Saturn in Libra: Petrarch

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Petrarch’s Saturn in Libra is exalted in the third house

Compared to Tilak’s Mars in detriment in Libra, Petrarch has Saturn exalted in Libra in the third house. A planet in exaltation has the power of dignity, esteem, and honor.

During his travels in 1345, Petrarch found Cicero’s letters to Atticus, Quintus, and Brutus. This discovery is often associated with the start of humanism in the 14th century. The Middle Ages were often considered a “dark” period where a lack of appreciation of the classical Greek and Latin world had stilted learning and education. The focus on the church and religion sidelined critical thinking and non-religious wisdom. By discovering Cicero’s letters, which were in classical Latin, and working with others to translate Greek texts to Latin, Petrarch introduced a means to enter the classical world. Saturn in Libra in the third house in exaltation represents the ancient literature that ushered in the rebirth of classical thought and wisdom.

Saturn in the third house also represents Petrarch’s brother Gherardo. In the winter of 1342-43, Gherardo, then age 36, considered joining a strict religious order. He soon made a pilgrimage to the shrine of Sainte-Baume and proceeded over the mountains to the Carthusian monastery of Montreux, where he became a monk. A few years later Petrarch would visit his brother; although he stayed there for only a night, the austere life filled with silence, candles, chants, and prayers made a deep impression on him. Inspired by monastic life, Petrarch later composed a philosophical treatise entitled De Vita Solitaria, or On the Solitary Life.

Petrarch’s Secretum frontispiece. Petrarch, Veritas (Truth), Augustine and Abbot Crabbe with two attendants

The exaltation of Saturn in Libra is also illustrated in Petrarch’s Secretum (My Secret Book), in which Petrarch examines his life in the presence of Saint Augustine (presumably his conscience) and “Lady Truth” as a judge. The book is written in a conversational manner and Petrarch’s attachment to Laura and his pursuit of fame through poetry is criticized. Devotion to God and a simple, austere life — similar to the one adopted by his brother Gherardo — are advocated to free the soul from the bounds of fate. In writing these dialogues, Petrarch revealed the different influences on his life and his anguish related to them while trying to reconcile them through introspection and examining different perspectives.

Note that Saturn is the in-sect malefic in Petrarch’s birth chart, and being in exaltation makes Saturn more manageable and beneficial.


From Lesson 7 – Essential Dignities – The ‘Beginning Traditional Natal Astrology’ Course

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