vendredi 19 septembre 2008

Ursa Major 1

The constellation of Ursa Major has been seen by many distinct civilizations as a bear.[1] In one sequence, together with the nearby Ursa Minor, it is associated with the myth of Callisto, in another the myth of Cynosura.
In another tale, Ursa Major was associated with the Hesperides. With Ursa Minor, Boötes, Draco, and Hercules it may have inspired the myth of the Apples of the Hesperides, one of The Twelve Labours of Hercules. In one myth, Zeus lusts after a young woman named Kallisto, a nymph of Artemis. Hera, Zeus's wife, jealously turns the Kallisto into a bear. Kallisto, while in bear form later encounters her son Arcas. Arcas almost shoots the bear, but to avert the tragedy, Zeus sweeps them both into the sky, forming Ursa Major.
One of the few star groups mentioned in the Bible (Job 9:9; 38:32; Amos 5:8 — Orion and the Pleiades being others), Ursa Major was also pictured as a bear by both the Jewish people and most North American peoples. However, as bears do not have long tails, they considered Alioth, Mizar, and Alkaid to be either three cubs following their mother or three hunters. ("The Bear" was mistranslated as "Arcturus" in the Vulgate and the error persisted in the KJV. Later translations have corrected this.)
The Iroquois Native Americans also interpreted Alioth, Mizar, and Alkaid as three hunters pursuing the Great Bear. According to one version of their myth, the first hunter (Alioth) is carrying a bow and arrow to strike down the bear. The second hunter (Mizar) carries a large pot — the star Alcor — on his shoulder in which to cook the bear while the third hunter (Alkaid) hauls a pile of firewood to light a fire beneath the pot.
In Burmese, Pucwan Tārā (pronounced "bazun taja") is the name of a constellation comprising stars from the head and forelegs of Ursa Major; pucwan is a general term for prawn, shrimp, crab, lobster, etc. Europeans see Ursa Major as a wagon. English as a plough. Ancient Egyptians as 'Bull's Thigh'. Chinese as 'government' and 'Northern measure' and Hebrew and Arabs as a 'coffin'.

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