ASTRONO′MIA, astronomy. It is not proposed in the present article to give a technical history of the rise and progress of astronomy among the ancients, but to confine ourselves to what may be regarded as the popular portion of the science, the observations, namely, upon the relative position and apparent movements of the celestial bodies, especially the fixed stars, which from the earliest epoch engaged the attention of those classes of men who as shepherds or mariners were wont to pass their nights in the open air. We shall consider: —
1. The different names by which the constellations were distinguished among the Greeks and Romans, and the legends attached to each; but we shall not attempt to investigate at length the origin of these names nor the times and places when and where they were first bestowed. The materials for this first section have been carefully collected by Ideler in his essay entitled Untersuchungen über den Ursprung und die Bedeutung der Sternnamen (Berlin, 1809), a work which we now mention specially once for all to avoid the necessity of constant references; in the Historische Untersuchungen über die astronomischen Beobachtungen der Alten, by the same author (Berlin, 1806); in a paper by Buttmann, Ueber die Entstehung der Sternbilder auf der griechischen Sfäre, contained in the Transactions of the Berlin Academy for 1826; and in the Geschichte der Astronomie of Schaubach.
2. The risings and settings of the fixed stars considered with reference to the position of the sun in the ecliptic, — a series of phenomena which, recurring regularly every tropical year, served in the most remote ages as the sole guides for the operations of the husbandman, and which, being in later times frequently appealed to by the poets, are sometimes designated the "Poetical Risings and Settings of the Stars." Here we chiefly depend upon the compilations and dissertations, ancient and modern, brought together in the Uranologion of Petavius; upon the disquisition by J. F. Pfaff entitled Commentatio de Ortibus et Occasibus Siderum apud auctores classicos commemoratis (Götting. 1786); upon a paper by Ideler, Ueber den astronomischen Theil der Fasti des Ovid, in the Transactions of the Berlin Academy for 1822‑1823, and on the Handbuch der Chronologie by the same author.
3. The division of the year into two, three, or more seasons, according to the risings and settings of particular stars or clusters of stars. The Handbuch der Chronologie contains a full examination of all the most important passages from the Greek and Roman authors which bear upon these points.
The determination of the length of the year, and the distribution of time into months, days, hours, and other periods, which in some degree belong to the same subject, are treated of separately under the heads of Calendarium and Dies; and confining our attention for the present to the fixed stars, we shall make a few remarks on the bodies of the solar system under Planetae.
To begin with the two earliest among profane writers, Homer and Hesiod, the former notices the Bear or Waggon; Bootes; Orion; the Dog of Orion; the Pleiades; the Hyades; and Arcturus. We are not entitled to conclude from this that they were not acquired with the names or forms of any other constellations, but it seems certain that neither the Little Bear nor the Dragon were known to Homer, for although these remain always above the horizon in the latitude of Greece and Asia Minor, he speaks of the (Great) Bear as the only constellation which never plunges into Ocean's baths; and we are elsewhere, as will be seen below, distinctly told that the Little Bear was introduced into Greece from the East by Thales.
Pliny (H. N. II.6) attributes the invention of the signs of the zodiac to Cleostratus of Tenedos (fl. B.C. 500), and asserts that Aries and Sagittarius were marked out before the rest. The first distinct information, however, with regard to the Grecian heavens was contained in the Ἔνοπτρον and the Φαινόμενα of Eudoxus of Cnidus, who died B.C. 352. Both of these works are, it is true, lost with the exception of a few fragments, but their contents are known to us from the poem of Aratus (fl. B.C. 260), p146 which, as we are assured in the commentary which bears the name of Hipparchus, does little more than represent in verse, with very few variations, the matter contained in the two treatises named above, especially in the latter. The great popularity enjoyed by the production of Aratus (Cum sole et luna semper Aratus erit) must have depended upon the attractions presented by his theme, and certainly not upon the spirit or grace with which that theme was handled. We know the names of thirty-five Greeks who composed commentaries upon it, and we are acquainted with no less than three translations into Latin verse — one by Cicero, of which fragments only remain; another by Caesar Germanicus, of which a considerable portion has been preserved; and a third by Rufus Festus Avienus, which is entire. Virgil borrowed largely from this source in those portions of his Georgics which contain references to the heavenly bodies, and particularly in that section which is devoted to prognostics of the weather. There are also valuable Greek scholia ascribed to the younger Theon, but manifestly compounded of materials derived from many different quarters. The work itself is divided into three parts:
1. A description of the constellations, extending to line 454.
2. A short account of the Planets, of the Milky Way, of the Tropical Circles, and of the Equator, followed from v. 559 by a full detail of the stars which rise and set as each sign of the zodiac appears in succession (συνανατολαί).
3. At line 733 commences what is frequently regarded as a separate poem, and placed apart under the title Διοσημεῖα, consisting of a collection of the various appearances which enable an observer of nature to predict the weather. It will be seen below that the constellations described by Aratus still retain, with a few variations, the names by which he distinguishes them.
In a little tract ascribed to Eratosthenes (fl. B.C. 230), entitled Καταστερισμοί, probably an abridgment of a more complete treatise, in which he details the mythological origin of the constellations, together with the number and place of the stars in each, we find the same forms arranged in the same order as in Aratus, who is followed step by step. The Bird, however, is here termed the Swan: the Centaur is individualised into Chiron; and the Hair of Berenice appears for the first time, having been introduced by Conon in honour of the sister-wife of Ptolemy Euergetes.
Scientific astronomy commenced at Alexandria in the early part of the third century before our era; and the first steps were made by Timocharis and Aristyllus, who flourished about B.C. 290. They invented the method of determining the places of the fixed stars, by referring them to one of the great circles of the heavens, and for this purpose selected the equator. By them, as we learn from Ptolemy, the right ascension and declination of many stars were observed, among others of Spica in the Virgin, which they found to be 8° from the equinox of autumn.
Hipparchus, about 150 years later, followed up the track which they had indicated: his observations extended from B.C. 162 to B.C. 127; and, whether we regard the originality, the magnitude, or the importance of his labours, he is well entitled to be regarded as the father of the science (see Plin. H. N. II.26). In addition to many other services, he first drew up a regular catalogue of the fixed stars, pointing out their position and magnitude, he first delineated accurately the shape of the constellations, and he first discovered the precession of the equinoxes by comparing his own observations with those of Timocharis and Aristyllus. It is much to be lamented that all the works of so great a man should have perished, with the exception of a commentary in three books upon the description of the fixed stars by Eudoxus and Aratus (Ἐξήγησις τῶν Ἀράτου καὶ Εὐδόξου φαινομένων), the least valuable perhaps of all his productions. We have, however, every reason to believe that the substance of his most valuable observations has been preserved in the Almagest of Ptolemy, which long enjoyed such high fame that all former authors were allowed to sink into oblivion.
The catalogue of the fixed stars by Ptolemy (fl. A.D. 150), contained in the seventh and eighth books of the Almagest and derived in all probability in a great measure from that compiled by Hipparchus, long served as the model for all subsequent labours in the same field, and little more than two centuries have elapsed since any attempt was made to supersede it by something more perfect. It embraces 48 constellations (21 northern, 15 southern, and the 12 signs of the zodiac), comprising 15 stars of the first magnitude, 45 of the second, 208 of the third, 474 of the fourth, 217 of the fifth, 49 of the sixth, 9 obscure, and 5 nebulous, in all 1022. These are the constellations, usually denominated the Old Constellations, to distinguish them from the additions made in modern times, and these we shall consider in regular order. The stars are enumerated according to the place which they occupy in the figures; the latitude, longitude, and magnitude of each being specified. In connexion with many constellations, several stars are mentioned as ἀμορφωτοί, — that is, not included within the limits of any one of the figures; among those near the Lion he notices the Hair of Berenice, among those near the Eagle the Antinous. The single stars and small groups to which particular names are assigned are, Arcturus, the Lyre, Capella, the Kids, the Eagle, the Hyades, the Pleiades, the Manger, the Asses, Regulus (βασιλίσκος), Vindemiatrix, Spica, Antares, the Hound (he does not give the name Sirius), Canopus, and Procyon.
Among our Greek authorities we must not pass over Geminus, whose work Εἰσαγωγὴ εἰς τὰ Φαινόμενα contains in sixteen chapters an exposition of the most striking facts in Astronomy and Mathematical Geography. We know nothing of him personally; but it has been inferred from his book that he was a native of Rhodes, and that he flourished about B.C. 70, at Rome, or at some place under the same parallel. The second chapter treats of the constellations and of those stars and small clusters distinguished by particular names. The Coma Berenices, which is not included in the 21 northern constellations of Ptolemy, has here an independent place assigned to it; the Foal, or Little Horse, is termed προτομὴ ἵππου καθ’ Ἵππαρχον, which seems to indicate that it was introduced by Hipparchus; in addition to the 15 southern constellations of Ptolemy, we find the Stream (χύσις ὕδατος) issuing from the urn of Aquarius, and the Thyrsus of the Centaur. The sixteenth chapter is particularly interesting and valuable, since it contains a parapegma or calendar p147 of the risings and settings of the fixed stars, with prognostics of the weather, according to Meton, Euctemon, Eudoxus, Callippus,º and others, the observations of each being quoted separately.
The Romans adopted the knowledge of the stars communicated by the Greeks without in the slightest degree extending it. Only two Latin writers discourse specially on the subject, Manilius and Julius Firmicus, and their treatises belong rather to Judicial Astrology. The poets, however, especially Ovid and Virgil, make frequent allusions to the risings and settings of the fixed stars, to the most remarkable constellations and to the legends attached to them. Cicero, Germanicus, and Avienus, as we have stated above, executed translations of Aratus, while in Vitruvius, Pliny, Columella, Martianus Capella, the Scholiast on Germanicus, and Hyginus, we find a multitude of details. Manilius, it is clear, took Aratus for his guide in so far as the constellations were concerned: for he does not notice the Hair of Berenice, the Foal, nor the Southern Crown.
Pliny speaks of the constellations as seventy-two in number; but he seems to have eked out the sum by counting separately portions of figures, such as the Pleiades, the Hyades, the Urn and the Stream of Aquarius, the Thyrsus of the Centaur, the Head of Medusa, the Scymetar of Perseus, the Manger, the Two Asses, Capella, the Kids, the Hair of Berenice, the Throne of Caesar, and probably the more conspicuous among the individual stars, such as Arcturus and Sirius. He sets down the number of observed stars at 1600, which far exceeds the catalogue of Ptolemy.
The Scholia on Germanicus do not constitute a regular commentary like the Scholia on Aratus, but are translations from Eratosthenes, with some excerpts, added subsequently perhaps, from the Sphaera Graeca et Barbara of Nigidius Figulus and other works on astronomical myths.
The Poeticon Astronomicon, which bears the name of Hyginus, is written in the style of Eratosthenes, and is in a great measure borrowed from him. No notice is here taken of the Foal nor of the Southern Crown, which proves that at the time when it was composed, whenever that may have been, more attention was paid to Aratus than to Hipparchus and Ptolemy.
In what follows we arrange the constellations, with one or two trifling exceptions, in the order adopted by Ptolemy, enumerating first the twenty-one northern signs; secondly, the twelve zodiacal signs; and lastly, the fifteen southern signs. In each case we give, first, the name by which the constellation is known among ourselves: secondly, the name ascribed to it by Aratus; and lastly, the other Greek and Latin names which most frequently occur or which deserve particular notice.
1. The Great Bear, The Plough, Charles' Wain, Ἄρκτος (μεγάλη), Ἐλίκη (Arat. 27, &c.), Major Arctus, Major Ursa (German.), Helice (Cic. Manil. I.303). The most remarkable cluster in the northern hemisphere both on account of its brilliancy and from the circumstance that it never sinks below the horizon in Europe and those parts of Asia known to the ancients, is that which as early as the time of Homer was known by the names of Ἄρκτος, The She Bear, or Ἅμαξα, The Waggon (Il. XVIII.487, Od. V.275), which the Romans translated by the equivalent terms Ursa and Plaustrum or Currus. At a later period when the Lesser Bear had been added to the number of the celestial signs, the epithets μεγάλη and μικρά were applied to them respectively by way of distinction, and in like manner Ovid (Trist. IV.3) speaks of them as magna minorque ferae. The ancient Italian name for the seven bright stars which form the most conspicuous portion of the group was Septem Triones (Cic.), that is, according to the interpretation of Varro (L.L. VI.4; Gell. II.21; Festus, s.v. Triones), The Seven Ploughing Oxen, an appellation which as well as that of ἅμαξα was extended to the Lesser Bear. Thus Aratus commences his description
δύω δέ μιν ἀμφὶς ἔχουσαι
Ἄρκτοι ἅμα τροχόωσι, τὸ δὴ καλέονται ἅμαξαι,
deriving ἅμαξαι, absurdly enough, from ἅμα; Virgil celebrates
Arcturum, pluviasque Hyadas, geminosque Triones,
and Vitruvius (IX.3) not only employs Septemtrio simply for the Greater Bear, but distinguishes between Septemtrio major and Septemtrio minor, and again speaks of the Arctos, qui Septemtriones dicuntur.
In addition to the above designations we find Ἑλίκη, applied to the Greater Bear alone, derived from its sweeping round in a curve (ἀπὸ τοῦ ἑλίσσεσθαι, Schol. ad Arat. 37), while from the mythical connexion established between this constellation and Callisto, daughter of the Arcadian monarch Lycaon, the Latin poets constantly refer to it as Lycaonis Arctos; Parrhasis Arctos; Parrhasides stellae; Maenalis Ursa, &c. The term Boves Icarii employed by Propertius (II.24.24) is explained below (No. 5) under Arctophylax. For the story of Callisto and her transformation see Ovid. Met. II.409, Fast. II.155; Serv. ad Virg. Georg. I.246; Hygin. Poet. Astron. II.1, 2.
2. The Lesser or Little Bear, Ἄρκτος (μικρά), Κυνόσουρα, Κυνόσουρις (Arat. 27‑308), Arctus minor (Cic.), Cynosura (Cic., Manil. I.306). This constellation, we are assured by many authorities (Schol. ad Hom. Il. XVIII.187; Achill. Tat. Isagog. in Arat. Phaen. c1; Diog. Laërt. I.23; Hygin. Poët. Astron. II.2), was first added to the Grecian catalogues by Thales by whom it may possibly have been imported from the East; and while from its close resemblance in form, it shared the names of Ἄρκτος and ἅμαξα with its more ancient and majestic companion, it enjoyed exclusively the appellations of Φοινίκη and Κυνόσουρα. The former was derived from the circumstance that it was selected by the Phoenicians as the guide by which they shaped their course at sea, the Grecian mariners with less judgment employing Helice for the same purpose (Arat. 37; Erat. Cat. 2; Schol. ad German. p89; Hygin. P. A. II.2). The latter, signifying canis cauda, applied by the ancients to the whole figure, and not as in modern times merely to the pole star, seems to have been suggested by the appearance presented by three of the stars which form a circular sweep, bearing some resemblance to the upturned curl of a dog's tail, and will thus be an expression analogous to that of Helice. The early astronomers seem to have generally considered that one of the p148 stars in the Little Bear marked the position of the pole, but it is difficult to determine from their words to which they severally refer. According to Hyginus, who, however, seems not to have clearly understood Eratosthenes whom he quotes, one of the three stars forming the tail was called Polus, and the two others, from circling round it, Χορευταὶ, The Dancers, the same apparently with the Ludentes of the Scholiast on Germanicus.
