dimanche 5 octobre 2008

Ursa Major 16

Aratos called the constellation the "Wain-like Bear"; and, alluding to the title Ἅμαξα, asserted that the word was from ἅμα, "together," the Ἅμαξαι thus circling together around the pole; but no philologist accepts this, and it might as well have come from ἄξων, "axle," referring to the axis of the heavens. In fact, Hewitt goes far back of Aratos in his statement that the Sanskrit god Akshivan, the Driver of the Axle (Aksha), was adopted in Greece as Ixion, whose well-known wheel was merely the circling course of this constellation. Anacreon mentioned it as a Chariot as well as a Bear; and Hesychios had it Ἄγαννα, an archaic word from ἄγειν, "to carry," singularly like, in orthography at least, the Akkadian title for the Wain stars, Aganna, or Akanna, the Lord of Heaven; and Aben Ezra called it Ajala, the Hebrew word for "wagon."
The Romans expressed the same idea in their Currus; Plaustrum,( The Latin plaustrum, originally a two-wheeled ox-cart, appears in the De Re Rustica of Cato Censorius as plaustrum maius for one with four wheels. ) or Plostrum, magnum; with the diminutive Plaustricula, which Capella ( This is an author of course — the 5c Latin writer Martianus Capella — not the brilliant star (α Aurigae). ) turned into Plaustriluca, imitating the "Noctiluca" used by Horace for the moon. Apollinaris Sidonius, the Christian writer of the 6th century, called the constellation Plaustra Parrhasis; and Rycharde Eden wrote it Plastrum,—
al the sterres cauled Plastrum or Charles Wayne, are hydde under the Northe pole to the canibals.
In all these, of course, reference was made to the seven stars only, Bartschius plainly showing this on his chart, where he outlines them, with the title Plaustrum, included within the limits of the much larger Ursa Major.
The Italians have Cataletto, a Bier, and Carro; and the Portuguese Camões wrote it Carreta.
The Danes, Swedes, and Icelanders knew it as Stori Vagn, the Great Wagon, and as Karls Vagn; Karl being Thor, their greatest god, of whom the old Swedish Rhyme Chronicle, describing the statues in the church ( It is in this church, or cathedral, that the great Linnaeus lies buried, and over its south porch is sculptured the Hebrew story of the Creation. )at Upsala, says:
The God Thor was the highest of them;
He sat naked as a child,
Seven stars in his hand and Charles's Wain.
The Goths similarly called the seven stars Karl Wagen, which has descended to modern Germans as Wagen and Himmel Wagen, the last with the story that it represents the Chariot in which Elijah journeyed to heaven. But in the heathen times of the northern nations it was the Wagon of Odin, Woden, or Wuotan, the father of Thor, and the Irmines Wagen of the Saxons. Grimm cites Herwagen, probably the Horwagen of Bayer and the Hurwagen of Caesius; while a common English name now is the Waggon. The Poles call it Woz Niebeski, the Heavenly Wain. In all these similes the three tail stars of our Bear were the three draught-horses in line.
The royal poet King James wrote:
Heir shynes the charlewain, there the Harp gives light,
And heir the Seamans Starres, and there Twinnis bright.
This old and still universally popular title, Charles's Wain, demands more than mere mention. It has often been derived from the Saxon ceorl, the carle of mediaeval times, our churl, and thus the "peasant's cart"; but this is incorrect, and the New English Dictionary has an exhaustive article on the words, well worthy of repetition here:
Charles's Wain. Forms: carles-wæn, Cherlemaynes-wayne, Charlmons wayn, carle wen-sterre, carwaynesterre, Charel-wayn, Charlewayn, Charle wane, Charles wayne or waine, Charles or Carol's wain(e), Charlemagne or Charles his wane, wain(e), Charle-waine, Charl-maigne Wain, Charles's Wain. [OE. Carles wægn, the wain (ἅμαξα, plaustrum) of Carl (Charles the Great, Charlemagne). The name appears to arise out of the verbal association of the star-name Arcturus with Arturus or Arthur, and the legendary association of Arthur and Charlemagne; so that what was originally the wain of Arcturus or Boötes ('Boötes' golden wain,' Pope) became at length the wain of Carl or Charlemagne. (The guess churl's or carle's wain has been made in ignorance of the history.)]
