Ere the heels of flying Capricorn
Have touched the western mountain's darkening rim,
I mark, stern Taurus, through the twilight gray,
The glinting of thy horn,
And sullen front, uprising large and dim,
Bent to the starry Hunter's sword at bay.
Bayard Taylor's Hymn to Taurus.
le Taureau of France, il Toro of Italy, and der Stier of Germany, everywhere was one of the earliest and most noted constellations, perhaps the first established, because it marked the vernal equinox from about 4000 to 1700 B.C., in the golden age of archaic astronomy; in all ancient zodiacs preserved to us it began the year. It is to this that Vergil alluded in the much quoted lines from the 1st Georgic, which May rendered:
When with his golden hornes bright Taurus opes
The yeare; and downward the crosse Dog-starre stoopes;
and the poet's description well agrees with mythology's idea of Europa's bull, for he was always thus described, and snowy white in color. This descended to Chaucer's Whyte Bole, in Troilus and Criseyde, from the candidus Taurus of the original. The averso, "crosse," in the second line of this passage:
. . . averso cedens Canis occidit astro, —
adversus with Ovid, and aversaque Tauri sidera with Manilius, — generally has, however, been translated "backward," as a supposed allusion to the constellation rising in reversed position; but quite as probably it is from the mutual hostility of the earthly animals.
Ταῦρος, its universal title in Greek literature, was more specifically given as Τομή and Προτομή, the Bust, the Bull generally being drawn with only his forward parts, Cicero following this in his prosecto corpore Taurus, and Ovid in his
Pars prior apparet Posteriora latent,
p379 which the mythologists accounted for by saying that, as Taurus personified the animal that swam away with Europa, his flanks were immersed in the waves. This association with Europa led to the constellation titles Portitor, or Proditor, Europae; Agenoreus, used by Ovid, referring to her father; and Tyrius, by Martial, to her country. This incomplete figuring of Taurus induced the frequent designation, in early catalogues, Sectio Tauri, which the Arabians adopted, dividing the figure at the star ο, but retaining the hind quarters as a sub-constellation, Al Ḥaṭṭ, recognized by Ulug Beg, and, in its translation, as Sectio, by Tycho, the line being marked by ο, ξ, s, and f. Ancient drawings generally showed the figure as we do, although some gave the entire shape, Pliny and Vitruvius [IX.3.1] writing of the Pleiades as cauda tauri, so implying a complete animal.
Aratos qualified his Ταῦρος by πεπτηώς, "crouching"; Cicero, by inflexoque genu, "on bended knee"; Manilius, by nixus, "striving"; and further, in Creech's translation:
The mighty Bull is lame; His leg turns under;
Taurus bends as wearied by the Plough;
this crouching position also being shown in almost all Euphratean figuring, as are the horns in immense proportions. The last descended to Aratos, who styled the constellation Κεραόν, and is seen in the Cornus of Ovid.
The latter author wrote again of the sky figure:
Vacca sit an taurus non est cognoscere promptum,
from the conflicting legends of Io and Europa; for some of the poets, changing the sex, had called these stars Io, the Wanderer, another object of Jupiter's attentions, whom Juno's jealousy had changed to a cow. They also varied the title by the equivalent Juvenca Inachia and Inachis, from her father Inachus. She afterwards became the ancestress of our Cepheus and Andromeda. Still another version, from the myth of early spring, made Taurus Amasius Pasiphaes, the Lover of Pasiphaë; but La Lande's Chironis Filia seems unintelligible.
The story that the Bull was one of the two with brazen feet tamed by the Argonaut Jason, perhaps, has deeper astronomical meaning, for Thompson writes:
The sign Taurus may have been the Cretan Bull; and a transit through that sign may have been the celestial Βόσπορος of the Argonautic voyage.
p380 It bore synonymous titles in various languages: in Arabia, Al Thaur, which degenerated to El Taur, Altor, Ataur, Altauro, by Schickard; Tur, by Riccioli; and even now Taur, in our Standard Dictionary. In Syria it was Taurā; in Persia, Tora, Ghav, or Gāu; in Turkey, Ughuz; and in Judaea, Shōr, although also known there as Rᵋ᾽ēm, a word that zoölogically appears in the Authorized Version of our Bible as the "unicorn," but better in the Revised as the "wild ox."
Latin writers mentioned it under its present name, to which Germanicus added Bos from the country people, although it also was Princeps armenti, the Leader of the herd, and Bubulcus, the peasant Driver of the Oxen, a title more usual and more correct, however, for Boötes; La Lande quoting it as Bubulum Caput.
Manilius characterized Taurus as dives puellis, "rich in maidens," referring to its seven Hyades and seven Pleiades, all daughters of Atlas, and the chief attraction in a constellation not otherwise specially noticeable. An early Grecian gem shows three nude figures, hand in hand, standing on the head of the Bull, one pointing to seven stars in line over the back, which Landseer referred to the Hyades; but as six of the stars are strongly cut, and one but faintly so, and the letter Pº is superscribed, Dr Charles Anthon is undoubtedly correct in claiming them for the Pleiades, and the three figures for the Graces, or Charites. These were originally the Vedic Harits, associated with the sun, stars, and seasons; and this astronomical character adhered to the Charites, for their symbols in their ancient temple in Boeotia were stones reputed to have fallen from the sky.
A coin, struck 43 B.C. by P. Clodius Turrinus, bore the Pleiades in evident allusion to the consular surname; while earlier still — 312‑64 B.C. — the Seleucidae of Syria placed the humped bull in a position of attack on their coins as symbol of this constellation. The gold muhrs, or mohurs and the zodiacal rupees, attributed to Jehangir Shah, of 1618, show Taurus as a complete, although spiritless, creature, with the gibbous hump peculiar to Indian cattle. This is always drawn in the Euphratean stellar figure, and was described as Κυρτός by an early commentator on the Syntaxis. But the silver rupees of the same monarch have the customary half animal in bold, butting attitude exactly as it is now, and as it was described by Manilius in his flexus and nisus, and by Lucan in his curvatus. A very ancient coin of Samos, perhaps of the 6th century before Christ, bears a half-kneeling, sectional figure of a bull, with a lion's head on the obverse; and one of Thurii, in Lucania, of the 4th century B.C., has the complete animal in position to charge. Another of this same city bears the Bull with a bird on its back, perhaps symbolizing the Peleiad Doves.
p381 Plutarch wrote, in his De Facie inº Orbe Lunae [ch. 26, 941C‑D], that when the planet Saturn was in Taurus, i.e. every thirty years, there took place the legendary migration from the external continent beyond the Cronian, or Saturnian, Sea to the Homeric Ogygia,º or to one its sister islands.
South American tribes held ideas similar to our own about Taurus, for La Condamine, the celebrated French scientist of the last century, said that the Amazon Indians saw in the > of the Hyades the head of a bull; while Goguet more definitely stated that, at the time of the discovery of that river, by Yañez Pinzon in 1500, the natives along its banks called the group Tapüra Rayoaba, the Jaw of an Ox; and even in civilized countries it has been fancifully thought that its shape, with the horns extending to β and ζ, gave title to the constellation.
In China it formed part of the White Tiger, and also was known as Ta Leang, the Great Bridge, from a very early designation of the Hyades and Pleiades; but as a zodiac constellation it was the Cock, or Hen, recalling the modern Hen and Chickens of the Pleiades. When the Jesuits introduced their Western nomenclature it became Kin Neu, the Golden Ox.
After Egyptian worship of the bull-god Osiris had spread to other Mediterranean countries, our Taurus naturally became his sky representative, as also of his wife and sister Isis, and even assumed her name; but the starry Bull of the Nile country was not ours, at least till late in that astronomy. Still this constellation is said to have begun the zodiacal series on the walls of a sepulchral chamber in the Ramesseum; and, whatever may have been its title, its stars certainly were made much of throughout all Egyptian history and religion, not only from its then containing the vernal equinox, but from the belief that the human race was created when the sun was here. In Coptic Egypt it, or the Pleiades, was Ὥριας, the Good Season, Kircher's Statio Hori, although it was better known as Apis, the modern form of the ancient Hapi, whose worship as god of the Nile may have preceded even the building of the pyramids.
As first in the early Hebrew zodiac it was designated by A or Āleph, the first letter of that alphabet, coincidently a crude figure of the Bull's face and horns; some of the Targums assigning it to the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim, from Moses' allusion to their father Joseph in the 33d chapter of Deuteronomy, — "his horns are the horns of the wild ox"; but others said that it appeared only on the banners of Ephraim; or referred it to Simeon and Levi jointly, from Jacob's death-bed description of their character, — "they houghed an ox"; or to Issachar, the "strong ass" which shared with the ox the burdens of toil and carriage.
It has been associated with the animal that Adam first offered in sacrifice, p382 or with the later victims in the Jewish temple; and the Christian school of which Novidius was spokesman recognized in Taurus the Ox that stood with the ass by the manger at the blessed Nativity. Hood said of this: "But whether there were any ox there or no, I know not how he will prove it." In the "apostolic zodiac" it became Saint Andrew; but Caesius said that long before him it was Joseph the Patriarch.
Representations of the Mithraic Bull on gems of four or five centuries before Christ, reproduced in Lajarde's Culte de Mithra, prove that Taurus was at that time still prominent in Persico-Babylonian astronomy as well as in its religion. One of these representations, showing the front of the Bull's head, may very well be the origin of our present symbol of this sign, ♉, although it also has been considered a combination of the full and crescent moon, associated with this constellation as a nocturnal sign; and some assert that Taurus was drawn as a demi-bull from his representing the crescent moon. This appears on a Babylonian cylinder seal of about 2150 B.C. Still earlier in Akkadia it seems to have been known as the Bull of Light, its double title, Te Te, referring to its two groups, the Hyades and Pleiades, which in every age have been of so much interest to mankind; and a cylinder has Gut‑an‑na, the Heavenly Bull, mentioned in connection with rain, so recalling the rainy Hyades. Epping says that it was the Babylonians' Shūr, and that four of their ecliptic constellations were marked by its stars; while Jensen mentions it as symbolic of Mardūk, the Spring Sun, son of Ia, whose worship seems to have been general 2200 B.C., — probably long before, — and that it was originally complete and extended as far as the Fish of Ia, the northern of the two Fishes. This high authority carries the formation of Taurus still farther back, to about 5000 B.C., even before the equinox lay here. The name of the second of the antediluvian Babylonian kings, the mythical Alaparos, seems connected with this constellation or with the lucida, Aldebaran; and its stars certainly were associated with the second month of the Assyrian year, A‑aru, the Directing Bull, our April-May, as they were in the Epic of Creation with the conquest of the Centaur.