Those poets who regarded the Great Bear as Callisto represented the Little Bear as her dog; but according to another legend commonly received, the two bears were the two nymphs who acted as nurses in Crete to infant Jove (Arat. 31), and hence the phrase Cretaeae Arcti (German.).
3. The Dragon, Δράκων (Arat. 45), translated by the Latins Draco (Cic. German. Vitruv.), Serpens (German. Vitruv. Manil. Ovid), and Anguis (Virgil, Ovid, Manil.). Servius (ad Virg. Georg. I.205) remarks that there are three Angues in the sky, one lying between the Bears:
Maximus hic flexu sinuoso elabitur Anguis
Circum perque duas in morem fluminis Arctos:
(comp. Vitruv. IX.3): the second grasped by Ophiuchus:º the third, to the south, around the Crater and Corvus. The superior richness of the Greek language distinguished these as Δράκων, Ὄφις, and Ὕδρη. The description of Aratus has been rendered almost verbatim and with great spirit by Virgil in the lines quoted above. Mythologically, the dragon was regarded as the snake which once guarded the apples of the Hesperides, or as a snake snatched by Minerva from the giants and whirled by her aloft to the pole (Hygin. P. A. II.3, III.2; Serv. ad Virg. Georg. I.244).
4. Cepheus, Κηφεύς (Arat. 183), Cepheus (Cic. Vitruv. Manil.), Iasides Cepheus (German.). The legends respecting this ill-fated monarch and the other members of his family who beamed in the heavens, Cassiopeia, Perseus, and Andromeda, are detailed at length in the Catasterisms of Eratosthenes and in Hyginus.
5. The Bear-Warden, Bootes, The Waggoner, Ἀρκτοφύλαξ (Arat. 91), Arctophylax (Cic. German. Manil. I.323), translated by Ovid (Trist. I.10, 15) Custos Ursae, and by Vitruvius (IX.3) Custos Arcti, or simply Custos (l.c.), was denominated also Βοώτης (Arat. l.c.), Bootes (Cic. German. Manil.), i.e. Bubulcus, the ox-driver, and according to the Scholiast on Aratus (l.c.) Τρυγητής, the vintager. The first name, which supposes the constellations to represent a man upon the watch, denotes simply the position of the figure with regard to the Great Bear, or when the latter was regarded as Callisto, then Arctophylax became her son Arcas, by whom she was hunted and slain; the second name, which is found in Homer (Od. V.272), refers to the ἅμαξα, the imaginary form of Βοώτης being fancied to occupy the place of the driver of the team; the third name is connected with the period of the heliacal rising of the group which indicated the season of the vintage.
The chief star in the constellation is Arcturus, Ἀρκτοῦρος (Arat. 95), Arcturus (Cic. German. Vitruv. Manil.), a word of similar import with Arctophylax. It is twice mentioned by Hesiod (Erg. 566, 610), and, as we shall see hereafter, occupied a prominent place in the calendars of Greece and Rome. Some late writers, such as the Scholiast on Germanicus, Hyginus and Martianus Capella, use the name Arcturus for the whole constellation; but Aratus, Geminus, and Ptolemy consider it as a single star.
The legends with regard to Boötes present many different aspects: by the Greeks he was usually represented as Arcas, the son of Callisto; Ovid in one passage (Fast. VI.235) calls him Lycaon, the father of the hapless damsel; by others he was pronounced to be Icarius (or Icarus), to whom Bacchus taught the use of the vine, and then the constellation Virgo was his daughterº Erigone, and either the greater or the lesser hound was her dog Maera (Canis Icarius, Ov. Fast. IV.939). Hence, too, the Septemtriones are styled Boves Icarii by Propertius (II.24.24).
Homer (Od. V.272) calls Boötes ὄψε δύων, from his descending below the horizon in an upright position, and therefore very gradually. Compare Ov. Fast. III.405; Claud. Rapt. Proserp. II.190, and the "pigri sarraca Bootae" of Juvenal, V.23.
6. The Northern Crown, Στέφανος (Arat. 71), Corona (Cic. Vitruv. Manil.), Ariadnes corona, Minoa corona (German.). Ptolemy distinguishes between the Northern and the Southern Crown (Στέφανος βόρειος, νότιος), and hence the modern name. According to the legend commonly adopted this was the chaplet of Ariadne placed by Bacchus in the firmament to do honour to his mistress, and hence the epithets applied by Germanicus as quoted above (cf. Virg. Georg. I.222; Ov. Fast. III.460; Manil. I.330).
The name Gemma, now given to the most resplendent star in the circle, was not known to the Romans.
7. Hercules. The constellation now known by this name is described by Aratus (V.63) as an unknown or nameless form (εἴδωλον ἄϊστον; ἀπευθεός εἰδώλοιο), which, from its resemblance to a man toiling (μογέοντι ἀνδρὶ ἐοικὸς εἴδωλον) on his knees, was usually called Ἐνγόνασιν, which the Romans either expressed in the same letters, Engonasi (Manil. V.645), Engonasin (Cic.), or by the translations Geniculatus, Ingeniculatus (Vitruv. IX.3), Ingeniculus (Jul. Firm. VIII.17), Nixus in genibus (Vitruv. ibid.), Nixa genu species (German. Manil. I.322, V.645), Dextro genu nixus (German.), or simply Nisus s. Nixus (Cic. German.), Innixus (Avien. 205), or with reference to the labouring attitude Defectum sidus, Effigies defecta labore (German.).
According to Avienus (V.175), the appellation of Hercules was bestowed by Panyasis, by others it was regarded as Theseus, by others as Ceteus, son of Lycaon, by others as Prometheus chained to Caucasus. (Hygin. P. A. II.6, III.5.)
8. The Lyre, Χέλυς, Λύρα (Arat. 268), Lyra (German. Vitruv. Manil. I.331), Fides (Cic.), Fidis (Col. XI.2 § 43, &c.), Fidicula (Plin. H. N. XVIII. § 222, &c.). Ptolemy (Φ. Α.) designates as ὁ λαμπρὸς τῆς λῦρας, the peculiarly bright star (α Lyrae), which renders this constellation so conspicuous; but it appears probable that the simple Λύρα among the Greek astronomers, as well as Fidis and Fidicula among the Latins, was frequently employed to denote this single star, as well as the whole sign. Manilius seems to speak of Fides as a constellation distinct from Lyra, but the passages are very confused (I.409; comp. 324, 337). The invention of the Lyre being ascribed to Mercury, we naturally find the epithets Ἑρμαίη u149 (Arat. 674), Κυλληναίη (597), Mercurialis (German.), Cyllenia (Cic.) attached to it.
9. The Swan, Ὄρνις, αἴολος ὄρνις (Arat. 273, 275), Ales (Cic.), Volucris, Avis (Vitruv. IX.4). The Bird is the name given by Aratus and Geminus to the constellation termed by Eratosthenes (c25) Κύκνος, rendered Cycnus by Germanicus and Manilius, for which the synonym Olor is frequently substituted. By mythologists it was regarded as the swan of Leda.
10. Cassiopeia, Κασσιέπεια (Arat. 189), Cassiepeia (Cic. German. Manil. I.361), Cassiopea (Vitruv.). For the myth regarding her, see Hygin. P. A. II.10; comp. Arat. 654; Manil. V.504; Propert. I.17.3; Columell. XI.2 § 78.
11. Perseus, Περσεύς (Arat. 248), Perseus (Cic. German. Vitruv. Manil. I.357, 365), was pictured as bearing in one hand a crooked sword (ἅρπη, falx), and in the other the head of the Gorgon Medusa, Γοργόνιον (Gemin. Ptolem.), Gorgoneum caput (Vitruv. IX.3), Gorgonis ora (Manil. I.366), Caput Gorgonis (Hygin. P. A. III.11).
12. The Charioteer, Ἡνίοχος (Arat. 156), Heniochus (Manil. I.369), Auriga (Cic. German. Vitruv.), Aurigator (Avien.), was, according to one legend (German.), Erichthonius,
Quem primum cursu volitantem Jupiter alto
Quadrijugis conspexit equis.
According to another (German. ibid.), Myrtilus the charioteer of Oenomaus, who betrayed his master to Pelops (Hygin. Fab. 84).
The brightest star in this constellation (α′) was termed Αἴξ (Arat. 157) by the Greeks, who pictured a goat supported upon the upper part of the left arm of the figure, and by the Romans Capella (Ovid. Manil. Plin.) or Capra (Cic. Vitruv. Hor. German. Columel.). The epithet Ὠλενίη in Aratus (164), according to the explanation of his Scholiast, was applied because the αἴξ rested ἐπὶ τῆς ὠλένης τοῦ Ἡνιόχου, and hence Olenie, Olenium pecus, Olenium astrum. Its heliacal rising took place soon before the winter solstice, and thus it was termed signum pluviale, while the legends declared that this was the very goat Amaltheia who nursed Jupiter upon Mount Ida. Both of these points are touched upon in the couplet of Ovid:
Nascitur Oleniae signum pluviale Capellae,
Illa dati caelum praemia lactis habet.
The two stars (ζ′, η′) placed by Aratus (166) and Ptolemy on the wrist of Auriga were
The Kids, Ἔριφοι (Arat. 158), Haedi (Cic. Vitruv. Manil. I.372), and are said to have been first named by Cleostratus of Tenedos about B.C. 500 (Hygin. P. A. II.13). They, as well as Capella, are spoken of as heralds of the storm (Manil. I.372; Virg. Georg. I.205, Aen. IX.663; Hor. Carm. III.1.28). The star which marks the northern horn-tip of the Bull was, according to Vitruvius (IX.3), called Aurigae Manus, since he was supposed to hold it in his hand.
13. The Serpent Holder, Ὀφιοῦχος (Arat. 75), Ophiuchus (German. Vitruv.), Anguitenens (Cic. Manil. V.384), Anguifer (Columel. XI.2 § 49), Serpentarius (Schol. German.), was commonly regarded by mythical writers and poets as Aesculapius (Eratosth. c6; Ov. Fast. VI.735), and by some as Hercules, not to mention other more obscure legends. (Hygin. P. A. II.14, III.13.)
14. The Snake, grasped by and surrounding the figure, was termed ὄφις (Arat. 86), Anguis (Cic. German.), or Serpens (Cic. Vitruv.),
Serpentem Graiis Ophiuchus nomine dictus
and is reckoned as a separate constellation.
15. The Arrow, Ὀϊστός (Arat. 311), Τόξον (Eratosth.), Sagitta (German. Vitruv.), Clara sagitta, Fulgens sagitta (Cic.), is distinct from the arrow fitted to the bow of Sagittarius, the archer, in the zodiac. Hence Aratus, after describing the latter, adds:
Ἔστι δέ τις προτέρω βεβλημένος ἄλλος ὀϊστός
Αὐτὸς ἄτερ τόξου.
(Cf. Cic. 325; German. 683; Manil. I.349.)
16. The Eagle, Ἀετός (ἀητός, Arat. 315), Aquila (Cic. Vitruv.), or, in poetical circumlocution, Jovis armiger (German. Avien.), Jovis ales (German. Manil. I.350), Armiger uncis unguibus ales (German.), Praepes adunca Jovis (Ov. Fast. VI.196). The principal star is named specially ἀετός by Ptolemy; but from the circumstance of his placing it among those of the second magnitude, it has been conjectured that it was less bright in his day than at present.
Antinous. Ptolemy, when noticing the stars around the Eagle not properly included within the limits of the constellation, remarks, ἐφ’ ὧν ὁ Ἀντίνοος, which corroborates the statement of Dio Cassius, that Hadrian assigned a star to his favourite. Antinous, as a separate constellation, was first introduced by Tycho Brahe.
17. The Dolphin, Δελφίς (Arat. 313) s. Δελφίν, Delphinus (Cic. German. Vitruv. Manil. I.353), Delphin (German.), was regarded by mythologists as the dolphin which bore Arion.
18. The Little Horse, Ἵππου προτομή, literally, the fore quarters of a horse, was unknown to Aratus and Eratosthenes; but appears from the words of Geminus to have been introduced by Hipparchus. It is not noticed by Vitruvius nor by Manilius.
19. Pegasus, Ἵππος (Arat. 205), Equus (Cic. Vitruv. Manil. I.355), Sonipes, Sonipes ales (German.). The legends having declared that this was the steed of Bellerophon, the name Pegasus (German. 505) was employed as early as Eratosthenes to distinguish the constellations, but Aratus speaks of it simply as the horse (Ov. Fast. III.450). The figure was supposed to represent the fore quarters only.
20. Andromeda, Ἀνδρομέδη (Arat. 197), Andromeda s. Andromede (Cic. German. Vitruv. Manil. I.357, 363). Andromeda was the daughter of Cepheus and Cassiopeia, and hence the constellation is termed Cepheis by Manilius and Germanicus (I.443), while in consequence of her deliverance from the sea-monster by Perseus we find Persea in the Scholiast on Germanicus.
21. The Triangle, Δελτωτόν (Arat. 235; Cic.), Deltotum (German. Manil. I.360), the τρίγωνον of Ptolemy, and hence Vitruv. IX.3, "Insuper Arietis signum facientes stellae sunt trigonum paribus lateribus."
1. The Ram, Κριός (Arat. 225), Aries (Cic. German. Vitruv. Manil. I.263), Laniger (German. 699; Manil. II.546). This was the very golden-fleeced ram which bore away Phrixus and p150 Helle from the wrath of Ino, and hence the designations in Ovid of Phrixea Ovis, Pecus Athamantidos Helles.
2. The Bull, Ταῦρος (Arat. 167), Taurus (Cic. German. Vitruv. Manil. I.264), Bos (German. 181), was by some mythologers regarded as the bull into which Jupiter transformed himself to gain Europa; according to others, as the cow into which lo was metamorphosed; in either case an object of jealousy to Juno. In reference to the former idea Ovid (Fast. VI.712) speaks of him as Agenoreus, while Martial (X.51) applies the epithet Tyrius.
