jeudi 25 septembre 2008

Libra 11

the scale of night
Silently with the stars ascended.
Longfellow's Occultation of Orion.

Libra is the Italian Libra and Bilancia, the French Balance, the German Wage, — Bayer's Wag and Bodes' Waage, — but the Anglo-Saxons said Wæge and Pund, and the Anglo-Normans, Peise, all meaning the Scales, or a Weight.
The early Greeks did not associate its stars with a Balance, so that many have thought it substituted in comparatively recent times for the Chelae, the Claws of the Scorpion, that previously had been known as a distinct portion of the double sign; Hyginus characterizing it as dimidia pars Scorpionis, and Ptolemy counting eight components in the two divisions of his Χηλαί, — βόρειος and νότιος, — with nine ἀμόρφωτοι. Aratos also knew it under that title, writing of it as a dim sign, — φαέων ἐπιδυέες, — though a great one, — μεγάλας χηλάς. Eratosthenes included the stars of the Claws with those of our Scorpio, and called the whole Σκορπίος, but alluded to the Χηλαί; as did Hipparchos, although with him the latter also were Ζυγόν, or Ζυγός, these words becoming common for our Libra, and turned by codices of the 9th century into Zichos. They were the equivalents of the Latin Jugum, the Yoke, or Beam, of the Balance, first used as a stellar title by Geminos, who, with Varro, mentioned it as the sign of the autumnal equinox. Ptolemy wrote these two Greek titles indiscriminately, and so did the Latin poets the three, — Chelae, Jugum, Libra, — although the scientific writers of Rome all adhered to Libra, and such has been its usual title from their day. The ancient name was persistent, however, for the Latin Almagest of 1551 gave a star as in jugo sive chelis, and Flamsteed used it in his description of Libra's stars.
The statement, often seen, that the constellation was invented when on the equinox, and so represented the equality of day and night, was current even with Manilius, —