Taurus was the Cingalese Urusaba, the early Hindu Vrisha, Vrishan, or Vrouchabam, — in the Tamil tongue, Rishabam; but subsequently Varāha Mihira gave it as Taouri, his rendering of Taurus, and Al Bīrūnī, in his India, as Tāmbiru.
With the Druids it was an important object of worship, their great religious festival, the Tauric, being held when the sun entered its boundaries; and it has, perhaps fancifully, been claimed that the tors of England were the old sites of their Taurine cult, as our cross-buns are the present representatives of the early bull cakes with the same stellar association, tracing p383 back through the ages to Egypt and Phoenicia. And the Scotch have a story that on New Year's eve the Candlemas Bull is seen rising in the twilight and sailing across the sky, — a matter-of‑fact statement, after all.
The Anglo-Saxon Manual of Astronomy four centuries ago gave it as Fearr.
Astrologers made this sign the lord of man's neck, throat, and shoulders; Shakespeare having an amusing passage in Twelfth Night, in the dialogue between Sirs Toby Belch and Andrew Aguecheek, when both blunder as to this character of Taurus. And it was considered under the guardianship of Venus, sharing this distinction with the body of Scorpio, — some said with Libra, — whence it was known as Veneris Sidus, Domus Veneris nocturna, and Gaudium Veneris: an idea also perhaps influenced by its containing the Πελειάδες, the Doves, the favorite birds of that goddess. It ruled over Ireland, Greater Poland, part of Russia, Holland, Persia, Asia Minor, the Archipelago, Mantua, and Leipzig in modern astrology, as it did over Arabia, Asia, and Scythia in ancient;a Ampelius [Lib. Mem. 4] assigned to it the care of the much dreaded west-northwest wind, Pliny's Argestes. White and lemon were the colors allotted to it. On the whole, it was an unfortunate constellation, although a manuscript almanac of 1386 had "whoso is born in yat syne schal have grace in bestis"; and thunder, when the sun was here, "brought a plentiful supply of victuals."
The extent and density of the stars in Taurus are shown by the fact that, according to Argelander, it contains 121 visible to the naked yes; 188, according to Heis.
. . . go forth at night,
And talk with Aldebaran, where he flames
In the cold forehead of the wintry sky.
Mrs. Sigourney's The Stars.
Aldebaran is from Al Dabarān, the Follower, i.e. of the Pleiades, or, as Professor Whitney suggested, because it marked the 2d manzil that followed the first.
The name, now monopolized by this star, originally was given to the entire group of the Hyades and the lunar mansion which, as Nā᾽ir al Dabarān, the Bright One of the Follower, our star marked; yet there was diversity of opinion as to this, for the first edition of the Alfonsine Tables applied it solely to α, while that of 1483, and Al Sufi, did not recognize α as included in the title. Riccioli usually wrote it Aldebara, occasionally p384 Aldebaram, adopted in the French edition of Flamsteed's Atlas of 1776; Spenser, in the Faerie Queen wrote Aldeboran, which occasionally still appears; Chaucer, in the House of Fame, and even the modern La Lande, had Aldeberan; Schickard gave the word as Addebiris and Debiron; and Costard, in his History of Astronomy, cited Aldebaron.
Al Bīrūnī quoted, as titles indigenous to Arabia, Al Fanīḳ, the Stallion Camel; Al Fatīḳ, the Fat Camel; and Al Muḥdij, the Female Camel, — the smaller adjacent stars of the Hyades being the Little Camels; and it was Tāli al Najm and Hādī al Najm, equivalents of the Stella Dominatrix of classical ages, as if driving the Pleiades before it. Indeed in the last century Niebuhr heard the synonymous Sāïḳ al Thurayya on the Arabian shores of the Persian Gulf. A later name was ʽAin al Thaur, — which Western astronomers corrupted to Atin and Hain Altor, — identical with Ὄμμα Βοός, Oculus Tauri, and the early English Bull's Eye, even now a common title. Riccioli gave this more definitely as Oculus australis, and Aben Ezra as the Left Eye.
The Alfonsine Tables, however, said Cor Tauri, the Bull's Heart, which is far out of the way; and it has borne the constellation's Arabic title, changed to El Taur.
Aldebaran was the divine star in the worship of the tribe Misām, who thought that it brought rain, and that its heliacal rising unattended by showers portended a barren year.
The Hindu Rohinī, a Red Deer, used also for the nakshatra in Scorpion marked by Antares, was unquestionably from the star's ruddy hue, Leonard Digges writing, in his Prognostication for 1555, that it is "ever a meate rodde [red]"; and the Alfonsine Tables had quae trahit ad aerem clarum valde — est ut cerea.
Palilicium,1 in various orthography, but correctly Parilicium, used for the whole group of the Hyades, descended as a special designation for Aldebaran through all the catalogues to Flamsteed's where it is exclusively used. Columella called it Sucula as chief of the peasants' Suculae. Ptolemy's Λαμπαδίας, Torch-bearer, was Λαμπαύρας in Proclus' Paraphrase.
The 1603 and 1720 editions of Bayer's Uranometria distinctly terminate their lists of Aldebaran's titles with the words Subruffa Aben Ezra; but Bayer's star-names are often by no means clear, and here incorrect. The latter of these is merely the name of the famous Jewish commentator to whom he often refers; and the former a designation of the light red color (Subrufa) p385 of the star which we all recognize. Some poet has written "red Aldebáran2a burns"; and William Roscoe Taylor, in his Halid:
I saw on a minaret's tip
Aldébaran2b like a ruby aflame, then leisurely slip
Into the black horizon's bowl.
In all astrology it has been thought eminently fortunate, portending riches and honor; and was one of the four Royal Stars, or Guardians of the Sky, of Persia, 5000 years ago, when it marked the vernal equinox. As such Flammarion quoted its title Taschter, which Lenormant said signified the Creator Spirit that caused rain and deluge; but a different conception of these Guardian Stars among the Hindus is noted under Argo, and still another is given by Edkins, who makes Aldebaran Sataves, the leader of the western stars.
Flammarion has assigned to it the Hebrew Āleph that we have seen for Taurus, rendering its God's Eye; and Aben Ezra identified it with biblical Kīmāh, probably in connection with all the Hyades and as being directly opposed on the sphere to Kᵋsīl which he claimed for Antares.
Sharing everywhere in the prominence given to its constellation, this was especially the case in Babylonian astronomy, where it marked the 5th ecliptic asterism Pidnu-sha-Shame, the Furrow of Heaven, perhaps representing the whole zodiac, and analogous to the Hebrew and Arabic Padan and Fadan, the Furrow. So, before the Ram had taken the Bull's place as Leader of the Signs, Aldebaran was Ku, I-ku, or I‑ku‑u, the Leading Star of Stars. Still more anciently it was the Akkadian Gis‑da, also rendered the "Furrow of Heaven"; and Dil‑Gan, the Messenger of Light, — this, as we have seen, being applied to Hamal, Capella, Wega, and perhaps to other bright stars, as their positions changed with respect to the equinox. In the same way the Syriac word ʽIyūthā, which we have seen for the star Capella, seems to have been used also for Aldebaran.
As marking the lunar station it was the Persian Paha and the Khorasmian-Sogdian Baharu, signifying the Follower.
Riccioli cited, from Coptic Egypt, Πιώριων, Statio Hori; and Renouf identified Aldebaran with the indigenous Nile figure Sarit.
An old Bohemian title is Hrusa.
The Hervey Islanders associated it, as Aumea, with Sirius in their legend of the Pleiades.
Al Bīrūnī quoted strange Arabic titles for the comparatively vacant space p386 westward towards the Pleiades, — Al Ḍaiḳā, Growing Small, i.e. from its rapid setting, and Kalb al Dabarān, the Dog of Aldebaran, — asserting that it was considered a place of evil omen. But there seems to have been dispute as to its location, for he added that those authors were wrong who marked this Dog by the 21st and 22d stars of Taurus, — κ and υ.
Aldebaran is but slightly south of the ecliptic, and, lying in the moon's path, is frequently occulted, thus often showing the optical illusion of projection. As one of the lunar stars it is much used in navigation. It is the only star in the Harvard Photometry which is exactly of the first magnitude, although by the Estimates of that catalogue it is 1.2. It thus has three times the brilliancy of Polaris.
The parallax is given by Elkin as 0ʺ.101, showing a distance from us of twenty-eight light years; or, if the interval between the earth and the sun, astronomers' unit of stellar measurement, be considered as one inch, that between the sun and this star would be twenty-seven miles. It is receding from our system at the rate of thirty miles a second, and, next to ζ Herculis, seems to have the greatest velocity in the line of sight of any of the bright stars yet determined. The spectrum is Solar, and a beautiful example of the type.
Aldebaran comes to the meridian on the 10th of January. It has a 10th‑magnitude companion, 109ʺ away, which has long been known, but Burnham recently divided this into 11 and 13.5, 1ʺ.8 apart, at a position angle of 279°; and, in 1888, discovered a 14th‑magnitude companion 31ʺ.4 distant, at a position angle of 109°.
The Taurids of the 20th of November radiate from a point north of, and preceding, this star. These meteors "are slow, and fireballs occasionally appear among them."
The Hyades marked by the sailor.
Potter's translation of Euripides' Ἴων.
As when the seaman sees the Hyades
Gather an army of Cimmerian clouds,
Auster and Aquilon with winged steeds.
