieves, burglars, pirates, cattle-thieves, villains. If Jupiter testifies, they produce men-at‑arms, duellists, energetic, clever persons,  p389 busybodies, who meddle in others' affairs and thereby gain their living.

But if Venus and Mars together dominate action, they produce dyers, perfumers, workers in tin, lead, gold, and silver, farmers, dancers in armour, druggists, physicians who employ drugs in their treatments. If Saturn testifies to them, they produce attendants of sacred animals, those who bury men, mourners, pipers at funerals, fanatics, 181who resort to wherever there are mysteries, laments, and bloody rites. But if Jupiter testifies, frequenters of temples, interpreters of omens, bearers of the sacred instruments, supervisors of women, interpreters of marriages​20 and matches, making their living by such occupations, and at the same time devoted to pleasure, and reckless.

Likewise the specific natures of the signs in which are the rulers of action contribute to the variety of the action. For anthropomorphic signs​21 are of some assistance to all scientific pursuits or those useful to man; the quadrupedal​22 assist in those that concern mines, commerce, building, and carpentry; the solstitial and equinoctial,​23 those that are interpretative, involve barter, or concern measuring,  p391 agriculture, and religion; the terrestrial​24 and aquatic,​25 activities in or with liquids, or those that are botanical, or concern shipbuilding, and furthermore burial, or pickling, or salting.26

In a special way, again, if the moon holds the place of action, and is moving away from conjunction, together with Mercury, in Taurus, Capricornus, and Cancer, she produces soothsayers, makers of sacrifices, and adepts in lekanomancy;​27 in Sagittarius and Pisces necromancers and those who can arouse daemons; in Virgo and Scorpio magicians, astrologers, prophets, 182those who have second sight; in Libra, Aries, and Leo persons inspired by the gods, interpreters of dreams, and exorcists.

So, then, the particular species of action will have to be conjectured by such means, through combinations; its amplitude must be discovered from the power of the dominating planets. For when they are rising or angular the actions which they cause are independent, but if they are setting or declining from the angles, subordinate; when beneficent planets overcome them, great, glorious, profitable, unerring, and gracious; but if maleficent planets overcome them, mean, inglorious, profitless, and fallible. With Saturn in opposition, they bring  p393 cold and mixtures of colours;​28 with Mars, temerity and notoriety; with both together, utter ruin of action. In general the period of increase or diminution, again, is calculated by means of the position, from time to time, of the planets responsible for the effect relative to the eastern and western angles.29

The Editor's Notes:

1 See III.10, pp275‑77. The authenticity of the following clause (to "nativities") is doubtful, since it appears to refer to the sentence in III.10 (p277, n1) which is clearly an interpolation.

2 Cf. II.7 (pp169‑71), and III.2 (p233).

3 Cf. p379, n3.

4 When the inheritance falls due; Bouché-Leclercq, p437. Ashmand, p173, would have the expression refer to the duration of the wealth.

5 "Attendance" is described by Porphyry, Introduction, pp190‑191, ed. Wolf, whom Hephaestion I.17, pp74‑75, ed. Engelbrecht, follows. The second of the three varieties of attendance mentioned applies to the luminaries. If one of these is at the horoscope or mid‑heaven, whether or not it is in its own house, it will have as attendant any planet of its own sect which projects its ray upon the luminary, those of the sun's (diurnal) sect in the direction of the diurnal movement of the heavens, those of the moon's sect in the other direction.

6 The sect of the geniture, diurnal or nocturnal.

7 Ptolemy doubtless meant Roman emperors, but the epithet was used of kings by the astrologers before it appeared in the inscriptions of the emperors (Cumont, L'Égypte des astrologues, p27).

8 Dexter, or on the right, is in the direction of the diurnal movement of the heavens.

9 Certainly officers of very high rank in the imperial service are meant. Cumont, op. cit., pp39‑40, shows that ἡγεμών (Lat. dux) was commonly so understood in Egypt, and sometimes it is equivalent to iudex, "judge" (pp45‑46).

10 In aspect.

11 Connected with priestly dignities; cf. Cumont, op. cit., p117.

12 Probably referring to prominent positions at court or in the civil service.

13 The word στρατοπεδάρχης primarily means "commander of a camp," as, in Latin, praefectus castrorum, but came to be used generally to mean "commander of troops"; cf. Cumont, op. cit., pp40‑41.

14 In III.2 (p233).

15 Certain MSS. say "a morning appearance."

16 The Egyptian kings and Roman emperors kept exotic animals and had servants to look after them; cf. Cumont, op. cit., pp63‑64.

17 More accurately, those who opened the corpses for the purpose of embalming them; cf. Cumont, op. cit., pp138 ff.

18 Probably the public fiscal offices are meant; Cumont, p47, n1.

19 Cf. Cumont, p71, n3, who remarks on the vagueness of astrological references to minor civil offices.

20 Perhaps, "matrimonial agents"; cf. Cumont, p177, n3.

21 Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius (partly), Libra. This and the following notes depend upon Hephaestion's characterizations.

22 Leo, Sagittarius.

23 Cancer, Capricorn, Aries, Libra.

24 Aries, Taurus, Scorpio, Sagittarius.

25 Pisces; Cancer and Capricorn are amphibious.

26 Preserved fish were an important article of commerce in Egypt; Cumont, p112. ταριχευτής (cf. ταριχείας in the text) means also one who embalms corpses; Cumont, p139.

27 Divination by the inspection of liquids in vessels.

28 The anonymous commentator (p152, ed. Wolf) explains: τουτέστιν ἀσχημοσύνας, "that is, deformities." Proclus paraphrases, "Saturn brings opposition in cold and in the mixtures of colours."

29 Cf. the directions for computation of the time involved which were given at the end of IV.2 (p377).

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