Then Day and Night are weigh'd in Libra's Scale
Equal a while,—
repeated by James Thomson in the Autumn of his Seasons,—
Libra weighs in equal scales the year,—
by Edward Young in his Imperium Pelagi, apostrophizing his king,—
The Balance George! from thine
Which weighs the nations, learns to weigh
More accurate the night and day,—
and by Longfellow in his Poet's Calendar for September,—
I bear the Scales, when hang in equipoise
The night and day.
This idea gave rise to the occasional title Noctipares; yet Libra is rarely figured on an even balance, but as described by Milton where
The fiend look'd up, and knew
His mounted scale aloft.
The Romans claimed that it was added by them to the original eleven signs, which is doubtless correct in so far as they were concerned in its modern revival as a distinct constellation, for it first appears as Libra in classical times in the Julian calendar which Caesar as pontifex maximus took upon himself to form, 46 B.C., aided by Flavius, the Roman scribe, and Sosigenes, the astronomer from Alexandria.
Some have associated Andrew Marvell's line,
Outshining Virgo or the Julian star,
with Libra, but this unquestionably referred to the comet of 43 B.C. that appeared soon after, and, as Augustus asserted, in consequence of, Caesar's assassination, in September of that year, being utilized by the emperor and Caesar's friends to carry his soul to heaven. This comet, perhaps, was the same that has since appeared in 531, 1106, and 1680, and that may return in 2255.a
Medals still in existence show Libra held by a figure that Spence thought represented Augustus as the dispenser of justice; thus recalling Vergil's beautiful allusion, in his 1st Georgic, to the constellation's place in the sky. Addressing the emperor, whose birthday coincided with the sun's entrance among the stars of the Claws, he suggested them as a proper resting-place for his soul when, after death, he should be inscribed on the roll of the gods:
Anne novum tardis sidus te mensibus addas,
Quā locus Erigonen inter Chelasque sequentes
Panditur; ipse tibi jam brachia contrahit ardens
Scorpius, et coeli justa plus parte relinquit;
so intimating that the place was then vacant, the Scorpion having contracted his claws to make room for his neighbour. But subsequently he wrote:
Libra die somnique pares ubi fecerit horas;
and a few lines further on tells of twelve constellations, — duodena astra.
Milton has a reference in Paradise Lost to Libra's origin, where
Th' Eternal, to prevent such horrid fray,
Hung forth in heav'n his golden scales, yet seen
Betwixt Astraea and the Scorpion sign;
and Homer's
Th' Eternal Father hung
His golden scales aloft,
is similar; but, although doubtless the original of Milton's verse, probably is not a reference to our Libra; for the Greek poet very likely antedated the knowledge of it in his country, and is supposed to have known but few of our stellar figures, — at all events, has alluded to but few in either the Iliad or the Odyssey.
Bayer said that the Greeks called it Σταθμός, a Weigh-beam, and Στάτηρ, a Weight; while Theon used for it the old Sicilian Λίτρα and Λίτραι, which, originally signifying a Weight, became the Roman Libra. Ampelius called it Mochos, after the inventor of the instrument; and Virgo's title, Astraea, the Starry Goddess, the Greek Δίκη, has sometimes been applied to these stars as the impersonation of Justice, whose symbol was the Scales. Addison devoted the 100th number of the Tatler — that of the 29th of November, 1709 — to "that sign in the heavens which is called by the name of the Balance," and to his dream thereof in which he saw the Goddess of Justice descending from the constellation to regulate the affairs of men; the whole a very beautiful rendering of the ancient thought connecting the Virgin Astraea with Libra. He may have been thus inspired by recollections of his student days at Oxford, where he must often have seen this sign, as a Judge in full robes, sculptured on the front of Merton College.b
Manilius, using the combined title, wrote of it in much the same way as of influence over the legal profession:
This Rul'd at Servius' Birth, who first did give
Our Laws a Being,—
a reference to Servius Sulpicius Rufus Lemonia, the great Roman lawyer, pupil, and friend of Cicero.
Cicero himself used Jugum as though it were well known; and, with evident intention of upsetting Caesar's claim to its invention, wrote :
Romam in Jugo
Cum esset Luna, natam esse dicebat.
The sacred books of India mention it as Tulā, the Tamil Tulam or Tolam, a Balance; and on the zodiac of that country it is a man bending on one knee and holding a pair of scales; but Varāha Mihira gave it as Juga or Juka, from ζυγόν, and so a reflex of Greek astronomy, which we know came into India early in our area; but he also called it Fire, perhaps a recollection of its early Altar form, mentioned further on.
In China it was Show Sing, the Star of Longevity, but later, copying our figure, it was Tien Ching, the Celestial Balance; and that country had a law for the annual regulation of weights supposed to have been enacted with some reference to this sign. In the early solar zodiac it was the Crocodile, or Dragon, the national emblem.
Manetho and Achilles Tatios said that Libra originated in Egypt; it plainly appears on the Denderah planisphere and elsewhere simply as a Scale-beam, a symbol of the Nilometer. Kircher gave its Coptic-Egyptian title as Λαμβαδία, Statio Propitiationis.
The Hebrews are said to have known it as Moznayim, a Scale-Beam, Riccioli's Miznaim, inscribing it, some thought, on the banners of Asher, although others claimed Sagittarius for this tribe, asserting that Libra was unknown to the Jews and that its place was indicated by their letter Tau, while still others claimed Virgo for Asher, and Sagittarius for Joseph.
