Chris Brennan, whose scholarship I admire, left an interesting reply to my previous post on whether Lilly correctly understood Ptolemy on triplicities. I thought Chris’ comments deserved a separate post, so here they are:
“I don’t know about this… It is not as clear in the Ashmand translation, but in both Robbins and Schmidt’s versions they seem to say that Mars is the only planet left over at that point once he gets to the water triplicity, and thus it is the primary trigon lord. When Ptolemy mentions Venus and the Moon he calls them “co-rulers” or “joint-rulers” (sunoikiodespotes). He doesn’t use this term elsewhere in the preceeding paragraphs when talking about the other triplicities, so it is kind of unique here in this paragraph. It seems like the term is the functional equivalent of the word that Vettius Valens uses to refer to the third cooperating trigon lord, which he calls a “co-worker” (sunergos) with the two primary trigon lords. If that is true, then it seems like what might be going on here is that Ptolemy is using Mars as the primary lord of the water triplicity for both day and night charts, but then he also incorporates Venus and the Moon as “participating” rulers. The passage is kind of ambiguous though.”
My response went as follows:
“Thanks for your feedback. Unfortunately, I don’t read Greek and have to rely on translations of Greek texts. The preface to the Ashmand translation says it was made from “Proclus’s Greek Paraphrase of Ptolemy’s original text,” which is from the Elzevir edition of 1635 — the very one that Lilly used. The Elzevir edition has the Greek text in one column and the Latin translation by Leo Allatius next to it. I don’t know if Lilly read it in Greek or in Latin, or both. Unfortunately, I don’t have a copy of the 1635 Elzevir text to be able to judge how well Ashmand translated the Latin. I chose to look at the Ashmand translation because it is a rendering in English of the copy of Ptolemy that Lilly was reading.
Your point about Mars being the only planet left over is well taken. Ptolemy’s organization of the material leads up to that idea. He discusses the triplicities in the order: Fire – Earth – Air – Water, as if he is beginning with Aries on the Ascendant and moving clockwise around the wheel. He gives Jupiter and the Sun to fire, the Moon and Venus to earth, and Saturn and Mercury to Air. When he gets to water, he has already used up six of the seven planets and seems to want to give Mars a role because he has thus far been left out. Ptolemy argues that Mars has a right to the water triplicity because it rules Scorpio. Then he adds (Ashmand translation): “BUT as the signs which compose this triplicity are feminine, the Moon by night and Venus by day, through their feminine condition govern it together with Mars.”
I wish I had the Latin text that Lilly read to know whether Ashmand translated it correctly since both Lilly and Ashmand were working with the identical Latin version of Ptolemy. I don’t know which version(s) of Ptolemy Schmidt used for his translation. Robbins cites many versions of Ptolemy that he consulted for his translation. Robins also mentions that the earliest extant text of the Tetrabiblos itself is from the 13th century and of its Paraphrase from the 10th century. As far as I know a copy of the original apparently does not exist. It is entirely possible that Proclus misunderstood Ptolemy or that one or more of the transcribers introduced transcription errors over the centuries (as seems apparent from the various versions of the terms or bounds attributed to Ptolemy).
It also seems to me that Ptolemy was working with a version of the triplicities handed down through Dorotheus, which may have already been modified by the time it reached Ptolemy or which Ptolemy simplified to make it fit better with the scientific viewpoint of his era.
In any case, because both Lilly and Ashmand were reading the same Latin text and Ashmand’s English translation states the the day and night rulers of the water signs are Venus and the Moon respectively, it seemed to me that Mars was regarded as a participating or common ruler and that Lilly ignored the distinction Ptolemy was making about the day and night rulers for the water triplicity (perhaps for the sake of symmetry).
Maybe someday we’ll find an earlier version of Ptolemy that has not been corrupted by transcription errors and the whole matter will be definitely cleared up.
Sorry for such a long-winded answer, Chris. I love your work in Hellenistic astrology and am delighted that you decided to post a comment here.”
My goal in these posts is to think “out loud” about ideas that fascinate or puzzle me, and I welcome feedback that will add clarity or a new perspective to the discussion.