mardi 23 septembre 2008

Ursa Minor 3

The other, less in size but valued more by sailors,
Circles with all her stars in smaller orbit.

Ursa Minor, the Lesser Bear,
the Orsa Minore of Italy, Petite Ourse of France, and Kleine Bär of Germany, shared with its major companion the latter's Septentrio, Ἄρκτος, Ἅμαξα, Ἄγαννα, and Ἑλίκη.
Similarly it was Κυνόσουρις, but solely Κυνόσουρα; this early and universal title, usually translated the "Dog's Tail," continuing as Cynosura down to the time of the Rudolphine Tables; although with us "Cynosure" is applied only to Polaris. The origin of this word is uncertain, for the star group does not answer to its name unless the dog himself be attached; still some, recalling a variant legend of Kallisto and her Dog instead of Arcas, have thought that here lay the explanation. Others have drawn this title from that of the Attican promontory east of Marathon, because sailors, on their approach to it from the sea, saw these stars shining above it and beyond; but if there be any connection at all here, the reversed derivation is more probable; while Bournouf asserted that it is in no way associated with the Greek word for "dog."
Cox identified the word with Λυκόσουρα, which he renders Tail, or Train, of Light. Yet this does not seem appropriate to a comparatively faint constellation, and would rather recall the city of that title in Arcadia, the country so intimately connected with the Bears. But the stellar name probably long antedated the geographical, old as this was; Pausanias [8.38, 8.2] considering Lycosura the most ancient city in the world, having been founded by Lycaon some time before the Deluge of Deucalion. Indeed the Arcadians asserted that they and their country antedated the creation of the moon, an assertion which gave occasion to Aristotle's term for them, — Προσέληνοι and the Latins' Proselenes.
Singularly coincident with the foregoing Λυκόσουρα was the title that the distant Gaels gave to these stars, — Drag-blod, the Fire Tail.
Very recently, however, Brown has suggested that the word is not Hellenic in origin, but Euphratean; and, in confirmation of this, mentions a constellation title from that valley, transcribed by Sayce as An‑ta-sur‑ra, the Upper Sphere. Brown reads this An‑nas-sur‑ra, High in Rising, certainly very appropriate to Ursa Minor; and he compares it with Κ‑υν‑όσ‑ου‑ρα, or, the initial consonant being omitted, Unosoura. This, singularly like the Euphratean original,
might easily become Kunosoura under the influence of a popular etymology, aided by the appearance of the tail stars of the constellation. And in exact accordance with the foregoing view is the following somewhat curiousa passage in the Phainomena, 308‑9:
Then, too, the head of Kynosure runs very high,
When night begins.
Ursa Minor was not mentioned by Homer or Hesiod, for, according to Strabo, it was not admitted among the constellations of the Greeks until about 600 B.C., when Thales, inspired by its use in Phoenicia, his probable birthplace, suggested it to the Greek mariners in place of its greater neighbor, which till then had been their sailing guide. Aratos, comparing the two, wrote, as in our motto, of the Minor, its Guards, β and γ, then being much nearer the pole than was α, our present pole-star. Thales is reported to have formed it by utilizing the ancient wings of Draco, perceiving that the seven chief components somewhat resembled the well-known Wain, but reversed with respect to each other. From all this come its titles Φοινίκη, Phoenice, and Ursa Phoenicia.
The later classical story that made sister nymphs out of the stars of our two Bears, and nurses on Mount Ida of the infant Jove, is alluded to by Manilius in his line:
p449 The Little Bear that rock'd the mighty Jove.
Although occasionally, but wrongly, figured and described as equal in size, — Euripides wrote:
Twin Bears, with the swift-wandering rushings of their tails, guard the Atlantean pole,—
they have always occupied their present respective positions, and, as Manilius said:
stand not front to front but each doth view
The others Tayl, pursu'd as they pursue;
the scientific poet Erasmus Darwin of the last century, grandfather of Charles Robert Darwin of this, imitating this in his Economy of Vegetation:
Onward the kindred Bears, with footsteps rude,
Dance round the pole, pursuing and pursued.
This "dancing" of the stars generally, as well as of the planets, was a favorite simile, and in classical days specially gave name to δ and ε of this constellation, as well as in Hindu astronomy; while Dante thus applied it to all those that were circumpolar:
Like unto stars neighboring the steadfast poles,
Ladies they seemed, not from the dance released.
The Arabians knew Ursa Minor as Al Dubb al Aṣghar, the Lesser Bear, — Bayer's Dhub Elezguar, and Chilmead's Dub Alasgar, — although earlier it was even more familiar to them as another Bier; and they called the three stars in the tail of our figure Banāt al Naʽash al Ṣughrā, the Daughters of the Lesser Bier.
Here, and in Ursa Major, some early commentators located the Fold, an ancient stellar figure of the Arabs, and an appropriate title, as Firuzabadi called β and the gammas in Ursa Minor Al Farḳadain, usually rendered the Two Calves, but, better, the Two Young Ibexes; Polaris, too, was well known as a Young He Goat, and adjacent stars bore names of desert animals more or less associated with a fold. Perhaps Lowell had this in mind when he wrote, in Prometheus, of
The Bear that prowled all night about the fold
Of the North-star.
But Manilius anticipated him in writing of the Bears:
Secure from meeting they're distinctly roll'd,
Nor leave their Seats, and pass the dreadfull fold.

