lundi 29 septembre 2008

Pisces 11

And here fantastic fishes duskly float,
Using the calm for waters, while their fires
Throb out quick rhythms along the shallow air.

Mrs. Browning's A Drama of
Pisces, are the German Fische, the Italian Pesci, the French Poissons, the Anglo-Norman Peisun, and the Anglo-Saxon Fixas. The Alfonsine Tables of 1521 had Pesces, and the Almagest of 1515 Echiguen, Bayer's Ichiguen, a word that has defied commentators unless Caesius has explained it as being a corruption of Ichthues.
The figures are widely separated in the sky, the northeastern one lying just south of β Andromedae, headed towards it, and the southwestern one east from and headed towards Aquarius and Pegasus, the lucida marking the knot of the connecting bands. Both are north of the ecliptic, the first culminating on the 28th of November, and the second about three weeks earlier. In early days they were shown close together, one above the other, but in reversed directions, although united as now.
By reason of precession this constellation is now the first of the zodiac, but entirely within its boundaries lies the sign Aries; the vernal equinox being located in a comparatively starless region south of ω in the tail of the southwestern Fish, and about 2° west of "a line from α Andromedae through γ Pegasi continued as far again." This equinoctial point is known as the First of Aries, and the Greenwich of the Sky; and from their containing it, the Fishes are called the Leaders of the Celestial Host.
The Greeks knew them as Ἰχθύε, and Ἰχθύες, in the dual and plural; the Romans as we do, often designating them as Imbrifer Duo Pisces, Gemini Pisces, and Piscis Gemellus. Classic authors said Aquilonius, sometimes Aquilonaris; and very appropriately, for the Aquilo of the Romans, perhaps derived from aqua, or aquilus, signified a rain-bringing wind from the north, and well represented the supposed watery character of the constellation, as also its northerly position. Ampelius, however, ascribed Aquilo to Gemini, and Eurus, or Vulturnus, the Southeast Wind, to Pisces.
Miss Clerke thinks that the dual form of this constellation recalls the additional month which every six years was inserted into the Babylonian calendar of 360 days; and Sayce, agreeing in this opinion, translates the early title for these stars as the Fishes of Hea or Ia. It has also been found on Euphratean remains as Nuni, the Fishes, a supposed equivalent of its other title, Zib, of the later Graeco-Babylonian astronomy; although this last word may mean "Boundary" as being at the end of the zodiac. Another signification is the Water, which we have already seen with Aratos for this part of the sky; this also is the meaning of the word Atl, the Aztecs' name for Pisces.
It was the Babylonian Nūnu, the Syriac Nūno, the Persian Mahīk, and the Turkish Balīk, all translated "Fish"; while Kircher cited, from Coptic Egypt, Πικοτώριων, Piscis Hori, which Brown translates "Protection," but claims for a Coptic lunar asterism formed by β and γ Arietis.
In earliest Chinese astronomy, with Aquarius, Capricornus, and a part of Sagittarius, it was the northern one of the four quarters of the zodiac, the Dark Warrior, or the residence of the Dark, or Northern, Emperor; but later, in their zodiac of twelve figures, it was the Pig, Tseu Tsze; and, after the Jesuits, Shwang Yu, the Two Fishes.
With the Arabians it was Al Samakah, — Chilmead's Alsemcha, — or, in the dual, Al Samakatain; and Al Hūt, the Fish, referring to the southern one, the Vernal Fish, as marking that equinox; the northern being confounded with Andromeda's stars and so not associated with the zodiac. From these came Sameh, Haut, El Haut, and Elhautine in Bayer's Uranometria.
Dante combined the two in his Celeste Lasca, the Celestial Roach or Mullet, saying that here and in Aquarius geomancers saw their Fortuna Major; and thus described I Pesci:
quivering are the Fishes on the horizon,
And the Wain wholly over Caurus lies.
This was on a Saturday morning, and the positions of the constellations indicate that the time was just before sunrise in the month of April; Caurus, or Corus, the Northwest Wind, symbolizing that quarter of the heavens.
Varāha Mihira mentioned the constellation as Ittha, in which the Greek word appears; but before his day it was Anta, Jitu, and Mina or Minam in the Tamil dialect.