Christopher Marlowe's History of Doctor Faustus.
Whitening all the Bull's broad forehead,
form one of the most beautiful objects in the sky, and have been famous for ages, especially with the classical authors.
p387 Mythologically they were daughters of Atlas and Aethra, and hence half-sisters of the Pleiades, with whom they made up the fourteen Atlantides; or the Dodonides, the nymphs of Dodona, to any Jupiter entrusted the nurture of the infant Bacchus, and raised them to sky when driven into the sea by Lycurgus. Similarly they were said to be the Nysiades, the nymphs of Nysa, and teachers of Bacchus in India.
Anciently supposed to be seven in number, we moderns count but six, and Hesiod named only five, — Kleea, Eudora, Koronis, Phaeo, and Phaesula; but Pherecydes gave a complete list of them, although one of his names has been lost, and the rest preserved by Hyginus [Fab. 192], vary from those given by Hesiod, and doubtless are somewhat corrupted in form. These were Aesula or Pedile, Ambrosia, Dione, Thyene or Thyone, Eudora, Koronis, and Polyxo or Phyto.3 Pherecydes probably took in β and ζ at the tips of the horns, omitting some of the fainter stars now included in the group; Thales, however, is said to have acknowledged but two, — α and ε in the eyes, — "one in the Northern Hemisphere, and the other in the South"; Hipparchos and Ptolemy named only α and γ as Ὑάδων; Euripides, in the Phaëthon, counted three; and Achaeus, four. Ovid used Thyone for the whole, but none of the sisters' names have been applied to the individual stars as in the case of the Pleiades.
They are among the few stellar objects mentioned by Homer, — and by him, Hesiod [VI.247] called them Parilicium, from their lucida, Aldebaran., Manilius, Pliny, and doubtless others, given separately from Taurus. Pliny
The Greeks knew them as Ὑάδες, which became "Hyades" with the cultured Latins, supposed by some to be from ὕειν, "to rain," referring to the wet period attending their morning and evening setting in the latter parts of May and November; and this is their universal character in the literature of all ages. Thus we have Hyades Graiis ab imbre vocat of Ovid's Fasti; pluviasque Hyadas of the Aeneid and of Ovid again; and pluviae generally, which Manilius expressed in his
Sad Companions of the turning Year.
While far back of all these, in the She King:
The Moon wades through Hyads bright,
Foretelling heavier rain.
Pliny wrote of them as being "a violent and troublesome star causing stormes and tempests raging both on land and sea"; in later times Edmund Spenser called them the Moist Daughters; Tennyson, in his Ulysses, said:
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades vext the dim sea;
p388 and Owen Meredith has "the watery Hyades" in The Earl's Return. The queer old Guide into Tongues of John Minsheu, calling them the Seven Stars, — the only instance of this title that I have met for this group, — makes still more intimate their connection with the showers; for at its word Hyades the reader is referred to the word Raine, where we see:
Hyades, ὑάδες, dictae stellae quaedam in cornibus Tauri; quae ortu occasuq. sus pluvias largosque imbres concitant.
And in Doctor Johnson's Dictionary the word is defined as "a watery constellation." Thus they have always been considered most noteworthy by husbandmen, mariners, and all who were dependent upon the weather, even to the last two or three centuries.
Ovid called them Sidus Hyantis, after their early brother, Hyas, whose name, after all, would seem to be the most natural derivation of the title; and its their grief at his death which gave additional point to Horace's tristes Hyadas, and, in one version of their story, induced Jove to put them in the sky.
But their colloquial title among Roman country-people was Suculae, the Little Pigs, as if from Sus, Sow, the Greek Ὑς, Homer's Σῦς, which indeed might as well be the derivation of Ὑάδες as ὕειν. This name constantly occurs in astronomical literature from the time of Columella and Pliny to Kepler, Hevelius, and Flamsteed; Pliny accounting for it by the fact that the continual rains of the season of their setting made the roads so miry that these stars seemed to delight in dirt, like swine! And this idea,º trivial though it seems, was sufficiently prevalent for Cicero, a century before Pliny, to think worthy of contradiction in his De Natura Deorum [II.43.111]. Smyth said that the title might come from the resemblance of the group to a pig's jaws; or because Aldebaran and its companion stars were like a sow and her litter. Peck suggests, in his Dictionary of Classical Literature and Antiquities, that Suculae was the oldest Roman name, given before the Greek appellation was known, and to be compared with our popular stellar titles such as the Dipper, Charles's Wain, etc. Isidorus [Etym. III.71] traced it to sucus, "moisture," a pleasanter derivation, and possibly more correct, than that held in ancient Italy. This will account for Bayer's Succidae.
Bassus and others knew the group as ὗ‑ψιλόν, the symbol with Pythagoras for human life; and the Roman V, as it resembles those letters, — α and ε being the extremes, γ at the vertex. But Ulug Beg's translator wrote:—
Quinque stellae quae sunt in facie, in forma Lambdae Graecorum et formā τοῦ Dāl.
In the Alfonsine Tables we find Lampadas, the accusative plural of Lampada, a Torch.
p389 Occasional Arabic titles were Al Mijdaḥ, a Triangular Spoon, and Al Ḳilāṣ, the Little She Camels, referring to the smaller stars in distinction from Aldebaran, the Large Camel; Al Ferghani wrote the word Ḳalā᾽iṣ. These Little Camels appeared in one Arabic story as driven before the personified Aldebaran, in evidence of his riches, when he went again to woo Al Thurayya, the Pleiades, who previously had spurned him on account of his poverty. Another author made the word Al Ḳallāṣ, the Boiling Sea, so continuing in Arabia the Greek and Roman ideas of its stormy and watery character. Generally, however, in that country, the Hyades were Al Dabarān, which was adopted in the 1515 Almagest, as well as in the Alfonsine Tables of 1521, where we read sunt stellae aldebaran, specially referring to the star γ "of those in the face." The Arabic title, therefore, was identical with that of the 2d manzil, which these stars constituted, as they also did the 2d nakshatra, Rohinī, Aldebaran marking the junction with the adjacent Mrigaçīrsha.
The Hindus figured this asterism as a Temple, or Wagon; and there are many astrological allusions to it in the Siddhāntas, the collective term for the various standard astronomical books of that people.
The Chinese utilized it for their 2d sieu, Pi, or Peih, anciently Pal, a Hand-net, or a Rabbit-net, but included λ and σ; although some limited this station to ε, the farthest to the north. The She King thus described it:
Long and curved is the Rabbit Net of the sky;
but with that people generally it was the Star of the Hunter, and, with the astrologers, the Drought Car. This title, however, was inappropriate, for the Hyades seem to have been as closely identified with rain in China as in Greece or Rome, — indeed were worshiped as Yü Shï, the General, or Ruler, of Rain, from at least 1100 B.C. Still this character was not native, but must have been derived from western Asia, where the early rains coincided with the heliacal rising of these stars, which was not the case in China by nearly two months. The adjacent small stars, with ξ, were Tien Lin, the Celestial Public Granary; and the whole group was known as the Announcer of Invasion on the Border.
The Hyades have been identified with the scriptural Mazzārōth, but there is little foundation for this; even less than for their identification, by Saint Jerome and by Riccioli, with the Kīmāh of the Book of Job, ix.9.
Anglo-Saxon titles are Raedgastran, Raegasnan, and Redgaesrum, whatever these may mean; and the Boar-Throng which that people saw in the sky may have been this group rather than Orion as generally is supposed.
It is thought that the Hyades have a united proper motion towards the p390 west. They are rich in doubles and full of interest to the owners of even small glasses.
El Nath is from Al Nāṭiḥ, the Butting One, because located on the tip of the northern horn, 5° from ζ, similarly placed on the southern. This title also appears for Aries and its star Hamal.
Bayer said that many included it and ζ in the Hyades group, but this seems improbable, although Pherecydes had it thus.
β Tauri is identical with γ Aurigae, and has been considered as belonging to either constellation; Burritt's Atlas calling it Aurigae or El Nath. As a member of Auriga it lies on the left ankle, and was the Arabians' Ḳabḍ al ʽInān, usually translated the Heel of the Rein-holder.
Smyth, who is often humorous amid his exact science, referring to the position of this star at the greatest possible distance from the hoof, says: "Can this have given rise to the otherwise pointless sarcasm of 'not knowing B from a bull's foot'?"
With Capella and other stars in Auriga it was the Chinese Woo Chay, a Fire-carriage.
In Babylonia it was Shur-narkabti-sha-iltanu, the Star in the Bull towards the North, or the Northern Star towards the Chariot, — not our Wain, but the Chariot of Auriga, — and marked the 6th ecliptic constellation. The sun stood near this star at the commencement of spring 6000 years ago.
Among the Hindus it represented Agni, the god of fire, and commonly bore that title; as also the similar Hutabhuj, the Devourer of the Sacrifice.
Astrologers said that El Nath portended eminence and fortune to all who could claim it as their natal star.
It has a Sirian spectrum, and is receding from us at the rate of about five miles a second.
Between it and ψ Aurigae was discovered on the 24th of January, 1892, the now celebrated nova Aurigae that has occasioned so much interest in the astronomical world.
Hyadum I is generally seen for this, and synonymously, Primus Hyadum, or, more correctly, as with Flamsteed, Prima Hyadum; but this was not original with him, for long before it evidently was an Arabic designation, as Al Achsasi had Awwal al Dabarān, the First of the Dabarān.
Hipparchos described it as ἐν τῷº ῥύγχει, "in the muzzle," still its location at the vertex of the triangle.
p391 With others adjacent it was Choo Wan, the Many Princes, of China.
δ, 4.2, is Hyadum II.
ε, 3.6, one of the Hyades, according to Whitall, is Ain, from the Arabic ʽAin, the Eye, near which it lies, Flamsteed calling it Oculus boreus, the Northern Eye.
Some think that it alone constituted the 2d sieu, Pi.