As the name Arcturus was formerly sometimes applied loosely to the constellation Boötes, and incorrectly to the Great Bear, the name Carlewayne-sterre occurs applied to the star Arcturus.
The editor cites from various authors since the year 1000, when he finds Carleswæn (I can make a still earlier citation of this word from one of the Anglo-Saxon Cottonian Manuscripts of some years previously), and quotes from Sir John Davies, the philosophical poet of the Elizabethan age:
Those bright starres
Which English Shepheards, Charles his waine, do name;
But more this Ile is Charles, his waine,
Since Charles her royal wagoner became;
and from John Taylor, "the King's water-poet," of 1630:
Charles his Cart (which we by custome call Charles his wane) is most gloriously stellifide.
The list ends with a quotation from J. F. Blake, of 1876, who even at this late day had King Charles' Wain.
This connection of these Seven Stars with England's kings was due to the courtiers of Charles I and II, who claimed it as in their masters' honor, and elsewhere occurs; William Bas, or Basse, about 1650, having, in Old Tom of Bedlam:
Bid Charles make ready his waine;
James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, in the Queen's Wake of 1813:
Charles re-yoked his golden wain;
and Tom Hood, of fifty years ago:
looking at that Wain of Charles, the Martyr's.
This is from the Comet, the humorous Astronomical Anecdote of the great Sir William Herschel, whom the poet called the "be-knighted," and further described as
like a Tom of Coventry, sly peeping,
At Dian sleeping;
Or ogling thro' his glass
Some heavenly lass
Tripping with pails along the Milky Way.
Coverdale's Bible alludes to it and its companion as the Waynes of Heaven, which Edmund Becke, in his edition of 1549, transforms into Vaynes, and Cadmarden, in his Rouen edition of 1515, into the Waves of Heaven. Dutch and German versions have Wagen am Himmel; the Saxon versions, Wænes Thīsl, or Wagon-pole; and this idea of a wagon, or its parts and its driver, is seen in all the Northern tongues where the Bear is not recognized. Grimm's Teutonic Mythology is very full as to this branch of the stellar Wain's nomenclature.
Πλειάδα, the Septuagint's rendering of the Hebrew ʽĀsh, is manifestly incorrect, but may have misled the later Rabbis who applied this last word to the group in Taurus. The Peshitta-Syriac Version translates the Mazzārōth of the Book of Job by ʽgaltā, meaning our Wain.
The 15th‑century German manuscript so often alluded to mentions it as the Southern Tramontane, a title more fully treated under Ursa Minor; and Vespucci, in his 3a Lettera, wrote of the two Bears:
La stella tramontana o l' orsa maggiore & minore.
Both of these have been — perhaps still are — night clocks to the English rustic, and measures of time generally, as in Poe's Ulalume, "star-dials that pointed to morn."
Shakespeare's Carrier at the Rochester inn-yard said:
An't be not four by the day, I'll be hang'd; Charles Wain is over the new chimney, and yet our horse not pack'd;
Tennyson, in his touching New Year's Eve:
We danced about the May-pole and in the hazel copse,
Till Charles's Wain came out above the tall white chimney tops;
and again, in the Princess:
I paced the terrace, till the Bear had wheel'd
Thro' a great arc his seven slow suns.
Spenser, in the Faerie Queen, thus refers to the Wain as a timepiece, and to Polaris as a guide:
By this the northern wagoner had set
His sevenfold teme behind the steadfast starre
That was in ocean waves never yet wet,
But firme is fixt, and sendith light from farre
To all that in the wide deep wandering arre.
