ASTRONOMICA PART 1, TRANSLATED BY MARY GRANT
II.1. GREAT BEAR
We begin, then as we said above, with the Great Bear. Hesiod says she is named Callisto, daughter of Lycaon, who ruled in Arcadia. Out of her zeal for hunting she joined Diana, and was greatly loved by the goddess because of their similar temperaments. Later, when made pregnant by Jove, she feared to tell the truth to Diana. But she couldn’t conceal it long, for as her womb grew heavier near the time of her delivery, when she was refreshing her tired body in a stream, Diana realized she had not preserved her virginity. In keeping with her deep distrust, the goddess inflicted no light punishment. Taking away her maiden features, she changed her into the form of a bear, called arktos in Greek . In this form she bore Arcas.
But as Amphis, writer of comedies, says, Jupiter, assuming the form of Diana, followed the girl as if to aid her in hunting, and embraced her when out of sight of the rest. Questioned by Diana as to the reason for her swollen form, she replied that it was the goddess’ fault, and because of this reply, Diana changed her into the shape we mentioned above. When wandering like a wild beast in the forest, she was caught by certain Aetolians and brought into Arcadia to King Lycaon along with her son as a gift, and there, in ignorance of the law, she is said to have rushed into the temple of Jove Lycaeus. Her son at once followed her, and the Arcadians in pursuit were trying to kill them, when Jupiter, mindful of his indiscretion, rescued her and placed her and her son among the constellations. He named her Arctos, and her son Arctophylax. About him we shall speak later.
Some, too, have said that when Callisto was embraced by Jove, Juno in anger turned her into a bear; then, when she met Diana hunting, she was killed by her, and later, on being recognized, was placed among the stars.
But others say that when Jupiter was pursuing Callisto in the woods, Juno, suspecting what had happened, hurried there so that she could say she had caught him openly. But Jove, the more easily to conceal his fault, left her changed to bear form. Juno, then, finding a bear instead of a girl in that place, pointed her out for Diana, who was hunting, to kill. Jove was distressed to see this, and put in the sky the likeness of a bear represented with stars.
This constellation, as many have stated, does not set, and those who desire some reason for this fact say that Tethys, wife of Ocean, refuses to receive her when the other stars come there to their setting, because Tethys was the nurse of Juno, in whose bed Callisto was a concubine.
Araethus of Tegea, however, writer of histories, says that she wasn’t Callisto, but Megisto, and wasn’t the daughter of Lycaon, but of Ceteus, and so granddaughter of Lycaon. He says, too, that Ceteus himself was called the Kneeler. The other details agree with what has been said above. All this is shown to have taken place on the Arcadian mountain Nonacris.
II.2 LESSER BEAR
Aglaosthenes, who wrote the Naxica, says that she is Cynosura, one of the nurses of Jove from the number of the Idaean nymphs. He says, too, that in the city called Histoe, founded by Nicostratus and his friends, both the harbour and the greater part of the land are called Cynosura from her name. She, too, was among the Curetes who were attendants of Jove. Some say that the nymphs Helice and Cynosura were nurses of Jove, and so for gratitude were placed in the sky, both being called Bears. We call them Septentriones.
But many have said that the Great Bear is like a wagon, and the Greeks do call it amaza. This reason has been handed down: Those who, at the beginning, observed the stars and supposed the number of stars into the several constellations, called this group no “Bear” but “Wain,” because two of the seven stars which seemed of equal size and closest together were considered oxen, and the other five were like the figure of a wagon. And so the sign which is nearest to this they wished to be called Boötes. We shall speak of him later on. Aratus, indeed, says that neither Boötes nor the Wain has these names for the reason above, but because the Bear seems, wagon-like, to wheel around the pole which is called North, and Boötes, is said to drive her. In this he seems to be considerably in error, for later, in connection with the seven stars, as Parmeniscus says, twenty-five were grouped by certain astronomers to complete the form of the Bear, not seven. And so the one that followed the wagon and was formerly called Boötes, was now called Arctophylax [Bear Watchter], and she, at the same time that Homer lived, was called Bear. About the Septentriones Homer says that she was called both Bear and Wain; nowhere does he mention that Boötes was called Arctophylax.