Close by is a small nebula, NGC 1555, one of the few known to be variable in light.
was the determinant of the 7th ecliptic constellation of Babylonia, Shurnarkabti-sha-shūtū, the Star in the Bull towards the South, or the Southern Star towards the Chariot.
reeves gave it, with others near by, as Tien Kwan, the Heavenly Gate.
In astrology ζ has been considered of mischievous influence.
It marks the tip of the southern horn and the singular Crab Nebula, a little to the northwest, the first in Messier's catalogues,4 and now known as NGC 1952, 1 M. Although Bevis had seen this in 1731, it was accidentally rediscovered by Messier on the 12th of September, 1758, while observing ζ and a neighboring comet, and led to his two catalogues of 103 nebulae and clusters, published from 1771 to 1782, the first attempt at a complete list of these objects. The return of Halley's comet was first observed in August, 1835, close to this star, when the nebula was a perfect mare's-nest to astronomical tyros.
The seven sweet Pleiades above.
Owen Meredith's The Wanderer.
The group of sister stars, which mothers love
To show their wondering babes, the gentle Seven.
Bryant's The Constellations.
the Narrow Cloudy Train of Female Stars of Manilius, and the Starry Seven, Old Atlas' Children, of Keats' Endymion, have everywhere been p392 among the most noted objects in the history, poetry, and mythology of the heavens; though, as Aratos wrote,
not a mighty space
Holds all, and they themselves are dim to see.
All literature contains frequent allusions to them, and in late years they probably have been more attentively and scientifically studied than any other group.
They generally have been located on the shoulder of the Bull as we have them, but Hyginus, considering the animal figure complete, placed them on the hind quarter; Nicander, Columella, Vitruvius [IX.3.1], and Pliny [II.110], on the tail,
In cauda Tauri septem quas appellavere Vergilias;—
although Pliny also is supposed to have made a distinct constellation of them. Proclus and Geminusº said that they were on the back; and others, on the neck, which Bayard Taylor followed in his Hymn to Taurus, where they
Cluster like golden bees up thy mane.
Eratosthenes, describing them as over the animal, imitated Homer and Hesiod in his Πλειάς; while Aratos, calling them, in the Attic dialect, Πληϊάδης, placed them near the knees of Perseus; thus, as in most of his poem, following Eudoxos, whose sphere, it is said, clearly showed them in that spot. Hipparchos in the main coincided with this, giving them as Πλειάς and Πλειάδες; but Ptolemy used the word in the singular for four of the stars, and did not separate them from Taurus. The Arabians and Jews put them on the rump of Aries; and the Hindu astronomers, on the head of the Bull, where we now see the Hyades.
The Pleiades seem to be among the first stars mentioned in astronomical literature, appearing in Chinese annals of 2357 B.C., Alcyone, the lucida, then being near the vernal equinox, although now 24° north of the celestial equator; and in the Hindu lunar zodiac as the 1st nakshatra, Krittikā,5 Karteek, or Kartiguey, the General of the Celestial Armies, probably long before 1730 B.C., when precession carried the equinoctial point into Aries. Al Bīrūnī, referring to this early position of the equinox in the Pleiades, which he found noticed "in some books of Hermes,"6 wrote:
p393 This statement must have been made about 3000 years and more before Alexander.
And their beginning the astronomical year gave rise to the title "the Great Year of the Pleiades" for the cycle of precession of about 25,900 years.
The Hindus pictured these stars as a Flame typical of Agni, the god of fire and regent of the asterism, and it may have been in allusion to this figuring that the western Hindus held in the Pleiad month Kartik (October-November) their great star-festival Dībalī, the Feast of Lamps, which gave origin to the present Feast of Lanterns of Japan. But they also drew them, and not incorrectly, as a Razor with a short handle, the radical word in their title, kart, signifying "to cut."
The Santals of Bengal called them Sar en; and the Turks, Ulgher.
As a Persian lunar station they were Perv, Perven, Pervis, Parvig, or Parviz, although a popular title was Peren, and a poetical one, Parur. In the Rubáʽís, or Rubáʽiyát, of the poet-astronomer Omar Khayyám, the tent-maker of Naishápúr in 1123, "who stitched the tents of science," they were Parwin, the Parven of that country to‑day; and, similarly, with the Khorasmians and Sogdians, Parvi and Parur; — all these from Peru, the Begetters, as beginning all things, probably with reference to their beginning the year.
In China they were worshiped by girls and young women as the Seven Sisters of Industry, while as the 1st sieu they were Mao, Mau, or Maou, anciently Mol, The Constellation, and Gang, of unknown signification, Alcyone being the determinant.
On the Euphrates, with the Hyades, they seem to have been Mas-tab-ba-gal-gal-la, the Great Twins of the ecliptic, Castor and Pollux being the same in the zodiac.
In the 5th century before Christ Euripides mentioned them with Ἀετος, our Altair, as nocturnal timekeepers; and Sappho, a century previously, marked the middle of the night by their setting. Centuries still earlier Hesiod and Homer brought them into their most beautiful verse; the former calling them Ἀτλάγενης, Atlas-born. The patriarch Job is thought to refer to them twice in his word Kīmāh, a Cluster, or Heap, which the Hebrew herdsman-prophet Amos, probably contemporary with Hesiod, also used; the prophet's term being translated "the seven stars" in our Authorized Version, but "Pleiades" in the Revised. The similar Babylonian-Assyrian Kimtu, or Kimmatu, signifies a "Family Group," for which the Syrians had Kīmā, quoted in Humboldt's Cosmos as Gemat; this most natural simile is repeated in Seneca's Medea as densos Pleiadum greges. Manilius had Glomerabile Sidus, the Rounded Asterism, equivalent to the p394 Globus Pleiadum of Valerius Flaccus; while Brown translates the Πληϊάδης of Aratos as the Flock of Clusterers.
In Milton's description of the Creation it is said of the sun that
Dawn and the Pleiades before him danc'd,
Shedding sweet influence, —
the original of these last words being taken by the poet from the Book of Job, xxxviii.31, in the Authorized Version, that some have thought an astrological reference to the Pleiades as influencing the fortunes of mankind, or to their presumed influential position as the early leaders of the Lunar Mansions. The Revised Version, however, renders them "cluster," and the Septuagint by the Greek word for "band," as if uniting the members of the group into a fillet; others translate it as "girdle," a conception of their figure seen in Amr al Ḳais' contribution to the Muʽallaḳāt, translated by Sir William Jones:
It was the hour when the Pleiades appeared in the firmament like the folds of a silken sash variously decked with gems.
Von Herder gave Job's verse as:
Canst thou bind together the brilliant Pleiades?
Canst thou not arrange together the rosette of diamonds of the Pleiades?
and Hafiz wrote to a friend:
To thy poems Heaven affixes the Pearl Rosette of the Pleiades as a seal of immortality.
An opening rose also was a frequent Eastern simile; while in Sadi's Gulistan, the Rose-garden, we read:
The ground was as if strewn with pieces of enamel, and rows of Pleiades seemed to hang on the branches of the trees;
or, in Graf's translation:
as though the tops of the trees were encircled by the necklace of the Pleiades.
William Roscoe Thayer repeated the Persian thought in his Halid:
slowly the Pleiades
Dropt like dew from bough to bough of the cinnamon trees.
p395 That all these wrote better than they knew is graphically shown by Miss Clerke where, alluding to recent photographs of the cluster by the Messrs. Henry of Paris, she says:
The most curious of these was the threading together of stars by filmy processes. In one case seven aligned stars appeared strung on a nebulous filament "like beads on a rosary." The "rows of stars," so often noticed in the sky, may therefore be concluded to have more than an imaginary existence.
The title, written also Pliades and, in the singular, Plias, has commonly been derived from πλεῖν, "to sail," for the heliacal rising of the group in May marked the opening of navigation to the Greeks, as its setting in the late autumn did the close. But this probably was an afterthought, and a better derivation is from πλεῖος, the Epic form of πλέως, "full," or, in the plural, "many," a very early astronomical treatise by an unknown Christian writer [Rabanus Maurus, de rer. nat. IX.13] having Plyades ā pluralitate. This coincides with the biblical Kīmāh and the Arabic word for them — Al Thurayya. But as Pleione was the mother of the seven sisters, it would seem still more probable that from her name our title originated.
Some of the poets, among them Athenaeus,b Hesiod, Pindar, and Simonides, likening the stars to Rock-pigeons flying from the Hunter Orion, wrote the word Πελειάδες, which, although perhaps done partly for metrical reasons, again shows the intimate connection in early legend of this group with a flock of birds. When these had left the earth they were turned into the Pleiad stars. Aeschylus assigned the daughters' pious grief at their father's labor in bearing the world as the cause of their transformation and subsequent transfer to the heavens; but he thought these Peleiades ἄπτεροι, "wingless." Other versions made them the Seven Doves that carried ambrosia to the infant Zeus, one of the flock being crushed when passing between the Symplegades, although the god filled up the number again. This story probably originated in that of the dove which helped Argo through; Homer telling us in the Odyssey that
No bird of air, no dove of swiftest wing,
That bears ambrosia to the ethereal king,
Shuns the dire rocks; in vain she cuts the skies,
The dire rocks meet and crush her as she flies;
and the doves on Nestor's cup described in the Iliad have been supposed to refer to the Pleiades. Yet some have prosaically asserted that this columbine title is merely from the loosing of pigeons in the auspices customary p396 at the opening of navigation. These stories may have given rise to the Sicilians' Seven Dovelets, the Sette Palommielle of the Pentameron.
Another title analogous to the foregoing is Butrum from Isidorus, — Caesius wrongly writing it Brutum, — in the mediaeval Latin for Βότρυς, a Bunch of Grapes, to which the younger Theon likened them. It is a happy simile, although Thompson7 considers it merely another avian association like that seen in the poetical Peleiades and the Alcyone of the lucida. Vergiliae and Sidus Vergiliarum have always been common for the cluster as rising after Ver, the Spring, — the Breeches Bible having this marginal note at its word "Pleiades" in the Book of Job, xxxviii.31:
which starres arise when the sunne is in Taurus which is the spring time and bring flowers.