Its well-known use by the early Greeks in navigation was paralleled in the deserts of Arabia, "through which," according to Diodorus the Sicilian, "travellers direct their course by the Bears, in the same manner as is done at sea." They serve this same purpose to the Badāwiyy of to-day, as Mrs. Sigourney describes in The Stars, writing of Polaris:
The weary caravan, with chiming bells,
Making strange music 'mid the desert sands,
Guides by thy pillar'd fires its nightly march.
Sophocles made a similar statement of the Bear as directing travelers generally; Falstaff, in King Henry IV, said:
We that take purses go by the moon and the seven stars;
and the modern Keats, in his Robin Hood:
the seven stars to light you,
Or the polar ray to right you.
p431 But the astrologers of Shakespeare's time ascribed to it evil influences, which Edmund, in King Lear, commented upon with ridicule:
This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune, (often the surfeit of our own behaviour), we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars, —
claiming that his own
nativity was under Ursa Major, so that it follows I am rough and lecherous.
Both of the Bears have been frequently found on the old sign-boards of English inns, and, in a more important way, are emblazoned on the shields of the cities of Antwerp and Groningenº in the Netherlands.
The Plough has been a common title with the English down to the present time, even with so competent a scientist as Miss Clerke, one of the few astronomical writers who still continue the use of the good old names of stars and constellations. She, however, takes the three line stars as the Handle, not the Team. Minsheu mentioned it in the same way, but added ut placet astrologis dicitur Temo, i.e. the Beam, a term originating with Quintus Ennius, the Father of Roman Song, adopted by Cicero, Ovid, Statius, and Varro, and common with the astrologers. Fale, in 1593, described it as called "of countrymen the plough," the first instance in print that I have found. Thus it was, perhaps still is, the Irish Camcheacta. Hewitt sees this Heavenly Plough even in prehistoric India, and quotes from Sayce the title Sugi, the Wain, which later became Libra's name as the Yoke.
With the Wain and Plough naturally came the Plough Oxen, the Triones of Varro, Aulus Gellius, and the Romans generally, turned by the grammarians into Teriones, the Threshing-oxen, walking around the threshing-floor of the pole. Martial qualified these by hyperborei Odrysii and Parrhasii, but also called the constellation Parrhasium Jugum; and Claudian [Carm. Min. LII.11], inoccidui, "never setting." Cicero, with contemporary and later Latin writers, said Septem- or Septentriones, as did the long-haired Iopas in his Aeneid song of the two Northern Cars; and Propertius wrote of them:
Flectant Icarii sidera tarda boves;
while Claudian [III Cons. Hon. 205] designated them as pigri; all of which remind us of similar epithets for their driver Boötes.
Septentrio seems to have been applied to either constellation; and Dante used it for the Minor, with a beautiful simile, in his Purgatorio. Eventually it became a term for the north pole and the north wind; then for the North generally, as the word Arctic has from the stellar ἄρκτος. Dante had settentrionāle sito; Chaucer spoke of the "Septentrioun" as a compass point; Shakespeare, in King Henry VI:
as the South to the Septentrion;
Michael Drayton, the friend of Shakespeare and poet laureate in 1626, wrote in the Poly-Olbion of "septentrion cold"; Milton, in Paradise Regained, of "cold Septentrion blasts"; and, in our day, Owen Meredith in the Wanderer has "beyond the blue Septentrions"; while the word seems current as an adjective in nearly all modern languages. Still there is nothing new in all this, for in the Avesta the Seven Stars marked the North in the four quarters of the heavens.
The Persian title was Hafturengh, Heft Averengh, or Heft Rengh, qualified by Mihin, Greater, to distinguish it from Kihin, Lesser; Hewitt giving this as originally Hapto-iringas, the Seven Bulls, that possibly may be the origin of the Triones. Cox, however, goes far back of this classic title and says:
They who spoke of the seven triones had long forgotten that their fathers spoke of the taras (staras) or strewers of light;
and Al Bīrūnī derived the word from taraṇa, "passage," as of the stars through the heavens. Thus from the results of modern philological research it is possible that our long received opinions as to the derivations of many star-names should be abandoned, and that we should search for them far back of Greece or Rome.