There is a great diversity of opinion, too, as to why the Lesser Bear is called Phoenice, and why those who observe her are said to navigate more exactly and carefully; why, also, if she is more reliable than the Great Bear, al do not watch her. These people do not seem to realize the reason for her being called Phoenice. Thales of Miletus, who searched into these matters carefully, and first called her Bear, was by birth a Phoenician, as Herodotus says. Therefore all those in the Peloponnesus use the first Arctos; the Phoenicians, however, observe the one they received from her discoverer, and by watching her carefully, are thought to navigate more exactly, and suitably call her Phoenice from the race of her discoverer.
This huge serpent is pointed out as lying between the two Bears. He is said to have guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides, and after Hercules killed him, to have been put by Juno among the stars, because at her instigation Hercules set out for him. He is considered the usual watchman of the Gardens of Juno. Pherecydes says that when Jupiter wed Juno, Terra came, bearing branches with golden applies, and Juno, in admiration, asked Terra to plant them in her gardens near distant Mount Atlas. When Atlas’ daughters kept picking the apples from the trees, Juno is said to have placed this guardian there. Proof of this will be the form of Hercules above the dragon, as Eratosthenes shows, so that anyone may know that for this reason in particular it is called the dragon.
Some also say this dragon was thrown at Minerva by the Giants, when she fought them. Minerva, however, snatched its twisted form and threw it to the stars, and fixed it at the very pole of heaven. And so to this day it appears with twisted body, as if recently transported to the stars.
He is said to be Arcas, the son of Jove and Callisto, whom Lycaon served at a banquet, cut up with other meat, when Jupiter came to him as a guest. For Lycaon wanted to know whether the one who had asked for his hospitality was a god or not. For this deed he was punished by no slight punishment, for Jupiter, quickly overturning the table, burned the house with a thunderbolt, and turned Lycaon himself into a wolf. But the scattered limbs of the boy he put together, and gave him to a certain Aetolian to care for. When, grown to manhood, he was hunting in the woods, he saw his mother changed to bear form, and did not recognize her. Intent on killing her, he chased her into the temple of Jove Lycaeus, where the penalty for entering is death, according to Arcadian law. And so, since both would have to die, Jupiter, out of pity, snatched them up and put them among the stars, as I have said before. As a result, Arcas is seen following the Bear, and since he guards Arctos, he is called Arctophylax.
Some have said that he is Icarus, father of Erigone, to whom, on account of his justice and piety, Father Liber gave wine, the vine, and the grape, so that he could show men how to plant the vine, what would grow from it, and how to use what was produced. When he had planted the vine, and by careful tending with a pruning-knife had made it flourish, a goat is said to have broken into the vineyard, and nibbled the tenderest leaves he saw there. Icarus, angered by this, took him and killed him and from his skin made a sack, and blowing it up, bound it tight, and cast it among his friends, directing them to dance around it. And so Eratosthenes says: Around the goat of Icarus they first danced.
Others say that Icarus, when he had received the wine from Father Liber, straightway put full wineskins on a wagon. For this he was called Boötes. When he showed it to the shepherds on going round through the Attic country, some of them, greedy and attracted by the new kind of drink, became stupefied, and sprawling here and there, as if half-dead, kept uttering unseemly things. The others, thinking poison had been given the shepherds by Icarus, so that he could drive their flocks into his own territory, killed him, and threw him into a well, or, as others say, buried him near a certain tree. However, when those who had fallen asleep, woke up, saying that hey had never rested better, and kept asking for Icarus in order to reward him, his murderers, stirred by conscience, at once took to flight and came to the island of the Ceans. Received there as guests, they established homes for themselves.