And these names obtained from the times of the Latin poets to the 18th century, but often erroneously written Virgilia. Pliny, describing the glow-worms, designated them as stellae and likened them to the Pleiades:
Behold here before your very feet are your Vergiliae; of that constellation are they the offspring.
And the much quoted lines in Locksley Hall are similar:
Many a night I saw the Pleiads, rising thro' the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies tangled in a silver braid.
Bayer cited Signatricia Lumina.
Hesiod called them the Seven Virgins and the Virgin Stars; Vergil, the Eoae Atlantides; Milton, the Seven Atlantic Sisters; and Hesperides, the title for another batch of Atlas' daughters from Hesperis, has been applied to them. Chaucer, in the House of Fame, had Atlantes doughtres sevene; but his "Sterres sevene" refer to the planets. As the Seven Sisters they are familiar to all; and as the Seven Stars they occur in various early Bible versions; in the Sifunsterri of the Anglo-Saxons, though they also wrote Pliade; in the Septistellium vestis institoris, cited by Bayer; and in the modern German Siebengestirn. This numerical title also frequently has been applied to the brightest stars of the Greater Bear, as in early days it was to the "seven planets," — the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Minsheu had the words "Seven Starres" indiscriminately for p397 the Pleiades, Hyades, and Ursa Major, saying, as to the first, "that appear in a cluster about midheaven."
As the group outline is not unlike that of the Dipper in Ursa Major, many think that they much more deserve the name Little Dipper than do the seven stars in Ursa Minor; indeed that name is not uncommon to them. And even in our 6th century, with Hesychios, they were Σάτιλλα, a Chariot, or Wagon, another well-known figure for Ursa Minor.
Ideler mentioned a popular designation by his countrymen, — Schiffahrts Gestirn, the Sailors' Stars, — peculiarly appropriate from the generally supposed derivation of their Greek title and meteorological character of 2000 years ago; but the Tables of some Obscure Wordis of King James I anticipated this in "Seamans Starres — the seaven starres."
The Teutons had Seulainer; the Gaels, Griglean, Grioglachan, and Meanmnach; the Hungarians, who, Grimm says, have originated 280 native names for stars, called the Pleiades Fiastik and Heteveny, — this last in Finland Het′e wāʽne; the Lapps of Norway knew them as Niedgierreg; while the same people in Sweden had the strange Suttjenēs Rauko, Fur in Frost, these seven stars covering a servant turned out into the cold by his master. The Finns and Lithuanians likened them to a Sieve with holes in it; and some of the French peasantry to a Mosquito Net, Cousinière, — in the Languedoc tongue Cousigneiros. The Russians called them Baba, the Old Wife; and the Poles, Baby, the Old Wives.
As we have seen the Hyades likened to a Boar Throng, so we find with Hans Egede, the first Norse missionary to Greenland, 1721‑34, that this sister group was the Killukturset of that country, Dogs baiting a bear; and similarly in Wales, Y twr tewdws, the Close Pack.
Weigel included them among his heraldic constellations as the Multiplication Table, a coat of arms for the merchants.
Sancho Panza visited them, in his aërial voyage on Clavileño Aligero, as las Siete Cabrillas, the Seven Little Nanny Goats; and la Racchetta, the Battledore, is a familiar and happy simile in Italy; but the astronomers of that country now know them as Plejadi, and those of Germany as Plejaden.
The Rabbis are said to have called them Sukkōth Rᵋnōth, usually translated "the Booths of the Maidens" or "the Tents of the Daughters," and the Standard Dictionary still cites this supposed Hebrew title; but Riccioli reversed it as Filiae Tabernaculi. All this, however, seems to be erroneous, as is well explained in the Speaker's Commentary on the 2d Book of the Kings xvii.30, where the words are shown to be intended for the Babylonian goddess Zarbanit, Zirat-banit, or Zir-pa‑nit, the wife of Bēl Mardūk.
The Alfonsine Tables say that the "Babylonians," by whom were probably p398 meant the astrologers, knew them as Atorage, evidently their word for the manzil Al Thurayya, the Many Little Ones, a diminutive form of Tharwān, Abundance, which Al Bīrūnī assumed to be either from their appearance, or from the plenty produced in the pastures and crops by the attendant rains. We see this title in Bayer's Athoraie; in Chilmead's Atauria quasi Taurinae; and otherwise distorted in every late mediaeval work on astronomy. Riccioli, commenting on these in his Almagestum Novum, wrote Arabicē non Athoraiae vel Atarage sed Altorieh seu Benat Elnasch, hoc est filiae congregationis; the first half of which may be correct enough, but the Benat, etc., singularly confounded the Pleiad stars with those of Ursa Major. In his Astronomia Reformata he cited Athorace and Altorich from Aben Ragel. Turanyā is another form, which Hewitt says is from southern Arabia, where they were likened to a Herd of Camels with the star Capella as the driver.
A special Arabic name for them was Al Najm, the Constellation par excellence, and they may be the Star, or the Star of piercing brightness, referred to by Muḥammād in the 53d and 86th Suras of the Ḳur᾽ān, and versified from the latter by Sir Edwin Arnold in his Al Hafiz, the Preserver:
By the sky and the night star!
By Al Tārik the white star!
To proclaim dawn near;
Shining clear —
When darkness covers man and beast —
the planet Venus being intended by Al Ṭāriḳ. Grimm cited the similar Syryän Voykodzyun, the Night Star.
They shared the watery character always ascribed to the Hyades, as is shown in Statius' Pliadum nivosum sidus [Silv. I.3.95]; and Valerius Flaccus distinctly uses the word "Pliada" for the showers, as perhaps did Statius in his Pliada movere; while Josephus states, among his very few stellar allusions, that during the investment of Jerusalem by Antiochus Epiphanes, 170 B.C., the besieged suffered from want of water, but were finally relieved "by a large shower of rain which fell at the setting of the Pleiades." In the same way they are intimately connected with traditions of the Flood among so many and widely separated nations, and especially in the Deluge-myth of Chaldaea. Yet with all this well established reputation, we read in the Works and Days:
When with their domes the slow-pac'd snails retreat,
Beneath some foliage, from the burning heat
Of the Pleiades, your tools prepare.
p399 They were a marked object on the Nile, at one time probably called Chu or Chow, and supposed to represent the goddess Nit or Neith, the Shuttle, one of the principal divinities of Lower Egypt, identified by the Greeks with Athene, the Roman Minerva. Hewitt gives another title from that country, Athur-ai, the Stars of Athyr (Hathor), very similar to the Arabic word for them; and Professor Charles Piazzi Smythc suggests that the seven chambers of the Great Pyramid commemorate these seven stars.
Grecian temples were oriented to them, or their lucida; those of Athene on the Acropolis, of different dates, to their correspondingly different positions when rising. These were the temple of 1530 B.C.; the Hecatompedon of 1150 B.C.; and the great Parthenon, finished on the same site 438 B.C. The temple of Bacchus at Athens, 1030 B.C., looked toward their setting, as did the Asclepieion at Epidaurus, 1275 B.C., and the temple at Sunium of 845 B.C. While at some unknown date, perhaps contemporaneous with these Grecian structures,d they were pictured in the New World on the walls of a Palenque temple upon a blue background; and certainly were a well-known object in other parts of Mexico, for Cortez heard there, in 1519, a very ancient tradition of the destruction of the world in some past age at their midnight culmination.
A common figure for these stars, everywhere popular for many centuries, is that of a Hen with her Chickens, — another instance of the constant association of the Pleiades with flocking birds, and here especially appropriate from their compact grouping. Aben Ragel and other Hebrew writers thus mentioned them, sometimes with the Coop that held them, — the Massa Gallinae of the Middle Ages; these also appearing in Arabic folk-lore, and still current among the English peasantry. In modern Greece, as the Hen-coop, they are Πούλια or Πούλεια, not unlike the word of ancient Greece. Miles Coverdale, the translator in 1535 of the first complete English Bible, had as a marginal note to the passage in the Book of Job:
these vii starres, the clock henne with her chickens;
and Riccioli, in his Almagestum Novum:
Germanicē Bruthean: Anglicē Butrio id est gallina fovens pullos.
We see in the foregoing the Butrum of Isidorus, Riccioli's great predecessor in the Church. The German farm laborers call them Gluck Henne; the Russian, Nasēdha, the Sitting Hen; the Danes, Aften Hoehne, the Eve Hen; while in Wallachia they are the Golden Cluck Hen and her five Chicks. In Servia a Girl is added in charge of the brood, probably the star Alcyone, Maia appropriately taking her place as the Mother. The French and p400 Italians designate them, in somewhat the same way, as Pulsiniere, Poussinière, and Gallinelle, the Pullets, Riccioli's Gallinella. Aborigines of Africa and Borneo had similar ideas about them. Pliny's translator Holland called them the Brood-hen star Vergiliae [The Historie of Nature, VI.87] .
Savage tribes knew the Pleiades familiarly, as well as did the people of ancient and modern civilization; and Ellis wrote of the natives of the Society and Tonga Islands, who called these stars Matarii, the Little Eyes:
The two seasons of the year were divided by the Pleiades; the first, Matarii i nia, the Pleiades above, commenced when, in the evening, those stars appeared on the horizon, and continued while, after sunset, they were above. The other season, Matarii i raro, the Pleiadesº Below, began when, at sunset, they ceased to be visible, and continued till, in the evening, they appeared again above the horizon.