Heraclitos, the Ionic philosopher of Ephesus of about 500 B.C., asserted that this constellation marked the boundary between the East and the West, which it may be regarded as doing when on the horizon.
A coin of 74 B.C., struck by the consul Lucretius Trio, bears the Seven Stars disposed in an irregular curve around the new moon, while the word Trio within the crescent is an evident allusion to the consul's name, albeit one hardly known in Roman history.
The Hebrew ʽĀsh, or ʽAyish, is reproduced by, or was derived from, the Arabic Banāt Naʽash al Ḳubrā, the Daughters of the Great Bier, i.e. the Mourners, — the Benenas, Benethasch, and Beneth As of Chilmead and Christmannus, — applied to the three stars in the extreme end of the group, η being Al Ḳāʼid, the Chief One; from this came Bayer's El Keid for the whole constellation. Riccioli, quoting Kircher, said that the Arabian Christians with more definiteness termed it Naʽash Laazar, the Bier of Lazarus, with Mary, Martha, and Ellamath, — this last being given in p433Mrs. Jameson's Sacred and Legendary Art as Marcella or Martilla, but by Smyth as Magdalen; Riccioli's word should be Al Amah, the Maid, the position that Marcella occupied toward the two women during their journey to Marseilles, where she was canonized. Karsten Niebuhr said that the constellation was known, even in his day, as Naʽash by the Arabs along the Persian Gulf; and Wetzstein tells the modern story, from that people, in which these mourners, the children of Al Naʽash, who was murdered by Al Jadī, the pole-star, are still nightly surrounding him in their thirst for vengeance, the wālidān among the daughters — the star Mizar — holding in her arms her new-born infant, the little Alcor, while Suhail is slowly struggling up to their help from the South. Delitzsch says that even to-day the group is known as a Bier in Syria; Flammarion attributing this title to the slow and solemn motion of the figure around the pole. This seems to have originated in Arabia; and from it come the titles even now occasionally heard for the quadrangle stars — the Bier and the Great Coffin. With the early Arab poets the Banāt stars were an emblem of inactivity and laziness.
It had other names also. Cynosuris appeared with Ovid and Germanicus for this, although it generally is applied to the Lesser Bear; Πλίνθιον, used for it or for its quarter of the sky, was from the Greek, as we see in Plutarch's αἱ τῶν πλίνθιων ὑπογραφαί, the "fields," or "spaces," into which the augurs divided the heavens, the templa, or regiones, coeli of the Latins; while Ἕλιξ, the Curved, or Spiral, One, and Ἑλίκη, apparently first used for the constellation by Aratos and Apollonius Rhodius, became common as descriptive of its twisting around the pole, — whence one of its titles now, the Twister; Sophocles having the same thought in Ἄρκτου στροφάδες κέλευθοι, the "circling paths of the Bear." Some, however, derived the name from the curved or twisted position of the chief stars; and others, still more probably, from the city Helice, Kallisto's birthplace in Arcadia. Ovid used this title in the Fasti, where he wrote of both the Bears, in navigation:
Esse duas Arctos, quarum, Cynosura petatur
Sidoniis, Helicen Graia carina notet;
but later on Helice was considered a nymph, one of the two Cretan sister nurses who nourished the infant Jupiter
In odorous Diktē, near the Idaian hill,
whence she was transferred to the skies. Dante, in the Paradiso, alludes to barbarians
coming from some region
That every day by Helice is covered
Revolving with her son whom she delights in.
Homer's Ἑλίκωτες has been rendered "observing Helice," and so applied to the early Grecian sailors; but there seems to be no foundation for this, as the word merely signifies "black-," "glancing-," or "rolling-eyed," and frequently was applied to various characters in the Iliad, with no limitation as to sex or profession.