But when Erigone, the daughter of Icarus, moved by longing for her father, saw he did not return and was on the point of going out to hunt for him, the dog of Icarus, Maera by name, returned to her, howling as if lamenting the death of its master. It gave her no slight suspicion of murder, for the timid girl would naturally suspect her father had been killed since he had been gone so many months and days. But the dog, taking hold of her dress with its teeth, led her to the body. As soon as the girl saw it, abandoning hope, and overcome with loneliness and poverty, with many tearful lamentations she brought death on herself by hanging from the very tree beneath which her father was buried. And the dog made atonement for her death by its own life. Some say that it cast itself into the well, Anigrus by name. For this reason they repeat the story that no one afterward drank from that well. Jupiter, pitying their misfortune, represented their forms among the stars. And so many have called Icarus, Boötes, and Erigone, the Virgin, about whom we shall speak later. The dog, however, from its own name and likeness, they have called Canicula. It is called Procyon by the Greeks, because it rises before the greater Dog. Others say these were pictured among the stars by Father Liber.
In the meantime in the district of the Athenians many girls without cause committed suicide by hanging, because Erigone, in dying, had prayed that Athenian girls should meet the same kind of death she was to suffer if the Athenians did not investigate the death of Icarus and avenge it. And so when these things happened as described, Apollo gave oracular response to them when they consulted him, saying that they should appease Erigone if they wanted to be free from the affliction. So since she hanged herself, they instituted a practice of swinging themselves on ropes with bars of wood attached, so that the one hanging could be moved by the wind. They instituted this as a solemn ceremony, and they perform it both privately and publicly, and call it alétis, aptly terming her mendicant who, unknown and lonely, sought for her father with the god. The Greeks call such people alétides.
In addition to this, Canicula, rising with its heat, scorched the land of the Ceans, and robbed their fields of produce, and caused the inhabitants, since they had welcomed the bandits, to be plagued by sickness, and to pay the penalty to Icarus with suffering. Their king, Aristaeus, son of Apollo and Cyrene, and father of Actaeon, asked his father by what means he could free the state from affliction. The god bade them expiate the death of Icarus with many victims, and ask from Jove that when Canicula rises he should send wind for forty days to temper the heat of Canicula. This command Aristaeus carried out, and obtained from Jove the favour that the Etesian winds should blow. Some have called them Etesian because they spring up at a certain time each year, for etos in Greek is annus in Latin. Some, too, have called them Etesian because they were “asked for” from Jove, and so obtained. But we shall leave this undecided, lest we be though to have anticipated everything.
To return to the matter at hand, Hermippus, who wrote about the stars, says that Ceres lay with Iasion, son of Thuscus. Many agree with Homer that for this he was struck with a thunderbolt. From them, as Petellides, Cretan writer of histories, shows, two sons were born, Philomelus and Plutus, who were never on good terms, for Plutus, who was richer, gave nothing of his wealth to his brother. Philomelus, however, compelled by necessity, bought two oxen with what he had, and became the inventor of the wagon. So, by plowing and cultivating the fields, he supported himself. His mother, admiring his invention, represented him plowing among the stars, and called him Boötes. From him they say Parias was born, who called the people Parians and the town Parion from his own name.
This is thought to be Ariadne’s crown, placed by Father Liber among the constellations. For they say that when Ariadne wed Liber on the island of Dia, and all the gods gave her wedding gifts, she first received this crown as a gift from Venus and the Hours. But, as the author of the Cretica says, at the time when Liber came to Minos with the hope of lying with Ariadne, he gave her this crown as a present. Delighted with it, she did not refuse the terms. It is said, too, to have been made of gold and Indian gems, and by its aid Theseus is thought to have come from the gloom of the labyrinth to the day, for the gold and gems made a glow of light in the darkness.
