Monomoiria according to Paulus of Alexandria

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What does Monomoiria mean?

Monomoiria is a Greek term that is composed of two words: mono signifies one and moira means a portion or part of a whole and is related to meros, a “lot” and moros, “fate, doom”. It is linked to the Latin meritum, “reward”, the English merit, and is derived from the PIE root *(s)mer, “to allot, assign”.


The word Monomoiria is associated to the Greek Moirai, the three Goddesses of fate, well known to the readers of Plato’s Myth of Er, in which Clotho spins the thread of life, Lachesis allots the length of the thread and Atropos cuts it when the time has come.In astrology, Monomoiria is the name of the single degrees of the horoscope.

Moira is thus a portion of the length of life. Each degree is ruled by one of the seven traditional planets and is thus associated with a particular property or nature.

 John Strudwick, A Golden Thread, 1885

Ancient origins

We know about essential dignities: planets are particularly strong when they are in their domicile, exaltation, triplicity, term or decan. Even though Monomoiria are not part of this system, in the past they have been paid much attention to and we can track them back at least to the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, which date back to 200-300 AD.[1]

Two systems of monomoiria

There were two systems of Monomoiria, both mentioned Paulus of Alexandria.

Monomoiria by domicile ruler

In the first system, the first degree of each sign is ruled by its domicile ruler. The second degree is ruled by the next planet in decreasing Chaldean order (Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury Moon). When the sequence is over, it starts once again until all degrees of that sign have their ruler.

1° Taurus= Venus

2° Taurus = Mercury

3° Taurus = Moon

4° Taurus = Saturn

5° Taurus = Jupiter

A free table from Project Hindsight of this system of Monomoiria can be found here.

Monomoiria by triplicity

The second system of Monomoiria is based on the four triplicities fire, earth, air and water in this precise sequence. This second system is more complicated than the first and was used by Paulus for fine tuning a chart when the ascending sign was already known but the degree was doubtful. However, Paulus did not claim to have invented this system but instead referred back to the Egyptians.

Before we begin, we need to distinguish between day and night charts. A diurnal chart has the Sun above the horizon, a nocturnal chart has the Sun below the horizon. All Monomoiria rulers change according to sect. While each triplicity has three triplicity rulers, we only use the daytime ruler (for example the Sun for the fire triplicity) and a night time ruler (for example Jupiter for the fire triplicity), while we do not consider the participating ruler (Saturn for the fire triplicity).

TriplicitySignsDiurnal chartNocturnal chart
FireAries, Leo, SagittariusSunJupiter
EarthTaurus, Virgo, CapricornVenusMoon
AirGemini, Libra, AquariusSaturnMercury
WaterCancer, Scorpio, PiscesVenusMars
Triplicity rulers by night and day

The first degree of each sign is ruled by the first triplicity ruler of this sign, according to sect. The second degree is ruled by the second ruler of the same triplicity. The third degree is ruled by the first triplicity ruler of the second triplicity in the order of the table above (Fire, earth, wind and water). The fourth degree is ruled by the second ruler of the second triplicity. The rule is not to repeat a planet twice, before all planets have been attributed, hence, if a planet has already been used in the sequence, it is left aside, and the sequence continues with the next planet.

You can scroll down the article to find the table on triplicity based monomoiria or click here.

Here is Paulus of Alexandria’s example of how it works.

Scorpio is a water sign, so we start with the ruler of the water triplicity. If it is a day chart, we assign the first degree to Venus, the second to Mars. The third degree is given to the next triplicity, in this case, fire. The third degree is thus ruled by the Sun, the 4th by Jupiter. The 5th is ruled by the next triplicity (earth), but Venus has already been assigned to the first degree. We forget therefore about Venus and assign the 5th degree to the Moon, then the 6° to Saturn and the 7° to Mercury. Now we have used all planets and start again with the first triplicity ruler, in this case Venus.  Following this sequence, the 8th degree, the 15th and the 22nd always repeat the 1st degree.

If we have a nocturnal chart, we start with the nocturnal triplicity ruler, in the case of Scorpio it is Mars. The 2° is assigned to Venus, the 3° to Jupiter, the 4th to the Sun, the 5° to the Moon, the 6° to Mercury and the 7° to Saturn. Then we start the sequence again with Mars at the 8°.

