15. Sag’it-tau’rius-the tourist of the zodiac

Written by probationideadlyi on February 24th, 2013. Posted in Constellations Legends

Midst golden stars he stands refulgent now
And thrusts the Scorpion with his bended bow.
Ovid


The Archer

The antiquity of this constellation is attested by the fact that it is depicted on ancient Babylonian monuments, and upon the early zodiacs of Egypt and India.

Sagittarius, according to Greek mythology, represents the famous centaur Chiron, son of Philyra and Saturn, who changed himself into a horse to elude his jealous wife, Rhea.

Ovid tells us that Chiron was slain by Hercules with a poisoned arrow. Chiron, realising that the wound
was incurable, begged Jupiter to deprive him of immortality.
The father of the gods granted his request, and placed him among the constellations.
Another legend relates that Apollo urged the moon goddess Artemis to aim a shaft from her bow at a gleaming point on the horizon, which concealed Orion, the mighty hunter. Orion was thus unwittingly slain by Artemis.
The constellation Orion is exactly in opposition to the socalled "Bow stars" of Sagittarius, which accounts for this myth connecting the two constellations.
The legend is clearly astronomical in its significance, for in the variant form here depicted, Artemis is represented as sending a scorpion to sting Orion to death, and we find the stars marking the scorpion's sting in very close proximity to the Bow stars of Sagittarius.
On ancient obelisks the figure of an arrow is sometimes seen, which is supposed to be a hieroglyphical representation of this sign. In the Indian zodiac the name of the constellation simply means "arrow."

It is thought that the Egyptians made use of the figure of Hercules to represent this constellation, and that the Greeks chose to substitute the centaur in compliment to Chiron.

The centaur Chiron was sometimes called "the Bull Killer. " The astronomical significance of this appellation is as follows: When the constellation Sagittarius rises in the east, it always seems to drive below the western horizon the last stars in the constellation Taurus, the Bull.

Thus the Archer, metaphorically speaking, slays the Bull. Chiron was reputed to be a wonderful archer, and taught the Grecian youths the use of the bow and arrow. He is always represented with bow drawn, aiming a shaft at the heart of the Scorpion.

As Manilius puts it:
. . . glorious in his Cretian bow,
Centaur follows with an aiming eye,
His bow full drawn and ready to let fly.

According to Brown this constellation is a solar variant, and we have represented here the rising sun shooting out his shafts across the morning skies. From a fragment of the Euphratean Planisphere it is indicated that the Akkadian name for Sagittarius signified "Light of the White Face," or "Smiting Sun Face." Cuneiform inscriptions designate Sagittarius as "the Strong One," "the Giant of War," and "the Illuminator of the Great City."
There are few constellations in which the figures of the monuments and the descriptions in the tablets show a closer connection between Euphratean and classical forms than in the case of Sagittarius.
The constellation is identified with the Assyrian god Assur and the Median god Ahura. Ahura is generally represented as holding in his hand a ring or crown, and Assur in some examples is also thus depicted. Close to the hand of the Archer we see the ancient Ptolemaic constellation "Corona Australis," the Southern Crown, which is generally represented as a ring-shaped wreath. This accounts
for the substitution of the crown or wreath for the bow and arrow.

From approximately 6000 to 4000 B.C. Sagittarius was the constellation in which the autumnal equinoctial point was located, the equinoctial colure passing through the constellations Sagittarius and Taurus. In accordance with this, we find on one of the ancient Assyrian standards the figure of an archer above that of a galloping bull.
Plunket claims that originally only the bow and arrow of Sagittarius were represented for this division of the ecliptic. The first recorded classic figuring of the Archer was in Eratosthenes' description of it as a Satyr. Afterwards it was changed to a Centaur or Bull Killer. The centaurs were an ancient race inhabiting Mt. Pelion in Thessaly.

Longfellow in his " Poet's Calendar " thus refers to the Archer:
With sounding hoofs across the earth I fly,
A steed Thessalian with a human face.

The stars ……. and X Sagittarii form a figure known as "the Milk Dipper." The Dipper appears inverted and the title is appropriate as it is situated in the Milky Way.

