Saturday, February 24, 2018

Saturday & Sundry Mostly Useless 'Porphirical' Facts

Porphyry. What does that word mean to you? I'm imagining an apathetic shrug coming from my passing reader. I'm vaguely familiar with one facet of the word's meaning: it's the name of an astrological House System. More on that in a mo.

Wikipedia's page for 26 February lists that date as a Christian Feast Day in honour of
Porphyry of Gaza. Hmm, thought I, can't see a venerated and sainted Bishop of the Greek Orthodox Church lowering himself to play around with astrological houses. Saint Porphyry was bishop of Gaza from 395 to 420, known for Christianizing the recalcitrant pagan city of Gaza, and demolishing its temples. He died on February 26, 420.
(See here)

It was another Porphyry - Porphyry of Tyre - who gave astrologers another House System to play with. He was a prominent Neoplatonic philosopher who flourished in the late 3rd century CE. He is primarily known as the student of the founder of Neoplatonism, Plotinus, although he was regarded as an important philosopher in his own right in Late Antiquity. He occasionally made references to astrological doctrines in his philosophical works, and there is at least one surviving text on astrology that was attributed to him: an introduction to Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos, which mainly consists of a series of definitions of basic astrological concepts. Most of the definitions were copied verbatim from a lost work of definitions by Antiochus of Athens.

In the House system known as Porphyry, each quadrant of the ecliptic is divided into three equal parts between the four angles. This is the oldest system of quadrant style house division. Although it is attributed to Porphyry of Tyre, this system was first described by the 2nd-century astrologer Vettius Valens, in the 3rd book of his astrological compendium known as The Anthology.
(See here)

Ooooh kaay.

But Porphyry is more - much more.

The term porphyry, from Ancient Greek, means "purple". Purple was the color of royalty, and the "imperial porphyry" was a deep purple igneous rock (formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava. ) with large crystals of plagioclase. Some authors claimed the rock was the hardest known in antiquity."Imperial" grade porphyry was thus prized for monuments and building projects in Imperial Rome and later. (See here)


In Greek mythology, Porphyrion was a giant, one of the sons of Uranus and Gaia. After the Olympian gods imprisoned the Titans in Tartarus, Porphyrion was one of twenty-four anguipede giants who made war on Olympus. During the Giant's revolt on Olympus, Porphyrion attempted to strangle Hera. An arrow from the bow of Eros inspired Porphyrion with lust for Hera, and he tore her robes and would have forced her, but an enraged Zeus shot him with a thunderbolt.

There's more.... there's

Porphyrius the Charioteer (also known as Calliopas) who was a renowned Roman charioteer in the 5th and 6th centuries AD. In the time of Porphyrius, Roman chariot-racing was at its height. Charioteers were celebrities, and Porphyrius is famous for having seven monuments built in his honor in the Hippodrome. These monuments serve as a glimpse into the history of the time, and into the life of Porphyrius. The age of Porphyrius is often referred to as the age of the Byzantine Charioteer.
(See here)

Still's an island!


Porphyry Island is an island in Unorganized Thunder Bay District in northwestern Ontario, Canada. It is the last island in a chain stretching south west of the Black Bay Peninsula in Lake Superior. It is located about 6 kilometres (4 mi) from Edward Island Provincial Park, 13 kilometres (8 mi) from Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, 14 kilometres (9 mi) east of Silver Islet, Ontario, and 42 kilometres (26 mi) east of the city of Thunder Bay.
The island and nature reserve take their name from the characteristic quartz and feldspar crystals, or porphyries found in the volcanic rocks. (See here).


Wisewebwoman said...

Ha I have visited that island when friends lived up there. Beautiful stones in different mines around there. I bought a ring from Grandgirl. I

I must ask her about that!

Beautiful area.


Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~ Great! I did wonder as I was preparing the post whether you'd know of the island. :) Yes, I can imagine how gorgeous it is!