samedi 6 septembre 2008

Lupus 2

The ancient Greeks called this constellation Therium, representing an unspecified wild animal, while the Romans called it Bestia, the Beast. It was visualized as impaled on a long pole called a thyrsus, held by the adjoining constellation of Centaurus, the Centaur. Consequently, the constellations of the Centaur and the animal were usually regarded as a combined figure.

According to the historian George Michanowsky in his book The Once and Future Star, the Babylonians knew this constellation as UR-IDIM, meaning ‘wild dog’. Eratosthenes said that the Centaur was holding the animal towards the altar (the constellation Ara) as though about to sacrifice it. Hyginus referred to the animal as simply ‘a victim’, while Germanicus Caesar said that the Centaur was either carrying game from the woods, or was bringing gifts to the altar. The identification of this constellation with a wolf seems to have started in Renaissance times.
One is tempted to recall the story of Lycaon, king of the Arcadians, who served Zeus with the flesh of the god’s own son and was punished by being turned into a wolf (see Boötes). But that story has no connection with this constellation, which seems to have been overlooked by the mythologists. The fact that it is an imported constellation probably explains why the Greeks had no myths for it. None of the stars of Lupus have names.

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