The 26th nakshatra, Revatī, Abundant or Wealthy, lay here in the thirty-two stars from ζ northwards, figured as a Drum or Tabor. But the manzil, Baṭn al Ḥūt, the Fish's Belly, or Al Rishāʼ, the Cord, and the corresponding sieu, Koei, or Kwei, Striding Legs, were formed by sixteen stars in a figure 8 from ψ Piscium to ν Andromedae, and mainly lay in this constellation, although β and ζ in Andromeda seem to have been their determinant points. All of these stations, however, may have been even more extended, for there certainly is "a perplexing disagreement in detail among the three systems."
Al Bīrūnī asserted that "the name of the sign in all languages signifies only one fish," and it is probable that the original asterism was such, for, according to Eratosthenes, it symbolized the great Syrian goddess Derke or Derketo, and so, later, was named Dea Syria, Dercis, Dercetis, Dercete, Proles Dercia, and Phacetis. The Greeks called this ἈτάργατιςAllusion was made to this (Atargatis in the apocryphal 2nd Book of Maccabees, xii.26; and gems now in the British Museum show the fish-god with a star or other astronomical symbol) and from a supposed derivation of this word from Adïrºand Dag (Great and Fish) it was drawn with a woman's head upon a huge fish's body. In this manner it was connected with the Syrian Dāgōn and the Jews' Dagaïm, their p339title for the Two Fishes, — Riccioli's Dagiotho. Avienus called the constellation Bombycii Hierapolitani; Grotius correcting the error in orthography to Bambycii, as Derke was worshiped at Bambyce, — the Mabog of Mesopotamia, or Hierapolis, — on the borders of Syria. Thus, too, it was Dii Syrii.
But the Greeks confounded this divinity with another Syrian goddess, Astarte, identified with Ἀφροδίτη (Venus), who precipitated herself, with her son Ἔρως (Cupid), into the Euphrates when frightened by the attack of the monster Typhon; these becoming two fishes that afterwards were placed in the zodiac. Latin classical authors, with the same groundwork of the story, made Pisces the fishes that carried Venus and her boy out of danger, so that, as Manilius said,
Venus ow'd her Safety to their Shape.
The constellation was thus known as Venus et Cupido, Venus Syria cum Cupidine, Venus cum Adone, Dione, and Veneris Mater; and it has been Οὐρανία and Urania, the Sarmatian Aphrodite. All this, perhaps, was the foundation of the Syrians' idea that fish were divine, so that they abstained from them as an article of food; Ovid repeating this in the Fasti, in Gower's rendering:
Hence Syrians hate to eat that kind of fishes;
Nor is it fit to make their gods their dishes.
But Xenophon limited this restriction to the fish of the river Chalos.
A scholiast on Aratos, commented on by Grotius, said that the "Chaldaeans" called the northernmost Fish Χελιδόνιας ἰχθύς; shown with the head of a swallow, a representation that Scaliger attributed to the appearance of the bird in the spring, when the sun is in this region of the sky. Dupuis had much to say about this changed figure, calling it l'Hirondelle, but as of the Arabs; and this idea has led to confusion in the Piscine titles already noticed under Apus. The Greek word, however, was common for a Tunny, so that there is reason enough for its application to either of the Pisces in their normal shape. This northern Fish has sometimes been considered as representing the monster sent to devour Andromeda, and its proximity to the latter would render this more appropriate than the comparatively distant Cetus; in fact, Κῆτος was as often used by the Greeks for the Tunny as it was for the Whale.
Some of the Jews ascribed the joint constellation to the joint tribes of Simeon and Levi, whose sanguinary character Jacob on his death-bed so vividly portrayed; others, to Gad the Marauder. Perhaps it was from this that Pisces was considered of such malignant influence in human affairs, — "a dull, treacherous, and phlegmatic sign"; yet this opinion, doubtless, was anterior to the patriarch's time, for the Egyptians, the instructors of the Hebrews in astrology, are said to have abstained from eating sea-fish out of dread and abhorrence; and when they would express anything odious, represented a fish in their hieroglyphics. Pliny, too, asserted that the appearance of a comet here indicated great trouble from religious differences besides war and pestilence; but this became the common reputation of comets wherever they showed themselves.
In early astrology the constellation appropriately was under the care of the sea-god Neptune, and so the Neptuni Sidus of Manilius; and it was the Exaltation of Venus, as Chaucer said in the Wyf of Bathes Tale, —
In Pisces where Venus is exaltat, —
which Sir Thomas Browne, the author-physician of the 17th century, thus commented upon:a
Who will not commend the wit of astrology? Venus, born out of the sea, hath her exaltation in Pisces.
