"The Great Introduction" By Abu Ma'shar

Bunraku

Well-known member
...........

He argues that a planet's malefic/benefic nature doesn't come from their qualities, as in have inherent natures like in ptolemy's scheme, but its conditions of being benefic or malefic comes from their interactions of the four elements at that specific time of the universe.

People who have agreeable movements [of the planets] and conditions, the planet is benefic. And a malefic if not agreeable.


If I'm interpreting it correctly :lol:
These chapters are starting to get complex with their theories
 
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Bunraku

Well-known member
He really wants to emphasize not to get hung up on the classification of benefic/malefic of the planets because they change constantly depending on the chart. He did write reasons based on weather of Mars/Saturn being malevolent, but also emphasized that these change.

Each one of the benefics and malefics on its own indicates life, survival, and acquisition of wealth and real estate in some conditions, but at another
time both indicate death, loss of wealth, decline in value and loss. They both
may come to have the indication of harm at one time, just as they both may indicate benefit at another, through the difference of their conditions.
p 405. The Great Introduction to Astrology by Abū Maʿsar. Yamamoto and Burnett
 

Bunraku

Well-known member
Okay so I finished it. It’s just a wordier version of ITA. It has a lot of underlying philosophy and justifications of astrology. It’s valuable if you want a more coherent view of astrology based on their own reasoning. It also shows the discussion of techniques and philosophy back then, and agrees or disagrees with astrologers in that sense. It’s very interesting. Y’all should read it if you have the time.

Not recommended if you just want to see techniques concepts and terms.
 
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JUPITERASC

Well-known member
Ben plans to publish his translation of
the Great Introduction by Abu Ma'shar
sometime in the next few months :smile:
his website to receive a notification when that is released:
https://bendykes.com

Yes but I want you personally to notify me :love:


.
 

DC80

Well-known member
He discusses the natures.
There are three properties of them: 1) They are contrary to each other (hot/dry opposite to wet/cold) 2) They change into each other 3) They increase or decrease (some earth is drier than others, or some water is colder than others, etc.) and these four natures recieve increase or decrease

On the properties of forms 1) They are not contrary to each other 2) They do not change into each other 3) They do not increase or decrease

Natures inhabit forms and their effects. Forms are natured. Nature freely expresses its own properties in forms, but not the other way around.

______
Opinions?
I wasn't expecting it to be this Aristotelian. He frequency cites Aristotle too.

Why on Earth not? He's quoting Ptolemy who had an Aristotle fetish. How could it not be Aristotelian?

There are no stars that are hot/dry or wet/cold. That's Aristotle which means it's Ptolemy. The stars each have one quality. They are either hot, warm or cold. That's it. Same with signs. They are hot, warm, cold, wet, moist or dry but that's it.

Ptolemy is the David Icke of astrology. The Arabs and Persians are the Alex Jones' of astrology.

Thanks to modern technology it may only take a century or two to get astrology back on the right track.

A part that I was curious about was on the bit on doctors, stating some doctors believe that medicine is a real science and astrology isn't.
Medicine can never be science.

3 people each with bacterial pneumonia. Put them on a regimen of 500 mg of anti-biotics. One gets better in a few days, one languishes for a month and then gets better and the other dies. That is not science because in science the outcome is known and predictable. If medicine were science all 3 of them would have lived.
He recommends the dr. to read ancient astrological works to gain a larger view on medicine,

Funny you should mention that. Someone was saying they couldn't figure out something for a pharmaceutical and another suggested they read Galen and they did and here Galen describes the method he used and they were able to adapt it to modern manufacturing techniques to get it to work.

I don't really have any strong opinions on it. We've all seen those articles saying astrology is false, or have had personal experience with people disapproving of it.

Astrology has not been proven false. At most the studies disprove Sunshine astrology and modern astrology but not traditional astrology. Reading the methodology of the study is absolutely essential.

Think about the Gangling guy (I can never remember his name). He programs a computer to look at aspects. Is that how we do astrology? Well, that's what 90% of the people do it but that's not how astrologers do it so he says there's no correlation. Some astrologers sit him down and explain how it's done. What does the Gangling guy do? He does it the way he wants to do it so he programs the computer to look at aspects and signs. Now there's a very weak correlation. So some astrologers sit him down again and say, look, why you just focus on one facet of astrology like career/profession and this is how we do it. What does the Gangly guy do? He does it the way he wants to do it but there ends up being a mildly strong correlation.

