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Question: Star/constellation reference, "The Iliad"

 
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beyond the stars



Joined: 24 Jul 2014
Posts: 6
Location: Seattle

Posted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 9:26 pm    Post subject: Question: Star/constellation reference, "The Iliad" Reply with quote

Hello! This is my first post, and I'm wondering if anyone can help me determine what constellation is being referenced in this quote from the "Iliad" (online version, perseus.tufts.edu):

And now to Tydeus' son, Diomedes, Pallas Athene gave might and courage, that he should prove himself pre-eminent amid all the Argives, and win glorious renown. She kindled from his helm and shield flame unwearying, like to the star of harvest time that shineth bright above all others when he hath bathed him in the stream of Ocean. Even such flame did she kindle from his head and shoulders; and she sent him into the midst where men thronged the thickest.

A further reference to (presumably the same star) is in Book II:"... like to the star that cometh forth at harvest-time, and brightly do his rays shine amid the host of stars in the darkness of night, the star that men call by name the Dog of Orion. Brightest of all is he, yet withal is he a sign of evil, and bringeth much fever upon wretched mortals."

What would you say is the "star of harvest time" for the ancient Greeks; what is the "dog" of Orion? There is a specific time of the year associated with the harvest, but I would like to be as accurate as possible and not assume in what month it must take place. I don't believe I have seen this same reference in Hesiod, and the research I've done really doesn't get this specific. (This seems to be the problem overall when researching the ancient Greeks, which is that specific names of constellations aren't necessarily mentioned, you just get things like "the dog star").

It would be extremely useful for my research if there is a specific resource someone knows about that can give names of ancient Greek constellations as they are discussed in ancient Greek literature, if such a reference source exists. Thank you very much.
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Deb
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Joined: 11 Oct 2003
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Location: England

Posted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
the star that men call by name the Dog of Orion. Brightest of all is he, yet withal is he a sign of evil, and bringeth much fever upon wretched mortals.


This is Sirius, (the dog-star) of the constellation Canis Major. See http://www.skyscript.co.uk/canmaj.html which says of this constellation:

Quote:
according to Homer, it is described as the dog of Orion the hunter, which lies immediately to the north-west. In this guise it is frequently shown as a dog standing on hind feet, waiting on the command of its master to spring after Lepus the hare.


In early literature, references to a constellation or its brightest star are often indistinguishable. But the reference to it having "evil" effects and bringing fever are because Sirius is usually associated with the height of summer rather than the harvest of the autumn. This makes me wonder if the passage does make two references, one being to Spica of Virgo, which is a bright star associated with the harvest, the other to Sirius. The other alternative, that only Sirius is mentioned, would expect that Orion the hunter and his dog are treated as one constellational group. This is quite feasible, and might make sense since "Orion was mentioned in the works of Homer, who referred to its rising in May and setting in November." (See http://www.skyscript.co.uk/orion.html ). I am not so sure about this latter possibility, because I would have expected Spica to be the notable star of the harvest. There are links on those pages that could be useful to you, and if you can get a copy of it, James Allen's Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning, could be very helpful.
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pankajdubey



Joined: 17 Nov 2006
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Posted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/ElAnt/V2N4/hannah.html


http://astro.ic.ac.uk/sites/default/files/stars35.pdf
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beyond the stars



Joined: 24 Jul 2014
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Location: Seattle

Posted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 10:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you both very much. I will take a look at those references.

Deb, I think you have identified the reason why trying to determine which constellation(s) is/are being referenced (by, let's say, Hesiod or Homer) can be so tricky. I do not currently know if the problem in being able to identify (from the modern perspective, the name of the constellation or specific star) is translator error, or misunderstanding, precession of the equinoxes? I doubt anyone has a definitive answer; but then, I haven't read every single piece of information available on this subject, either.

Thanks again to both of you. :-) I appreciate the help. It saves me a heck of a lot of searching time.
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pankajdubey



Joined: 17 Nov 2006
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Posted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 11:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem is generic to all great epics.
It is difficult to make out if the star mentioned is for the constellation/the figure they make or the number in them.This is poetic license.

In Sanskrit , there is a great Epic called Ramayana
It's author, Valmiki- writes thus:

Quote:
प्रविशन्नाश्रमपदं व्यरोचत महामुनिः ।
शशीव गतनीहारः पुनर्वसुसमन्वितः ॥

praviṡannāṡramapadaṃ vyarōcata mahāmuniḥ ।
ṡaṡīva gatanīhāraḥ punarvasusamanvitaḥ ॥


The eminent Muni(sage), upon entering the Āṡrama(hermitage)
glowed like the moon with the star Punarvasu
after the fog is cleared.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punarvasu

The star punarvasu has two bright stars- Castor and Pollux in it.The Moon is in own sign cancer in the end of Punarvasu.
Punarvasu itself means - returning.

So, it is also interpreted as the sage returned(entered) to the siddhashram and he was glowing like a moon with the star punarvasu(because he had Rama and Lakshmana with him- the two bright stars of the epic).
So, the meaning itself is multilayered.

PD
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Zagata



Joined: 15 Dec 2011
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Posted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi beyond the stars,

There is a terrific book on the subject you are researching.

It is called: Homer's Secret Iliad: The Epic of the Night Skies Decoded by Florence Wood and Kenneth Wood.

It is on my list, but unfortunately few quantities remain and the book is more expensive now. The same authors have a similar book on the Odyssey (way cheaper). They have posted 2 videos on youtube on the latter. I recommend these to all Astrology practitioners:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4I0co4X-PBE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PZt6ASnZRE
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beyond the stars



Joined: 24 Jul 2014
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Posted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pankajdubey, you have illuminated the constant problem (that leads to so much more research than can probably be conducted in one lifetime) of meaning. What does an ancient text (if it even exists in a legible form) mean? This is what takes so long to determine.

Now, Zagata, you have brought a new problem to my door. Smile Now I have to find this book!! I just scanned through scribd.com, where I can often find otherwise obscure books (to download), but I can't see it. So now I will have to search for it elsewhere. Thanks very much for the reference. Good to know! One more to add to the pile...
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