But those who wrote the Argolica give the following reason. When Liber received permission from his father to bring back his mother Semele from the Lower World, and in seeking a place of descent had come to the land of the Argives, a certain Hyplipnus met him, a man worthy of that generation, who was to show the entrance to Liber in answer to his request. However, when Hypolipnus saw him, a mere boy in years, excelling all others in remarkable beauty of form, he asked from him the reward that could be given without loss. Liber, however, eager for his mother, swore that if he brought her back, he would do as he wished, on terms, though, that a god could swear to a shameless man. At this, Hypolipnus showed the entrance. So then, when Liber came to that place and was about to descend, he left the crown, which he had received as a gift from Venus, at that place which in consequence is called Stephanos, for he was unwilling to take it with him for fear the immortal gift of the gods would be contaminated by contact with the dead. When he brought his mother back unharmed, he is said to have placed the crown in the stars as an everlasting memorial.
Others say that this is the crown of Theseus, and for the following reason placed near him, for the constellation called the Kneeler is thought to be Theseus. We shall speak later about him. It is said that when Theseus came to Crete to Minos with seven maidens and six youths, Minos, inflamed by the beauty of one of the maidens, Eriboea by name, wished to lie with her. Theseus, as was fitting for a son of Neptune, and one able to strive against a tyrant for a girl’s safety, refused to allow this. So when the dispute became one not about the girl but about the parentage of Theseus, whether he was the son of Neptune or not, Minos is said to have drawn a gold ring from his finger and cast it into the sea. He bade Theseus bring it back, if he wanted him to believe he was a son of Neptune; as for himself, he could easily show he was a son of Jove. So, invoking his father, he asked for some sign to prove he was his son, and straightway thunder and lightning gave token of assent. For a similar reason, Theseus, without any invoking of his father or obligation of an oath, cast himself into the sea. And at once a great swarm of dolphins, tumbling forward over the sea, led him through gently swelling waves to the Nereids. From them he brought back the ring of Minos and a crown, bright with many gems, from Thetis, which she had received at her wedding as a gift from Venus. Others say that the crown came from the wife of Neptune, and Theseus is said to have given it to Ariadne as a gift, when on account of his valor and courage she was given to him in marriage. After Ariadne’s death, Liber placed it among the constellations.
II.6 THE KNEELER
Eratosthenes says he is Hercules, placed above the dragon we have already mentioned, and prepared to fight, with his left hand holding his lion skin, and his right the club. He is trying to kill the dragon of the Hesperides, which, it is thought, never was overcome by sleep or closed its eyes, thus offering more proof it was placed there as a guard. Panyassis in the Heraclea says of the sign that Jupiter, in admiration of their struggle, placed it among the stars; for the dragon has its head erect, and Hercules, resting on his right knee, tires to crush the right side of its head with his left foot. His right hand is up and striking, his left extended with the lion skin, and he appears to be fighting with all his strength. Although Aratus says no one can prove who he is, nevertheless we shall try to show that we can say something reasonable.
Araethus, as we said before, calls this figure Ceteus, son of Lycaon, and father of Megisto. He seems to be lamenting the change of his daughter to bear form, kneeling on one knee, and holding up outstretched hands to heaven, asking for the gods to restore her to him.
Hegesianax, however, says that he is Theseus, who seems to be lifting the stone at Troezene. Aegeus is thought to have put [corrupt] and a sword under it, and warned Aethra, the mother, not to send him to Athens until he could lift the stone by his own strength and bring the sword to his father. And so he seems to try to lift the stone as high as he can. In this connection, too, some have said that the Lyre, placed nearest this sign, is the lyre of Theseus, for he was skilful in all the arts and seems to have learned the lyre as well. This, too, Anacreon says: Near Theseus, son of Aegeus, is the Lyre.
Others call him Thamyris, blinded by the Muses, kneeling as a suppliant; others, Orpheus, killed by the Thacian women because he looked on the rites of Father Liber.
But Aeschylus, in the play entitled Prometheus lyomenos, says that he is Hercules, fighting not with the dragon, but with the Ligurians. For he says that at the time Hercules was driving away the cattle of Geryon, he journeyed through the territory of the Ligurians. They joined forces in trying to take the herd from him, and pierced many of the beasts [?] with arrows. But after Hercules’ weapons failed, worn out by the number of the barbarians and lack of arms, he fell to his knees, already suffering from many wounds. Jove, however, out of pity for his son, provided that there should be a great supply of stones around him. With these Hercules defended himself and put the enemy to flight. And so Jove put he image of his fighting form among the constellations.