Then you have the other studies, like the one published in Nature in 1985. The methodology is heavily flawed. The participants are a very narrow age group because they're all Berkeley grads and undergrads and they used the CPI (California Personality Inventory) which is nothing like the MMPI (which they couldn't use for medical ethical reasons since it's primarily used to diagnose mental illness). The main difference is the MMPI is multiple response and each question is asked 4 different times in slightly different ways and then compared against a baseline to make sure people are being honest. The CPI is 480 true/false questions about how people see themselves.

So the astrologers are supposed to read the chart and not predict how people are. They're supposed to predict how the natives see themselves. You can see how that doesn't work.
 

DC80

Well-known member
He also mentions the scheme of the universe which came from greek philosophy (fire, air, water, earth) and their natural places.

That's Aristotle which is wrong. That's Aries-Gemini-Cancer-Taurus which is not how the signs are.

The Hermetic/Stoic view is fire, earth, air water which is Aries-Taurus-Gemini-Cancer because that's how it actually works.

Ptolemy is the David Icke of astrology. Ptolemy's dishonest. He's quoting Nechepso and Petrosiris but he doesn't tell you that. Most everyone else is honest enough to tell you who they're quoting. Even the Persians and Arabs were pretty honest about it. But not Ptolemy.

So when you see Mars is hot and dry and Saturn is cold and dry that's David Icke talking. Ptolemy has to change them because it's the only way he can force-fit it into the Aristotelian view.

And then he had to change the triplicities, too, which the Arabs and Persians adopted and Morinus calls them out on it. Unfortunately, Morinus and I think Schoener tried to fix it and made it worse so when you get to the Classical astrologers they don't understand it and ignore it which is why Modern astrology ignores triplicity.

And so Ptolemy had to mess up the terms to get them to fit his bizarre triplicity scheme which he messed up when he made a mess of the natures of the stars and signs.

All of this book so far is literally just a transmission and expansion of Greek philosophy.

No, mostly Ptolemy, as you have proven.

He argues that a planet's malefic/benefic nature doesn't come from their qualities, as in have inherent natures like in ptolemy's scheme, but its conditions of being benefic or malefic comes from their interactions of the four elements at that specific time of the universe

Now, that's the Greeks talking. That's the Stoic concept of Limitless which you can read about in Philebus by Plato (who was a Stoic). Sadly, most people mistranslate the Greek word enantioma as "detriment" when it actually means "contrariety." Once you understand the concept of Limitless then you can see how the Arabs and Persians who are the Alex Jones' of astrology conflated these concepts because they didn't understand them:

1) a star opposing a place
2) a star opposing a sign including its sign of rulership or elevation (which is incorrectly translated as "exaltation")
3) a star opposing a star in its sign/elevation

Now you understand why Sun in Aquarius/Libra, Mars in Cancer/Libra, Moon in Scorpio/Capricorn are not harmful.

But, Sun in Aquarius in opposition to a star in Leo? That' will not go well.

Saturn is the perfect example. He is the Master of Awakening or the Master of Illusion and to know which hat he's wearing find him in the chart. Saturn is a diurnal star and when diurnally placed in a diurnal sign he does good things.

When Saturn is nocturnally placed and worse in a nocturnal sign he is the Master of Illusion creating want, necessity and/or fear through ignorance. You know, darkness? Being in the dark? Hence the Necessary Places is where people always fail and/or are disappointed and/or are self-imprisoned through ignorance because they believe they want this thing, or need this thing or fear this thing.
 

DC80

Well-known member
This is heavily involved with predictions. Astrology today isn't that interested in predictions and heavily leans towards personality readings and the person's thoughts and emotions.

Like I said, you can thank Ptolemy and the Medieval, Arab and Persian astrologers for destroying astrology.

When Robert Hand wrote Planets in Transit back in 1976 he used natal chart delineations of aspects on the belief that transiting/directed/progressed aspects have the same meaning.

Over time, he and many other prominent respected astrologers noticed most transiting aspects do nothing and when something good should have happened, something bad happened and when something bad should have happened it turned out remarkably well.

That led him to believe that all the procedures and methods for transits was wrong and he was right about that.

That's why he joined forces with Robert Zoller and Robert Schmidt to tear apart the Greek texts to find out what's really going on.

Something about these texts that people don't understand. Nearly all of the texts from antiquity were in the hands of private collectors. Some where in the hands of private groups like churches, museums or private libraries (like a Masonic library). The universities had to pay good money to purchase those texts.