This constellation is chiefly remarkable from including within its limits two small but closely packed clusters of stars, which attracted attention at a very early period, and are distinguished by Homer (Il. XVIII.436) and Hesiod (Erg. 615) as the HYADES and PLEIADES, names which they still retain unchanged.
The HYADES, Ὑάδες (Arat. 173), Hyades (German. &c.), situated in the forehead of the figure (ἐπὶ παντὶ μετώπῳ, Arat.; ἐπὶ τοῦ βουκράνιου, Gemin.), derived their name ἀπὸ τοῦ ὕειν, because the period of their setting in the morning twilight (the end of November) marked the most wet and stormy period of the year. By the Italian peasants they were denominated the suculae, i.e. the little swine, and hence it has been imagined, but probably erroneously, that Huades is etymologically connected with Hus (Plin. H. N. XVIII. § 247; Gell. XIII.9). They set in the evening twilight at Rome, towards the close of the republic, about the 20th of April, and hence were known as the sidus Parilicium (or Palilicium), the Parilia (or Palilia), the festival which marked the birthday of the city, being kept upon the 21st. Ancient astronomers were not agreed as to the number of stars included in the Hyades (see Schol. ad Arat.). Thales reckoned two only (viz. a and e), the two eyes of the bull; Euripides, three; Achaeus, four; Hesiod, five; Pherecydes, seven. The latter made nymphs of them, and the names have been preserved by Hyginus. One of these, Thyene, is put by Ovid (Fast. VI.711) for the whole group, which elsewhere (V.734) he terms the Sidus Hyantis, in allusion to a legend which he had previously (V.169) recounted.
Still more important were the PLEIADES, Πλείαδες, Πληϊάδες (Hom. l.c. Arat. 255 regards them as a distinct constellation), Pleiades (German., &c. &c.), a word for which various etymologies have been proposed, the most reasonable being the verb plein, their heliacal rising and setting in the first half of May and the beginning of November having been the signal in the early ages of Greece for the mariner to commence and to discontinue his voyages. The form peleiades, i.e. the flock of pigeons, probably originated in a corruption. The Italian name was Vergiliae (Cic.), Sidus Vergiliarum (Vitruv. IX.2), derived manifestly from their heliacal rising in spring. Aratus notices the circumstance that they are commonly spoken of as the seven stars, although six only are visible, and thus Ovid also: Quae septem dici sex tamen esse solent.
The fact is that the cluster consists of six stars, which can be distinctly seen by the naked eye, and of several very small ones, which are telescopic. Under very favourable circumstances, however, one of these may have occasionally been discerned, as Hipparchus states, or, possibly, as we know to have been the case with other fixed stars, one of them may have lost a portion of the lustre which it at one period possessed, and have become nearly or totally invisible. Be this as it may, the disappearance of the seventh Pleiad gave rise to a multitude of legends. By Hesiod they are styled Atlageneis, Children of Atlas, from whom the Roman poets adopted the expression Atlantides, the name of the damsels (Arat. 262) being Alcyone, Merope, Celaeno, Electra, Sterope (or Asterope, German.), Taygete and Maia. Of these six wedded divinities, the seventh a mortal man, and thus her brilliancy became dimmed by the influence of the debasing alliance. One or other of the above names is frequently employed to denote the whole, as Taygete (Virg. Georg. IV.232; Ov. Met. III.594), Maia (Virg. Georg. I.225), Sterope (Ov. Trist. X.14), and in like manner Pleias or Pleias is often used in the singular.
3. The Twins, Δίδυμοι (Arat. 147), Gemini (Cic. German. Vitruv. Manil. I.265). The two brightest stars, being supposed to represent Castor and Pollux.
4. The Crab, Καρκίνος (Arat. 147), Cancer (Cic. Vitruv. German. Manil. I.265), called Lernaeus by Columella (X.313), because, according to the legend, it crawled out of the Lernaean swamp to attack Hercules while he was doing battle with the Hydra. The epithet Littoreus in Ovid (Met. X.127) and Manilius (III.316) probably refers merely to the ordinary habits of the animal, and not, as Ideler supposes, to the same contest.
Two small stars in this constellation (γ, δ) were called Ὄνοι, Asini s. Aselli, the Donkeys, one being distinguished as the northern (βόρειος), the other as the southern (νότιος), and a nebular brightness between them, Φάτνη, Praesepe, the Stall or Manger. (Arat. 894, &c.; Plin. H. N. XVIII. § 353; Ptolem.) These seem to form what Manilius calls Jugulae (V.174, and note of Scalig.), although Jugula is a name sometimes applied to Orion.
5. The Lion, Λέων (Arat. 149), Leo (Cic. German. Vitruv. Manil. I.266), regarded as the Nemean lion slain by Hercules, and hence constantly termed simply Nemeaeus (e.g. Manil. III.409). The bright star now known as Regulus, a name introduced by Copernicus, was anciently, as we learn from the Scholiast on Aratus, called basiliskos, and marked the heart of the animal (ἐπὶ τῆς καρδίας). In Pliny it is Regia (H. N. XVIII. § 271); in the Scholiast on Germanicus, Tyberone, which is either a corruption, or arose from his mistaking the meaning of the word in Pliny, who says, Stella Regia appellata Tuberoni in pectore Leonis, i.e. The star on the Lion's heart called Regia by Tubero.
6. The Virgin, Παρθένος (Arat. 96, &c.), Virgo (Cic. German. Vitruv. Manil. I.266), Erigone (Manil. II.552, et pass.), was mythically regarded as Δίκη, Justitia, or Astraea, or as Erigone, or as Ceres, or as Isis, or as Fortuna, the last name being given to her, according to the Scholiast on Germanicus, because she is a headless constellation.
The star which marks the right wing (ε) was προτρυγητήρ (Arat. 138) s. προτρυγητής s. τρυγητήρ, translated Provindemiator, Vindemiator s. Vindemitor, and is now known as Vindemiatrix, — names which it received in consequence of rising shortly before the period of the vintage. (Arat. 138 and Schol.; Columell. XI.2 § 24; Ov. Fast. III.407; Plin. H. N. XVIII. § § 237, 309. Vitruv. IX.3 says that the Greek name was προτρύγετος, and the Roman, Provindemia Major.)
7. The Balance was by the earlier Greek astronomers invariably denominated Χηλαί (Arat. 89), Chelae (Cic. German. Manil. II.544, et pass.), the Claws, i.e. of the Scorpion, which stands next in the Zodiac. Geminus, who flourished, it is believed, about B.C. 80, is, as far as we know, the first Greek writer who distinguishes the seventh sign as Ζυγός, which is used by Ptolemy indifferently with Χηλαί. The term Libra, for which Cicero in one passage employs Jugum, was first formally adopted by the Romans in the Calendar of Julius Caesar, to whom it was very probably suggested by Sosigenes. The figure, it would seem, was derived from the East, and must be regarded as a symbol of equality introduced into the heavens at the period when the entrance of the sun into that constellation marked the Autumnal Equinox. The scientific Latin writers, such as Vitruvius, Columella, and Pliny, uniformly distinguish this sign by the name Libra alone; the poets use either Libra or Chelae, as may suit their purpose. Manilius combines both into one phrase (Juga Chelorum, I.609); while the ingenious conceit by which Virgil represents the Scorpion as drawing in his claws in order to make room for Augustus, is known to every reader of the first Georgic. (Cf. Ov. Met. II.195)
In the commentary of Theon on the Almagest, Libra is frequently represented by Litra or Litrai, a word originally borrowed by the Romans from the Sicilians, transformed into Libra, and then restored to the later Greeks in the new sense of a Balance.
8. The Scorpion, Σκορπιός (Arat. 85), 304), Scorpius (Cic. German.), Scorpios (Manil. I.268, et pass.), Scorpio (Vitruv.). Cicero, in his translation of Aratus, and Manilius, both make use also of the term Nepa, — a word, according to Festus, of African origin, sometimes employed to denote a Scorpion and sometimes a Crab (Plaut. Cas. II.8, 7; Cic. de Fin. V.15); and thus Cicero, in line 460 of his Aratus, distinctly indicates the fourth sign by the word Nepa, which elsewhere is put for the Scorpion. Aratus names this constellation μέγα θηρίον and τέρας μέγα (84, 402), because, according to the Grecian arrangement, as explained in the last paragraph, it occupied, together with its claws, the space of two signs (Ov. Met. II.195).
Ἀνταάρης, now Antares, the name given to the brightest star, is first found in the works of Ptolemy, and probably refers to its colour and brilliancy, rivalling that of (the planet) Mars.
9. The Archer, τοξευτής, τοξευτήρ, and simply τόξον (Arat. 306, 400, 664, 665), Sagittarius (Vitruv.), Sagittipotens (Cic.), Sagittifer (German.), Arcitenens (Cic.), and simply Arcus (Cic. German.). This bowman was supposed to be in the shape of a centaur (¬Mixtus equo¬, Manil. I.270); hence is frequently termed Centaurus, and sometimes individualised into Chiron (Haemonii arcus, Ov. Met. II.81), thus giving rise to a confusion between this sign and the Centaur among the southern constellations. (Cf. Columell. X.56; Hygin. P. A. II.27.)
10. The Goat, (i.e. the Chamois), Αἰγόκερως (Arat. 284), Aegoceros (German.), Capricornus (Cic. German. Vitruv. Manil. I.271), Caper (Manil. II.659), called also Pan by Eratosthenes. Hyginus, the Scholiast on Germanicus, and Isidorus inform us that some of the ancients represented this creature with the tail of a fish, and in this form it is actually figured on several coins of Augustus, who was born under the sign. No notice of such a peculiarity in shape is taken by Aratus, Eratosthenes, or Ptolemy.
11. The Waterman, ὑδροχόος (Arat. 283), Hydrochoos (German.), Aquarius (Cic. Vitruv. German. Manil. I.472), Aquitenens (German. 560), Fundens latices (German. 388), Aequoreus juvenis (Manil. II.558), Juvenis gerens aquam (Ov. Fast. I.652), and simply Juvenis (Manil. IV.709), was regarded by those who connected the figure with mythical legends sometimes as Deucalion (German. 568), sometimes as Ganymedes. (Manil. V.487: comp. Schol. ad Arat. 283.)
The four stars (γ, ζ, η, π) on the right hand were, according to Geminus, named kalpis, which is equivalent to the Latin Situla, an Urn.
The WATER STREAM, Ὕδωρ (Arat.), χύσις ὕδατος, Aqua (Cic.), Effusio Aquae (Schol. Germ. 119), which ends with the bright star, now known by the Arabic name Fomalhaut, in the mouth of the Piscis Australis (see Manil. I.446, and comp. Vitruv. IX.4, quae vero ab Aquario fundi memoratur Aqua profluit inter Piscis Austrini caput et caudam Ceti), is regarded as a separate constellation under the name of Ὕδωρ by Aratus (389‑399), and also by Geminus, who distinguishes it as the Ὕδωρ τὸ ἀπὸ τοῦ Ὑδροχόου, the Water flowing from the Waterman, in order that it may not be confounded with the constellation Eridanus, the Ποταμὸς ὁ ἀπὸ τοῦ Ὠρίωνος, the River flowing from Orion.
12. The Fishes,, Ἰχθύες (Arat. 240), or in the dual Ἰχθύε, Pisces (Cic. Vitruv.), Gemini Pisces, Imbriferi duo Pisces (German.). One of these was entitled the Northern (Aquilonaris _Piscis, Vitruv. IX.3), the other the Southern Fish (Schol. ad Arat. 240; Ov. Fast. III.401: Schol. German. Hygin. P. A. III.29); but in order to prevent the embarrassment which might arise from identifying the latter with the Ἴχθυς νότιος, or Piscis Australis, a constellation of the southern hemisphere, Ptolemy names the northern of the two ἑπόμενος, and the other ἡγουμένος, — a precaution by no means unnecessary, since Manilius actually confounds (I.272) the fishes of the zodiac with the Piscis Australis. The Scholiast on Aratus remarks that the Northern Fish was represented with a swallow's head, and on that account styled chelidonias (i.e. hirundininus) by the Chaldaeans, a circumstance for which Scaliger accounts by supposing that the name was given in consequence of the entrance of the sun into this constellation, when the swallow appeared in Greece as the herald of Spring.
The legends connected with this constellation (Eratosth. 58; Hygin. P. A. II.30, 41) bear reference to a Syrian divinity, termed by the Greeks sometimes Atargatis (a Semitic word signifying The p152 Great Fish), sometimes Derceto, sometimes Derce. This power they confounded with another Syrian goddess, Astarte, whom again they identified with their own Aphrodite. The story ran that, when fleeing in terror from the violence of Typhon, she plunged into the Euphrates, and was transformed into a fish (Manil. II.33; IV.580). Avienus terms these fishes Bombycii, for which Grotius has rightly proposed to substitute Bambycii, for Atargatis was specially worshipped at Bambyce or Hierapolis in Cyrrhestica. (Strab. XVI. p517; Plin. H. N. V. § 81; Selden, de Diis Syriis, II.3.)
The bright star (α) which is supposed to form the knot of the two bands which connects the fishes by their tails, is by Aratus (245) named Σύνδεσμος ὑπουραῖος, by his Scholiast δεσμὸς οὐραίος, by Geminus and Germanicus simply Σύνδεσμος, — terms variously translated Nodes (Cic.), Nodus Piscium (Vitruv.), Nodus coelestis (Avien.), Commissura piscium (Plin. XVIII. § 311). The bands themselves are called in one passage of Aratus (362) Δεσμοὶ οὐραῖοι, more commonly Λίνοι or Λίνα, the Vincla of Cicero and Germanicus, the Alligamentum linteum of the Scholiast on the latter.
From Vitruvius (IX.4) it appears that the sprinkling of indistinct stars between the Fishes and the Whale was called by the Greeks Ἑρμηδόνη, a word explained by Hesychius to mean τῶν ἀμυδρῶν ἀστέρων χύσις.
1. The Whale, Κῆτος (Arat. 353), Orphos (Jul. Firm. Astron. VIII.17), Cetus (Vitruv. IX.4; Manil. I.440), Pristis (German. 644; Manil. I.363), Nereia Pistris (German. 714), Neptunia Pistrix (Cic., comp. German. 709). The last three designations are different forms of the Greek Πρῆστις, which Suidas interprets to signify αἶδος κήτους θαλασσίου. This was the seamonster, according to Aratus, sent to devour Andromeda.
2. Orion, Ὠρίων (Arat. 322), Ὠαρίων (Pind. Callim.), Orion (Cic. German. Vitruv. Manil. I.399), Oarion (Catull. LXV. sub fin.), Proles Hyriea (Ov. Fast. VI.719; comp. V.495). Argion in Julius Firmicus (VIII.9) is probably a corrupt form of Oarion.
