vendredi 26 septembre 2008

Taurus 15

Ere the heels of flying Capricorn
Have touched the western mountain's darkening rim,
I mark, stern Taurus, through the twilight gray,
The glinting of thy horn,
And sullen front, uprising large and dim,
Bent to the starry Hunter's sword at bay.
Bayard Taylor's Hymn to Taurus.

Taurus, the Bull,
le Taureau of France, il Toro of Italy, and der Stier of Germany, everywhere was one of the earliest and most noted constellations, perhaps the first established, because it marked the vernal equinox from about 4000 to 1700 B.C., in the golden age of archaic astronomy; in all ancient zodiacs preserved to us it began the year. It is to this that Vergil alluded in the much quoted lines from the 1st Georgic, which May rendered:
When with his golden hornes bright Taurus opes
The yeare; and downward the crosse Dog-starre stoopes;
and the poet's description well agrees with mythology's idea of Europa's bull, for he was always thus described, and snowy white in color. This descended to Chaucer's Whyte Bole, in Troilus and Criseyde, for are the candidus Taurus of the original. The averso, "crosse," in the second line of this passage:
. . . averso cedens Canis occidit astro,—
adversus with Ovid, and aversaque Tauri sidera with Manilius, — generally has, however, been translated "backward," as a supposed allusion to the constellation rising in reversed position; but quite as probably it is from the mutual hostility of the earthly animals.
Ταῦρος, its universal title in Greek literature, was more specifically given as Τομή and Προτομή, the Bust, the Bull generally being drawn with only his forward parts, Cicero following this in his prosecto corpore Taurus, and Ovid in his
Pars prior apparet Posteriora latent, which the mythologists accounted for by saying that, as Taurus personified the animal that swam away with Europa, his flanks were immersed in the waves. This association with Europa led to the constellation titles Portitor, or Proditor, Europae; Agenoreus, used by Ovid, referring to her father; and Tyrius, by Martial, to her country. This incomplete figuring of Taurus induced the frequent designation, in early catalogues, Sectio Tauri, which the Arabians adopted, dividing the figure at the star ο, but retaining the hind quarters as a sub-constellation, Al Ḥaṭṭ, recognized by Ulug Beg, and, in its translation, as Sectio, by Tycho, the line being marked by ο, ξ, s, and f. Ancient drawings generally showed the figure as we do, although some gave the entire shape, Pliny and Vitruvius writing of the Pleiades as cauda tauri, so implying a complete animal.
Aratos qualified his Ταῦρος by πεπτηώς, "crouching"; Cicero, by inflexoque genu, "on bended knee"; Manilius, by nixus, "striving"; and further, in Creech's translation:
The mighty Bull is lame; His leg turns under;
Taurus bends as wearied by the Plough;
this crouching position also being shown in almost all Euphratean figuring, as are the horns in immense proportions. The last descended to Aratos, who styled the constellation Κεραόν, and is seen in the Cornus of Ovid.
The latter author wrote again of the sky figure:
Vacca sit an taurus non est cognoscere promptum,
from the conflicting legends of Io and Europa; for some of the poets, changing the sex, had called these stars Io, the Wanderer, another object of Jupiter's attentions, whom Juno's jealousy had changed to a cow. They also varied the title by the equivalent Juvenca Inachia and Inachis, from her father Inachus. She afterwards became the ancestress of our Cepheus and Andromeda. Still another version, from the myth of early spring, made Taurus Amasius Pasiphaes, the Lover of Pasiphaë; but La Lande's Chironis Filia seems unintelligible.
The story that the Bull was one of the two with brazen feet tamed by the Argonaut Jason, perhaps, has deeper astronomical meaning, for Thompson writes:
The sign Taurus may have been the Cretan Bull; and a transit through that sign may have been the celestial Βόσπορος of the Argonautic voyage.

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