New translation of this long Latin compendium into English, the previous translation by Jean Rhys Bram being inaccurate and inadequate for the purposes of practical astrology and an exact understanding of Hellenistic concepts and methods. The treatise is important insofar as it frequently cites and paraphrases the earliest Hellenistic sources.
Book I is hortatory in tone, dealing with the objections to astrology, with discussions of fate.
Book II presents an exposition of the basic concepts and principles of Hellenistic astrology: the signs and their domicile lords, the exaltations and falls of the planets, the decans, the bounds (or "terms"), sect, orientality or occidentality, rising times of the signs, the winds or directions associated with the triplicities, the twelfth-parts of the signs (or 12th harmonics), the eight-topic system of places (or "houses"), the angles, good or bad places, the twelve-topic system of topical places, configurations of signs, body parts assigned to the signs, length of life from the ruler of the nativity, the time-lord procedure called "decennials," the method of profecrions for finding the sign of the year, the division of the year according to time-lords. Firmicus then gives considerable attention to anticia, which he considers to be a very important predictive device (somewhat idiosyncratically), which he illustrates with the chart of one Albinus. He concludes with a section on how the astrologer should live his life.
Book III commences with a treatment of the Thema Mundi, or hypothetical chart of the creation of the world, employed by Firmicus as a pedagogical tool. This is followed by detailed delineations of the planets in the twelve topical places (or "houses"), first singly, and then when co-present (or "conjunct") Mercury, with the injunction to also consider the twelfth-part (12th harmonic) and bounds (or "terms") of each planet. The book concludes with some very specialized delineations of the Moon present with the Lot of Fortune.
Book IV is largely devoted to predictions derived from the Moon. First there are delineations of the Moon conjoining or defluxing from other planets ("applications & separations"), either singly or in pairs, with a special discussion of the void of course Moon. This is followed a treatment of the Lot of Fortune and Lot of Spirit. Next comes Firmicus' treatment of the Ruler of the Nativity, based on the study of the domicile lord of the sign succeeding its natal sign, with delineations for each of the planets as ruler; however, this version of the ruler of the nativity seems to be a corruption of the study of the bound lord of the Moon on the third day of the nativity. The next subject concerns the climacteric (or "crisis") periods in the native's life, which is given short shrift in this chapter because Firmicus refers the reader to another book of his, although he does not fail to mention the study of the 7th & 9th years, their multiples, and particularly the 63rd year. There follows a short and seemingly misplaced chapter on the topic of the native's profession, employing the standard Hellenistic method of finding which of the three planets Mercury, Venus, or Mars is connected with the 10th place (or "house"). After this, there is a curious chapter concerning the full and empty degrees of each decan, and the determination of whether the principal significators of the nativity are in full degrees, the idea being that the planets or other significators have no power when they are in empty degrees; this material is found nowhere else in the tradition. Firmicus then discusses the division of each sign into masculine and feminine degrees according to a peculiar system whose rationale is not clear. After a short chapter about the Moon with other planets on the angles, he appends an interesting and possibly important chapter on "partile" conjoinings and defluxions of the Moon employing the bounds (or "terms"); this material is also found only in Firmicus.
Book V contains material that may be questionable, as least as far as the original Hellenistic understanding of the role of the signs is concerned. In this book Firmicus first delineates the signs when they are on different angles, as if they have their "own power of predicting" even when void of planets. This is followed by a chapter on the interpretation of the ascending degree in the bounds (or "terms") of the different planets; this material is authentic and derived from earlier sources. What follows is a treatment of the delineation of planets in the signs, although only Saturn and Jupiter are studied in this way, the interpretation of the other planets being lost. I believe this material is questionable, or at least misleading, because the standard way of studying planets in signs was according to their domicile lords. After the missing text, the book evidently picked up and concluded with delineations of the planets in the bounds or decans of other planets, although the treatment of Saturn, Jupiter, the Sun, and Venus are likewise missing; this is also standard Hellenistic doctrine.
Book VI begins with a reminder to study the planets in the good or bad places of the chart, namely those whole-sign places that are either configured or not configured with the ascending sign. There follows a short section on the Moon present with four regal bright stars. Then Firmicus delineates planetary combinations according to trines, squares, oppositions, sextiles, and co-presences ("conjunctions"); this is standard Hellenistic doctrine, along with some more complex combinations that invoke the topical places and/or the signs. Next follows a discussion of a variety of lots ("parts"), such as that of the father, the mother, siblings, spouse, children, afflictions & illnesses, honors, possessions, accusations, etc. The book concludes with a detailed treatment of the primary time-lord procedure employed by Firmicus, that of decennials, with delineations for when each planet has the time-lordship.
Book VII starts with an oath for astrologers, and then fills up the book with his version of the topical approach, or research into different areas of life. Firmicus treats of exposed infants, twins, slaves, charts of animals, physical afflictions, parents, marriage, children, mental illness, royal birth, violent death, profession. He investigates these topics primarily with complex planetary figures to the planetary significator of the topic under consideration.
Book VIII begins with a brief discussion of the importance of the 90th degree from the ascending degree and signs that see or hear each other, but the book is mainly devoted to a study of the degrees that are related to different parts of the ecliptic constellations, as well as parts of the extra-zodiacal constellations or special bright stars contained therein that co-rise with degrees of the ecliptic. Thumbnail delineations are given for the situation in which these special degrees are on the angles, sometimes in combinations with planets. TOP