This is one of the oldest constellations, being noticed in Homer (XVIII.486) and Hesiod (Erg. 598, 615, 619), both of whom employ the expression σθένος Ὠρίωνος. The figure was supposed to represent an armed warrior (ξίφεος ἶφι πεποιθώς, Arat.), grasping a shield in his left hand and a club in his right (manu laeva tenens clipeum, clavam altera, Vitruv. IX.4), with a glittering belt, from which a sword depended (Balteus Orionis, Vagina, German.; Ensis, Cic.). The origin of the name is quite unknown, the ordinary derivation from ouron, to which a mythical legend was adapted, being altogether unworthy of attention. The morning setting of this remarkable cluster, about the beginning of November, pointed out in ancient times to the husbandman and the mariner the approach of the most stormy period of the year. (Hor. Carm. I.28, 21, III.27, 18, Epod. X.9, XV.7; Virg. Aen. I.535, IV.52.)
An anonymous Greek writer quoted by Scaliger declares that the popular name for Orion was Aletropodion, which seems a corruption of Alektropodion, i.e. Cocks-foot; and Ideler thinks that we can, without any great stretch of fancy, trace a resemblance to a fowl strutting along.
Among the Romans Jugula or Jugulae seems to have been the indigenous appellation; the former is noticed by Varro and Festus, the latter occurs in Plautus (Amph. I.1, 119) — Nec Jugulae, neque Vesperugo, neque Vergiliae occidunt: but no satisfactory explanation has been proposed. The two bright stars (α, γ) under the head were called Humeri. (Varr. L. L. VI.3)
3. The Eridanus, Ποταμός (Arat. 358), Amnis (Cic. German.). Aratus remarks that it was considered as a remnant of the Eridanus, Λείψανον Ἠριδανοπιο πολυκλαύστου ποταμοῖο,
that mythical non-existent (τὸν μηδαμοῦ γῆς ὄντα, Strab.) stream which proved a fruitful source of speculation in ancient as it has done in modern times. The Romans identified the Eridanus with the Po; and hence while Cicero employs the former, Germanicus uses Eridanus and Padus indifferently (comp. Vitruv. IX.4). From Eratosthenes, the Scholiast on Germanicus and Hyginus (P. A. II.32), we learn that this constellation was by others called the Nile, that being the only earthly river which flowed from the south towards the north, as this stream of stars appears to do when rising above the horizon.
4. The Hare, Λαγωός (Arat. 338), Λαγώς, Lepus (Vitruv. IX.4), Levipes Lepus (Cic.), Auritus Lepus (German.), Velox Lepus (Manil.).
5. The Great Dog, Κύων, Σείριος (Arat. 326), Canis (Cic.), Canis Sirius (German.). Aratus (342) employs the phrase μεγάλοιο Κυνός, but the epithet must be here understood to refer to the magnitude of the principal star and not to the constellation Procyon, which the Greeks never call the Little or Lesser Dog.
The most important star in the Great Dog, perhaps the brightest in the heavens, was frequently specially named Κύων, sometimes emphatically τὸ ἄστρον, and by the Romans Canis or Canicula, but is more frequently designated by the appellation Seirios, Sirius, which occurs four times in Hesiod (Erg. 417, 587, 619; Scut. 397), although, in the first of these passages, the sun, and not a fixed star, is probably indicated. Indeed the word seems to be properly an adjective, signifying glittering or bright; and Eratosthenes remarks (c33), that astronomers were in the habit of denominating other stars Σειρίους διὰ τὴν τῆς φλογὸς κίνησιν. Homer twice (Il. V.5; XXII.25) alludes to this star without naming it, in one passage with the epithet ὀπωρινός, which will be discussed hereafter.
About four hundred years before our era, the heliacal rising of Sirius at Athens, corresponding with the entrance of the sun into the sign Leo, marked the hottest season of the year; and this observation being taken on trust by the Romans of a later epoch without considering whether it suited their age and country, the Dies Caniculares became proverbial among them, as the Dog Days are among ourselves, and the poets constantly refer to the Lion and the Dog in connexion with the heats of midsummer.
6. ßThe Little Dogß, Προκύων (Arat. 450), Procyon (German.), or, literally translated, Antecanem (Cic.), Antecanis (Schol. German.), so called because in Greece the constellation in question rises heliacally before the (Great) Dog. The names Antecanis and Antecanem, however, do not appear p153 to have been generally adopted, for Pliny (H. N. XVIII. § 268), when speaking of Procyon, remarks, quod sidus apud Romanos non habet nomen, nisi Caniculam hanc velimus intelligi, hoc est, minorem canem ut in astris pingitur — words which do not necessarily imply that Procyon ever was actually termed Canicula by the Roman writers, although this was certainly sometimes the case if we can trust the express assertion of Hyginus, Canem (sc. Icarii) autem sua adpellatione et specie Caniculam dixerunt, quae a Graecis, quod ante majorem canem exoritur, προκύων adpellatur (P. A. II.4). A passage in Pliny (H. N. XVIII. § 285) would at first sight appear to be decisive: IV. Kalendas Maii, Canis occidit, sidus et per se vehemens, et cui praeoccidere Caniculam necesse sit. But since we know that in Northern latitudes the Great Dog not only rises after, but also sets before the Little Dog, it is evident that, unless we suppose Pliny to be involved in inextricable confusion, Canicula cannot here signify the sign Procyon. The explanation generally adopted, although somewhat forced, is that a reference is made to the practice of offering a dog in sacrifice on the Robigalia. (See Ov. Fast. IV.936, &c.; Columell. X.342, and the commentators on Pliny.)
While, as on the whole seems probable, Procyon was sometimes termed Canicula by the Romans, so, on the other hand, the star Sirius seems to have been occasionally called Προκύων by the Greeks, because he rose before the rest of the constellation to which he belonged. (See Galen. Comment. in Hippocrat. Epidem. I.) We cannot, however, attach this meaning to the words of Horace (Carm. III.29, 18) —
jam Procyon furit
Et stella vesani Leonis —
for the appearance of Procyon would to his country-men be in reality a more sure indication of the hottest season than the rising of the Greater Dog.
We have already intimated that the Greeks designate the two constellations simply as Κύων and Προκύων, not as the Greater and Lesser Dog, — a distinction which prevailed among the Romans, as we perceive clearly from Vitruvius (IX.4): Geminos autem minusculus Canis sequitur contra Anguis caput: Major item sequitur Minorem.
When Boötes was regarded as Icarius, and Virgo as his daughter Erigone, Procyon became Maera, the dog of Icarius (Hygin. P. A. II.4; comp. Ov. Fast. IV.940).
7. The Ship Argo, Ἀργώ (Arat. 342), Argo (Cic. Manil. I.420), Navis (Cic.), Argo Navis (Cic.), Navis quae nominatur Argo (Vitruv.), Argoa puppis (German.), ¬Ratis Heroum¬ (Manil. V.13). Like Pegasus and the Bull, it was supposed to represent only one-half of the object (ἡμίτομος), the portion namely of the vessel behind the mast (ἱστὸν διχόωσα κατ’ αὐτὸν, Arat. 605. Puppe trahitur, German.). The brightest star was by Eudoxus and Aratus (351, 368) distinguished as πηδάλιον (gubernaculum, Cic.), the rudder, instead of which Κάνωβος (stella Canopi quae his regionibus est ignota, Vitruv. IX.4), a name which appears first in Eratosthenes (c37) and Hipparchus, became general. According to the Scholiast on Germanicus, it was called also Ptolemaeon, or, as Martianus Capella has it, Ptolemaeus, in honour, evidently, of some Egyptian monarch. This star, as the words of Vitruvius indicate, was not visible in Italian latitudes.
Cicero, in addition to the rudder, distinguishes the mast (malum) also, radiato stipite malum.
8. THE WATER SNAKE, Ὕδρη (Arat. 444), Ὕδρος (Eratosth., Gemin., Ptolem.), Hydra (Cic. Germ., Hygin., Avien.), Hydros (Germ.), Anguis (Vitruv. IX.4; Ov. Fast. II.243; Manil. I.422. See also Serv. ad Virg. Georg. I.205; Hygin. P. A. II.40, III.39).
9. The Cup, Κράτηρ (Arat. 448), Crater (German. Vitruv. Manil. I.424), Fulgens Cratera (Cic.), Urna (Schol. German.).
10. The Raven or Crow, Εἴδωλον κόρακος (Arat. 449), Corvus (Cic. German. Vitruv.), Phoebo sacer ales (Manil. I.424).
The Cup and the Raven were represented as standing upon the back of the Water Snake, and the whole three are grouped together by Ovid (Fast. II.243) in the couplet: —
11. The Centaur, Κένταυρος (Arat. 431, 436), Ἱππότα φήρ (Arat. 664), Χείρων (Eratosth.), Centaurus (Cic. Vitruv. German.), Geminus Biformis (German.), Sonipes (German.), Duplici Ceutaurus imagine (Manil. I.425), Chiron (German. 418, 624). By Ptolemy he is represented with a thyrsus in his hand, and these stars were, as we are told by Geminus, formed by Hipparchus into a distinct constellation under the name Θυρσόλογχος.
12. The Wolf, Θηρίον (Arat. 442), Bestia (Vitruv. IX.4), Hostia (Hygin. P. A. II.38). This, according to Aratus (l.c.), was a wild beast grasped in the hand of the Centaur, but it received no name from the Greeks or Romans.
13. The Altar, Θυτήριον (Arat. 403), Ara (Cic. German. Manil. I.428), ¬Apta Altaria sacris¬ (685), according to Geminus and Ptolemy Θυμιατήριον, translated Turibulum by Germanicus and Vitruvius (IX.4). The Scholiast on Germanicus furnishes two other names, Sacrarium and Pharus. In the legend preserved by Manilius (I.428), it was the altar erected by Jove when heaven was invaded by the giants.
14. The Southern Crown. Not named by Aratus, who merely remarks (401) that under the fore-feet of Sagittarius are some stars sweeping round in a circle (δινωτοὶ κύκλῳ), but to these Geminus and Ptolemy give the specific name of Στέφανος νότιος. In consequence of no legend being attached to the group, Germanicus (388) describes it as
sine honore Corona
Ante Sagittiferi multum pernicia crura.
(Cf. Hygin. P. A. II.28. Manilius takes no notice of it.) Geminus has preserved two other names, Οὐρανισκός and Κηρυκεῖον: the former Martianus Capella renders by Caelulum; the latter, used by Hipparchus, denotes a herald's wand of peace. Others, according to the Scholiast on Aratus, regarded it as Ixion's wheel (Ἰξιόνος τρόχον).
15. The Southern Fish, Ἰχθὺς νότιος (Arat. 387), Piscis Notius (Manil. I.445; Hygin. P. A. III.40), Piscis Australis (Cic.), Piscis Austrinus (Vitruv. IX.4; Columell. XI.2).
It appears from Eratosthenes (38), and the Scholiast on Germanicus, that it was styled also Ichthus megas, Piscis magnus.
p154 Before quitting this part of our subject, we must add a few words on Coma Berenices; Berenices Crinis. Milvus.
1. THE HAIR OF BERENICE, Πλόκαμος s. Βόστρυχος Βερονίκης (Callim., Schol. ad Arat. 146), Coma Berenices (see Catull. LXV.), was, as we have seen above, formed by Conon out of certain unappropriated (ἀμορφωτοί) stars behind the Lion's Tail, in honour of Berenice, the wife of Ptolemy Euergetes, and afforded a theme for a complimentary elegy by Callimachus, of which we possess a translation by Catullus. The constellation being unknown to Aratus, is not alluded to by his translators, Cicero and Germanicus, nor is it noticed by Manilius. When Pliny (H. N. II. § 178) observes, Septemtriones non cernit Troglodytice, et confinis Ægyptus: nec Canopum Italia, et quem vocant Berenices Crinem; item quem sub Divo Augusto cognominavere Caesaris Thronon, insignes ibi stellas, it is much more probable that he committed a positive blunder, than that, as some have supposed, he intended to indicate under the name of Berenices Crinem some southern sign to which no one else makes any allusion. 2. We find in Ovid (Fast. III.793) the following couplet in reference to the night of the 17th of March: —
Stella Lycaoniam vergit declivis ad Arcton
Miluus. Haec illa nocte videnda venit,
and in Pliny (H. N. XVIII.65 § 1), Caesar et Idibus Martiis ferales sibi annotavit Scorpionis occasu: XV. Kalendas vero Aprilis Italiae Milvum ostendit: XII. Kalendas April. Equum occidere matutino. In the first of these passages we find a constellation named Milvus or the Kite described as one of the northern signs, or at least as a sign visible in Italy, and the period of its rising fixed to the 17th of March. The words of Pliny, although more ambiguous than those of Ovid, would lead us to suppose that he was quoting this, as well as the preceding observation, from the Calendar of Caesar; but the abruptness of his ordinary style is such as to prevent us from affirming this with certainty.
Now no Greek and no other Roman writers mention any constellation bearing the above name, nor can we adopt the explanation of Grotius, who supposes that the Swan or the Eagle is indicated, for the rising of these signs is removed by three months from the period here fixed. Ideler (Sternn. p7 f.) has, in all probability, discovered the solution of the enigma. In the Parapegma of Geminus, a phenomenon described by the words Ἰκτῖνος φαίνεται, i.e. Milvus apparet, is placed by Eudoxus thirteen days before the vernal equinox, and by Euctemon and Callippus respectively, eight days and one day before the same epoch; while Ptolemy, in his Φάσεις ἀπλανῶν, marks under the 21st of Phamenoth (i.e. according to Ideler, 8th March), Εὐδόξῳ χελιδὼν καὶ ἰκτῖνος φαίνεται. But the ἰκτῖνος, rendered milvus by the Latins, was, as we are told by Aristotle (H. A. VIII.16), a bird of passage, and hence the arrival of the ἰκτῖνος, like that of the swallow, took place at and served to mark a particular season of the year. Ovid and Pliny, being ignorant of this fact, and finding in the calendars which they consulted the words Milvus apparet, took it for granted, without further inquiry, that Milvus was the name of a constellation; for when we consider the context of the naturalist, as well as the date, but one day later than that fixed by Ovid, we can scarcely doubt that he, as well as the poet, believed Milvus to be a Stella. Merkel (Ov. Fast. p. lxvii.) has shown that in this place Ovid is simply following his guide, Clodius Fuscus.