There are different approaches how to use triplicity Monomoiria in chart rectification, especially to fine tune an Ascendant whose sign is known but whose exact degree might not be certain. Paulus of Alexandria mentions three techniques of rectification that involve Monomoiria. In all of them, we search for a specific Monomoiria that will determine the correct degree of the AC.

Three triplicity based monomoiria techniques

  1. Use the Monomoiria of the luminary in sect.
  2. Use the Monomoiria of the bound ruler of the Moon (whatever the sect might be)
  3. Use the Monomoiria of the degree of the Sygyzy, compare to  the Monomoiria of the boundruler of the Sygyzy and use the one that is stronger.

Paulus of Alexandria gives an example which has been dated July 1, 564 JC by the Italian astrologer and translator Giuseppe Bezza. [3]   I have adapted the AC according to Paulus’ information, the corresponding time is 6.03 am in Alexandria. The chart has been slightly adapted to fit all values given in the text.

We see a diurnal chart and read the table from left to right, first the diurnal ruler of a triplicity, then the nocturnal ruler of the same triplicity.

Paulus’ of Alexandria’s example chart on Monomoiria

Please note that degrees are read as follows: 0°43’ is in the 1st degree. 3°23’ is in the 4th degree. 29°10’ in the 30th degree.

Monomoiria technique nr. 1

The Sun is the luminary in sect. He is at 8° Cancer in the water triplicity[1]. If we check the table, we find that Venus is Monomoiria at 8°, 15° and 22° Cancer. The first two are too far off, but we can rectify the AC using 22° Cancer.

Monomoiria technique nr. 2

The Moon is at 27° in the bounds of Mars, who is at 4° Scorpio in the water triplicity. The Monomoiria of Mars’ degree is Jupiter. Now we check the Monomoiria of Jupiter close to the presumed AC and come up with 24° Cancer, which is pretty close to the result of technique 1.

Monomoiria technique nr. 3

The Sygyzy (SAN in the chart) occurred (following Paulus) at 1° Cancer. The lunation happened to be in the domicile of the Moon and in the bounds of Mars. We now have to check, which of these two planets is stronger. Mars is in his own domicile and in a succedent house, trining the ascending sign. He also has bound rulership over the sygyzy and receives a trine from the Sun and Mercury. The Moon is the domicile ruler of the sygyzy and in her joy in the 3rd house. However, she in in none of her dignities by day and only sextiles the ascending sign. She does not cast major aspects to other planets besides a whole sign aspect to the Sun.

Mars is thus the stronger planet and the Monomoiria of his degree is Venus. We find Venus at 22° Cancer and rectify the AC accordingly.

Chart example of Robert Zoeller

Now let us try this technique with a modern example chart. I will use Robert Zoeller’s birth chart.

Technique 1

This is a daytime chart, and we need to use the Monomoiria of the Sun at 4° 46° (check the table for 5°), which is the Sun itself. The Sun holds the Monomoiria of 10° Pisces.

Technique 2

The Moon is at 11°11’ in Pisces in the bounds of Venus. Venus is at 17°58’ Sagittarius, in the Monomoiria of the Moon. She holds 12° Pisces°.

Technique 3

The Sygyzy occurred at 1°29’ Aquarius, in the domicile of Saturn and in the bounds of Mercury. Satrun is retrograde, in his detriment and in a cadent house, opposing the Sygyzy, Mercury and the Sun. Mercury is combust, in a cadent house but direct and in his own bounds, in orb with the Sygyzy. Mercury is stronger than Saturn. He is as 6° 16? And his Monomoiria is the Moon. The luminary holds 12° Pisces.

In Zoeller’s chart, the technique works perfectly. More research is certainly needed, it is however worth the time to dedust this ancient technique and try it out.

Monomoiria table according to triplicity rulers

Monomoiria according to triplicity rulers

Source Texts: 

  • Paolo d’Alessandria, “Introduzione all’astrologia, lineamenti introduttivi alla previsione astronomica”, a cura di Giuseppe Bezza, Mimesis, 2000
  • Late Classical Astrology: Paulus Alexandrinus and Olympiodorus with the Scholia of later commentators

Translated by Dorian Greenbaum, MA

[1] Adapted from Wikipedia.

[2] See for instance The Oxyrynchus Papyri, nr, 4277

[3] I am using both Greenbaum’s English translation of Paulus of Alexandra and Giuseppe Bezza’s Italian translation, which in several passages is more straightforward.

[4] Degrees are traditionally read as he is in the 8th degree, meaning between 7°00 and 7°59’.

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