The Arabs also likened the constellation to a Fish, while with all that nation, heathen or Muḥammadan, it was Al Faṣṣ, the Hole in which the earth's axle found its bearing.
Others of them, as well as the Persians, figured here the Ihlilagji, the Myrobalanum, or Date-palm Seed or Fruit, which the grouped stars were thought to resemble; but Hyde, writing the word Myrobalanaris, said that it signified one of their geometrical figures, — described by Ideler as bounded by our α, δ, ε, ζ, η, γ, β, a, b, and the stars in the head of Camelopardalis. In Persia, where this foregoing figure was popular, Ursa Minor also was Heft Rengh, Heft Averengh, or Hafturengh Kihin, the last word designating its inferiority in size to Ursa Major.
Jensen sees here the Leopard of Babylonia, an emblem of darkness which this shared, there and in Egypt, with all other circumpolar constellations; while on the Nile it was the well-known Jackal of Set even as late as the Denderah zodiac. This Jackal also appears in the carvings on the walls of the Ramesseum, but is there shown with pendent tail strikingly coinciding with the outlines of the constellation.
Plutarch said that with the Phoenicians it was Doube or Dōbher (?), similar to the Arabian title, but defined by Flammarion as the "Speaking Constellation," — better, I think, the "Guiding One," indicating to their sailors the course to steer at sea. Jacob Bryant assigned it to Egypt, or Phoenicia, as Cahen ourah, — whatever that may be.
The early Danes and Icelanders knew it as the Smaller Chariot, or Throne, of Thor; and their descendants still call it Litli Vagn, the Little Wagon; as also, but very differently, Fiosakonur ā lopti, the Milkmaids of the Sky. But the Finns, apparently alone among the northern nations of Europe in this conception, have Vähä Otawa, the Little Bear.
Dante called the seven stars Cornu, doubtless then a common name, for it appeared in Vespucci's 3a Lettera as Elcorno, his editor erroneously explaining this as a typographical error for carro, the wain; Eden and others of his time translating this as the Horne. And it has been the Spanish shepherds' similarly shaped Bocina, a Bugle; and the Italian sailors' Bogina, a Boa.
Caesius mentioned Catuli, and Canes Laconicae, the Lapdogs or Puppies, and the Spartan Dogs, as titles for both of the Bears.
With the Chinese it was Peih Sing.
Alrucaba, or Alruccaba, which probably should be Al Rukkabah, is first found in the Alfonsine Tables, although the edition of 1521 applied it only to the lucida. While this generally is supposed to be from the Arabic Al Rakabah, the Riders, Grotius asserted that it is from the Chaldee Rukub, p451a Vehicle, the Hebrew Rɛkhūbh; and, if so, would seem to be equivalent to the Wain and from the Hebrew editor of Alfonso. Others have thought it from Rukbah, the Knee, as β always has marked the forearm of the Bear, and Alrucaba, in a varied orthography, was current for that star some centuries ago, as it is now for Polaris. Riccioli gave a queerly combined name for the constellation, Dubherukabah; and Bayer had Eruccabah, ending his list of titles with Ezra, a blunder in some connection with the commentator Aben Ezra, whom he often cited as an authority; still Riccioli followed him in this.
The Geneva Bible, rendering the Hebrew ʽĀsh, etc., by "Arcturus with his Sonnes," incorrectly added the marginal note, "the North Star with those that are about him."
Caesius typified the constellation as the Chariot sent by Joseph to bring his father down into Egypt, or that in which Elijah was carried to heaven; or as the Bear that David slew.
Young astronomers now know it as the Little Dipper.
In the old German manuscript already alluded to mention is made of
Ursa Minor under the North Pole, which is called by another name Tramontane (i.e. because on one side of the Mons Coelius, whereon sits the Pole Star);
thus indicating another origin for this name than that found under Polaris as from the Mediterranean nations. I have seen no explanation of this, yet frequent references are met with in early records to some mountain located in the North as the seat of the gods and the habitation of life, the South being, "the abode of the prince of death and of demons." Sayce writes:
In early Sumerian days the heaven was believed to rest on the peak of "the mountain of the world" in the far northeast, where the gods had their habitations (cf. Isai. xiv, 13) [the mount of congregation, in the uttermost parts of the north], while an ocean or "deep" encircled the earth which rested upon its surface.
Von Herder referred to it as
Albordy, the dazzling mountain, on which was held the assembly of the gods;
and identified it with "the holy mountain of God" alluded to in the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, xxviii.14; and Professor Whitney quoted from the 62d verse of the 1st chapter of the Sūrya Siddhānta:
the mountain which is the seat of the gods;
and from the 34th verse of the 12th chapter:

A collection of manifold jewels, a mountain of gold, is Mēru, passing through the middle of the earth-globe, and protruding on either side.
Commenting upon which, he says:
"the 'seat of the gods' is Mount Mēru, situated at the north pole."
The Norsemen had the same idea in their Himinbiorg, the Hill of Heaven, and the abode of Heimdallr, the guardian of the bridge Bifröst, the Rainbow, which united the earth to Āsaheimr, or Āsgard, the Yard, City, or Stronghold of the Āss, their gods, and the Olympus of Northern mythology. While far back of them the Egyptians supported their heavenly vault by four mountains, one at each of the cardinal points. Towards our day, in the report by "Christophorus Colonus, the Admyrall," recorded by Peter Martyr, we read that the great discoverer thought
"that the earth is not perfectlye rounde; But that when it was created, there was a certeyne heape reysed thereon, much hygher than the other partes of the same."
Columbus called this Paria, asserting that it contained Paradise; but it would seem from his narrative that he located it somewhere in the neighborhood of his discoveries between North and South America. Even in Chilmead's Treatise, more than a century after Columbus, we find serious reference to this mythical mountain as
the mountaine Slotus, which lies under the Pole, and is the highest in the world.
May we not see in these the origin of Mons Coelius, the Heavenly Mountain, and of the name Tramontana from our constellation's location above that celestial elevation? And I would here call attention to the old story of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, who, under the persecution of Decius in our 3d century, slumbered for nearly 200 years in the grotto under the similarly named Mount Coelian; these worthy successors of Epimenides the Cnosian and predecessors of our Rip Van Winkle being early associated with the seven stars of Ursa Major, and so perhaps with this, the Minor.
The latter's genethliacal influence was similar to that of its companion; the Prince, in Tennyson's Princess, thus accounting for his temperament:
For on my cradle shone the Northern star;
and likeness in their motions is alluded to in the same author's In Memoriam where
the lesser wain
Is twisting round the polar star,—
one of the Greater Bear's titles being the Twister; and in the Lazy Team, a designation that it still more deserves than does Ursa Major.
In Proctor's attempt to reform constellation names he calls this simply Minor, the Greater Bear being Ursa.
Ursa Minor, as now drawn, is enclosed on three sides by the coils of Draco; formerly it was almost entirely so. Argelander here enumerates 27 stars down to the 5 1/2 magnitude, and Heis 54.

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