Gill gives a similar story from the Hervey group, where the Little Eyes are Matariki, and at one time but a single star, so bright that their god Tane in envy got hold of Aumea, our Aldebaran, and, accompanied by Mere, our Sirius, chased the offender, who took refuge in a stream. Mere, however, drained off the water, and Tane hurled Aumea at the fugitive, breaking him into the six pieces that we now see, whence the native name for the fragments, Tauono, the Six, quoted by Flammarion as Tau, both titles singularly like the Latin Taurus. They were the favorite one of the various avelas, or guides at sea in night voyages from one island to another; and, as opening the year, objects of worship down to 1857, when Christianity prevailed throughout these islands. The Australians thought of them as Young Girls playing to Young Men dancing, — the Belt stars of Orion; some of our Indians, as Dancers; and the Solomon Islanders as Togo ni samu, a Company of Maidens. The Abipones of the Paraguay River country consider them their great Spirit Groaperikie, or Grandfather; and
in the month of May, on the reappearance of the constellation, they welcome their Grandfather back with joyful shouts, as if he had recovered from sickness, with the hymn, "What thanks do we owe thee! And art thou returned at last? Ah! thou hast happily recovered!" and then proceed with their festivities in honor of the Pleiades' reappearance.
Among other South American tribes they were Cajupal, the Six Stars.
The pagan Arabs, according to Hafiz, fixed here the seat of immortality; as did the Berbers, or Kabyles, of northern Africa, and, widely separated from them, the Dyaks of Borneo; all thinking them the central point of the universe, and long anticipating Wright in 1750 and Mädler in 1846, and, perhaps, Lucretius in the century before Christ.
Miss Clerke, in a charming and instructive chapter in her System of the Stars which should be read by every star-lover, tells us that:
p401 With November, the "Pleiad-month," many primitive people began their year; and on the day of the midnight culmination of the Pleiades, November 17, no petition was presented in vain to the ancient Kings of Persia; the same event gave the signal at Busiris for the commencement of the feast of Isis, and regulated less immediately the celebration connected with the fifty‑two-year cycle of the Mexicans. Savage Australian tribes to this day dance in honor of the "Seven Stars," because "they are very good to the black fellows." The Abipones of Brazil regard them with pride as their ancestors. Elsewhere, the origin of fire and the knowledge of rice-culture are traced to them. They are the "hoeing-stars" of South Africa, take the place of a farming-calendar to the Solomon Islanders, and their last visible rising after sunset is, or has been, celebrated with rejoicings all over the southern hemisphere as betokening the "waking-up time" to agricultural activity.
They also were a sign to ancient husbandmen as to the seeding-time; Vergil alluding to this in his 1st Georgic, thus rendered by May:
Some that before the fall oth' Pleiades
Began to sowe, deceaved in the increase,
Have reapt wilde oates for wheate.
And, many centuries before him, Hesiod saidthat their appearance from the sun indicated the approach of harvest, and their setting in autumn the time for the new sowing; while Aristotle wrote that honey was never gathered before their rising. Nearly all classical poets and prose writers made like reference to them.
Mommsen found in their rising, from the 21st of that 25th of the Attic month Θαργηλιών, May-June, the occasion for the prehistoric festival Πλυντήρια, Athene's Clothes-washing, at the beginning of the cornº harvest, and the date for the annual election of the Achaeans; while Drach surmised that their midnight culmination in the time of Moses, ten days after the autumnal equinox, may have fixed the day of atonement on the 10th of Tishri. Their rising in November marked the time for worship of deceased friends by many of the original races of the South, — a custom also seen with more civilized peoples, notably among the Parsis and Sabaeans, as also in the Druids' midnight rites of the 1st of November; while a recollection of it is found in the three holy days of our time, All Hallow Eve, All Saints' Day, and All Souls' Day.
Hippocrates made much of the Pleiades, dividing the year into four seasons, all connected with their positions in relation to the sun; winter beginning with their setting and ending with the spring equinox; spring lasting till their rising; the summer, from their appearing to the rising of Arcturus; and the autumn, till their setting again. And Caesar made their heliacal rising begin the Julian summer, and their cosmical setting the commencement of winter. In classic lore the Pleiades were the heavenly group p402 chosen with the sun by Jove to manifest his power in favor of Atreus by causing them to move from east to west.
Notwithstanding, however, all that we read so favorable to the high regard in which these stars were held, they were considered by the astrologers as portending blindness and accidents to sight, a reputation shared with all other clusters. The Arabs, especially, thought their forty days' disappearance in the sun's rays was the occasion of great harm to mankind, and Muḥammād wrote that "when the star rises all harm rises from the earth." But Hippocrates had differently written in his Epidemics, a thousand years before, of the connection of the Pleiades with the weather, and of their influence on diseases of autumn:
until the season of the Pleiades, and at the approach of winter, many ardent fevers set in;
in autumn, and under the Pleiades, again there died great numbers.
Although the many legends of their origin are chiefly from Mediterranean countries, yet the Teutonic nations have a very singular one associated with our Saviour. It says that once, when passing by a baker's shop, and attracted by the odor of newly baked bread, He asked for a loaf; but being refused by the baker, was secretly supplied by the wife and six daughters standing by. In reward they were placed in the sky as the Seven Stars, while the baker became a cuckoo;8 and so long as he sings in the spring, from Saint Tiburtius' Day, April 14th, to Saint John's Day, June 24th, his wife and daughters are visible. Following this story, the Pleiades are the Gaelic Crannarain, the Baker's Peel, or Shovel, a title shared with Ursa Major.
Another, still homelier, but appropriately feminine, name is hinted at in Holland's translation from the Historia Naturalis, where Pliny treats of "the star Vergiliae":
So evident in the heaven, and easiest to be known of all others, it is called by the name of a garment hanging out at a Broker's shop.
Those who have traced out the origin of the title Petticoat Lane for the well-known London street will recognize what Pliny had in mind.
In various ages their title has been taken for noteworthy groups of seven in philosophy or literature. This we see first in the Philosophical Pleiad of 620 to 550 B.C., otherwise known as the Seven Wise Men of Greece, or the Seven Sages, generally given as Bias, Chilo, Cleobūlus, Epimenides or p403 Periander, Pittacus, Solon, and the astronomer Thales; again in the Alexandrian Literary Pleiad, or the Tragic Pleiades, instituted in the 3d century B.C. by Ptolemy Philadelphus, and composed of the seven contemporary poets, variously given, but often as Apollonius of Rhodes, Callimachus or Philiscus, Homer the Younger of Hierapolis in Caria, Lycophron, Nicander, Theocritus, and our Aratos; in the Literary Pleiad of Charlemagne, himself one of the Seven; in the Great Pléiade of France, of the 16th century, brought together in the reign of Henri III, some say by Ronsard, the "Prince of Poets," others by d'Aurat, or Dorat, the "Modern Pindar," called "Auratus," either in punning allusion to his name or from the brilliancy of his genius, and the "Dark Star," from his silence among his companions; and in the Lesser Pléiade, of inferior lights, in the subsequent reign of Louis XIII. Lastly appear the Pleiades of Connecticut, the popular, perhaps ironical, designation for the seven patriotic poets after our Revolutionary War: Richard Alsop, Joel Barlow, Theodore Dwight, Timothy Dwight, Lemuel Hopkins, David Humphreys, and John Trumbull, — all good men of Yale.
I have not been able to learn when, and by whom, the titles of the seven sisters were applied to the individual stars as we have them; but now they catalogued nine in all, the parents being excluded. These last, however, seem to be a comparatively modern addition, the first mention of them that I find — in Riccioli's Almagestum Novum of 1651 — reading:
Michaël Florentius Langrenius9 illarum exactam figuram observavit, & ad me misit, in qua additae sunt duae Stellae aliis innominatae, quas ipse vocat Atlantem, & Pleionem; nescio an sint illae, quas Vendelinus ait observari tanquam novas, quia modō apparent, modō latent.
. . . the great and burning star,
Immeasurably old, immeasurably far,
Surging forth its silver flame
Through eternity, . . . Alcyone!
Archibald Lampman's Alcyone.
Alcyone represents in the sky the Atlantid nymph who became the mother of Hyrieus by Poseidon; but, though now the Light of the Pleiades, its mythological original was by no means considered the most beautiful. Riccioli wrote the word Alcione and Alcinoe, and some early manuscripts have Altione.
The early Arabs called it Al Jauz, the Walnut; Al Jauzah or Al Wasaṭ, the Central One; and Al Na᾽ir, the Bright One; — all of Al Thurayya. The p404 later Al Achsasi added to this list Thaur al Thurayya, which, literally the Bull of the Pleiades, i.e. the Leading One, probably was a current title in his day, for his Italian contemporary Riccioli said, in his Astronomia Reformata, that the lucida "Alcinoe" was Altorich non Athorric. Hipparchos has been supposed to allude to it in his ὀξύς, and ὀξύτατος, τῆς Πλειάδος, the Bright One, and the Brightest One, of the Pleiad. Yet, in the face of these epithets, Ptolemy apparently did not mention it in the Syntaxis; while Baily, in his edition of Hyde's translation of Ulug Beg's Tables, affixed Flamsteed's 25 and Bayer's η to the 32d star of Taurus, which is described as stella externa minuta vergiliarum, quae est ad latus boreale, our Atlas.
In Babylonia it determined the 4th ecliptic constellation, Temennu, the Foundation Stone.
In India it was the junction star of the nakshatras Krittikā and Rohinī, and individually Amba, the Mother; while Hewitt says that in earlier Hindu literature it was Arundhati, wedded to Vashishṭha, the chief of the Seven Sages, as her sisters were to the six other Rishis of Ursa Major; and that every newly married couple worshiped them on first entering their future home before they worshiped the pole-star. He thinks this a symbol of the prehistoric union of the northern and southern tribes of India.
