Of the division of times

Being Ptolemy reputed even between the flags of the revival of traditional astrology a compiler hired “by some rich man”  (( James H.Holden for Nina Gryphon: Ptolemy went down to the Alexandrian Library and got out two or three books on astrology, read through them, and then thought, well, I’ll talk about this part of it, and wrote the Tetrabiblos. sic! )) could be helpful re-read some of his chapters. One of the most interesting ones is the one closing the Tetrabiblos, about the future times.

Ptolemy  in Tetrabiblos IV, 10 is very short and here I want just to repeat his text in form of  short list. Ptolemy does not give details on the methods and in practice they were used combining them.

There is no Middle Ages or Renaissance author who does not mention them giving tons of details for every position, generally they are copied and pasted from an author to another.

1) the age division

giving  to the seven planets the rulership of periods in the native life.

In this group we can include other Hellenistic and Arab techniques that Ptolemy does not mention, but which are equivalent, as the chronocrators and the firdaria, where the length of the period depends on astronomical cycles.

All these periods, both Ptolemaic one and the other variants are more general, ie are the same for all the natives, because they are fixed, not dependent on the native chart.

The seven ages. Hans Baldung
The seven ages. Hans Baldung

2) the prorogations

The main and first technique to be mentioned in order to discover the peculiarities of single  nativities is obviously the primary directions. Not having Ptolemy’s gift to make a revolution inside astrology in two words, just I want to stress how Ptolemy mentions the use of divisors, which will come known as qasim, algebuctar, janbajtar :

and the planets which govern the terms are to be given a part of the rulership.
PTOLEMY (( Tetrabiblos IV,10))

3) the profections

After having established the general chronocrators, the year chronocrators are established counting each year a sign and taking the ruler of this sign as annual chronocrator.

It’s interesting to notice here that Ptolemy did not mention here the solar return (maybe it can be included in the point 4)  which was on the other hand included in this list from the rest of the authors.

Moreover we can notice that in Hellenistic and Middle Ages texts  the two techniques are easily interchangeable, obviously because they were subjected to the same interpretative rules.

Another point of interest is that profections and revolutions can be directed (( see  Profections and birth rectification)) or  calculated for  months and the days dividing by 28 (Ptolemy says) , the other astrologers would add some  fractions. (( I should thank Dimitar Kozhuharov who is keeping a  master course on the subject and showed me something I had missed without him ))

87. Monthly conversions consist of twenty eight days, two hours, and about eighteen minutes; but some there are who judge them from the peragration of the Sun when he is equated partilely unto the degree and minute he was at the beginning of the month.

4) the ingresses

Lastly Ptolemy mentions the transits. Obviously the principles are the same of the preceding points, and the transits to consider  are the ones in the year places (or in the month ones) and the transits of the year chronocrators, according their condition.


Which these conditions are – together with a judgement about a nativity according Cieloeterra method, we will see in the next post.

Written by Margherita Fiorello, CIDA certified member, for heaven astrolabe blog @ year 2010. If you want to be notified the next time I write something, subscribe to my RSS feed.



Giuseppe Bezza, La distinzione dei tempi, in  Arcana Mundi: Antologia Del Pensiero Astrologico Antico (Milano: Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli, 1995).

Carmen Ordoñez de Santiago, El Pronóstico En Astrología Edición Crítica Y Comentario Astrológico De La Parte VI Del “Libro Conplido En Los Iudizios De Las Estrellas, De Abenragel” (Madrid: Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Servicio de Publicaciones, 2009). 

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