The Syrians called it Masaʼthā, which Riccioli gave as Masathre; and the Persians, Terāzū or Tarāzūk, all signifying Libra; the Persian sphere showing a human figure lifting the scales in one hand and grasping a lamb in the other, this being the usual form of a weight for a balance in the early East.
Arabian astronomers, following Ptolemy, knew these stars as Al Zubānā, the Claws, or, in the dual, Al Zubānatain, degenerating in Westerner use to the Azubene of the 1515 Almagest; but later one, when influenced by Rome, they became Al Kiffatān, the Trays of the Balance, and Al Mīzān, the Scale-beam, Bayer attributing the latter to the Hebrews. This appeared in the Alfonsine Tables and elsewhere as Almisan, Almizen, Mizin; Schickard writing it Midsanon. Kircher, however, said that Wazn, Weight, is the word that should be used instead of Zubānā; Riccioli adopting this in his Vazneschemali and Vazneganubi, or Vaznegenubi, respectively applied to the Northern and Southern Scale as well as to their lucidae.
Libra is stamped on the coins of Palmyra, as also on those of Pythodoris, queen of Pontus.
While it seems impossible to trace with any certainty the date of formation of our present figure and its place of origin, yet there was probably some figure here earlier than the Claws, and formed in Chaldaea in more shapes than one; indeed, Ptolemy asserted that it was from that country, while Ideler and modern critics say the same.
Brown thinks that its present symbol, ♎, generally considered a representation of the beam of the Balance, shows the top of the archaic Euphratean Altar, located in the zodiac next preceding Scorpio, and figured on gems, tablets, and boundary stones, alone or in a pair. Miss Clerke recalls the association of the 7th month, Tashrītu, with this 7th sign and with the Holy Mound, Tul Ku, designating the biblical Tower of Babel, surmounted by an altar, — the stars in this constellation, α, μ, ξ, δ, β, χ, ζ, and ν, well showing a circular altar. Sometimes this Euphratean figure was varied to that of a Censer, and frequently to a Lamp; Strassmaier confirming this by his translation of an inscription as die Lampe als Nuru, the Solar Lamp, synonymous with Bir, the Light, also found for the sky figure. In this connection it will be remembered that another of the names for our Ara, a reduplication of the zodiacal Altar, was Pharus, or Pharos, the Great Lamp, or Lighthouse, of Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of the world. This Lamp also has been found shown on boundary stones as held in the Scorpion's claws, and we see the same idea even as late as the Farnese globe and Hyginus of 1488, where the Scales have taken the place of the Lamp. When the Altar, Censer, and Lamp were in the course of time forgotten, or removed to the South, the Claws were left behind, and perhaps extended, till they in turn were replaced by Libra. Miss Clerke additionally writes:
The 8th sign is frequently doubled, and it is difficult to avoid seeing in the pair of zodiacal scorpions, carved on Assyrian cylinders, the prototype of the Greek Scorpion and Claws. Both Libra and the sign it eventually superseded thus owned a Chaldaean birthplace.
Brown also says that the Euphratean Sugi, the Chariot Yoke, which he identifies with α and β of this constellation, remind us by sound and signification of the Ζυγόν and Jugum of Greece and Rome respectively, and that astrology adds evidence in favor of a Chaldaean origin, for it has always claimed Libra — the Northern Scale at least — as a fruitful sign, taking this from the very foundations of astrology in the Chaldaean belief that "when the Sugi stars were clear the crops were good." In modern astrology, however, the reverse of this held in the case of the Southern Scale.
It seems not unreasonable to conclude that in Chaldaea the 7th sign had origin in all its forms.
In classical astrology the whole constituted the ancient House of Venus, for, according to Macrobius, this planet appeared here at the Creation; and, moreover, the goddess bound together human couples under the yoke of matrimony. From this came the title Veneris Sidus, although others asserted that Mars was its guardian; astrologers of the 14th century insisting that
Whoso es born in yat syne sal be an ille doar and a traytor.
It was of influence, too, over commerce, as witness Ben Johnson in The Alchemist:
His house of Life being Libra: which foreshow'd
He should be a merchant, and should trade with balance;
and governed the lumbar region of the human body. Its modern reign has been over Alsace, Antwerp, Austria, Aethiopia, Frankfurt, India, Lisbon, Livonia, Portugal, Savoy, Vienna, and our Charleston; but in classical times over Italy and, naturally enough from its history, especially over Rome, with Vulcan as its guardian. It thus became Vulcani Sidus.
To it was assigned control of the gentle west wind, Zephyrus, personified as the son of Astraeus and Aurora.
Pious heathen called it Pluto's Chariot, in which that god carried off Proserpina, the adjacent Virgo; but early Christians said that it represented the Apostle Philip; and Caesius identified it with the Balances of the Book of Daniel, v.27, in which Belshazzar had been weighed and "found wanting."
Argelander enumerated in it 28 stars down to 5.8 magnitude; and Heis, 53 down to 6.5; but its boundaries often have been confused with those of Scorpio. The central portion of the figure is marked by the trapezoid of stars α, ι, γ, and β.
The sun is in the constellation from the 29th of October to the 21st of November.

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