Ancient, however, as are Ἄρκτος and Ursa, ʽĀsh and the Bier, Ἅμαξα, Plaustrum, and Triones, this splendid constellation ran still further back — three or four or even more millenniums before even these titles were current — as the Bull's Thigh, or the Fore Shank, in Egypt. There it was represented on the Denderah planisphere and in the temple of Edfū by a single thigh or hind quarter of the animal, alluded to in the Book of the Dead as
The constellation of the Thigh in the northern sky;
and thus mentioned in inscriptions on the kings' tombs and the walls of the Ramesseum at Thebes. Sometimes the figure of the Thigh was changed to that of a cow's body with disc and horns; but, however called or represented, these stars always were prominent in the early astronomy and mythology of Egypt. Mesχet seems to have been their designation, and specially for some one of them, as representative of the malignant red Set, Set, also Anubis, Apap, Apepi, Bes, Tebha, Temha, and Typhoeus according to Plutarch, was one of Egypt's greatest gods, who subsequently became the Greek giant Typhon, father of the fierce winds, but slain by Zeus with a thunderbolt and buried under Mount Aetna. Sit, or Sith, Sut or Sutech, who, with his wife Taurt or Thoueris, shown by the adjoining Hippopotamus (now a part of our Draco), represented darkness and the divinities of evil. Set also was a generic term applied to all circumpolar constellations, because, as always visible, they somewhat paradoxically were thought to typify darkness.
Hewitt writes of Set in his earliest form as Kapi, the Ape-God, stars of our Cepheus marking his head; while at one time on the Nile the Wain stars seem to have been the Dog of Set or of Typhon. This may have given rise to the title Canis Venatica that La Lande cited, if this be not more correctly considered as the classic Kallisto's hound; and the same idea appears in the Catuli, Lap-dogs, and Canes Laconicae, the Spartan Dogs, that Caesius cited for both of the Wains.
The myth of Horus, one of the most ancient even in ancient Egypt, deciphered from the temple walls of Edfū, 5000 B.C., as connected with the stellar Hippopotamus, was, about 3000 years afterwards, transferred to the Thigh, which then occupied the same circumpolar position that the Hippopotamus did when the original inscription was made. In view of this, Champollion alluded to the Thigh as Horus Apollo.
Towards our era, when Egypt began to be influenced by Greece, her former pupil, our Wain was regarded as the Car of Osiris, shown on some of that country's planispheres by an Ark, or Boat, near to the polar point, although it also seems to have been known as a Bear.
Al Bīrūnī devoted a chapter of his work on India to these seven stars, saying that they were there known as Saptar Shayar, the Seven Anchorites, with the pious woman Al Suhā (the star Alcor), all raised by Dharma to the sky, to a much higher elevation than the rest of the fixed stars, and all located "near Vas, the chaste woman Vumdhati"; but who was this last is not explained. And he quoted from Varāha Mihira:
The northern region is adorned with these stars, as a beautiful woman is adorned with a collar of pearls strung together, and a necklace of white lotus flowers, a handsomely arranged one. Thus adorned, they are like maidens who dance and revolve round the pole as the pole orders them.
Professor Whitney tells us that
to these stars the ancient astronomers of India, and many of the modern upon their authority, have attributed an independent motion about the pole of the heavens, at the rate of eight minutes yearly, or of a complete revolution in 2700 years;
and that this strange dogma well illustrates the character of Hindu astronomy. The matter-of‑fact Al Bīrūnī, commenting on this same thing, and on the absurdly immense numbers in Hindu chronology, wrote:
The author of the theory was a man entirely devoid of scientific education, and one of the foremost in the series of fools who simply invented those years for the benefit of people who worship the Great Bear and the pole. He had to invent a vast number of years, for the more outrageous it was, the more impression it would make.
In China, the Tseih Sing, or Seven Stars, prominent in this constellation, were known as the Government, although also called Pih Tow, the Northern Measure, which Flammarion translates the Bushel; while the centre of the Square was Kwei, an object of worship and a favorite stellar title in that country, as it occurs twice in their list of sieu, although there rendered the Spectre, or Striding Legs. Reeves said that the four stars of the Square were Tien Li, the Heavenly Reason, and Edkins, in his Religion in China, assigns to this spot the home of the Taouist female divinity Tow Moo. Colas gives Ti Tche, the Emperor's Chariot; but this was doubtless a later designation from Jesuit teaching.