Again, some have said that he is Ixion with his arms bound, because he tried to attack Juno.
Others say he is Prometheus, bound on Mt. Caucasus.
The Lyre was put among the constellations for the following reason, as Eratosthenes says. Made at first by Mercury from a tortoise shell, it was given to Orpheus, son of Calliope and Oeagrus, who was passionately devoted to music. It is thought that by his skill he could charm even wild beasts to listen. When, grieving for his wife Eurydice, he descended to the Lower World, he praised the children of the gods in his song, all except Father Liber; him he overlooked and forgot, as Oeneus did Diana in sacrifice. Afterwards, then, when Orpheus was taking delight in song, seated, as many say, on Mt. Olympus, which separates Macedonia from Thrace, or on Pangaeum, as Eratosthenes says, Liber is said to have roused the Bacchanals against him. They slew him and dismembered his body. But others say that this happened because he had looked on the rites of Liber. The Muses gathered the scattered limbs and gave them burial, and as the greatest favour they could confer, they put as a memorial his lyre, pictured with stars, among the constellations. Apollo and Jove consented, for Orpheus had praised Apollo highly, and Jupiter granted this favour to his daughter.
Others say that when Mercury first made the lyre on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia, he made it with seven strings to correspond to the number of Atlantides, since Maia, his mother, was of their company. Later, when he had driven away the cattle of Apollo and had been caught in the act, to win pardon more easily, at Apollo’s request he gave him permission to claim the invention of the lyre, and received from him a certain staff as reward. When Mercury, holding it in his hand, was journeying to Arcadia and saw two snakes with bodies intertwined, apparently fighting, he put down the staff between them. They separated then, and so he said that the staff had been appointed to bring peace. Some, in making caducei, put two snakes intertwined on the rod, because this seemed to Mercury a bringer of peace. Following his example, they use the staff in athletic contests and other contests of this kind.
But to return to the subject at hand. Apollo took the lyre, and is said to have taught Orpheus on it, and after he himself had invented the cithara, he gave the lyre to Orpheus.
Some also have said that Venus and Proserpina came to Jove for his decision, asking him to which of them he would grant Adonis. Calliope, the judge appointed by Jove, decided that each should posses him half of the year. But Venus, angry because she had not been granted what she thought was her right, stirred the women in Thrace by love, each to seek Orpheus for herself, so that they tore him limb from limb. His head, carried down from the mountain into the sea, was cast by the waves upon the island of Lesbos. It was taken up and buried by the people of Lesbos, and in return for this kindness, they have the reputation of being exceedingly skilled in the art of music. The lyre, as we have said, was put by the Muses among the stars.
Some say that because Orpheus first favored love for youths, he seemed to insult women, and for this reason they killed him.
The sign the Greeks call the Swan, but others, out of ignorance of the story, have called it ornis, the general term for bird. This reason for the name has been handed down: When Jupiter, moved by desire, had begun to love Nemesis, and couldn’t persuade her to lie with him, he relieved his passion by the following plan. He bade Venus, in the form of an eagle, pursue him; he, changed to a swan, as if in flight from the eagle, took refuge with Nemesis and lighted in her lap. Nemesis did not thrust him away, but holding him in her arms, fell into a deep sleep. While she slept, Jupiter embraced her, and then flew away. Because he was seen by men flying high in the sky, they said he was put in the stars. To make this really true, Jupiter put the swan flying and the eagle pursuing in the sky.
But Nemesis, as if wedded to the tribe of birds, when her months were ended, bore an egg. Mercury took it away and carried it to Sparta and threw it in Leda’s lap. From it sprang Helen, who excelled all other girls in beauty. Leda called her her own daughter. Others say that Jove, in the form of a swan, lay with Leda. We shall leave the matter undecided.