A nation like the Greeks, whose climate permitted them to watch their flocks by night during a considerable part of the year, could not fail to remark that certain fixed stars appeared and disappeared in regular succession, as the sun passed through the different stages of his annual career. Accordingly, we find that, as early as the time of Hesiod, the changes of the seasons, and the more important operations of agriculture, were fixed with reference to the risings and settings of Orion, the Pleiades, the Hyades, Arcturus, and Sirius. Such observations were in the first instance extremely rude; but after Thales had turned the attention of his countrymen to scientific astronomy, these celestial phenomena were determined with great care and accuracy: tables were drawn up in which the risings and settings of the more brilliant stars, with reference to the sun, were fully detailed, together with such notices, touching the winds and weather to be expected at the different epochs, as experience suggested. Copies were engraved on stone or brass, and, being nailed or hung up in the market-places of large towns and other places of public resort, received the name of παραπήγματα. Two catalogues of this description have been preserved which are valuable, inasmuch as they frequently quote the authority of the early Greek astronomers, Meton, Euctemon, Eudoxus, Callippus, &c. for their statements. The one was drawn up by Geminus (fl. B.C. 80), the other by the famous Ptolemy (A.D. 140). In the former the risings and settings of the stars are fixed according to the passage of the sun through the signs of the zodiac; in the latter they are ranged under the months and years of the Julian Calendar.
The practice commenced by Hesiod was followed by subsequent writers upon rural economy, and we accordingly find numerous precepts in Virgil, Columella, and Pliny delivered with reference to the risings and settings of the stars, forming a complete Calendarium Rusticum. Ovid has combined the Fasti of the city with these Rural Almanacs, and has thus gained an opportunity of enlivening his poem by recounting the various myths attached to the constellations. Indeed it would appear that Caesar, when he reconstructed the Fasti of Rome, included the risings and settings of the stars, since Pliny frequently quotes the authority of Caesar for his statements on these points. Thus the Fasti of Ovid may be considered as a commentary upon the almanac in common use.
The early Grecian parapegmata were undoubtedly constructed from actual observation in the countries where they were first exhibited, and must therefore have completely answered the purpose for which they were intended. But this does not by any means hold good of the corresponding compilations of the Romans, who, being little versed in astronomy themselves, copied blindly from others without knowledge or discrimination.
It is necessary to attend to two facts: —
1. The time of the risings and settings of the fixed stars varies for the same place at different epochs. Thus the Pleiades which at Rome rose p155 along with the sun on the 16th of April, B.C. 44, rose with the sun at Rome several days earlier in the age of Meton, and do not now rise with the sun at Rome until several days later. This is caused by the precession of the equinoxes.
2. The time of the risings and settings of the fixed stars is different on the same day in places whose latitude is different. Thus, in the year when the Pleiades rose along with the sun at Rome on the 16th of April, they did not rise along with the sun at Athens until the 22nd of April.
Too little attention was paid to these considerations by the Roman writers; and consequently we not unfrequently discover that they combined the observations of astronomers who lived at times and places remote from them and from each other — that calculations made for the latitude of Athens, or of Rhodes, or of Alexandria, 300 years before, were adopted at once and transferred to their calendars without change or modification.
Another source of confusion is a want of precision in specifying the different kinds of risings and settings, which ought always to be most carefully distinguished from each other by appropriate scientific terms.
The risings and settings of the fixed stars, when considered with reference to the sun's place in his orbit, may be arranged under eight heads: —
(a) When a star rises at sunrise.
(b) When a star rises at sunset.
(c) When a star sets at sunrise.
(d) When a star sets at sunset.
(e) When a star rises shortly before the sun so as to be just visible in the morning twilight as it ascends above the horizon before its rays are overpowered by the light of the more brilliant luminary.
(f) When a star rises shortly after sunset so as to be just visible in the evening twilight as it ascends above the horizon.
(g) When a star sets shortly before sunrise so as to be just visible in the morning twilight as it sinks below the horizon.
(h) When a star sets shortly after sunset so as to be just visible in the evening twilight as it sinks below the horizon. The names by which these, taken in order, are discriminated by the Greek astronomers Geminus (Isagog. cap. XI.) and Ptolemy (Math. Syntax. VIII.4) are the following: —
(a) Ἐπιτολὴ ἑῴα ἀληθινή, G. — Ἐῴα συνανατολὴ ἀληθινή, P. — Ortus Matutinus Verus. True morning rising.
(b) Ἐπιτολὴ ἑσπερία ἀληθινή, G. — Ἑσπερία συνανατολὴ ἀληθινή, P. — Ortus Vespertinus Verus. True evening rising.
(c) Δύσις ἑῴα ἀληθινή, G. — Ἐῴα συγκατάδυσις ἀληθινή, P. — Occasus Matutinus Verus. True morning setting.
(d) Δύσις ἑσπερία ἀληθινή, G. — Ἑσπερία συγκατάδυσις ἀληθινή, P. — Occasus Vespertinus Verus. True evening setting.
(α) Ἐπιτολὴ ἑῴα φαινομένη, G. — Ἐῴα προανατολὴ φαινομένη, P. — Ortus Matutinus Apparens s. Ortus Heliacus. Heliacal rising, i.e. First visible rising of a star in the morning twilight.
(β) Ἐπιτολὴ ἑσπερία φαινομένη, G. — Ἑσπερία ἐπανατολὴ φαινομένη, P. — Ortus Vespertinus Apparens. Last visible rising of a star after sunset.
(γ) Δύσις ἑῴα φαινομένη, G. — Ἐῴα πρόδυσις φαινομένη, P. — Occasus Matutinus Apparens. First visible setting of a star before sunrise.
(δ) Δύσις ἑσπερία φαινομένη, G. — Ἑσπερία ἐπικατάδυσις φαινομένη, P. — Occasus Vespertinus Apparens s. Occasus Heliacus. Heliacal setting, i.e. Last visible setting of a star in the evening twilight.
With regard to the above technicalities we must observe: —
1. That Geminus (l.c.) draws a distinction between the words ἀνατολή and ἐπιτολή. By ἀνατολή he understands the rising of a star considered simply with reference to its elevation above the horizon, which takes place once in twenty-four hours in consequence of the diurnal motion; by ἐπιτολή, the rising of the star considered with reference to its distance from the sun, which depends upon the sun's place in the ecliptic. As to the settings of the stars, he would make δύσις the correlative of ἀνατολή and κρύψις of ἐπιτολή; but to this last definition he does not himself adhere, since he constantly employs dusis to denote the setting of a star, when considered with reference to its distance from the sun. Ptolemy, while he includes all the risings and settings under the general designation of Φάσεις ἀπλάνων, endeavours to introduce an improved nomenclature, by varying the preposition according as the star rises or sets along with (σύν), or before (πρό) or after (ἐπί) the sun, but pays no regard to the rule of Geminus with respect to ἀνατολή and ἐπιτολή.
2. Two terms, in addition to those set down above, are commonly employed by writers on these topics, the COSMICAL rising and setting (Ortus Cosmicus, Occasus C.), and the ACRONYCHAL rising and setting (Ortus Acronsychus, Occasus A.).
The epithet Cosmicus, as applied to this subject, first occurs in a note of Servius on Virg. Geory. I.218, Ortus et occasus duo sunt: unus ἡλιακός, id est, solaris; et alter κοσμικός, id est, mundanus: unde fit ut ea signa quae cum sole oriuntur a nobis non possint videri: et ea, quae videmus, quantum ad solis rationem pertinet, videantur occidere. Modern astronomers have for the most part (see Petavius, Varr. Diss. p3, ed. 1630) adopted the phrase Ortus Cosmicus to indicate the rising marked (a), that is, the Ortus Matutinus Verus, and Occasus Cosmicus to indicate the setting marked (c), that is, the Occasus Matutinus Verus; but Ideler (Historische Untersuchungen, &c. p311), while he interprets Ortus Cosmicus in the sense usually received, applies Occasus Cosmicus to the setting marked (g), that is, to the Occasus Matutinus Apparens.
Again, the epithet ἀκρόνυχος appears to be first used by Theophrastus (de Signis Pluv. et Vent. cap. I. § 2), where ἀνατολαί ἀκρόνυχοι are alone mentioned, and are distinctly explained to mean the rising of a star at sunset, that is, the Ortus Vespertinus Verus marked (b); and in this sense the phrase Ortus Acronychus is found in the treatises of Petavius and others, who employ also the expression Occasus Acronychus to indicate the setting marked (d), that is, the Occasus Vespertinus Verus. Ideler concurs in the latter, but interprets Ortus Acronychus to mean the rising marked (β), that is, the Ortus Vespertinus Apparens. This view is certainly at variance with the words of Theophrastus, which are quite explicit and are corroborated by Julius Firmicus (II.8); but on the p156 other hand in the Parapegma of Geminus, in the observations ascribed to Eudoxus, ἀκρόνυχος is the general term applied to all evening settings, and most of these unquestionably refer to the apparent phenomena. Euctemon again makes use of hesperios to express the same meaning. The words Ἀρκτροῦρος ἀκρόνυχος πρωΐας δύνει under Scorpius d. 8. are probably corrupt.
Under these circumstances, to prevent all confusion or ambiguity, we have altogether passed over the terms Cosmicus and Acronychus in our table, but have retained Heliacus, which, like Cosmicus, first occurs in the passage quoted from Servius, but is applied uniformly by subsequent writers to the phenomenon marked (α) and (δ), and to no others.
3. Pliny (H. N. XVIII. § 218) proposes to designate by Emersus, what we have called the Heliacal Rising (α), because the star then for the first time emerges from the sun's rays, and by Occultatio, what we have called the Heliacal Setting (δ), because this is the last appearance of the star, which is forthwith obscured by the sun's rays, but these terms do not appear to have been ever generally received.
4. It is manifest that of the eight phenomena named above, the first four are purely matters of calculation, since the true risings and settings never can be visible to the naked eye. These then ought always to have been, and for some time always were, excluded from rural calendars intended for the use of practical men. We find, however, from the fragments of Callippus, preserved in the Parapegma of Geminus, when verified by computation, that this astronomer had substituted the true risings and settings for the apparent risings and settings, which were there marked in the tables of Euctemon, Meton, and Eudoxus. Hence great caution would become indispensable in quoting from different authorities, or in advancing an original statement. If the rising of a star was named, it would be necessary not only to specify whether it was the morning or the evening rising, but also whether the true or the apparent rising was indicated, and to proceed in like manner for the setting of a star. Now and then we find in Columella and Pliny some attempt to preserve accuracy in one or other of these essential points, as when the latter observes (XVIII § 74): Pridie Kalendas (Nov.) Caesari Arcturus occidit et Suculae exoriuntur cum sole: XVI. Kal. Octob. Ægypto Spica, quam tenet Virgo, exoritur matutino, Etesiaeque desinunt. Hoc idem Caesari XIV. Kalendas XIII. Assyriae significant; and even in Virgil, as when he defines the morning setting of the Pleiads: Ante tibi Eoae Atlantides abscondantur: but for the most part, both in prose writers and in poets, everything is vague and unsatisfactory: risings and settings of all descriptions, calculated for different epochs and for different latitudes, are thrown together at random. In order to substantiate these charges, we may examine the statements contained in Columella, Ovid, and Pliny with regard to Lyra, a constellation to which considerable importance was attached by the Romans, since the beginning of Autumn in the calendar of Caesar was marked by its (true) morning setting. It will suit our purpose particularly well, because from its limited extent every portion of the constellation became visible within two or three days after the appearance of the first star; and hence no ambiguity could arise from the heliacal risings of the extreme portions being separated by an interval of some weeks, as was the case with Orion and others stretching over a large space in the heavens, in treating of which it became necessary to specify particular portions of the figure, as when we read Orionis humerus oritur; Gladius Orionis occidere incipit; Orion totus oritur, and so forth. In the following quotations, the words Fidis and Fidicula seem to be absolutely synonymous, there being no reason to believe that the latter was applied exclusively to the peculiarly bright star which in the catalogues of modern astronomers is a Lyrae, the ὁ λαμπρὸς τῆς λύρας of Ptolemy, although to this in all probability most of the observations were directed. We shall set down in regular order, first the settings and then the risings.
Settings of Lyra.
(1.) Pridie Id. Aug. (12th August) Fidis occidit mane et Auctumnus incipit. Col. XI.2 § 57.
According to Pliny (XVIII. § 222), the setting of Fidicula (Fidiculae occasus) marked the commencement of autumn, and took place on the forty-sixth day after the solstice; that is, on the 8th of August, if we include, according to the Roman method of computation, the 24th of June, the day from which he reckoned. In a subsequent section (§ 271) he states that the phenomenon in question took place, according to the Calendar of Caesar, on the 11th of August, but that more accurate observations had fixed it to the 8th, and this he soon after repeats (§ 289).
(2.) XIII. Kal. Sept. (i.e. 20th August) Sol in Virginem transitum facit . . . hoc eodem die Fidis occidit. — X. Kal. Sept. (23rd August) ex eodem sidere tempestas plerumque oritur et pluvia. Columell. XI.2 § 58.
(3.) XI. Kal. Feb. (22nd January) Fidicula Vespere occidit, dies pluvius. Columell. X.2 § 5.
Ovid places the setting on 23rd of January. Fulgebit toto jam Lyra nulla polo. — Fast. I.653.
(4.) III. Kal. Feb. (30th January) Fidicula occidit. Columell. XI.2 § 6.
(5.) Kal. Feb. (1st February) Fidis incipit occidere. Ventus Eurinus et interdum Auster cum grandine est. Columell. XI.2 § 14.
III. Non. Febr. (3rd February) Fidis tota occidit. Columell. ibid.
Ovid, without alluding to what he had said before, remarks on the 2nd of February (Fast. II.73):
Illa nocte aliquis tollens ad sidera vultum,
Dicet, ubi est hodie, quae Lyra fulsit heri?
Pliny has (XVIII. § 235) et pridie Nonas Februarias (4th February) Fidicula vesperi (sc. occidit).
Risings of Lyra.
(6.) IX. Kal. Mai. (23rd April) prima nocte Fidicula apparet, tempestatem significat. Columell. XI.2 § 37.
VI. Kal. Mai. (26th April) Boeotiae et Atticae Canis Vesperi occultatur, Fidicula mane oritur. Plin. XVIII. § 248.
(7.) Ovid (Fast. V.415) names the 5th of May as the day on which Lyra rises.
(8.) III. Id. Mai. (13th May) Fidis mane exoritur, significat tempestatem. Columell. XI.2 § 40.
p157 III. Id. Mai. Fidiculae exortus. Plin. XVIII. § 255.
Id. Mai. (15th May) Fidis mane exoritur. Columell. XI.2 § 43.
(9.) III. Non. Novemb. (3rd November) Fidicula mane exoritur, hiemat et pluit. Columell. XI.2 § 84.