Weigel of Jena figured it as the heraldic Danish Elephant; but Julius Schiller, as the archangel Michael; while Caesius said that it might represent one of the Bears sent by Elisha to punish his juvenile persecutors, or the Chariot that Pharaoh gave to Joseph.
Popular names for it have been the Butcher's Cleaver, somewhat similar to the Hindu figure for the other Seven Stars, the Pleiades; the Brood Hen, also reminding us of that cluster, as do the Gaelic Grigirean, Crann, and Crannarain; Peter's Skiff, from, or the original of, Julius Schiller's Ship of Saint Peter; the Ladle; and, what is known to every one, star-lover or not, the Big Dipper, the universally common title in our country. In southern France this has been changed to Casserole, the Saucepan.
Before the observations of the navigators of the 15th and 16th centuries the singular belief prevailed that the southern heavens contained a constellation near the pole similar to our Bear or Wain; indeed, it is said to have been represented on an early map or globe. Manilius wrote:
The lower Pole resemblance bears
To this Above, and shines with equal stars;
With Bears averse, round which the Draco twines;
and Al Bīrūnī repeated the Sanskrit legend that at one time in the history of the Creation an attempt was made by Visvāmitra to form a southern heavenly home for the body of the dead king, the pious Somadatta; and this work was not abandoned till a southern pole and another Bear had been located in positions corresponding to the northern, this pole passing through the island Lunka, or Vadavāmukha (Ceylon). The Anglo-Saxon Manual made distinct mention of this duplicate constellation "which we can never see." Towards our day Eden, describing the "pole antartike," said:
Aloysius Cadamustus ( This Alois, or Luigi, di Cada Mosto was a noted Venetian navigator in the service of Portugal, for whom is often claimed the discovery of the Cape Verd Islands in 1456; but these had been seen, at least in part, fifteen years previously, by Antonio and Bartolomeo di Nolli. ) wryteth in this effecte: We saw also syxe cleare bryght and great starres very lowe above the sea. And consyderynge theyr stations with our coompasse, we found them to stande ryght south, fygured in this maner, . We judged them to bee the chariotte or wayne of the south: But we saw not the principall starre, as we coulde not by good reason, except we shuld first lose the syght of the north pole.
And, quoting from Francisco Lopes of 1552:
Abowt the poynt of the Southe or pole Antartike, they sawe a lyttle whyte cloude and foure starres lyke unto a crosse with three other joynynge thereunto, which resemble oure Septentrion, and are judged to bee the signes or tokens of the south exeltree of heaven.
What is referred to here is not known, for, although the figure represented is that of the Southern Cross, this constellation always is upright when on the meridian, and, as the observation was made in latitude 14° or 15°, p437its base star was plainly visible. Still it would seem that some early knowledge of the Cross was the foundation of this idea of a southern Wain.
Pliny strangely blundered in some of his allusions to Ursa Major, asserting in one its invisibility in Egypt, and, again, describing the visit to Rome of ambassadors from Ceylon, — Milton's "utmost Indian isle Taprobane," — wrote of them [N. H. VI.87]:
Septentriones Vergiliasque apud nos veluti novo coelo mirabantur.
α, β, γ, δ, ε, ζ, and η, in this order, as one follows the line of seven stars from the north, form the familiar Dipper, of which Mr. B. F. Taylor writes in his World on Wheels:
From that celestial Dipper, — or so I thought, — the dews were poured out gently upon the summer world.
All these stars, unless possibly δ, which is too faint for the Potsdam observers, are approaching our system at various rates of speed. Flammarion has a page, on this so‑called star-drift, in his l'Astronomie Populaire, concluding that from their proper motions they will form an exaggerated Steamer Chair 50,000 years hence, as they did a magnificent Cross 50,000 years ago.

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