Euripides and the rest have shown that he was the son of Phoenix, king of the Aethiopains, and father of Andromeda, the girl exposed to the sea-monster, according to the well-known tale. Perseus freed her from danger and made her his wife. And so, that the whole family be commemorated, the gods numbered Cepheus, too, among the constellations.
II.10 CASSIEPIA [CASSIOPEIA]
Euripides and Sophocles and many others have said of her that she boasted that she excelled the Nereids in beauty. For this she was put among the constellations, seated in a chair [?]. On account of her impiety, as the sky turns, she seems to be carried along lying on her back.
They say she was put among the constellations by the favour of Minerva, on account of the valor of Perseus, who freed her from danger when exposed to the sea-monster. Nor did he receive less kindness from her in return for his good deed. For neither her father Cepheus nor her mother Cassiepia could dissuade her from following Perseus, leaving parents and country. About her Euripides has written a most excellent play with her name as title.
He is said to have come to the stars because of his nobility and the unusual nature of his conception. When sent by Polydectes, son of Magnes, to the Gorgons, he received from Mercury, who is thought to have loved him, talaria and petasus, and, in addition, a helmet which kept its wearer from being seen by an enemy. So the Greeks have called it the helmet of Haides [the Unseen One], though Perseus did not, as some ignorant people interpret it, wear the helmet of Orcus himself, for no educated person could believe that. He is said, too, to have received from Vulcan a knife made of adamant, with which he killed Medusa the Gorgon. The deed itself no one has described. But as Aeschylus, the writer of tragedies, says in his Phorcides, the Graeae were guardians of the Gorgons. We wrote about them in the first book of the Genealogiae. They are thought to have had but one eye among them, and thus to have kept guard, watch one taking it in her turn. This eye Perseus snatches, as one was passing it to another, and threw is in Lake Tritonis. So, when the guards were blinded, he easily killed the Gorgon when she was overcome with sleep. Minerva is said to have the head on her breastplate. Euhemerus says the Gorgon was killed by Minerva. We shall speak more of this later on.
In Latin we call him "auriga” – Erichthonius by name, as Eratosthenes shows. Jupiter seeing that he first among men yoked horses in four-horse chariots, admired the genius of a man who could rival the invention of Sol, who first among the gods made use of the quadriga. Erichthonius first invented the four-horse chariot, as we said before, and also first established sacrifices to Minerva, and a temple on the citadel of the Athenians. Euripides gives the following account of his birth. Vulcan, inflamed by Minerva’s beauty, begged her to marry him, but was refused. She hid herself in the place called Hephaestius, on account of the love of Vulcan. They say that Vulcan, following her there, tired to force her, and when, full of passion he tried to embrace her, he was repulsed, and some of his seed fell to the ground. Minerva overcome by shame, with her foot spread dust over it. From this the snake Erichthonius was born, who derives his name from the earth and their struggle. Minerva is said to have hidden him, like a cult-object, in a chest. She brought the chest to the daughters of Erechtheus and gave it to them to guard, forbidding them to open it. But man is by nature so curious, that the oftener he is forbidden to do something, the more he desired to do it. So the girls opened the chest and saw the snake. As a result they were driven mad by Minerva, and threw themselves from the Acropolis. But the snake fled to the shield of Minerva, and was reared by her.
Others have said that Erichthonius merely had snake-legs, and in his youth established the Panathenaic Games for Minerva, himself competing in the four-horse chariot race. In return for these deeds he was placed among the constellations.
Some too, who have written about the stars, have said that the Charioteer was an Argive by birth, named Orsilochus, who first invented the four-horse chariot, and for his invention gained a place among the stars.
Others identified him as the son of Mercury and Clytie, Myrtilus by name, the charioteer of Oenomaus. After his death, the manner of which is common knowledge, his father is said to have put his form in the sky.
