vendredi 26 septembre 2008

Taurus 16

It bore synonymous titles in various languages: in Arabia, Al Thaur, which degenerated to El Taur, Altor, Ataur, Altauro, by Schickard; Tur, by Riccioli; and even now Taur, in our Standard Dictionary. In Syria it was Taurā; in Persia, Tora, Ghav, or Gāu; in Turkey, Ughuz; and in Judaea, Shōr, although also known there as Rᵋʼēm, a word that zoölogically appears in the Authorized Version of our Bible as the "unicorn," but better in the Revised as the "wild ox."
Latin writers mentioned it under its present name, to which Germanicus added Bos from the country people, although it also was Princeps armenti, the Leader of the herd, and Bubulcus, the peasant Driver of the Oxen, a title more usual and more correct, however, for Boötes; La Lande quoting it as Bubulum Caput.
Manilius characterized Taurus as dives puellis, "rich in maidens," referring to its seven Hyades and seven Pleiades, all daughters of Atlas, and the chief attraction in a constellation not otherwise specially noticeable. An early Grecian gem shows three nude figures, hand in hand, standing on the head of the Bull, one pointing to seven stars in line over the back, which Landseer referred to the Hyades; but as six of the stars are strongly cut, and one but faintly so, and the letter Pº is superscribed, Dr Charles Anthon is undoubtedly correct in claiming them for the Pleiades, and the three figures for the Graces, or Charites. These were originally the Vedic Harits, associated with the sun, stars, and seasons; and this astronomical character adhered to the Charites, for their symbols in their ancient temple in Boeotia were stones reputed to have fallen from the sky.
A coin, struck 43 B.C. by P. Clodius Turrinus, bore the Pleiades in evident allusion to the consular surname; while earlier still — 312‑64 B.C. — the Seleucidae of Syria placed the humped bull in a position of attack on their coins as symbol of this constellation. The gold muhrs, or mohurs and the zodiacal rupees, attributed to Jehangir Shah, of 1618, show Taurus as a complete, although spiritless, creature, with the gibbous hump peculiar to Indian cattle. This is always drawn in the Euphratean stellar figure, and was described as Κυρτός by an early commentator on the Syntaxis. But the silver rupees of the same monarch have the customary half animal in bold, butting attitude exactly as it is now, and as it was described by Manilius in his flexus and nisus, and by Lucan in his curvatus. A very ancient coin of Samos, perhaps of the 6th century before Christ, bears a half-kneeling, sectional figure of a bull, with a lion's head on the obverse; and one of Thurii, in Lucania, of the 4th century B.C., has the complete animal in position to charge. Another of this same city bears the Bull with a bird on its back, perhaps symbolizing the Peleiad Doves.
Plutarch wrote, in his De Facie inº Orbe Lunae [ch. 26, 941C‑D], that when the planet Saturn was in Taurus, i.e. every thirty years, there took place the legendary migration from the external continent beyond the Cronian, or Saturnian, Sea to the Homeric Ogygia,º or to one its sister islands.
South American tribes held ideas similar to our own about Taurus, for La Condamine, the celebrated French scientist of the last century, said that the Amazon Indians saw in the > of the Hyades the head of a bull; while Goguet more definitely stated that, at the time of the discovery of that river, by Yañez Pinzon in 1500, the natives along its banks called the group Tapüra Rayoaba, the Jaw of an Ox; and even in civilized countries it has been fancifully thought that its shape, with the horns extending to β and ζ, gave title to the constellation.
In China it formed part of the White Tiger, and also was known as Ta Leang, the Great Bridge, from a very early designation of the Hyades and Pleiades; but as a zodiac constellation it was the Cock, or Hen, recalling the modern Hen and Chickens of the Pleiades. When the Jesuits introduced their Western nomenclature it became Kin Neu, the Golden Ox.