All the texts were in poor to bad condition so they had to be restored which requires using x-rays and ultraviolet light (they weren't using Sharpies so the ink wasn't indelible) and it means paying to get access to other manuscripts in order to do a comparative analysis where the text is missing or corrupted. That ain't free. It's costly and time-consuming. And while one of your professors is analyzing/translating the texts that means you incur an additional expense to hire someone to teach their classes.

At the end of the day, the universities want a return on their investment plus a profit and the professors doing the work want to profit off of it so these texts are closely guarded and no one has access to them.

Once Neugebauer and Pingree are getting on in years the universities start allowing "outsiders" access to the texts which is how Zoller, Schmidt and Hand got hold of them. Neugebauer sucks because he didn't believe in astrology and didn't understand the concepts any more than the Medieval, Arab or Persian astrologers did so his translations are not very good. Pingree was open to astrology, had a better understanding of the concepts and unlike Neugebauer would actually contact astrologers to explain things to him so's he could understand them.

Is there any value in reading Bonatti or anything by the Arabs and Persians? Their natal/mundane delineations are mostly right. Mostly.

But their procedures and methods? Totally messed up.

They messed up the meanings of the signs, stars, the places, the rank of the places, primary methods, secondary methods (solar returns and progressions), transits, Lots, triplicities and a lot more especially with their silly "accidental dignity/debility" and their almutens and scoring systems which is why they don't work and people get frustrated and give up.

Basically, astrology is 2,000 years of the Telephone Game and here's a real-world example where "together we will make a world of difference" morphs into "we're setting a record." They only way to get at the truth is to go back to the source.

The Greeks did use planetary periods but the Arabs and Persians didn't understand them and worse, the Persians borrowed the system from Jyotish and we know they did because it includes the nodes. In Hellenistic, the nodes are only important in electional/horary. You wouldn't want to built or launch a space shuttle when Moon is conjunct/square the nodes within 6°. And this Firdaria the Persians borrowed gets adopted by the Arabs except it doesn't work because it's like taking a part from a diesel engine and sticking it on a gasoline engine and then whining that it doesn't work. Most the Renaissance astrologers ignored it except for Schoener who tried to fix it but then the Classical astrologers didn't understand it so they (thankfully) ignored it but that's why Modern astrology is what it is.

I don't fault people for not knowing something that couldn't have been known but the info's been out there for quite a while now and there's no excuse not to know.
 

waybread

Staff member
Bunraku, thanks for mentioning Benjamin Dykes, who deserves a lot of credit for translating so many works from traditional astrology.

DC80, at this point I am curious to learn who you think the real, true, and only pure ancient astrologers actually were.

It's not like enough is known about Nechepso and Petosiris (probably pseudonyms.) Nobody knows if Hipparchus practiced astrology, or who originated horoscopic astrology. The other Hellenists were derivative. The Babylonians didn't have the mathematics, or the focus on individual lives.

Which medieval astrologers, if any, got it right?

Elsewhere I've weighed in more positively on Ptolemy, to whom we owe a great deal. Had his works not been so well received and eventually passed on to Catholic Europe, the church would not have promoted the teaching of astrology in universities as part of the quadrivium. They eventually ditched it as counter the First Commandment and a questionable track record, but this established a foundation upon which others could build.

Otto Neugebauer of Brown University and his associates were not required to "believe in astrology" in order to determine that extant Hellenistic and Demotic horoscopes actually matched up with real planetary locations for given dates. This established a credibility for ancient astrology in a way no one else had done. No professor of Neugebauer's time could admit to "believing in astrology." But he made a major contribution, nonetheless. [But see Joanne Conman's critique, Ancient Egyptian Sky Lore.]

Modern astrology began with a very different project, which was more directed to self improvement. Hermeticism re-emerged with its more spiritual branch.

My feeling is that it's great to debate the history of astrology. But I look for evidence and reason, not simple schoolyard name-calling.
 

JUPITERASC

Well-known member
Why on Earth not? He's quoting Ptolemy who had an Aristotle fetish. How could it not be Aristotelian?
There are no stars that are hot/dry or wet/cold. That's Aristotle which means it's Ptolemy. The stars each have one quality. They are either hot, warm or cold. That's it. Same with signs. They are hot, warm, cold, wet, moist or dry but that's it.
Ptolemy is the David Icke of astrology. The Arabs and Persians are the Alex Jones' of astrology.
Thanks to modern technology it may only take a century or two to get astrology back on the right track.
Indeed
Medicine can never be science.
3 people each with bacterial pneumonia. Put them on a regimen of 500 mg of anti-biotics. One gets better in a few days, one languishes for a month and then gets better and the other dies. That is not science because in science the outcome is known and predictable. If medicine were science all 3 of them would have lived.