This figure was known to the ancients as "the Ladle," and these stars were the objects of special worship in China for at least a thousand years before our era. The Chinese called this figure "the Temple, " and Sagittarius was known to them as "the Tiger." The Milk Dipper is also called " the Hobby Horse of Sagittarius.

…………Sagittarii form the bow of the Archer. This bow has metaphorically been regarded as "the Bow of Promise Set in the Cloud," succeeding the Deluge, the "Cloud" being represented by the Milky Way.
The Arabs called this constellation "the Bow." They imagined the the stars in the group represented ostriches passing to and from the celestial river, the Milky Way. The star X represented their keeper.

It is indeed strange, as Ideler points out, that these nondrinking animals should be found here so close to a river, but the suggestion has been made that these stars represented pasturing cattle, that being the translation of Na'aim, the title of the 20th lunar station of the Arabs located here.

Some authorities, who claim to explain the origin of the constellations, assert that Sagittarius was so called because, at the time the sun entered it, the hunting season opened, and that this is the Archer or Huntsman. Sagittarius has always been considered the patron of the hunter and the chase.

There is in the figure further evidence of design on the part of the inventors of the constellations, for we find the Horse of Pegasus endowed with wings, which are denied Centaurus and the Archer.

The Jews regarded the Archer as the tribal symbol of Ephraim and Manasseh, while Dr. Seiss calls Sagittarius "a pictorial prophecy of our Blessed Lord." The Archer appears on a coin of Gallienus of about a.d. 260, and Schiller thought the figure represented St. Matthew.

Astrologically speaking, Sagittarius is the 9th House and Joy of Jupiter. Its natives, those born between the dates Nov. 22d and Dec. 21st, are said to be well formed, with fine clear eyes, chestnut hair, and oval fleshy face. They are generally of a jovial disposition, active, intrepid, generous, and obliging. It governs the legs and thighs, and reigns over Arabia, Spain, Hungary, Moravia, Cologne, etc. It is a masculine sign and fortunate. The goldenrod is the flower, and the carbuncle is the significant gem.
Ampelius associated it with the south wind, and the colour yellow was attributed to it.
a Sagittarii bears the name "Rukbat," meaning the "Archer's Knee."
…. a double star, was designated " Arkab," the "Tendon," and a and …. were known to Kazwini as "two desert birds."
Y was called "Al-Nasl," meaning the "Point," i. e., of the arrow which the Archer aims at the Scorpion.
S and e are double stars. The former was known as "Kaus Meridionalis " or "Media," meaning the "Middle," i. e., of the bow. The latter was "Kaus Australis," the southern (part of the) bow.
………. was called "Ascella," the "Armpit."
X bore the title "Kaus Borealis," meaning the northern (part of the) bow.
…. a triple star, and… mark the point of the winter solstice.
……. known as "Nunki," also bore the title,"the Star of the Proclamation of the Sea.

The symbol of the sign Sagittarius …. indicates the arrow and part of the bow.
…and three stars near it form a small quadrangle on the hind quarters of the horse, which bears the name " TereBellum. " This figure was known to the Chinese as "the Dog's Country."
There are several fine naked-eye star-clusters in this
constellation, which also contains the celebrated "Trifid Nebula," discovered in 1764.
An exceedingly brilliant nova is said to have appeared low down in Sagittarius in the year loii or 1012, which was visible for three months. The appearance of this star was recorded in the astronomical records of China.
Sagittarius also contains one of the so-called "Coal Sacks " in the Milky Way, dark spots where no stars appear. One of these is near the stars y and Sagittarii, showing but one faint telescopic star.
There is another remarkable spot near the star X Sagittarii, of which Prof. Barnard writes: "It is a small black hole in in the sky. It is round and sharply defined. Its measured diameter on the negative is 2.6'. On account of its sharpness and smallness and its isolation, this is perhaps the most remarkable of all the black holes with which I am acquainted. It lies in an ordinary part of the Milky Way, and is not due to the presence or absence of stars, but seems really to be a marking on the sky."

How to remember Sagittarius: Ever since the “teapot” was pointed out to me, that’s all I’ve ever seen.Astronomically, this region is rich with dark and bright nebulae and star clusters. In fact, the center of the Milky Way lies in this direction


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