dimanche 5 octobre 2008

Orion 10

While far Orion o'er the waves did walk
That flow among the isles.
Shelley's The Revolt of Islam.
Orion with his glittering belt and sword

Gilded since time has been, while time shall be.
. . . .
Thou splendid soulless warrior! What to thee,
Marching along the bloodless fields, are we!

Lucy Larcom's Orion.
Orion, admired in all historic ages as the most strikingly brilliant of the stellar groups, lies partly within the Milky Way, extending on both sides of the celestial equator entirely south of the ecliptic, and so is visible from every part of the globe.
With Theban Greeks of Corinna's time, about the year 490 before our era, it was Ὠαρίων, the initial letter having taken the place of the ancient digamma, ϝ, which, pronounced somewhat like the letter W, rendered the early word akin to our Warrior. Corinna's pupil Pindar followed in Ὠαριώνειος, but by the time of Euripides the present Ὠρίων prevailed, and we see it thus in Polymestor's words in the Ἐκάβη of 425 B.C.:

through the ether to the lofty ceiling,
Where Orion and Seirios dart from their eyes
The flaming rays of fire.

Catullus transcribed Oarion from Pindar, shortened to Arion, and sometimes changed to Aorion; but the much later Argion, attributed to Firmicus, was for Procyon, probably from Ἀργος, the faithful dog of Ulixes.
The derivation of the word has been in doubt, but Brown refers it to the Akkadian Uru‑Anna,1 the Light of Heaven, originally applied to the sun, as Uru‑ki, the Light of Earth, was to the moon; so that our title may have come into Greek mythology and astronomy from the Euphrates. The Οὐρίον, Οὐρον, or ᾽Υριών of the Hyriean, or Byrsaean, story, the Urion of the original Alfonsine Tables, graphically explained by Minsheu, is in no sense an acceptable title, although Hyginus and Ovid vouched for it, thus showing its currency in their day. Caesius' derivation from Ὤρα, as if marking the Seasons, seems fanciful.
At one time it was Ἀλετροπόδιον, found in the Uranologia of Petavius of the 16th century, which Ideler said should be Ἀλεκτροπόδιον, Cock's Foot, likening the constellation to a Strutting Cock; but Brown goes back to Ἀλη, Roaming, and so reads it Ἀλητροπόδιον, the Foot-Turning Wanderer, mythologically recorded as roaming in his blindness till miraculously restored to side by viewing the rising sun.
The Boeotians, according to Strabo, fellow-countrymen of the earthly Orion, called his stars Κανδάων, their alternative title for Ἄρης, the god of war, well agreeing with, perhaps originating, the Greek conception of the Warrior.
Ovid said that the constellation was Comesque Boötae; and some authors asserted that Orion never set, an idea possibly coming from the confusion in name with Boötes already alluded to; although even as to that constellation the assertion would not have been strictly correct. Matthew Arnold similarly wrote in his Sohrab and Rustum:
the northern Bear,
Who from her frozen height with jealous eye
Confronts the Dog and Hunter in the South.

Dianae Comes, and Amasius, Companion, and Lover of Diana, were other titles, the Hero, after his death from the Scorpion's sting inflicted for his boastfulness, having been located by Jove in his present position, at the request of the goddess, that he might escape in the west when his slayer, the Scorpion, rose in the east, — as Aratos said:
When the Scorpion comes
Orion flies to utmost end of earth.
Thompson sees in this alternate rising and setting of these two sky figures an astronomic explanation of the symbolism in classic ornithology of the mutual pursuit and flight of Haliaëtos and Keiris, the Sea Eagle and Kingfisher, compared in the poem Ciris to these opposed constellations.
In Horace's Odes the constellation is termed pronus; and Tennyson had
Great Orion sloping slowly to the west,
which, with the rest of the beautiful opening passage, adds much to the charm of his Locksley Hall.
Homer, who made but a single allusion in the Iliad to this constellation, followed by a parallel passage in the Odyssey [XI.310], wrote of "the might of huge Orion," and described the earthly hero as the "Illustrious Orion, the tallest and most beautiful of men, — even than the Aloidae," adjectives all well applied to our stellar figure; Hesiod said:
When strong Orion chaces to the deep the Virgin stars;
Pindar, that he was of monstrous size; as did Manilius in his Magna pars maxima coeli; and nearly all authors, as well as illustrators, have thus described Orion, and as an armed warrior. In the Ἐκάβη we read:
with his glittering sword Orion arm'd;
in Ovid's works, of ensiger Orion; in Lucan's, of ensifer; and Vergil has a fine passage in the Aeneid quaintly translated in 1513 by the "Scottis" Gavin Douglas, where Palinurus

Of every sterne the twynkling notis he
That in the still hevin move cours we se,
Arthurys house, and Hyades betaikning rane,
Watling strete,( Watling Street is a very old name for several Roman roads in England, and in particular the largest of them, from Dover to Wroxeter (for which, in exhaustive detail, see Chapters 2 and 3 of Codrington's Roman Roads); here the name serves to designate the Milky Way. ) the Horne and the Charlewane,
The fiers Orion with his goldin glave;
these last a very liberal translation of the much quoted armatumque auro. But later on in the voyage, when the fleet was off Capreae, the old pilot, in his astronomical enthusiasm dum sidera servat, lost his balance, and tumbled overboard.
The constellation's stormy character appeared in early Hindu, and perhaps even in earlier Euphratean days, and is seen everywhere among classical writers with allusions to its direful influence. Vergil termed it aquosus, nimbosus, and saevus; Horace, tristis and nautis infestus, Pliny, horridus sideribus; and the Latin sailors had a favorite saying, Fallit saepissime nautas Orion. Polybios, the Greek historian of the second century before Christ, attributed the loss of the Roman squadron in the first Punic war to its having sailed just after "the rising of Orion"; Hesiod long before wrote of this same rising:

then the winds war aloud,
And veil the ocean with a sable cloud:
Then round the bark, already haul'd on shore,
Lay stones, to fix her when the tempests roar;

and Milton, in Paradise Lost:

when with fierce winds Orion arm'd
Hath vex'd the Red-sea coast, whose waves o'erthrew
Busiris and his Memphian chivalry.

Many classical authors variously alluded to it as a calendar sign, for its morning rising indicated the beginning of summer, when, as we find in the Works and Days, the husbandman was instructed to

Forget not, when Orion first appears,
To make your servants thresh the sacred ears;

his midnight rising marked the season of grape-gathering; and his evening appearance the approach of winter and its attendant storms: an opinion that prevailed as late as the 17th century, for in the Geneva Bible, familiarly known as the Breeches Bible, the marginal reading in the Book of Job, xxxviii.31, is "which starre bringeth in winter." Plautus, Varro, and others called the constellation Jugula and Jugulae, the Joined, referring to the umeri, the two bright stars in the shoulders, as if connected by the jugulum, or collar‑bone. Such, at least, is the generally received derivation, but Buttman claimed it as from jugulare, and hence the Slayer, a fitting title for the Warrior.

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