We often see the assertion that our title is in no way connected with Ἀλκυών, the Halcyon, that "symbolic or mystical bird, early identified with the Kingfisher," the ornithological Alcedo or Ceryle; so that although the myth of the Halcyon Days, that "clement and temperate time, the nurse of the beautiful Halcyon,"
When birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave,
is not yet understood, some of Thompson's conjectures as to its stellar aspect will be found interesting. He writes that
the story originally referred to some astronomical phenomenon, probably in connexion with the Pleiades, of which constellation Alcyone is the principal star. In what appears to have been the most vigorous period of ancient astronomy (not later than 2000 B.C., but continuing long afterwards to influence legend and nomenclature) the sun rose at the vernal equinox, in conjunction with the Pleiad, in the sign Taurus: the Pleiad is in many languages associated with bird-names. . . and I am inclined to take the bird on the bull's back in coins of Eretria, Dicaea, and Thurii for the associated constellation of the Pleiad. . . Suidas definitely asserts that the Pleiades were called Ἀλκυόνες. At the winter solstice, in the same ancient epoch, the Pleiad culminated at nightfall in the mid-heaven. . . . This culmination, between three and four months after the heliacal rising of the Pleiad in Autumn, was, I conjecture, symbolized as the nesting of the Halcyon. Owing to the antiquity and corruption of the legend, it is impossible to hazard more than a conjecture; but that the phenomenon was in some form an astronomic one I have no doubt.
p405 Mädler located in Alcyone the centre of the universe, but his theory has been shown to be fallacious. There is no satisfactory reason for his conclusion, and not much more for Miss Clerke's remarks as to the probable size and distance of Alcyone, — that it shines to its sister stars with eighty-three times the lustre of Sirius in terrestrial skies, while its intrinsic brilliancy, as compared with the sun, is 1000 times greater. All this rests upon the extremely doubtful assumption of a parallax of 0ʺ.013 deduced from the star's proper motion.
It culminates on the 31st of December.
The three little companions, easily visible with a low-power, form a beautiful triangle 3′ away from Alcyone.
Multi ante occasum Maiae coepere.
Vergil's 1st Georgic.
Maia appears in the motto as personifying all the Pleiad stars, and the poet cautions the farmer against sowing his grain before the time of its setting.
She was the first-born and most beautiful of the sisters, and some have said that her star was the most luminous of the group; in fact, Riccioli, in his Almagestum Novum, distinctly wrote of Maia: dicta lucida Pleiadum & tertii honoris, quae mater Mercurii perhibetur, although in the Astronomia Reformata his "Alcinoe" is the lucida; so that we are uncertain which of these stars was the Pleias that he used for some one of the group. But the mythological importance of the goddess whose name Maia bears would indicate that Riccioli may have been correct as to the first of these identifications, and that the titles of the two stars perhaps should be interchanged.
The name also is written Mea and Maja, the feminine form of majus, an older form of magnus.e Cicero had the word Majja, calling the Pleiad sanctissima, for in his day Maia was only another figure for the great and much named Rhea-Cybele, Fauna, Faula, Fatua, Ops, familiarly known as Ma, or Maia Maiestas, the Bona Dea, or Great and Fruitful Mother, who gave name to the Roman month, our May.f
Ovid added to her title Pleias uda, the Moist Pleiad, as another symbol for the group; and Dante used her title for the planet Mercury, as the Atlantid was the mother of that god.
The equivalent Maou, for the Pleiades in China, is singularly like this the Latin word.
p406 The nebula attached to this star, a part of the general nebulosity that envelops the group, was first noticed in 1882 on photographs by Pickering and the Messrs. Henry.
. . . the lost Pleiad seen no more below.
Electra Trojae spectare ruinas
Non tulit ante oculos, opposuitque manum;
or, as Hyginus wrote [Fab. 192], left her place to be present at its fall, thence wandering off as a hair-star, or comet; or, reduced in brilliancy, settled down close to Mizar as Ἀλώπεξ, the Fox, the Arabs' Al Suhā, and our Alcor. In the Harleian Manuscript the word is written Electa.
Ovid called her Atlantis, personifying the family.
The Pirt-Kopan-noot tribe of Australia have a legend of a Lost Pleiad, making this the queen of the other six, beloved by their heavenly Crow, our Canopus, and who, carried away by him, never returned to her home.
Thy beauty shrouded by the heavy veil
Thy wedlock won.
Elizabeth Worthington Fiske.
Merope often is considered the Lost Pleiad, because, having married a mortal, the crafty Sisyphus, she hid her face in shame when she thought of her sisters' alliances with the gods, and realized that she had thrown herself away. She seems, however, to have recovered her equanimity, being now much brighter than some of the others. The name itself signifies "Mortal."
This star is enveloped in a faintly extended, triangular, nebulous haze, visually discovered by Tempel in October, 1859; and there is a small, distinct nebula, discovered by Barnard in November, 1890, close by Merope, almost hidden in its radiance, although intrinsically very bright.
p407 Taygete simul os terris ostendit honestum Pleias.
Vergil's 4th Georgic.
Taygete, or Taygeta, a name famous in Spartan story for the mother of Lacedaemon by Zeus, was mentioned by Ovid and Vergil as another representative of this stellar family; the former calling it Soror Pleiadum, and the latter using it to fix the two seasons of the honey harvest, as in Davidson's translation of the passage beginning with our motto:
as soon as the Pleiad Taygete has displayed her comely face to the earth, and spurns with her foot the despised waters of the ocean; or when the same star, flying the constellation of the watery Fish, descends in sadness from the sky into the watery waves.
Ulug Beg applied to it Al Wasaṭ, the Central One, usually and more appropriately given to Alcyone.
Bayer lettered it q, describing it as Pleiadum minima; but the Century Cyclopaedia's ε is a misprint for e.
And is there glory from the heavens departed?
— Oh! void unmarkéd! — thy sisters of the sky
Still hold their place on high,
Though from its rank thine orb so long hath started,
Thou, that no more art seen of mortal eye.
Mrs. Hemans' The Lost Pleiad.
Celaeno, or Celeno, has been called the Lost Pleiad, which Theon the Younger said was struck by lightning!
It gives but one half the light of Taygete; still it can be seen with the naked eye, if a good one, and is so given in the Heis Verzeichniss.
The Sister Stars that once were seven
Mourn for their missing mate in Heaven.
Sterope I and Sterope II, less correctly Asterope, are a widely double star at the upper age of the rising cluster, and faintly visible only by reason of the combined light; so that Al Sufi's 5th magnitude seems large.
Ovid made use of Steropes sidus to symbolize the whole, but the present magnitudes would show that his star — if, indeed, he referred to any special p408 star at all, as is improbable — was not ours, or else that a change in brilliancy has taken place. In fact, this also, and not without reason, has been called the Lost Pleiad.
Atlas, that on his brazen shoulders rolls
Yon heaven, the ancient mansion of the gods.
Potter's translation of Euripides' Ἴων.
Atlas was Pater Atlas with Riccioli, apparently having been added to his day to the original group of the seven daughters. It was of him that Ovid wrote:
Pleiades incipiunt umeros relevare paternos;
for their setting relieved the father of some of his burden as bearer of the heavens.
With Pleione it marks the end of the handle of the Pleiad Dipper, and probably has a very minute, close companion, said to have been discovered by Struve in 1827, and again revealed, at an occultation by the moon, on the 6th of January, 1876.
Hinc sata Pleïone cum caelifero Atlante
Jungitur, ut fama est, Pleïadasque parit.
Pleione, Riccioli's Mater Pleione, and Plione, were equally modern additions, although Valerius Flaccus used the word to personify the whole.
As the spectrum of this star shows the bright lines of hydrogen like that of P Cygni, Pickering suggests that it may similarly have had a temporary brilliancy and thus be the Lost Pleiad: a scientific and — if there has ever been in historic time a star in the cluster that is now missing — the most probable solution of this much discussed question; so that the mother seems to have been lost, as well as many of the daughters!
The Harleian Manuscript of Cicero's Aratos represents the Sisters by plain female heads under the title VII Pliades et Athlantides, and individually as Merope, Alcyone, Celaeno, Electra, Ta Ygete,º Sterope, and Maia.10 Grotius has them in the same way, but in far more attractive style, from p409 the old Leyden Manuscript, where we find the orthography Asterope and Mea, the former of which, appearing with Germanicus, has become common in our day. The German manuscript, dating from the 15th century, shows seven full-length figures, the Dark Sister smaller than the others, and wearing a dark-blue head-dress, the rest brighter in color, with faces of true German type.
While this list includes all the named Pleiad stars, some practically invisible without optical aid, yet every increase of power reveals a larger number. Riccioli wrote about this in 1651:
Telescopio autem spectatae visae sunt Galileo plus quam 40. ut narratur in Nuncio Sidereo;
a first-rate field-glass, taking in 3¼° and magnifying seven diameters, shows 57; Hooke, in 1664, saw 78 with the best telescope of his day; Swift sees 300 with his 4½‑inch, and 600 with his 16‑inch; and Wolf catalogued, at the Paris Observatory in 1876, 625 in a space of 90′ by 135′. But with the camera the Messrs. Henry photographed 1421 in 1885, and two years later, by a four-hours' exposure, 2326 down to the 16th magnitude within three square degrees, — more than are visible at any one time by the naked eye in the whole sky. And a recent photograph by Bailey, with the Bruce telescope, reveals 3972 stars in the region 2° square around Alcyone; although there is no certainty that all of those belong to the Pleiades group. Statements as to their magnitudes and distances make many of them exceed Sirius in size, and to be 250 light years away; but these are based upon an assumption of a parallax as yet only hypothetical. But, if correct, how appropriate are Young's verses in his Night Thoughts:
How distant some of these nocturnal Suns!
So distant (says the Sage) 'twere not absurd
To doubt, if Beams set out at Nature's Birth,
Are yet arrived at this so foreign World
Tho' nothing half so rapid as their Flight;
and Longfellow's stanza in his Ode to Charles Sumner:
Were a star quenched on high,
For ages would its light,
Still travelling downward from the sky,
Shine on our mortal sight.
While some of these undoubtedly are only optically connected with the true Pleiades, yet the larger part seem to form a more or less united group, p410 which the spectroscope shows to be of the same general type; this fact being first brought out by Harvard observers in 1886, from comparisons of the spectra of forty of its stars. They are supposed to be drifting together toward the south-southwest, and so may be called a natural constellation.
