Terms or bounds

In astrology, the terms or bounds refer to an essential dignity in which unequal segments of every astrological sign have internal rulerships which affect the power and integrity of each planet in a natal chart.

Each sign is divided into five different segments which have their own "term" or "bound" rulers. This dignity is in addition to the more familiar dignities of rulership, exaltation and triplicity.

* NOTE: This table presents the so-called "Egyptian" bounds, which differ somewhat from those preferred by Ptolemy in his Tetrabiblos. The terms given were also those used by Dorotheus of Sidon and Vettius Valens. Paulus says these were the bounds the "Egyptian sages determined,"ref|sages most likely referring to the lost work of Nechepso/Osiris.

Not all astrologers of the period agreed about the exact details of these rulerships. For example, Vettius Valensref|valens varies the bound rulers according to sect, using different rulers for diurnal and for nocturnal nativities.

For Hellenistic astrologers, such Claudius Ptolemy, Dorotheus of Sidon, Vettius Valens and Paulus Alexandrinus, this dignity had an equal footing with rulership and exaltation and was accorded the same weight in the delineation of a natal chart, particularly for vitality. Paulus says, "from this Rulership is drawn conclusions about length of life."ref|longevity

According to Paulus, the way in which longevity was determined by the "bounds" had to do with the "number of degrees" in the table which were ruled by each planet. Adding up these degrees, the following totals are determined, which Paulus calls the "final years of life:"ref|final

*Saturn: 57 years [= 57 degrees ruled by Saturn]
*Jupiter: 79 years [= 79 degrees ruled by Jupiter]
*Mars: 66 years [= 66 degrees ruled by Mars]
*Venus: 82 years [= 82 degrees ruled by Venus]
*Mercury 76 years [= 76 years ruled by Mercury]

(The total number of years/degrees equal 360, for all the degrees in the zodiac.)

A later scholium explains (paraphrasing Porphyry): "Whenever the Ruler of the nativityref|oikodespotes may be well-situated, then it gives the years of life."ref|scholium To give the full measure of a planet's final years, the planet would have to be excellently situated and dignified, with no afflictions in motion, combustion or sect.

Paulus further says that the "final years" given by the Sun is 120 years and the "final years" given by the Moon is 108 years, even though, as can be seen, neither of the luminaries is allotted any term dignity. Presumably these "final years" are given for situations when the Sun or Moon are the "oikodespotes"ref|oiko2 of a chart, despite the lack of bounds rulerships.

By the Medieval era in the history of astrology, this dignity had been devalued to the status of a "minor dignity." It was still used for defining longevity and probably for determining physical characteristics that were likely to manifest in a person, but it no longer was considered as important as domicile dignity (rulership) or exaltation. (Medieval astrologers such as the Arabs and Guido Bonatti and William Lilly also used a hierarchical scale of dignities, where rulership was the most important, exaltation was slightly less important, triplicity was next in importance, and "terms or bounds" were ranked fourth in weight. The least important dignity--and considered a very minor one indeed--was that of face or decan.)

Below are the terms or bounds according to Ptolemy, a later variant of the older "Egyptian" bounds:

* NOTE: This second table presents the terms or bounds according to Claudius Ptolemy. in "Tetrabiblos." Ptolemy modified the "Egyptian" bounds for reasons that are not clear, but probably having to do with astronomical measurements. Ptolemy's table was adopted by medieval astrologers and is still in use in modern times.


#As given in: Paulus Alexandrinus. "Introductory Matters." (378 A.D.) in "Late Classical Astrology: Paulus Alexandrinus and Olympiodorus," a translation by Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum. ARHAT (Archive for Retrieval of Historical Astrological Texts) (Reston, VA; 2001.)
#Ibid., p. 6.
#Vettius Valens. "The Anthology." Book III. [translated by Robert Schmidt and edited by Robert Hand.] Project Hindsight, Greek Track, Vol. VIII (The Golden Hind Press, Berkeley Springs, WV, 1994), p. 52-53.
#Paulus, op. cit.
#Ibid., p. 7.
#According to Dorian Greenbaum, the "ruler of the nativity" here is the "oikodespotes" of the chart. The "oikodespotes" is generally the planet with the most essential dignity in all the planetary positions of a chart, as well as the Ascendant. All dignities in the ancient system were of equal weight, in contrast to the later Medieval model.
#Paulus, op. cit., p. 8.
#See note 6.
#As given in: J. Lee Lehman. "Essential Dignities." Whitford Press. (West Chester, PA, 1989.) The same table may be found in Lilly's "Christian Astrology" (London, 1647), p. 104.

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