(10.) VIII. Id. Novemb. (6th November) idem sidus totum exoritur, Auster vel Favonius, hiemat. Columell. ibid.
(11.) XVI. Kal. Dec. (16th November) Fidis exoritur mane, Auster, interdum Aquilo magnus. Columell. XI.2 § 88.
(12.) Non. Januar. (5th January) Fidis exoritur mane: tempestas varia. Columell. XI.2 § 97.
Institerint Nonae, missi tibi nubibus atris
Signa dabat imbres exoriente Lyra.
Ovid, Fast. I.315
Pridie Nonas Januarias (4th January) Caesari Delphinus matutino exoritur et postero die Fidicula. Plin. XVIII. § 234.
The total disregard of precision in the phraseology employed in describing the above appearances is evident in almost every assertion, but the confusion may be considered to have reached a climax when we read the words Fidis (or Fidicula) exoritur mane, used without variation or explanation to denote a phenomenon assigned to the 26th of April, the 3rd and 15th of May, the 3rd and 16th of November. By examining each paragraph separately, we shall be still more fully convinced of the carelessness and ignorance displayed.
(1.) The true morning setting of Lucida Lyrae took place at Rome in the age of Caesar, on the 12th or 13th of August, and therefore the Calendar of Caesar here followed by Columella was more accurate than the authorities quoted by Pliny, unless these referred to a different latitude. Remark, however, that no hint is dropped by either to indicate that the true and not the apparent morning setting is meant; and it ought to be borne in mind that the latter happened, at the epoch in question, on that very day at Alexandria. In the Parapegma of Geminus also, we find, under 11th of August (17 Leo), Εὐκτήμονι λύρα δυέται.
(2.) This must be the apparent morning setting which took place at Rome on 24th of August for the Julian epoch.
(3.) The true evening setting, calculated for Alexandria at the same epoch, took place on 23rd of January, the very day named by Ovid.
(4.) This is the heliacal setting, which, for Lucida Lyrae, took place at Rome on 28th of January.
(5.) These notices seem to be borrowed from old Greek calendars. Eudoxus, as quoted by Geminus, assigns the evening (akronuchos) setting of Lyra to the 11th degree of Aquarius; that is, the 4th of February, according to the Julian Calendar.
It will be seen that the last three paragraphs, (3), (4), (5), without any change of expression, spread the setting of Lyra over a space extending from 23rd of January to 4th February, the apparent and true settings for Rome being on the 28th January and 9th February respectively.
(6.) The apparent evening rising, which seems clearly pointed out by the words of Columella, took place at Rome for the Julian era on 14th of April, at Alexandria on 26th of April: the true evening rising at Rome on 22nd April; and to this, therefore, the statement of Columella, from whatever source derived, must, if accurate, apply. Pliny has here fallen into a palpable blunder, and has written mane for vesperi. In fact he has copied, perhaps at second hand, the observation of Eudoxus with regard to the Lyre and Dog (see Parapegma of Gem.), except that he has inserted the word mane where the Greek astronomer simply says lura epitellei.
(7.) This will agree tolerably well with the true evening rising at Alexandria for the Julian era, but is twenty-one days too late for the apparent evening setting at Rome, and thirteen days too late for the true evening setting.
(8.) Here all is error. We must manifestly substitute vespere for mane in both passages of Columella; but even thus the observation will not give anything like a close approximation to any rising of Lyra either at Rome or Alexandria in the Julian age.
(9.) Copied verbatim along with the accompanying prognostic of the weather, from the Parapegma of Geminus, where it is ascribed to Euctemon. The day, however, corresponds closely with the heliacal rising, which took place at Rome on 5th of November.
(10.) Copied along with the prognostic hiemat (καὶ ὁ ἀὴρ χειμερίος γίνεται ὡς ἐπὶ τὰ πολλὰ) from the same compilation, where it is ascribed to Democritus, who fixed upon this day for the true morning rising (λύρα ἐπιβάλλει ἅμα ἡλίῳ ἀνίσχοντι). At Rome this rising fell upon 23rd of October.
(11.) Copied again from the same source, where it is ascribed to Eudoxus. Here the observation can in no way be stretched so as to apply to Rome.
(12.) This, like the last, can in no way be made applicable to Rome; but the heliacal setting at Alexandria took place, for that epoch, about four days later, on the 9th or 10th of January.
Having now pointed out the difficulties which the student must expect to encounter in prosecuting his inquiries in this department, we proceed briefly to examine the most remarkable passages in the classical writers, where particular periods of the year are defined by referring to the risings and settings of the stars. We begin with the most important, — the Pleiades, Arcturus, and Sirius, which we shall discuss fully, and then add a few words upon others of less note.
Hesiod indicates the period of harvest by the rising of the Atlas-born Pleiads (Erg. 384) after they had remained concealed for forty days and forty nights. Now, in the age of Hesiod (B.C. 800) the heliacal rising of the Pleiads took place at Athens, according to the computation of Ideler, on the 19th of May of the Julian Calendar, which is just the season when the wheat crop comes to maturity in that climate. Again (l.c.), he indicates the commencement of the ploughing-season, and the close of the season for navigating, by the morning setting of the Pleiads, which in that age and latitude fell about the third of the Julian November. In these and all other passages where Hesiod speaks of the risings and settings of the stars, we must unquestionably assume that he refers to the apparent phenomena. Indeed it is by no means improbable that the precepts which
p158 he inculcates may be the result of the personal observations of himself and his contemporaries.
Varro, Columella, Pliny.
(1.) Varro, where he describes the distribution of the year into eight divisions, according to the calendar of Caesar, states that there was a space of forty-six days from the vernal equinox (25th March) to the rising of the Pleiades (Vergiliarum exortum), which is thus fixed to the 8th or 9th of May
(R. R. I.28).
(XVIII.66 § 1) names the 10th of May.
Columella has three distinct notices (R. R. XI.2 § § 36, 39).
(3.) X. Kal. Mai. (22nd April) Vergiliae cum sole oriuntur.
(4.) Nonis Maiis (7th May) Vergiliae exoriuntur mane.
(5.) VI. Idus sc. Mai (10th May) Vergiliae totae apparent; and this last corresponds with his assertion elsewhere, that the phenomenon takes place forty-eight days after the vernal equinox (IX.14 § 4).
Now the true morning rising of the Pleiads took place at Rome in the age of the above writers, who are all embraced within the limits of a century, about the 16th of April, the apparent or heliacal rising about the 28th of May. Hence not one of the above statements is accurate. But (1), (2), (4), (5) approach closely to the observation of Euctemon (B.C. 430), according to whom the Pleiad rises on the 13th of Taurus (8th of May); and (3), which expressly refers to the true rising, although inapplicable to Rome, will suit the latitude of Athens for the epoch in question.
(1.) Varro places the setting of the Pleiades (Vergiliarum occasum) forty-five days after the autumnal equinox (24th Sept.); that is, on the 6th or 7th of November
(R. R. I.28).
(2.) Pliny names the 11th of November (XVIII.60,
74; the text in c59 is corrupt).
Columella, as before, has a succession of notices.
(3.) XIII. et XII. Kal. Nov. (20th and 21st Oct.) Solis exortu Vergiliae incipiunt occidere.
(4.) V. Kal. Nov. (28th Oct.) Vergiliae occidunt.
(5.) VI. Id. Nov. (8th Nov.) Vergiliae mane occidunt.
(6.) IV. Id. Nov. (10th Nov.) hiemis initium.
These are all taken from his calendar in XI.2; but in IX.14 § 11, Ab aequinoctio . . . ad Vergiliarum occasum diebus XL. i.e. 2nd or 3rd of November. Compare II.8 § 1.
Now the true morning setting of the Pleiads took place for Rome at that epoch on the 29th of October, the apparent morning setting on the 9th of November. Hence it appears that (5) may be regarded as an accurate determination of the apparent morning setting, and that (1) and (2) approach nearly to the truth, especially when we bear in mind that variations to the extent of two or even three days must be allowed in regard to a phenomenon which depends in some degree on the state of the atmosphere. We perceive also that (4) is correct for the true morning setting, while (3), which is inapplicable to Rome, corresponds to the horizon of Athens in the time of Meton. In the passage from Colum. IX.14, we ought probably to adopt the conjecture of Pontedera, and read XLIV for XL.
Evening Setting and Evening Rising. — The evening setting of the Pleiades took place, according to Columella, on the 6th of April (VIII. Idus Aprilis Vergiliae Vespere celantur); according to the calendar of Caesar, on the 5th. (Colum. IX.2 § 34; Plin. H. N. XVIII. § 246.) These statements are not far from the truth, since the apparent evening setting took place at Rome for the Julian epoch on the 8th of April. The apparent evening rising belonged to the 25th of September.
Now the true morning rising of the Pleiads took place at Rome in the age of the above writers, who are all embraced within the limits of a century, about the 16th of April, the apparent or heliacal rising about the 28th of May. Hence not one of the above statements is accurate. But (1), (2), (4), (5) approach closely to the observation of Euctemon (B.C. 430), according to whom the Pleiad rises on the 13th of Taurus (8th of May); and (3), which expressly refers to the true rising, although inapplicable to Rome, will suit the latitude of Athens for the epoch in question. Morning Setting. (1.) Varro places the setting of the Pleiades (Vergiliarum occasum) forty-five days after the autumnal equinox (24th Sept.); that is, on the 6th or 7th of November (R. R. I.28). (2.) Pliny names the 11th of November (XVIII.60, 74; the text in c59 is corrupt). Columella, as before, has a succession of notices. (3.) XIII. et XII. Kal. Nov. (20th and 21st Oct.) Solis exortu Vergiliae incipiunt occidere. (4.) V. Kal. Nov. (28th Oct.) Vergiliae occidunt. (5.) VI. Id. Nov. (8th Nov.) Vergiliae mane occidunt. (6.) IV. Id. Nov. (10th Nov.) hiemis initium.
These are all taken from his calendar in XI.2; but in IX.14 § 11, Ab aequinoctio . . . ad Vergiliarum occasum diebus XL. i.e. 2nd or 3rd of November. Compare II.8 § 1.
Now the true morning setting of the Pleiads took place for Rome at that epoch on the 29th of October, the apparent morning setting on the 9th of November. Hence it appears that (5) may be regarded as an accurate determination of the apparent morning setting, and that (1) and (2) approach nearly to the truth, especially when we bear in mind that variations to the extent of two or even three days must be allowed in regard to a phenomenon which depends in some degree on the state of the atmosphere. We perceive also that (4) is correct for the true morning setting, while (3), which is inapplicable to Rome, corresponds to the horizon of Athens in the time of Meton. In the passage from Colum. IX.14, we ought probably to adopt the conjecture of Pontedera, and read XLIV for XL.
Evening Setting and Evening Rising. — The evening setting of the Pleiades took place, according to Columella, on the 6th of April (VIII. Idus Aprilis Vergiliae Vespere celantur); according to the calendar of Caesar, on the 5th. (Colum. IX.2 § 34; Plin. H. N. XVIII. § 246.) These statements are not far from the truth, since the apparent evening setting took place at Rome for the Julian epoch on the 8th of April. The apparent evening rising belonged to the 25th of September. Virgil.
Virgil (Georg. I.221)enjoins the husbandman not to sow his wheat until after the morning setting of the Pleiades: —
Ante tibi Eoae Atlantides abscondantur
Gnosiaque ardentis decedat stella Coronae
Debita quam sulcis committas semina.
Hesiod, as we have seen above, fixes the commencement of the ploughing season, without making any distinction as to the particular crop desired by the (apparent) morning setting of the Pleiades; that is, for his age, the beginning of November. But it is impossible to tell whether Virgil intended merely to repeat this precept or had in his eye the calendar of Caesar or some similar compilation. Columella (II.8 § 1), in commenting upon these lines, understands him to mean the true morning setting, which, he says, takes place thirty-two days after the equinox; that is, on the 25th or 26th of October, — a calculation not far from the truth, since we have pointed out above that the 28th was the real day.
There is another passage where both the rising and the setting of the Pleiades are mentioned in connexion with the two periods of the honey harvest:
Bis gravidos cogunt fetus, duo tempora messis,
Taygete simul os terris ostendit honestum
Pleias et oceani spretos pede reppulit amnes,
Aut eadem sidus fugiens ubi Piscis aquosi
Tristior hibernas caelo descendit in undas.
Georg. 4. 231
Here, again, there is nothing in the context by which we can ascertain the precise periods which the poet desired to define; we can only make a guess by comparing his injunction with those of others. Columella (XI.2) recommends that the combs should be cut, if full, about the 22nd of April; but, since he adds that if they are not full the operation ought to be deferred, the matter is left quite indefinite. Now, the words of Virgil seem clearly to point to the heliacal rising which took place in his time at Rome about the 28th of May, more than five weeks after the day given by Columella. In like manner the last-named writer advises (XI.2 § 57) that the autumnal collection of honey should be put off until the month of October, although others were in the habit of beginning earlier. The true morning setting was, as already stated, on the 28th of October, the apparent on the 9th of November.
As to the expression sidus fugiens ubi Piscis aquosi, it will be sufficient to observe that although the Piscis in question has been variously supposed to be — one of the fishes in the zodiac — the Southern Fish — the Hydra — the Dolphin — or even the Scorpion, no one has yet succeeded in proposing a reasonable or intelligible interpretation, which can be reconciled with any delineation of the heavens with which we are acquainted. Ovid. We are told in the Fasti (IV.165) p159 that at daybreak on the morning which follows the 1st of April: —
Pleiades incipiunt humeros relevare paternos
Quae septem dici, sex tamen esse solent.
According to the legend, the Pleiades were the daughters of Atlas, who supported the heavens on his shoulders, and hence, when they disappeared from the sky, they might be said to remove a portion of their father's burden humeros relevare paternos. The apparent morning setting is therefore clearly denoted. But this took place at Rome on the 9th of November, while, on the other hand, the apparent evening (or heliacal) setting fell upon the 8th of April, only six days after the date mentioned. Hence the poet blundered between the morning setting and the evening setting, which are many months apart.
Again (V.599), the Pleiades are said to rise visibly in the morning on May 14th, marking the end of spring and the beginning of summer. Now the heliacal rising of the Pleiades did not take place at Rome when Ovid wrote until May 28th; but the phenomenon in question took place at Athens on May 16th in the age of Meton. Hence this observation was evidently copied from a Greek calendar computed for the fifth century B.C. Arcturus.
