jeudi 25 septembre 2008

Scorpius 10

. . . that cold animal
Which with its tail doth smite among the nations.
Longfellow's translation of Dante's Purgatorio.
was the reputed slayer of the Giant (Orion), exalted to the skies and now rising from the horizon as Orion, still in fear of the Scorpion, sinks below it; p361although the latter itself was in danger, — Sackville writing in his Inductionº to the Mirror of Magistrates, about 1565:
Whiles Scorpio, dreading Sagittarius' dart
Whose bow prest bent in flight the string had slipped,
Down slid into the ocean flood apart.
Classical authors saw in it the monster that caused the disastrous runaway of the steeds of Phoebus Apollo when in the inexperienced hands of Phaethon.
For some centuries before the Christian era it was the largest of the zodiac figures, forming with the Χηλαὶ, its Claws, — the prosectae chelae of Cicero, now our Libra, — a double constellation, as Ovid wrote:
Porrigit in spatium signorum membra duorum;
and this figuring has been adduced as the strongest proof of Scorpio's great antiquity, from the belief that only six constellations made up the earliest zodiac, of which this extended sign was one.
With the Greeks it universally was Σκορπίος; Aratos, singularly making but slight allusion to it, added Μεγαθηρίον, the Great Beast, changed in the 1720 edition of Bayer to Μελαθυρίον; while another very appropriate term with Aratos was Τέρας μέγα, the Great Sign. This reputed magnitude perhaps was due to the mythological necessity of greater size for the slayer of great Orion, in reference to which that author characterized it as πλειότερος προφανείς, "appearing huger still."
The Latins occasionally wrote the word Scorpios, but usually Scorpius, or Scorpio; while Cicero, Ennius, Manilius, and perhaps Columella gave the kindred African title Nepa, or Nepas, the first of which the Alfonsine Tables copy, as did Manilius the Greek adjective Ὀπισθο-βάμων, Walking Backward. Astronomical writers and commentators, down to comparatively modern times, occasionally mentioned its two divisions under the combined title Scorpius cum Chelis; while some representations even showed the Scales in the creature's Claws.
Grotius said that the Arabians called the Claws Graffias, and the Latins, according to Pliny, Forficulae.
In early China it was an important part of the figure of the mighty but genial Azure Dragon of the East and of spring, in later days the residence of the heavenly Blue Emperor; but in the time of Confucius it was Ta Who, the Great Fire, a primeval name for its star Antares; and Shing Kung, a Divine Temple, was applied to the stars of the tail. As a member of the early zodiac it was the Hare, for which, in the 16th century, was substituted, from Jesuit teaching, Tien He, the Celestial Scorpion.
Sir William Drummond asserted that in the zodiac which the patriarch Abraham knew it was an Eagle; and some commentators have located here the biblical Chambers of the South, Scorpio being directly opposite the Pleiades on the sphere, both thought to be mentioned in the same passage of the Book of Job with two other opposed constellations, the Bear and Orion; but the original usually is considered a reference to the southern heavens in general. Aben Ezra identified Scorpio, or Antares, with the Kᵋsīl of the Hebrews; although that people generally considered these stars as a Scorpion, their ʽAḳrabh, and, it is claimed, inscribed it on the banners of Dan as the emblem of the tribe whose founder was "a serpent by the way." When thus shown it was as a crowned Snake or Basilisk. A similar figure appeared for it at one period of Egyptian astronomy; indeed it is thus met with in modern times, for Chatterton, that precocious poet of the last century, plainly wrote of the Scorpion in his line,
The slimy Serpent swelters in his course;