Thus it naturally ruled the Euphrates, Tigris, and the Red Sea, and Parthia; but in later days was assigned to the guardianship of Jupiter, whose House it was, reigning over Egypt, Calabria, Galicia, Normandy, Portugal, Spain, and Ratisbon. It was predominant in influence with mariners, and had charge of the human feet; the designated color being a glistening white, as of fish just out of the water; and it was fruitful, like its namesakes, for, according to Manilius:
Pisces fill the Flood.
Ptolemy distinguished the members of the constellation as ἐπόμενος, "the rear or eastern," and ἡγουμένος, "the front or western"; the Southern Fish being his νότιος; a precaution rendered necessary by the frequent confounding of these three by classical writers. A notable instance of this is seen in the Poeticon Astronomicon, where our Pisces are made to receive the water from the Urn. In Humboldt's Cosmos they are Pisces boreales.
The constellation is popularly thought to have taken its name from its coincidence with the sun during the rainy season; and the symbol for the sign, ♓, to represent the two Fishes joined; but Sayce thinks it the Hittite determinative affix of plurality.
Postellus asserted that the Fishes represented those with which Christ fed "about five thousand men, beside women and children"; and Caesius, that they were the ΙΧΘΥΣ of Ἰησοῦς Χριστός Θεοῦ Ὑιός Σωτήρ, a fish always being the symbol of the early Christians' faith; but when the old twelve figures were turned into those of the apostles, these became Saint Matthias, successor to the traitor Judas.
The Fishes were changed to a Dolphin in the zodiac sculptured on the wall of Merton College, taken from the armorial bearings of Fitz James, bishop of London, and warden of the college from 1482 to 1508; a dolphin being of as sacred significance among pagans as a fish was among Christians.
Within their boundaries took place the three distinct conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn in the year 747 of Rome, — the year to which for a long time was assigned Christ's birth; these phenomena strikingly agreeing in some of their details with Saint Matthew's account of the Star of Bethlehem. The opinion that these appearances guided the Magi in their visit to Judaea was first advanced and advocated by the celebrated Kepler, and worked out in 1826 by Ideler, and in 1831 by Encke. It is noticeable that the Rabbis held the tradition, recorded by Abrabanel in the 15th century, that a similar conjunction took place in Pisces three years previous to the birth of Moses, and they anticipated another at their Messiah's advent. Thus the Fishes were considered the national constellation of the Jews, as well as a tribal symbol. Jupiter and Saturn were again together here in February, 1881, Venus being added to the group, — a well remembered and most beautiful sight.
Here, too, was the seat of the predicted conjunction of three planets that Stoffler said would cause another Deluge in 1524, — an announcement that created universal consternation; but, unfortunately for the prophet's reputation, the season was unusually dry.
It was in Pisces, on the 2nd of September, 1804, that Harding, of Lilienthal in Hanover, discovered the minor planet Juno.
In his Shepheard's Kalendar for November, Edmund Spenser thus described the constellation's place in the sky:
But nowe sadde Winter welked hath the day,
And Phoebus, weary of his yerely taske,
Ystabled hath his steedes in lowly laye,
And taken up his ynne in Fishes haske.
La Lande, quoting indirectly from Firmicus, mentioned as from the Egyptian sphere of Petosiris:
au nord des Poissons, il place Ie Cerf, & une autre constellation du Lièvre;
but this second Hare I cannot trace, although Bayer had Cerva as a title for Cassiopeia "north of the Fishes."
There is a sprinkling of indistinct stars between the Fishes and the Whale (Cetus) that Vitruvius called Ἑρμεδόνη,º explained by Hesychios as the Stream of Faint Stars, but by some French commentator as les délices de Mercure, whatever that may be. Riccioli, calling it Hermidone, said that it was effusio Aquarii, the classical designation for the Stream from the Urn; but Baldus, with Scaliger, said that the word was Ἁρπεδόνη, the Cord, although this seems equally inapplicable here. These stars may be the proposed new Testudo noted under β Ceti.
Argelander gives 75 components visible to the naked eye, and Heis 128; but the lucida is only of the 4th magnitude.

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