Considerable difficulty arises in the discussion of the passages which refer to Arcturus, from the circumstance that this name is sometimes applied generally to the whole of the wide-spreading constellation of Boötes, and sometimes confined to the bright star in the knee of the figure. HOMER. — Homer (Od. V.29) speaks of Arcturus as ὄψε δύοντα, because the apparent evening or heliacal setting took place late in the year when winter was nigh at hand, and hence the phrase νύκτες ἐπ’ Ἀρκτούρῳ for long nights. (See Arat. 585.) Another explanation of the phrase has been given above when discussing the constellation Boötes. Hesiod. Hesiod (Erg. 564) dates the commencement of Spring from the evening rising of Arcturus (epitelletai akroknephaios) sixty days after the solstice. Now the apparent evening rising for the age and country of Hesiod fell upon the 24th of February; therefore his statement is correct in round numbers. Again, in the same poem (659) he marks the period of the vintage by the morning (heliacal) rising of Arcturus, which, according to Ideler, fell in that age on the 18th of September. Columella, Pliny. Morning Rising.
Columella (IX.14 § 10) places the rising of Arcturus about fifty days after the rising of Canicula; and since the heliacal rising of the latter fell on the 2nd of August at Rome in the Julian era, and of the former on the 21st of September, the computation is exact.
Pliny (XVIII. § 310), Arcturus vero medius pridie Idus (sc. Septembres oritur), i.e. 12th of September, where the middle portion of the whole constellation is indicated, and the observation is very accurate. Morning Setting. (1.) XI. et X. Kal. Jun. (22nd and 23rd May) Arcturus mane occidit. Col. XI.2 § 43. (2.) VII. Id. Jun. (9th June) Arcturus occidit. Id. § 45. (3.) Pliny (XVIII. § 255) ascribes the Arcturi occasus matutinus to V. Id. Maias, i.e. 11th May. (4.) Again, in the same section we find that Arcturus matutino occidit on the 8th of June.
Now, the true morning setting of Arcturus for Rome at this epoch belongs to 28th of May, the apparent morning setting to 10th of June.
But (1) seems to be copied from the observation of Euctemon in the Parapegma of Geminus: (2) is a close approximation to the apparent morning setting for Rome; (3) is altogether erroneous, and must be a true morning setting extracted from some old Greek calendar; (4) corresponds with (2), and is nearly correct. Evening Rising. — (1.) IX. Kal. Mart. (21st Feb.) Arcturus prima nocte oritur. Col. XI.2 §21. (2.) Ortus Arcturi qui est ab Idibus Februariis (13th Feb.). Col. IX.14. (3.) VIII. Kal. Mart. (22nd Feb.) hirundinis visu et postero die (23rd Feb.) Arcturi exortu vespertino. Plin. H. N. XVIII.65.
Now the apparent evening rising of Arcturus took place for Rome at the Julian epoch on the 27th of February, the true evening rising on the 6th of March. But since it is evident from (2) that Columella here employed Arcturus to denote not merely the star properly so called, but the whole figure of Boötes; a latitude of several days must be allowed in the case of this as of all the larger constellations. See below the remarks on Ov. Fast. II.153. We may remark, however, that 21st-23rd of February will answer for the apparent evening rising of the star Arcturus at Athens in the age of Meton. Evening Setting. IV. Kal. Nov. (29th Oct.) Arcturus vespere occidit, ventosus dies. Col. XI.2 § 78.
This is taken verbatim from an observation of Euctemon quoted in the Parapegma of Geminus. The heliacal setting for Rome was a few days later, about the 4th of November. But the observation of Euctemon is not accurate for the latitude of Athens in his own age, for the phenomenon ought to have been placed about five days earlier, which proves, as Pfaff remarks, that the Greek astronomers are not always to be depended upon in these matters.
We find in Pliny (XVIII. § 271), VIII. Id. Aug. (6th August) Arcturus medius occidit. This is so far removed from any setting of the star in question that Harduin pronounces the text corrupt, and substitutes VII. Id. Aug. Aquarius occidit medius, while Pfaff endeavours to refer the expression to the culmination, — an explanation which is both in itself forced and completely at variance with the ordinary usage of Pliny.
Again, Pliny (XVIII. § 313), Pridie Kalendas (Nov.) Caesari Arcturus occidit, i.e. 31st of October, and a few lines farther on IV. Nonas Arcturus occidit vesperi. The latter is not far from the truth; the former, unless it refers to the constellation in general, must have been borrowed from a foreign source. Virgil.
Virgil (Georg. I.229) instructs the husbandman to sow vetches, kidney beans, and lentiles, when Boötes sets, by which he probably intends to indicate the heliacal setting of Arcturus on the 4th of November. In like manner Pliny (XVIII. § 120) orders the vetch to be sown about the setting of Arcturus, the kidney bean at the setting of Boötes (XVIII. § 202), the lentile in the p160 month of November (XVIII. § 125). Columella assigns the sowing of vetches and kidney beans, and Palladius of kidney beans, to the month of October; if the end of the month is meant, then the precept may be considered as identical with those of Virgil and Pliny; if the middle of the month is intended, this will correspond with the heliacal setting of Arcturus for the latitude of Alexandria. Again, in Georg. I.67, when treating of ploughing, the words
At si non fuerit tellus fecunda, sub ipsum
Arcturum tenui sat erit suspendere sulco,
Tertia nox veniat: custodem protinus
Ursae Adspicies geminos exseruisse pedes;
that is, the constellation Arcturus displays both his feet on the 11th of February, where it ought to be observed that from the posture in which Boötes rises his two legs appear above the horizon nearly at the same time. The apparent evening rising of the star Arcturus took place at Rome, on the 27th of February, the true evening rising on the 6th of March; but the calendar to which Ovid was indebted probably recorded the appearance of the first star in the figure which became visible.
In three passages, the morning setting is clearly described (Fast. III.403; V.733; VI.235). In the first, it is placed on 4th or 5th of March, according as we adopt the reading quartae or quintae; in the second, on the 26th of May; in the third, on the 7th of June. Now there is no doubt that the setting of Boötes is spread over a considerable period, — and hence the epithet piger, applied to him here and elsewhere, — but in no way could it be made to occupy three months. The star Arcturus is one of the first which sets in this constellation: its true morning setting took place on 28th of May, its apparent morning setting on 10th of June; thus the second and third of the above passages will apply to these two. In the first passage he has erroneously substituted the apparent morning setting for the true evening rising, which really took place, as we have seen, on the 6th of March. Sirius. Canis. Canicula. Homer, Hesiod. Homer (Il. V.5; XXII.25) alludes to Sirius as the star of ὀπώρα; that is, of the hottest portion of summer, as will be explained more fully below in treating of the ancient division of the year into seasons. The heliacal rising of Sirius in Southern Greece would take place in the age of Homer about the middle of July.
The culmination of Sirius spoken of by Hesiod (Erg. 609), as marking along with the morning rising of Arcturus the period of the vintage, would take place in that age about the 20th of September. The passage (Erg. 417), where Σείριος ἀστήρ is supposed to denote the sun, has been already noticed. zzz Varro, Columella, Pliny. Morning Rising (1.) Varro, following the calendar of Caesar, reckons an interval of twenty-four days from the summer solstice to the rising of Sirius (ad Caniculae signum), which, according to this calculation, would fall on the 17th or 18th of July (R. R. I.28). (2.) Columella (XI.2 § 53) fixes upon the 26th of July (VII. Kal. Aug. Canicula apparet), and in another passage (IX.15 § 5) makes the interval between the solstice and the rising of Sirius about thirty days (peracto solstitio usque ad ortum Caniculae, qui fere dies triginta sunt); that is, on the 24th of July. (3.) Pliny (XVIII. § 269) says, that the epoch quod canis ortum vocamus corresponded with the entrance of the sun into Leo; that is, according to the Julian Calendar, which he professes to follow, the 24th of July. (4.) In the very next clause he says, that it fell twenty-three days after the solstice; that is, on the 17th of July. (5.) And a little farther on (§ 288); he refers the same event specifically to the 17th of July (XVI. Kal. Aug.). (6.) Finally, in a different part of his work (XI. § 36), he places the rising of Sirius thirty days after the solstice: ipso Sirio exsplendescente post solstitium diebus tricenis fere, a passage in which it will be seen, upon referring to the original, that he must have been consulting Greek authorities, and in which the words necessarily imply a visible rising of the star.
The whole of the above statements may be reduced to two. In (1), (4), (5), the rising of Sirius is placed on the 17th or 18th of July, twenty-three days after the solstice; in (2), (3), (6), about thirty days after the solstice, — that is, 24th-26th of July.
Now the true morning rising of Sirius for Rome at the Julian era fell upon the 19th of July, the apparent morning or heliacal rising on the 2nd of August, thirty-eight or thirty-nine days after the solstice.
Hence (1), (4), (5) are close approximations to the truth, while (2), (3), (6) are inapplicable to Rome, and borrowed from computations adapted to the horizon of Southern Greece.
Some words in Pliny deserve particular notice: XVI. Kal. Aug. Assyriae Procyon exoritur; dein postridie fere ubique, confessum inter omnes sidus indicans, quod canis ortum vocamus, sole partem primam Leonis ingresso. Hoc fit post solstitium XXIII. die. Sentiunt id maria, et terrae, multae vero et ferae, ut suis locis diximus. Neque est minor ei veneratio quam descriptis in deos stellis. Although the expressions employed here are far from being distinct, they lead us to infer that certain remarkable periods in the year were from habit and superstition so indissolubly connected in the public mind with certain astronomical phenomena, that even after the periods in question had ceased to correspond with the phenomena, no change was introduced into the established phraseology. Thus the period of most intense heat, which at one time coincided with the heliacal rising of Sirius, would continue to be distinguished in the language of the people, and in almanacs intended for general use, as the Canis Exortus, long after the two epochs were removed to a distance from each other, just as among ourselves the term dog-days, having once obtained a firm footing, is used and probably will continue to be used for centuries p161 without the slightest regard to the actual position of the constellation at the time in question. An example still more striking, because it involves an anomaly universally recognised by scientific men, is the practice of denominating the position of the sun at the vernal equinox, as the first point of Aries, although two thousand years have elapsed since the intersection of the ecliptic with the equator corresponded with the commencement of the constellation Aries. A necessity has thus arisen of drawing a distinction, which proves most embarrassing to the unlearned, between the signs of the zodiac and the constellations of the zodiac, and thus the sun is said to be in the sign Aries while he is actually traversing the constellation of Pisces, and enters the sign Taurus long before he quits the constellation Aries. Now something of this sort may to a certain extent explain some of the anomalies which recur so perpetually in the calendar of Columella or Pliny. Certain remarkable appearances fixed upon at a very early period to mark the approach of summer and winter, such as the rising and setting of the Pleiades, may have by custom or tradition become so completely identified in the minds of the people with particular days, that the compilers of calendars intended for general use, while they desired to register accurate observations, were compelled at the same time to include those which, belonging to remote ages and foreign lands, had nevertheless acquired a prescriptive claim to attention. We may thus account for inconsistencies so numerous and glaring, that they could scarcely have been altogether overlooked by the writers in whose works they occur, although it is impossible to forgive their carelessness in withholding the necessary explanations, or the gross ignorance which they so often manifest.
Evening Setting. — Columella places the evening setting of the Dog on the 30th of April (Prid. Kal. Mai. Canis se Vespere celat), XI.2 § 37. Pliny on the 28th (IV Kal. Mai. Canis occidit, sidus et per se vehemens et cui praeoccidere Caniculam necesse sit), XVIII. § 285. The heliacal setting at Rome for the Julian era was on the 1st of May, which proves the above statements to be nearly correct. The expression cui praeoccidere Caniculam necesse sit has been already commented on. zzz Morning Setting. Evening Rising. (1.) VII. Kal. Dec. (25th Nov.) Canicula occidit solis ortu. Col. XI.2 § 89. (2.) III. Kal. Jan. (30th Dec.) Canicula vespere occidit. Ibid. § 94. (3.) III. Kal. Jan. (30th Dec.) Matutino canis occidens. Plin. XVIII. § 234. (1) is accurate for the apparent morning setting at Rome, B.C. 44. (2) and (3) are directly at variance with each other, and are both blunders. The apparent evening rising took place at Rome on the 30th of December, not the evening setting as Columella would have it, nor the morning setting as Pliny has recorded. VIRGIL. — Virgil instructs the farmer to sow beans, lucerne, and millet: —
Candidus auratis aperit cum cornibus annum
Taurus et adverso cedens Canis occidit astro.
The sun entered Taurus, according to the Julian Calendar, on the 24th of April: the heliacal setting of Sirius was on the 1st of May, six days afterwards. Many interpretations have been proposed for the words adverso cedens Canis occidit astro; of these the most plausible is that which explains them with reference to the form and attitude under which the constellation of the Dog was depicted, which made him set backwards facing the signs which follow.
Again, in Georg. IV.425, we find
Jam rapidus torrens sitientes Sirius Indos
Ardebat caelo et medium sol igneus orbem
words which are intended to indicate the hottest portion of the day in the hottest season of the year. Here the separate mention of Sol is quite sufficient to confute those who would consider Sirius as equivalent in this passage to the sun. zzz Cf. Lucan. Phars. X.209. Ovid.
In the fourth book of the Fasti (ver. 901) the rising of Sirius is assigned to the 25th of April, is made coincident with the disappearance of Aries, and marks the epoch of midspring: —
Sex ubi quae restant luces Aprilis habebit
In medio cursu tempora Veris erunt;
Et frustra pecudem quaeres Athamantidos Helles
Signaque dant imbres exoriturque Canis.
A notorious blunder has been here committed by the poet. No rising of Sirius, either real or apparent, in the morning or in the evening, corresponds to this season. But this is the very day fixed by Euctemon (ap. Gemin. Parapeg.) for the heliacal setting (κύων κρύπτεται) of the Dog, which fell at Rome for the Julian era on the 1st of May. Again, in Fast. V.723, we read — Nocte sequente diem Canis Erigoneius exit; that is, on the 22nd of May. Now, it is clear from a former passage (IV.939) that by Canis Erigoneius he means the Great Dog; but the true rising of Sirius took place for Rome at this period on the 19th of July, the apparent on the 2nd of August. Not much will be gained by supposing that Procyon is here alluded to; for the risings of that star precede those of Sirius by about eight days only. Here, again, therefore, we have a gross mistake. Palladius. Palladius (VII.9): In ortu Caniculae, qui apud Romanos XIV. Kal. Aug. (19th July) die tenetur, explorant (sc. Aegypti) quae semina exortum sidus exurat. quae illaesa custodiat. Now this is the exact period of the heliacal rising in Egypt for the Julian epoch; hence the words apud Romanos must refer to a notice in some Roman Calendar, and not to the real period of the phenomenon. Orion. It must be borne in mind that, from the great size of this constellation, its risings and settings are spread over a considerable space; while the brilliant stars which it contains are so numerous that no one can be fixed upon as a representative of the whole, as in the case of Boötes, where the different appearances are usually referred to Arcturus alone. Hence those writers who aim at precision use such phrases as "Orion incipit oriri," p162 "Orion totus oritur," "Orion incipit occidere;" and wherever such qualifications are omitted the statements are necessarily vague. HESIOD. — Hesiod (Erg. 598) orders the corn to be threshed εὖτ’ ἂν πρῶτα φανῇ σθένος Ὠρίωνος. For that age and country the apparent morning or heliacal rising of Orion would be completed about the 9th of July.
