Bodily Form and Temperament - from Tetrabiblos by Claudius Ptolemy
Now that the procedure in the matter of the length of life has been explained, we Break about the form and character of the body, beginning the detailed discussion in the proper order, inasmuch as naturally, too, the bodily parts are formed prior to the soul; for the body, because it is more material, carries almost from birth the outward appearances of its idiosyncrasies, while the soul shows forth the characters conferred upon it by the first cause only afterwards and little by little, and external accidental qualities come about still later in time.
We must, then, in general observe the eastern horizon and the planets that are upon it or assume its rulership in the way already explained; and in particular also the moon as well; for it is through the formative power of these two places and of their rulers and through the mixture of the two kinds, and furthermore through the forms of the fixed stars that are rising at the same time, that the conformation of the body is ascertained; the ruling planets have most power in this matter and the special characters of their places aid them.
The detailed account, then, as one might report it in simple terms, is this: First, among the planets, Saturn, if he is in the orient, makes his subjects in appearance dark-skinned, robust, black-haired, curly-haired, hairy-chested, with eyes of moderate size, of middling stature, and in temperament having an excess of the moist and cold. If Saturn is setting, in appearance he makes them dark, slender, small, straight-haired, with little hair on the body, rather graceful, and black-eyed; in temperament, sharing most in the cold and dry.
Jupiter, as the ruler of the aforesaid regions, when he is rising, makes his subjects in appearance light of skin, but in such a way as to have a good colour, with moderately curling hair and large eyes, tall, and commanding respect; in temperament they exceed in the hot and the moist. When Jupiter is setting, he makes his subjects light, to be sure, but not as befare, in such a way as to give them a good colour, and with lank hair or even bald in front and on the crown, and of average stature; in temperament they have an excess of the moist.
Similarly, Mars, when rising, makes his subjects in appearance red and white of complexion, tall and robust, gray-eyed, with thick hair, somewhat curly, and in temperament showing an excess of the warm and dry. When he is setting, he makes them in appearance simply ruddy, of middle height, with small eyes, not much hair on the body, and straight yellow hair; their temperament exceeds in the dry.
Venus has effects similar to Jupiter's, but is apt to make her subjects more shapely, graceful, womanish, effeminate in figure, plump, and luxurious. On her own proper account she makes the eyes bright as well as beautiful.
Mercury, in the orient, makes his subjects in appearance sallow, of moderate height, graceful, with small eyes and moderately curling hair; in temperament, showing an excess of the warm. In the occident he makes them, in appearance, of light but not of good colouring, with straight hair and olive complexion, lean and spare, with glancing, brilliant eyes, and somewhat ruddy; in temperament they exceed in the dry.
The luminaries assist each of these when they bear an aspect to them, the sun tending to a more impressive and robust effect, and the moon, especially when she is separating from the planets, in general tending toward better proportion and greater slenderness, and toward a more moist temperament; but in particular cases her effect is proportioned to the special quality of her illumination, in accordance with the system of internixture explained in the beginning of the treatise.
Again, generally, when the planets are morning stars and make an appearance, they make the body large; at their first station, powerful and muscular; when they are moving forward, not well-proportioned; at their second station, rather weak; and at setting, entirely without repute but able to bear hardship and oppression.
Likewise their places, as we have said, take an important part in the formation of the bodily characters and temperaments. In general terms, once more, the quadrant from the spring equinox to the summer solstice makes the subjects well-favoured in complexion, stature, robustness, and eyes., and exceeding in the moist and warm. The quadrant from the summer solstice to the autumn equinox produces individuals with moderately good complexion and moderate height, robust, with large eyes and thick and curly hair, exceeding in the warm and dry. The quadrant from the autumn equinox to the winter solstice makes them sallow, spare, slender, sickly, with moderately curling hair and good eyes, exceeding in the dry and cold. The quadrant from the winter solstice to the spring equinox produces individuals of dark complexion, moderate height, straight hair, with little hair on their bodies, somewhat graceful, and exceeding in the cold and moist.
In particular, the constellations both within and outside of the zodiac which are of human shape produce bodies which are harmonious of movement and well-proportioned; those however which are of other than human shape modify the bodily proportions to correspond to their own peculiarities, and after a fashion make the corresponding parts like their own, larger and smaller, or stronger and weaker, or more and less gracefull. For example, Leo, Virgo, and Sagittarius make them larger; others, as Pisces, Cancer, and Capricorn, smaller. And again, as in the case of Aries, Taurus, and Leo, the upper and fore parts make them more robust and the lower and hind parts weaker. Conversely the fore parts of Sagittarius, Scorpio, and Gemini cause slenderness and the hind parts robustness. Similarly too Virgo, Libra, and Sagittarius tend to make them wellproportioned and graceful, while Scorpio, Pisces, and Taurus bring about awkwardness and disproportion. So it is with the rest, and it is fitting that we should observe and combine all these things and make a conjecture as to the character which results from the mixture, with regard both to the form and to the temperament of the body.