lundi 29 septembre 2008

Cancer 8

. . . and there a crab
Puts coldly out its gradual shadow-claws,
Like a slow blot that spreads, — till all the ground,
Crawled over by it, seems to crawl itself.
Mrs. Browning's Drama of Exile.
Cancer, der Krebs of the Germans, — die Krippe of Bayer; le Cancre, or l'Écrevisse, of the French; and il Cancro or Granchio of the Italians, lies next to Gemini on the east, and is popularly recognized by its distinguishing feature, the beehive, ancient Praesepe. Aratos called it Καρκίνος, which Hipparchos and Ptolemy followed; the Carcinus of the Alfonsine Tables being the Latinized form of the Greek word. Eratosthenes extended this as Καρκίνος, Ὄνοι, καί Φάτνη, the Crab, Asses, and Crib; and other Greeks have said Ὀπισθοβάμων and Ὀκτάπους, the Octipes of Ovid and Propertius. Litoreus, Shore-inhabiting, is from Manilius and Ovid; Astacus and Cammarus appear with various classic writers; and Nepa is from Cicero's De Finibus and the works of Columella, Manilius, Plautus, and Varro, all signifying Crab, or Lobster, although more usual, and perhaps more correct, for Scorpio. Festus, the grammarian of the 3d century, said that this was an African word equivalent to Sidus, a Constellation or Star.
It is the most inconspicuous figure in the zodiac, and mythology apologizes for its being there by the story that when the Crab was crushed by Hercules, for pinching his toes during his contest with the Hydra in the marsh of Lerna, Juno exalted it to the sky; whence Columella called it Lernaeus. Yet few heavenly signs have been subjects of more attention in early days, and few better determined; for, according to Chaldaean and Platonist philosophy, it was the supposed Gate of Men through which souls descended from heaven into human bodies.
In astrology, with Scorpio and Pisces, it was the Watery Trigon; and has been the House of the Moon, from the early belief that this luminary was located here at the creation; and the Horoscope of the World, as being, of all the signs, nearest to the zenith. It was one of the unfortunate signs, governing the human breast and stomach; and reigned over Scotland, Holland, Zealand, Burgundy, Africa (especially over Algiers, Tripoli, and Tunis), and the cities of Constantinople and New York. In the times of Manilius it ruled India and Aethiopia, but he termed it a fruitful sign. Its colors were green and russet; and early fable attributed its guardianship to the god Mercury, whence its title Mercurii Sidus. When the sun was within its boundaries every thunder-storm would cause commotions, famine, and locusts; and Berōsōs asserted that the earth was to be submerged when all the planets met in Cancer, and consumed by fire when they met in Capricorn. But this was a reversal of the astrologers' rule; for, as Pascal wrote:
They only assign good fortune with rare conjunctions of the stars, and this is how their predictions rarely fail.
It is said to have been the Akkadian Sun of the South, perhaps from its position at the winter solstice in very remote antiquity; but afterwards it was associated with the fourth month Duzu, our June-July, and was known as the Northern Gate of the Sun, whence that luminary commences its retrograde movement. Nan-garu is Strassmaier's transliteration of the cuneiform title; others being Puluk‑ku and χas, Division, possibly referring to the solstitial colure as a dividing line. Brown has recently claimed for it the title Nagar-asagga, the Workman of the Waterway.
The early Sanskrit name was Karka and Karkata, the Tamil Karkatan, and the Cingalese Kathaca; but the later Hindus knew it as Kulira, from Κόλουρος, the term originated by Proclus for our colure.
The Persians had it Cherjengh and Kalakang; the Turks, Lenkutch; the Syrians, and perhaps the later Chaldaeans, Sartono; the Hebrews, Sarṭān; and the Arabians, Al Saraṭān, all words equivalent to Cancer. Al Bīrūni added Al Lihāʽ, the Soft Palate, but this was an early title of the Arabs in connection with their manzil Al Nathrah.
Kircher said that in Coptic Egypt it was Κλαρία, the Bestia seu Statio Typhonis, the Power of Darkness; La Lande identifying this with Anubis, one of the divinities of the Nile country commonly associated with Sirius. But the Jews assigned it to the tribe of Issachar, whom Jacob likened to the "strong ass" that each of the Aselli represents; Dupuis asserting that these last titles were derived from this Jewish association.
A Saxon chronicle of about the year 1000 had "Cancer that is Crabba"; Chaucer had Cancre, probably a relic of Anglo-Norman days, for in his time it generally was Canser; and Milton called it the Tropic Crab from its having marked one of these great circles.
Showing but few stars, and its lucida being less than a 4th‑magnitude, it was the Dark Sign, quaintly described as black and without eyes. Dante, alluding to this faintness and high position in the heavens, wrote in the Paradiso:
Thereafterward a light among them brightened,
So that, if Cancer one such crystal had,
Winter would have a month of one sole day.
Jensen makes it the Tortoise of Babylonia, and it was so figured there and in Egypt 4000 B.C.; although in the Egyptian records of about 2000 B.C., it was described as a Scarabaeus, sacred, as its specific name sacer signifies, and an emblem of immortality. This was the Greek κάραβος, with its nest-ball of earth in its claws, an idea which occurs again even as late as the 12th century, when an illustrated astronomical manuscript shows a Water-beetle. In the Albumasar of 1489 it is a large Crayfish; Bartschius and Lubienitzki, in the 17th century, made it into a Lobster, and the latter added toward Gemini a small shrimp-like object which he called Cancer minor.
Caesius likened it to the Breastplate of Righteousness in Ephesians vi.14; while Praesepe and the Aselli were the Manger of the infant Jesus, with the Ass and Ox presumed to be standing by. Julius Schiller said that the whole represented Saint John the Evangelist.
Our figure appears on the round zodiac of Denderah, but in the location of Leo Minor.
This planisphere is a comparatively late sculpturing, supposed to be about 34 B.C., in the time of Tiberius and Cleopatra, possibly later; but it shows, at least in part, the heavens of many centuries previous, the exact date fixed by Biot being 700 B.C., although some scholars, notably Brugsch, carry it back a thousand years earlier and assert that it was largely copied from similar works of Sargon's time. It was discovered by the French general Desaix de Voygoux in 1799, and removed in 1820 to the Bibliothèque Impériale in Paris, where it has since remained. Its appearance is that of a very large antique sandstone medallion,
Cancer appears on the Farnese globe underneath a quadrangular figure, in the location of our Lynx, of which I can find no explanation.
In this constellation, with some slight variations as to boundaries at different times in Hindu astronomy, — γ and δ always being included and occasionally η, θ, and Praesepe, — was located the 6th nakshatra Pushya, Flower, or Tishiya, Auspicious, with Brihaspati, the priest and teacher of the gods, as presiding divinity. It was sometimes figured as a Crescent, and again at the head of an Arrow; but Amara Sinha, the Sanskrit author of about 56 B.C., called it Sidhaya, Prosperous.
The manzil Al Nathrah, the Gap in the hair under the muzzle of the supposed immense ancient Lion, was chiefly formed by Praesepe; but later on γ and δ were sometimes included, when it was Al Ḥimārain, the Two Asses, a title adopted from the Greeks. The Arabs also knew it as Al Fum al Asad and as Al Anf al Asad, the Mouth, and the Muzzle, of the Lion, both referring to the early figure.
The sieu Kwei, Spectre, anciently Kut, the Cloud-like, was made up from Praesepe with η and θ, the latter most strangely selected, as it is now hardly distinguishable by the naked eye, and yet was the determining star, — perhaps a case of variation in brightness. This asterism, the Tsing in our Gemini, formed Shun Show, one of the twelve zodiacal Kung, which Williams translates as the Quail's Head, giving the modern title as Keu Hea, the Crab; this Quail being otherwise known as the Phoenix, Pheasant, or the Red Bird that, with the stars of Leo and Virgo, marked the residence of the Red, or Southern, Emperor.
Like Gemini and Taurus, it was shown rising backward, to which some of the ancients fancifully ascribed the slower motion of the sun in passing through these constellations, as well as its influence in producing the summer's heat; even Doctor Johnson, in Rasselas, alluded to "the fervours of the crab." Very differently, however, Ampelius associated it with the cold Septentrio, or North Wind.
Coins of Cos in the Aegean Sea bore the figure of a Crab that may have been for this constellation.
The symbol of the sign, ♋, probably is "the remains of the representation of some such creature"; but it is also referred to the two Asses that took part in the conflict of the gods with the giants on the peninsula of the Macedonian Pallene, the early Phlegra, afterwards rewarded by a resting-place in the sky on either side of the Manger.
The sun is in Cancer from the 18th of July to the 7th of August; but the solstice, which was formerly here and gave name to the tropic, is now about 33° to the westward, near η Geminorum.
The celebrated Halley comet first appeared here in 1531; and in June, 1895, all the planets, except Neptune, were in this quarter of the heavens, an unusual and most interesting occurrence. Argelander catalogues 47 stars in the constellation in addition to Praesepe; and Heis, 91.

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