and long before him Spenser had, in the Faerie Queen:
and now in Ocean deepe
Orion flying fast from hissing snake,
His flaming head did hasten for to steepe.
But the Denderah zodiac shows the typical form.
Kircher called the whole constellation Ἰσιας,º Statio Isidis, the bright Antares having been at one time a symbol of Isis.
The Arabians knew it as Al ʽAḳrab, the Scorpion, from which have degenerated Alacrab, Alatrab, Alatrap, Hacrab, — Riccioli's Aakrab and Hacerab; and similarly it was the Syrians' Akrevā. Riccioli gave us Acrobo Chaldaeis, which may be true, but in this Latin word he probably had reference to the astrologers.
The Persians had a Scorpion in their Ghezhdūm or Kazhdūm, and the Turks, in their Koirūghi, Tailed, and Uzun Koirūghi, Long-tailed.
The Akkadians called it Girtab, the Seizer, or Stinger, and the Place where One Bows Down, titles indicative of the creature's dangerous character; although some early translators of the cuneiform text rendered it the Double Sword. With later dwellers on the Euphrates it was the symbol of darkness, showing the decline of the sun's power after the autumnal equinox, then located in it. Always prominent in that astronomy, Jensen thinks that it was formed there 5000 B.C., and pictured much as it now is; perhaps also in the semi-human form of two Scorpion-men, the early circular Altar, or Lamp, sometimes being shown grasped in the Claws, as the Scales were in illustrations of the 15th century. In Babylonia this calendar sign was identified with the eighth month, Arakh Savna, our October-November.
Early India knew it as Āli, Viçrika, or Vrouchicam, — in Tamil, Vrishaman; but later on Varāha Mihira said Kaurpya, and Al Bīrūnī, Kaurba, both from the Greek Scorpios. On the Cingalese zodiac it was Ussika.
Dante designated it as Un Secchione,
Formed like a bucket that is all ablaze;
and in the Purgatorio as Il Friddo Animal of our motto, not a mistaken reference to the creature's nature, but to its rising in the cold hours of the dawn when he was gazing upon it. Dante's translator Longfellow has something similar in his own Poets' Calendar for October:
On the frigid Scorpion I ride.
Chaucer wrote of it, in the Hous of Fame, as the Scorpioun; his Anglo-Norman predecessors, Escorpiun; and the Anglo-Saxons, Throwend.
Caesius mistakenly considered it one of the Scorpions of Rehoboam; but Novidius said that it was
the scorpion or serpent whereby Pharaoh, King of Egypt, was enforced to let the children of Israel depart out of his country;
of which Hood said "there is no such thing in history." Other Christians of their day changed its figure to that of the Apostle Bartholomew; and Weigel, to a Cardinal's Hat.
In some popular books of the present day it is the Kite, which it as much resembles as it does a Scorpion.
Its symbol is now given as ♏, but in earlier times the sting of the creature was added, perhaps so showing the feet, tail, and dart; but the similarity in their symbols may indicate that there has been some intimate connection, now forgotten, between Scorpio and the formerly adjacent Virgo (♍).
Ampelius assigned to it the care of Africus, the Southwest Wind, a duty which, he said, Aries and Sagittarius shared; and the weather-wise of antiquity thought that its setting exerted a malignant influence, and was accompanied by storms; but the alchemists held it in high regard, for only when the sun was in this sign could the transmutation of iron into gold be performed. Astrologers, on the other hand, although they considered it a fruitful sign, "active and eminent," knew it as the accursed constellation, the baleful source of war and discord, the birthplace of the planet Mars, and so the House of Mars, the Martis Sidus of Manilius. But this was located in the sting and tail; the claws, as Ζυγός, Jugum, or the Yoke of the Balance (Libra), being devoted to Venus, because this goddess united persons under the yoke of matrimony. It was supposed to govern the region of the groin in the human body, and to reign over Judaea, Mauritania, Catalonia, Norway, West Silesia, Upper Batavia, Barbary, Morocco, Valencia, and Messina; the earlier Manilius claiming it as the tutelary sign of Carthage, Libya, Egypt, Sardinia, and other islands of the Italian coast. Brown was its assigned color, and Pliny asserted that the appearance of a comet here portended a plague of reptiles and insects, especially of locusts.
Although nominally in the zodiac, the sun actually occupies but nine days in passing through the two portions that project upwards into Ophiuchus, so far south of the ecliptic is it; indeed, except for these projections, it could not be claimed as a member of the zodiac.
Scorpio is famous as the region of the sky where have appeared many of the brilliant temporary stars, chief among them, perhaps, that of 134 B.C., the first in astronomical annals, and the occasion, Pliny said , of the catalogue of Hipparchos, about 125 B.C. The Chinese She Ke confirmed this appearance by its record of "the strange star" in June of that year, in the sieu Fang, marked by β, δ, π, ρ, and others in Scorpio. Serviss thinks it conceivable that the strange outbursts of these novae in and near Scorpio may have had some effect in causing this constellation to be regarded by the ancients as malign in its influence. But this character may, with at least equal probability, have come from the fiery color of its lucida, as well as from the history of the constellation in connection with Orion, and the poisonous attributes of its earthly namesake.
In southern latitudes Scorpio is magnificently seen in its entirety, — nearly 45°, — Gould cataloguing in it 184 naked-eye stars.
Along its northern border, perhaps in Ophiuchus, there was, in very early days, a constellation, the Fox, taken from the Egyptian sphere of Petosiris, but we know nothing as to its details.

. . . capricious Antares
Flushing and paling in the Southern arch.
Willis' The Scholar of Thebet Ben Khorat.

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