good point and well made :)

Funny you should mention that. Someone was saying they couldn't figure out something for a pharmaceutical and another suggested they read Galen and they did and here Galen describes the method he used and they were able to adapt it to modern manufacturing techniques to get it to work. Astrology has not been proven false. At most the studies disprove Sunshine astrology and modern astrology but not traditional astrology. Reading the methodology of the study is absolutely essential.
certainly
Think about the Gangling guy (I can never remember his name). He programs a computer to look at aspects. Is that how we do astrology? Well, that's what 90% of the people do it but that's not how astrologers do it so he says there's no correlation. Some astrologers sit him down and explain how it's done. What does the Gangling guy do? He does it the way he wants to do it so he programs the computer to look at aspects and signs. Now there's a very weak correlation. So some astrologers sit him down again and say, look, why you just focus on one facet of astrology like career/profession and this is how we do it. What does the Gangly guy do? He does it the way he wants to do it but there ends up being a mildly strong correlation.

Then you have the other studies, like the one published in Nature in 1985. The methodology is heavily flawed. The participants are a very narrow age group because they're all Berkeley grads and undergrads and they used the CPI (California Personality Inventory) which is nothing like the MMPI (which they couldn't use for medical ethical reasons since it's primarily used to diagnose mental illness). The main difference is the MMPI is multiple response and each question is asked 4 different times in slightly different ways and then compared against a baseline to make sure people are being honest. The CPI is 480 true/false questions about how people see themselves.
Interesting
So the astrologers are supposed to read the chart and not predict how people are. They're supposed to predict how the natives see themselves. You can see how that doesn't work.
Quite
.
 

FraterAC

Well-known member
That is not science because in science the outcome is known and predictable.
Science is principally a method, a body of knowledge that has been tested, and that is always being added to. Not all outcomes in science are known beforehand. That's why there are experiments.
the studies disprove Sunshine astrology and modern astrology
I assume Sunshine astrology refers to Sun Sign astrology, which I suppose is OK as far as it goes, which definitely isn't very far.

I do not know what is meant by Modern astrology. Alan Leo, Max Heindel and the 19th and 20th Century Theosophists? Uranian astrology and Cosmobiology? Western Siderealism? Hermetic astrology (CoL)? Humanistic astrology? Evolutionary astrology? Harmonic astrology? The Gauquelin studies (is that the name the writer was looking for, above?)? Vibrational astrology? Esoteric astrology (where would one have to be to disprove that to anyone's satisfaction?)?

Some modern Traditionalists use Modern astrology to mean all that stuff I don't do.
Modern astrology
is obviously not all one thing.
 

FraterAC

Well-known member
Moderators:
In my posting above
I am NOT arguing the validity of one school or branch of astrology over another (although one might read that as subtext). I am just responding to the post quoted in my posting. I am making a couple of very specific points -- only.
Please do not delete my comment above on the assumption I am reviving those tired, partisan, short-sighted and needlessly acrimonious debates.
I am not!
 

waybread

Staff member
No worries, Frater. It's OK to attack ideas. Just not the Forum member personally.

However, a return to the OP topic would be beneficial.
 

JUPITERASC

Well-known member
Like I said, you can thank Ptolemy and the Medieval, Arab and Persian astrologers for destroying astrology. When Robert Hand wrote Planets in Transit back in 1976 he used natal chart delineations of aspects on the belief that transiting/directed/progressed aspects have the same meaning.
Robert Hand also sold the rights
originally wrote it as intended for use by a computer programme
- has stated it's been altered & he no longer recognizes the content :)


Rumen Kolev: Why so many

Modern Translations of Ancient Astrological Texts

are so wrong.


Over time, he and many other prominent respected astrologers noticed most transiting aspects do nothing and when something good should have happened, something bad happened and when something bad should have happened it turned out remarkably well. That led him to believe that all the procedures and methods for transits was wrong and he was right about that. That's why he joined forces with Robert Zoller and Robert Schmidt to tear apart the Greek texts to find out what's really going on.