Nicander wrote of them as ὀλίζωνας, "the smaller ones"; Manilius, as tertia forma, "the third-sized"; and many think that the light of some has decreased, not only from the legends of the Lost Pleiad and the fact that some of the sisters' names are applied to stars which could not possibly have been seen by the unaided eye, but also because only six are now visible to the average observer, and whoever can see seven can as readily see at least two more. Miss Airy counted twelve; Mr. Dawes, thirteen; and Kepler said that his scholar Michel Möstlin could distinguish fourteen, and had correctly mapped eleven before the invention of the telescope, while others have done about as well; indeed Carl von Littrow has seen sixteen. In the clear air of the tropic highlands more of the group are visible than to us in northern latitudes, — from the Harvard observing station at Arequipa, Peru, eleven being readily seen; so that Willis was unconsciously right in his verses:
the linked Pleiades
Undimm'd are three, though from the sister band
The fairest has gone down; and South away!
If we admit the influence of variability at long periods, the seven in number may have been more distinct, so that while Homer and Attalus speak of six, Hipparchus and Aratus may properly mention seven.
Yet, we find Humboldt, in Cosmos, saying that Hipparchos refuted the assertion of Aratos that only six are to be seen with the naked eye, and that
One star escaped his attention, for when the eye is attentively fixed on this constellation, on a serene and moonless night, seven stars are visible.
But Aratos' words do not justify this statement as to his opinion. He wrote:
seven paths aloft men say they take,
Yet six alone are viewed by mortal eyes.
From Zeus' abode no star unknown is lost
Since first from birth we heard, but thus the tale is told;
p411 this "seven paths," ἑπτάποροι, being first found in the Ῥήσος attributed to Euripides. Eratosthenes called it Πλειάς ἐπτάστερος, the Seven-starred Pleiad, although he described one as Παναφανής, All-invisible; Ovid repeated from the Phainomena the now trite
Quae septem dici, sex tamen esse solent;
Six only are visible, but the seventh is beneath the dark clouds.
Cicero thought of them in the same way, and Galileo wrote Dico autem sex, quando quidem septima fere nunquam apparet. But the early Copts knew them as Ἕξαστρον, the Six-starred Asterism, and many Hindu legends mention only six.
Discarding, of course, all the mythical explanations of the Lost Pleiad, I would notice some of the modern and serious attempts at an elucidation of the supposed phenomenon. Doctor Charles Anthon considered it founded solely upon the imagination, and not upon any accurate observation in antiquity. Jensen thinks that, as a favorite object in Babylonia, the astronomers of that country attached to it, with no regard to exactitude, their number of perfection or completeness, 7 playing with them a more important part even than it did among the Jews; thence it descended to Greece, where, its origin being lost sight of, was caused the discrepancy which we cannot now explain, as well as the legends and folk-lore on the subject. Lamb asserted that the astronomers of Assyria could see in their sky seven stars in the group, and so described them; but the Greeks, less favorably situated, finding only six, invented the story of the missing sister. Riccioli propounded a theory — which I have nowhere found adopted by any later writer — that the seventh and missing Pleiad may have been a nova appearing before that number was recorded by observers, but extinguished about the date of the Trojan war; this last idea accounting, too, for the association of Electra with the lost one. Still another explanation is hinted at by Thompson under Coma Berenices; and the really scientific theories of Smyth and Pickering have already been noticed. It is in these last two, I think, that the solution of this interesting question will be found, if at all; and with the astronomers I would leave it, as perhaps I ought to have done before.
Ptolemy mentioned Πλειάς for only four stars in Ταῦρος that Baily said were Flamsteed's 18, 19, 23, and 27, our Alcyone singularly being disregarded, as well as four others of our named stars; and Al Sufi, who revised Ptolemy's observations, stated that this "Alexandrian Quartette" also were p412 the brightest in his day — the 10th century. But Ulug Beg, although he is supposed to have followed Ptolemy, applied "Al Thurayya" to the five that Baily said were Fl. 19, 23, 21, 22, and 25 (Alcyone). Baily himself, editing Hyde's translation of Ulug Beg, gave only Fl. 19 and 23 as of "Al Thuraja."
Recent photographic observations have revealed other nebulous matter, in different degrees of condensation, scattered throughout the cluster, connecting its various members; while Barnard in 1894 found vast nebulosity extending almost as far as ζ Persei.
The Pleiades afford so convincing a proof of the popular misapprehension as to the moon's apparent magnitude that I am tempted to introduce another illustration drawn from these stars. The angular distance between Alcyone and Electra and between Merope and Taygeta is greater by several minutes than the mean angular diameter of the moon's disc, — 31′7ʺ, — so that the latter could be inserted within the quadrangle formed by those four stars with plenty of room to spare; although in looking at the cluster the impression is that our satellite would cover the whole. An occultation of the Pleiades by the moon gives a vivid realization of this fact; and as this is a not infrequent phenomenon, I commend its observation to any unbeliever.
form a naked-eye double in the Hyades to which Mr. William Peck applies the name Alya; but, as this is inappropriate and found with no other author for these stars, may we not suspect error in transcription? — this title belonging by universal recognition to another θ1, — that of Serpens.
Although 337ʺ apart, our thetas may be in physical relation to each other.
ι, with k, l, n, and o, between the horns, all of about the 5th magnitude, were the Chinese Choo Wang, the Many Princes.
stretching from the left eye to the left ear of the Bull, were the Arabs' Al Kalbain, the Two Dogs, i.e. of Al Dabarān, who, as the Driver of the Pleiades, would naturally have his dogs as near-by attendants.
Reeves included φ, χ, and ψ in the Chinese Li Shih, a Coarse Sandstone; χ and υ in Tien Keae, the Heavenly Street; and π and ρ, of the 5th magnitude, p413 with other small stars near the Hyades, in Tien Tsze, Heaven's Festival.
A pair of 11th‑magnitude stars, 4ʺ.9 apart, lies between the kappas; the phi stars, yellow and orange in color, are 53ʺ.6 apart; and the components of χ, white and bluish white, are 19ʺ.3 apart.
1 This word is from Palilia, or Parilia, the feast of Pales, — the Latin shepherds' divinity and their feminine form of Pan, — which marked the birthday of Rome the 21st of April, when this star vanished in the twilight.
Thayer's Note: The statement that Pales was a feminine form of Pan is, at most, only marginally accurate. Pales was an ancient Italic goddess (or maybe a god) of shepherds and fields.
3 Grotius has much information as to their titles in his Syntagma Arateorum.
4 The work of Messier, shared by La Caille and Mechain, was supposed to have brought together all objects of that class in the heavens; but twenty years afterwards Sir William Herschel had added 2500 to their lists, and his son's General Catalogue of 1864 has 5079 nebulae and clusters. This was enlarged by Dreyer, in his New General Catalogue, to 9416 discovered up to December, 1887; and since then at least 1000 more have been added by Swift and the observers at Marseilles. Halley, in 1716, knew only six, and of these four are clusters.
5 The Krittikās were the six nurses of Skanda, the infant god of war, represented by the planet Mars, literally motherless, who took himself six heads for his better nourishment, and his nurses' name in Karttikeya, Son of the Krittikās.
6 These Hermetic Books were the sacred canon of Egypt, in forty-two volumes, treating of religion and the arts and sciences, their authorship being ascribed to the god Thoth, whom the Greeks knew as Hermes Trismegistos, Thrice Great Hermes.
Thayer's Note: A note best disregarded; although Thoth was a very old divinity, Hermes Trismegistus was a very late Graeco-Egyptian syncretic figure, and there was no "sacred canon of Egypt, in forty-two volumes".
7 He traces the word back as equivalent to ὀινάς, a Dove, probably Columba oenas of Old World ornithology, and so named from its purple-red breast like wine, — οἴνος,º — and naturally referred to a bunch of grapes; or perhaps because the bird appeared in migration at the time of the vintage. This is strikingly confirmed by the fact that coins of Mallos in Cilicia bore doves with bodies formed by bunches of grapes; these coins being succeeded by others bearing grapes alone; and we often see the bird and fruit still associated in early Christian symbolism.
8 May it not be from this that comes the English term "Cuckoo Bread," that we find in Mrs. Dana's and Miss Satterlee's delightful book, How to Know the Wild Flowers, for the June-flowering Oxalis, the dainty Wood Sorrel of our northern groves?
9 This Michel Florent van Langren was of Antwerp, a contemporary and friend of Riccioli, and associated with him in giving names to the various features of the moon's surface.
10 Other names, too, were assigned to the mythological septette; the scholiast on Theocritus giving them as Coccymo, Plancia, Protis, Parthemia, Lampatho, Stonychia, and the familiar Maia.
a Both today and in Antiquity, the rulerships of countries and geographical regions were unsettled, every astrologer pretty much having their own set. Ptolemy's list for Taurus, for example (Tetrabiblos, II.3, Cam.2 p73), was very different from the one given above. It should also further be noted — since there is a sort of slippage in Allen here — that Ptolemy's system, like those of most astrologers, relates to the zodiacal signs, not the constellations.
b Athenaeus was not a poet.
c Astronomer Royal for Scotland in the mid‑19c, Piazzi Smyth became notorious for a huge book on the Great Pyramid in which he claimed that Noah built it and that it encodes the secrets of the universe — astronomy, prophecies of the future, the works. His measurements, now shown to have been faulty, led him to state that the Egyptians made use of a "pyramid inch", a "sacred cubit" and similar units. The grandfather of pyramidology, he is unassailable in certain quarters.
d The Palenque temples are currently dated to the 4th thru the 8th centuries A.D.; and many of the dates given in this paragraph, as elsewhere by Allen, for the temples of the Greeks are wildly off the mark.
e The word is exceedingly rare; Lewis & Short lists only Macrob. Sat. I.12.17; since that's about as late as you can get in Latin literature, and the object of the passage is clearly aetiological, the purported antiquity of the word is very suspect to me. If you know of a good early example though, literary or epigraphical, I'd be interested in hearing from you, of course.
f Several of these female divinities were quite independent of each other: Allen's conflation would do the poets and mystics of Late Antiquity proud. In fact, there is some indication that much of this paragraph goes back to an excerptor or commentator of such: Faula for example, appears in the hostile Christian poet Lactantius as a divinized prostitute, in connection not with Fauna but with Flora.
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