After Egyptian worship of the bull-god Osiris had spread to other Mediterranean countries, our Taurus naturally became his sky representative, as also of his wife and sister Isis, and even assumed her name; but the starry Bull of the Nile country was not ours, at least till late in that astronomy. Still this constellation is said to have begun the zodiacal series on the walls of a sepulchral chamber in the Ramesseum; and, whatever may have been its title, its stars certainly were made much of throughout all Egyptian history and religion, not only from its then containing the vernal equinox, but from the belief that the human race was created when the sun was here. In Coptic Egypt it, or the Pleiades, was Ὥριας, the Good Season, Kircher's Statio Hori, although it was better known as Apis, the modern form of the ancient Hapi, whose worship as god of the Nile may have preceded even the building of the pyramids.
As first in the early Hebrew zodiac it was designated by A or Āleph, the first letter of that alphabet, coincidently a crude figure of the Bull's face and horns; some of the Targums assigning it to the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim, from Moses' allusion to their father Joseph in the 33d chapter of Deuteronomy, — "his horns are the horns of the wild ox"; but others said that it appeared only on the banners of Ephraim; or referred it to Simeon and Levi jointly, from Jacob's death-bed description of their character, — "they houghed an ox"; or to Issachar, the "strong ass" which shared with the ox the burdens of toil and carriage.
It has been associated with the animal that Adam first offered in sacrifice, p382or with the later victims in the Jewish temple; and the Christian school of which Novidius was spokesman recognized in Taurus the Ox that stood with the ass by the manger at the blessed Nativity. Hood said of this: "But whether there were any ox there or no, I know not how he will prove it." In the "apostolic zodiac" it became Saint Andrew; but Caesius said that long before him it was Joseph the Patriarch.
Representations of the Mithraic Bull on gems of four or five centuries before Christ, reproduced in Lajarde's Culte de Mithra, prove that Taurus was at that time still prominent in Persico-Babylonian astronomy as well as in its religion. One of these representations, showing the front of the Bull's head, may very well be the origin of our present symbol of this sign, ♉, although it also has been considered a combination of the full and crescent moon, associated with this constellation as a nocturnal sign; and some assert that Taurus was drawn as a demi-bull from his representing the crescent moon. This appears on a Babylonian cylinder seal of about 2150 B.C. Still earlier in Akkadia it seems to have been known as the Bull of Light, its double title, Te Te, referring to its two groups, the Hyades and Pleiades, which in every age have been of so much interest to mankind; and a cylinder has Gut‑an‑na, the Heavenly Bull, mentioned in connection with rain, so recalling the rainy Hyades. Epping says that it was the Babylonians' Shūr, and that four of their ecliptic constellations were marked by its stars; while Jensen mentions it as symbolic of Mardūk, the Spring Sun, son of Ia, whose worship seems to have been general 2200 B.C., — probably long before, — and that it was originally complete and extended as far as the Fish of Ia, the northern of the two Fishes. This high authority carries the formation of Taurus still farther back, to about 5000 B.C., even before the equinox lay here. The name of the second of the antediluvian Babylonian kings, the mythical Alaparos, seems connected with this constellation or with the lucida, Aldebaran; and its stars certainly were associated with the second month of the Assyrian year, A‑aru, the Directing Bull, our April-May, as they were in the Epic of Creation with the conquest of the Centaur.
Taurus was the Cingalese Urusaba, the early Hindu Vrisha, Vrishan, or Vrouchabam, — in the Tamil tongue, Rishabam; but subsequently Varāha Mihira gave it as Taouri, his rendering of Taurus, and Al Bīrūnī, in his India, as Tāmbiru.
With the Druids it was an important object of worship, their great religious festival, the Tauric, being held when the sun entered its boundaries; and it has, perhaps fancifully, been claimed that the tors of England were the old sites of their Taurine cult, as our cross-buns are the present representatives of the early bull cakes with the same stellar association, tracing back through the ages to Egypt and Phoenicia. And the Scotch have a story that on New Year's eve the Candlemas Bull is seen rising in the twilight and sailing across the sky, — a matter-of‑fact statement, after all.

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