Something about these texts that people don't understand. Nearly all of the texts from antiquity were in the hands of private collectors. Some where in the hands of private groups like churches, museums or private libraries (like a Masonic library). The universities had to pay good money to purchase those texts. All the texts were in poor to bad condition so they had to be restored which requires using x-rays and ultraviolet light (they weren't using Sharpies so the ink wasn't indelible) and it means paying to get access to other manuscripts in order to do a comparative analysis where the text is missing or corrupted. That ain't free. It's costly and time-consuming.
Exactly
And while one of your professors is analyzing/translating the texts that means you incur an additional expense to hire someone to teach their classes. At the end of the day, the universities want a return on their investment plus a profit and the professors doing the work want to profit off of it so these texts are closely guarded and no one has access to them.
good point

Once Neugebauer and Pingree are getting on in years the universities start allowing "outsiders" access to the texts which is how Zoller, Schmidt and Hand got hold of them. Neugebauer sucks because he didn't believe in astrology and didn't understand the concepts any more than the Medieval, Arab or Persian astrologers did so his translations are not very good. Pingree was open to astrology, had a better understanding of the concepts and unlike Neugebauer would actually contact astrologers to explain things to him so's he could understand them.
Interesting information - thankyou

.
 
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waybread

Staff member
Just some fact-checking and in-fill here, in terms of how something like Dykes's translations of Abu Ma'shar come down to us.

There are all kinds of problems in dealing with historical manuscripts, especially where the state of preservation is poor. There are problems of slippage with hand-copying and translation. Sometimes the editor-copyist will insert his own thoughts as a gloss, yet pass them off as his source's own words.

There are few extant texts from Antiquity. Generally even the oldest documents are medieval copies and translations.

Historians and philologists have been dealing with this problem for centuries. They distinguish two main types of analysis, called "criticism." This doesn't mean fault-finding, just applying a critical eye to a text. Primary criticism is about determining a document's authenticity. Is it a forgery? Are there anachronisms, like a type of paper being produced only long after the author's lifetime. Secondary criticism is about determining a document's veracity. For example, if the author claims to have witnessed a specific event, is there external evidence for him being on the scene when he said he was? Scholars who work in the field of publishing old documents will often produce critical editions, where they discuss the texts they examined and conclusions drawn from them, often in voluminous footnotes. Then these editions are often sent out for critical peer review by the publisher prior to publication; and subject to scrutiny in book reviews published in academic journals.

Sometimes translator-editors short-circuit this process through self-publishing or a vanity press. This could mean one of several things: a commercial publisher didn't think they could sell enough copies to justify the publication expense, the translator-editor didn't want the hassle of dealing with a commercial publisher, or the work might have a good market but failed to meet basic scholarship standards.

I think Benjamin Dykes is entirely legitimate, and has done a real service to the history of astrology, but he does seem to have created his own press to publish much of his work.

It is also worth noting that some European university and church libraries date from the Middle Ages. The Bodleian Libraries at Oxford University date from the 15th century. They've been collecting manuscripts for a long time.

In the past, scholars traveled to document repositories to compile critical editions. Generally summers have been the time for research involving travel. Often scholars got grants and fellowships for their research, releasing funds for sessional lecturers. To minimize document handling (which deteriorates old manuscripts) some manuscripts were copied onto microfilm and microfiche earlier in the 20th century, some of which circulated through inter-library loans. Then today we are seeing more manuscripts made public, on-line.

Different universities an non-public libraries have different policies about allowing access to their collections. Generally there's no problem in getting a special pass if you explain your legitimate interest.

Manuscript curators have certainly benefited from modern technologies, but the processes described above are centuries old.

Oh, and nobody "sucks" for not believing in astrology. There's enough pop-schlock astrology going around to discourage any sensible person. Otto Neugebauer (1899-1990) of Brown University and his associates deserve credit and thanks for their research on extant Hellenistic and Demotic horoscopes.
 

FraterAC

Well-known member
Having struggled to translate scraps from Masha Allah in the past (and that was in Latin) I can appreciate the work Benjamin Dykes and others do.
I was just fooling around with it, but without a pony I found it well nigh impossible.
As far as Greek (which I also took in college) and Arabic go, forget it.
 

waybread

Staff member
Here is a detailed article about Abu Ma'shar's writings in the Encyclopedia Iranica, apparently written by David Pingree.

Pingree was a historian of mathematics and science, who became an associate of Otto Neugebauer at Brown University.

One thing this article notes is how much early medieval astrology wasn't about reading horoscopes for people. A lot of it was magical, religious, and cosmological.

If we restrict our view to only what is useful in horoscope reading today, we miss an awful lot of the diversity and richness in what these long-ago astrologers actually thought was part of their vocation.

BTW, I looked for the Yamamoto and Burnett translation on amazon. It's available in hard cover: for a princely sum.
 
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