The setting of Orion was one of the tokens which gave notice to the farmer that the season for ploughing had arrived, and to the mariner that he must no longer brave the perils of the deep (Erg. 615). The apparent morning setting extended over the whole month of November.
The culmination of Orion, which coincided with the vintage (Erg. 609), took place about the 14th of September. Aristotle.
Aristotle (Meteorolog. II.5, Problem. XIV.26) places the rising of Orion at the commencement of Opora, and the setting at the beginning of winter, or rather in the transition from summer to winter (ἐν μεταβολῇ τοῦ θέρους καὶ χειμῶνος).
Now the two limits which included the beginning and end of the apparent morning or heliacal rising, which alone can be here indicated, were, for the age and country of the writer, 17th of June — 14th of July: those which embraced the apparent morning setting were, 8th of November — 8th of December; while the true morning setting continued from 27th of October — 20th of November.
Upon examining the passages in question, a very curious contradiction will be perceived, which has long exercised the ingenuity of the commentators. Aristotle distinctly asserts in one place that the rising of Orion is characterised by unsteady stormy weather, and offers an explanation of the fact: in another place he as distinctly avers that the rising of Orion is characterised by the absence of wind (περὶ Ὠρίωνος ἀνατολὴν μάλιστα γίνεται νηνεμία). Pliny. (1.) VIII. Idus (Mart.) Aquilonii piscis exortu, et postero die Orionis. XVIII.65 § 1. (2.) Nonis (Apr.) Aegypto Orion et gladius ejus incipiunt abscondi. XVIII.66 § 1. (1.) The first date, 8th of March, is so far removed from the rising of Orion, whether in the morning or the evening, that Ideler is probably correct when he supposes that either the text is corrupt or that Pliny himself inserted Orion by mistake instead of the name of some other constellation. (2.) Here also the date, 5th of April, is wide of the truth. The apparent evening setting of the middle star in the belt fell at Alexandria on the 26th of April, seven days later than at Rome, the true evening setting about the 9th or 10th of May. Virgil, Horace.
Both Virgil and Horace frequently allude to the tempests which accompanied the winter setting of Orion (Saevus ubi Orion hibernis conditur undis, Virg. Aen. VII.719; see also IV.52: Hor. Carm. I.28. 21, III.27. 17; Epod. X.9, XV.7), just as Hesiod (Erg. 617) eight hundred years before had warned the mariner that when the Pleiades, fleeing from the might of Orion, plunge into the dark main: Δὴ τότε πνατοίων ἀνέμων θύουσιν ἀῆται.
The apparent morning setting of Orion, which in the time of Hesiod commenced early in November, soon after the morning setting of the Pleiades, thus became connected in traditional lore with the first gales of the rainy season, and the association continued for centuries, although the phenomenon itself became gradually further and further removed from the beginning of the stormy period. In the Parapegma of Geminus we find notices by three different astronomers, in which the setting of the Pleiades and of Orion are mentioned as attended by tempests, although each of the three fixes upon a different day. For Rome, at the Julian era, the apparent morning setting commenced about the 12th or 13th of November. In Pliny (XVIII. § 313) we find, V. Idus Novembr. (8 Novemb.) gladius Orionis occidere incipit, which is the true morning setting for Alexandria at that epoch. OVID. — Ovid refers twice in his Fasti to the setting of Orion. In one passage (IV.387) he places it on the day before the termination of the Megalesia, that is, on the 10th of April: in another (V.493), where the complete disappearance of the figure is expressly noted, on the 11th of May.
Now the apparent evening setting of Rigel, the bright star which marks the left foot, took place for Rome in the age of the poet on 11th of April; while the smaller star, now known as K, set on the previous day, the true evening setting of Betelgeuse, which marks the right shoulder, fell on the 11th of May. Hence it is clear that Ovid derived his information from two very accurate calendars, one of which gave the date of the commencement of the apparent evening setting; the other, the date of the termination of the true evening setting.
He refers twice to the rising of Orion also — in the sixth book of the Fasti (717), on the 16th of June:
At pater Heliadum radios ubi tinxerit undis,
Et cinget geminos stella serena polos,
Tollet humo validos proles Hyriea lacertos,
and on the festival of Fortuna Fortis, on the 24th of June:
Zona latet tua nunc, et cras fortasse latebit,
Dehinc erit, Orion, adspicienda mihi,
that is, on the 26th of June.
With regard to the first, the date is nearly correct for the true MORNING (not EVENING, as the words denote) rising of the two stars (o o) at the extremity of the left hand; with regard to the second, the true morning rising of the middle star in the belt fell on the 21st of June, the apparent on the 13th of July. There is a mistake, therefore, here of five days, as far as Rome is concerned.
In Hesiod (Erg. 615), the setting of the Pleiades, of the Hyades, and of mighty Orion warns the husbandman that the season has arrived for ploughing the earth, and the mariner, that navigation must cease. The apparent morning setting of the Hyades took place, according to the calculation of Ideler, for the age and country of Hesiod, on the 7th of the Julian November, four days after that of the Pleiades, and eight before that of Orion.
Virgil (Aen. I.744, III.516) terms this cluster pluvias Hyadas, and Horace (Carm. I.3.14) p163 "tristes Hyadas," in reference to their morning setting at the most rainy and stormy season of the year. The true morning setting for Rome at the Julian era happened on the 3rd of November, the apparent on the 14th of November. The apparent evening rising, which fell upon the 25th of October, would likewise suit these epithets. Ovid, in his Fasti (IV.677), places the evening setting of the Hyades on the 17th of April, the day fixed in the Calendar of Caesar (Plin. XVIII.66 § 1), while Columella names the 18th (R. R. XI.2 § 36). These statements are nearly accurate, since the apparent evening or heliacal setting took place for Rome at that epoch on the 20th of April. In the same poem, the morning rising is alluded to five times. (1.) It is said (V.163) to take place on the 2nd of May, which was the day fixed in the Calendar of Caesar (Plin. XVIII. § 248), and adopted by Columella (XI.2 § 39), whose words, Sucula cum sole oritur, indicate the true morning rising. (2.) On the 14th of May (V.603), while Columella (Ibid. § 43) has, XII. Kal. Jun. (21st May) Suculae exoriuntur. (3.) On the 27th of May (V.734). (4.) On the 2nd of June (VI.197). (5.) On the 15th of June (VI.711). Now the true morning rising of the Hyades for Rome at that epoch was on the 16th of May, the apparent or heliacal rising on the 9th of June, the true evening setting on the 3rd of May. Hence it is clear that Ovid, Columella, and Pliny, copying in (1) a blunder which had found its way into the Calendar of Caesar, assigned the morning rising to the 2nd of May instead of the true evening setting. The true evening rising lay between the days named in (2). The heliacal rising was thirteen days after (3), seven days after (4), six days before (5).
We have seen above that Virgil (Georg. I.222) instructs the farmer not to commence sowing wheat until after the Pleiades have set in the morning: Gnosiaque ardentis decedat stella Coronae, words which must signify the setting of the Cretan Crown. The apparent evening (or heliacal) setting of this constellation fell at Rome for this epoch upon the 9th of November, the very day after the apparent morning setting of the Pleiades.
Ovid (Fast. III.459), after having spoken of the rising of Pegasus on the night of March 7th, adds, Protenus adspicies venienti nocte Coronam = Gnosida, words which denote the evening rising; and, in reality, the apparent evening rising took place on the 10th of March, only two days later thau the date here fixed.
Virgil (Georg. I.205), when inculcating the utility of observing the stars, declares that it is no less necessary for the husbandman than for the mariner to watch Arcturus and the glistening Snake, and the days of the Kids (haedorumque dies servandi). Elsewhere (Aen. IX.658) he compares a dense flight of arrows and javelins rattling against shields and helmets to the torrents of rain proceeding from the west under the influence of the watery Kids (pluvialibus haedis). Horace (Carm. III.1, 27) dwells on the terrors of setting Arcturus and the rising Kid, while Ovid (Trist. I.1, 13) and Theocritus (VII.53; see Schol.) speak in the same strain. In Columella's Calendar (XI.2 § 66) we find V. Kal. Octob. (27th Sept.) Haedi exoriuntur, and a little farther on (§ 73) Pridie Non. Octob. (4th Nov.) Haedi oriuntur vespere. The former date marks the precise day of the true evening rising of the foremost Kid at Rome for the Julian era; and hence the apparent evening rising, which would fall some days earlier, would indicate the approach of those storms which commonly attend upon the autumnal equinox.
As early as the age of Hesiod the commencement of different seasons was marked by the risings and settings of certain stars; but before proceeding to determine these limits, it will be necessary to ascertain into how many compartments the year was portioned out by the earlier Greeks.
Homer clearly defines three: — 1. Spring (ἔαρ), at whose return the nightingale trills her notes among the greenwood brakes (Od. XIX.519). 2. Winter (χειμὼν, χεῖμα), at whose approach, accompanied by deluges of rain (ἀθέσφατον ὄμβρον), the cranes fly screaming away to the streams of ocean (Il. III.4; comp. Hesiod. Erg. 448). 3. Summer (θέρος), to which χεῖμα is directly opposed (Od. VII.118). 4. Three lines occur in the Odyssey (XI.191, αὐτὰρ ἐπὴν ἔλθῃσι θέρος τεθαλυῖα τ’ ὀπώρη, and also XII.76, XIV.384) where the word ὀπώρα seems to be distinguished from θέρος, and is in consequence generally translated autumn. Ideler, however, has proved in a satisfactory manner (Handbuch der Chron. I. p243) that the term originally indicated not a season separate from and following after summer, but the hottest part of summer itself; and hence Sirius, whose heliacal rising took place in the age of Homer about the middle of July, is designated as ἀστὴρ ὀπωρινὸς (Il. V.5; see Schol. ad Eustath. ad loc.; compare also Il. XXII.26), while Aristotle in one passage (Meteorolog. II.5) makes the heliacal rising of Sirius, which he notes as coinciding with the entrance of the sun into Leo, i.e. 24th July of the Julian Calendar, the sign of the commencement of ὀπώρα; and in another passage (Problem. XXV.26, XXVI.14) places the rising of Orion at the beginning of ὀπώρα, and the setting of the same constellation at the beginning of winter — ἐν μεταβολῇ τοῦ θέρους καὶ χειμῶνος — an expression which clearly indicates that ὀπώρα was included within the more general θέρος.
Hesiod notices ἔαρ (Erg. 462), θέρος (l.c.), χεῖμα (450), and in his poem we find the trace of a fourfold division, for he employs the adjective μετοπωρινός (Erg. 415) in reference to the period of the first rains, when the excessive heat had in some degree abated. These rains he elsewhere calls the ὀπωρινὸς ὄμβρος, and notices them in connexion with the vintage, when he enjoins the mariner to hasten home to port before the serene weather has passed away — μηδὲ μένειν οἶνον τε νέον καὶ ὄπωρινον ὄμβρον. Moreover, by making θέρος proper end fifty days after the solstice (Erg. 663), he leaves a vacant space from the middle of August to the end of October, which he must have intended to fill by a fourth season, which he nowhere specifically names. As late, however, as p164 Aeschylus (Prom. 453) and Aristophanes (Av. 710), the seasons are spoken of as three — χειμών, ἔαρ, θέρος, by the former; χειμών, ἔαρ, όπώρα, by the latter. Nor can we avoid attaching some weight to the fact that the most ancient poets and artists recognised the Hthrai as three only, bearing, according to the Theogony (901), the symbolical appellation of Order (Εὐνομία), Justice (Δίκη), and blooming Peace (Εἰρήνη). Indeed Pausanias has preserved a record of a time when the Ὤραι were known as two goddesses only — Καρπὼ, the patroness of fruits, and Θαλλὼ, the guardian of blossoms (IX.35 § 2). We may hence safely conclude that the Greeks for many ages discriminated three seasons only — Winter, Spring, and Summer; that the general name for the whole of summer being θέρος, the hottest portion was distinguished as όπώρα, and that the latter term was gradually separated from the former, so that θέρος was commonly employed for early summer, and όπώρα for late summer.
The first direct mention of autumn is contained in the treatise de Diaeta (lib. III. &c.), commonly ascribed to Hippocrates (B.C. 420). where we are told that the year is usually divided into four parts, — Winter (χειμὼν), Spring (ἔαρ), Summer (θέρος), Autumn (φθινόπωρον); and this word with its synonym μετόπωρον occurs regularly from this time forward, proving that those by whom they were framed considered ὀπώρα, not as autumn, but as the period which immediately preceded autumn and merged in it.
We discover also in the Greek medical writers traces of a sevenfold division, although there is no evidence to prove that it was ever generally adopted. According to this distribution, summer is divided into two parts, and winter into three, and we have, 1. Spring (ἔαρ). 2. Early summer (θέρος). 3. Late summer (ὀπώρα). 4. Autumn (φθινόπωρον s. μετόπωρον). 5. The ploughing or sowing season (ἄροτος s. σπορητός). 6. Winter proper (χειμών). 7. The planting season (φυταλία).
From Varro (R. R. I.28), Columella (IX.14, XI.2), and Pliny (XVIII. § 220 ff.) we infer that Julius Caesar, in his Calendar, selected an eight-fold division, each of the four seasons being subdivided into two, after this manner: 1. Veris Initium. 2. Aequinoctium Vernum. 3. Aestatis Initium. 4. Solstitium. 5. Autumni Initium. 6. Aequinoctium Autumni. 7. Hiemis Initium. 8. Bruma.
We find no trace in Homer of any connexion having been established between the recurrence of particular astronomical phenomena, and the return of the seasons. But in Hesiod, as remarked above, and in subsequent writers, the limits of the divisions which they adopt are carefully defined by the risings and settings of particular stars or constellations. The following tabular arrangement will afford a view of the most important systems: —
Thus assigning to spring, ninety-one days; to summer, ninety-four days; to autumn, ninety-one days; to winter, eighty-four days.
Images with borders lead to more information.
The thicker the border, the more information. (Details here.)
A page or image on this site is in the public domain ONLY
if its URL has a total of one *asterisk.
If the URL has two **asterisks,
the item is copyright someone else, and used by permission or fair use.
If the URL has none the item is © Bill Thayer.
See my copyright page for details and contact information.
Page updated: 7 Feb 18