On his left shoulder (the goat) Capra stands, and in his left hand the Kids seem to be placed. They tell this story about him. A certain Olenus, son of Vulcan, had two daughters, the nymphs Aex and Helice, who were nurses of Jove. Others have said that certain cities were named from them - Olenus in Aulis, Helice in the Peloponneus, and Aex in Haemonia - about which Homer writes in the second book of the Iliad. But Parmeniscus say that a certain Melisseus was king in Crete, and to his daughters Jove was brought to nurse. Since they did not have milk, they furnished him a she-goat, Amalthea by name, who is said to have reared him. She often bore twin kids, and at the very time that Jove was brought to her to nurse, had borne a pair. And so because of the kindness of the mother, the kids, too were placed among the constellations. Cleostratus of Tenedos is said to have first pointed out these kids among the stars.
But Musaeus says Jove was nursed by Themis and the nymph Amalthea, to whom he was given by Ops, his mother. Now Amalthea had as a pet a certain goat which is said to have nursed Jove.
Some have called Aex the daughter of Sol, who surpassed many in beauty of body, but in contrast to this beauty, had a most horrible face. Terrified by it, the Titans begged Terra to hide her body, and Terra is said to have hidden her in a cave in the island of Crete. Later she became nurse of Jove, as we have said before. But when Jupiter, confident in his youth, was preparing for war against the Titans, oracular reply was given to him that if he wished to win, he should carry on the war protected with the skin of a goat, aigos, and the head of the Gorgon. The Greeks call this the aegis. When this was done, as we have shown above, Jupiter, overcoming the Titans, gained possession of the kingdom. Covering the remaining bones of the goat with a skin, he gave life to them and memorialised them, picturing them with stars. Afterwards he gave to Minerva the aegis with which he had been protected when he won.
Euhemerus says that a certain Aex was the wife of Pan. When she was embraced by Jove she bore a son whom she called son of Pan. So the child was called Aegipan, and Jove, Aegiochus. Since he was very fond of him, he placed in memory the form of a goat among the stars.
Ophiuchus, who, by our writers, is called the Serpent-holder, is stationed above Scorpio, and holds in his hands a serpent which coils about his body.
Many have called him Carnabon, king of the Getae, who lived in Thrace. He came into power at the time when it is thought grain was first given to mortals. For when Ceres was distributing her bounties to men, she bade Triptolemus, whose nurse she had been, go around to all the nations and distribute grain, so that they and their descendants might more easily rise above primitive ways of living. He went in a drgon car, and is said to have been the first to use one wheel, so as not to be delayed in his journey. When he came to the king of the Getae, whom we mentioned above, he was at first hospitably received. Later, not as a beneficent and innocent visitor, but as a most cruel foe, he was seized by treachery, and he who was ready to prolong the lives of others, almost lost his own life. For at the order of Carnabon one dragon was killed, so that Tiptolemus might not hope his dragon car could save him when he realized an ambush was being prepared. But Ceres is said to have come there, and restored the stolen chariot to the youth, substituting another dragon, and punishing the king with no slight punishment for his malevolent attempt. For Hegesianax says that Ceres, for men’s remembrance, pictures Carnabon among the stars, holding a dragon in his hands as if to kill it. He lived so painfully that he brought on himself a most welcome death.
Others point out that he is Hercules, killing in Lydia near the river Sagaris a snake which kept destroying many men and stripping the river banks of grain. In return for this deed, Omphale, the queen of that region, sent him back to Argos loaded with gifts, and because of his bravery he was placed by Jove among the constellations.
Some, too, have said that he is Triopas, king of the Thessalians, who, in trying to roof his own house, tore down the temple of Ceres, built by the men of old. When hunger was brought on him by Ceres for this deed, he could never afterward be satisfied by any amount of food. Last of all, toward the end of his life, when a snake was sent to plague him, he suffered many ills, and at last winning death, was put among the stars by the will of Ceres. And so the snake, coiling round him, still seems to inflict deserved and everlasting punishment.
Polyzelus the Rhodian, however, points out that this is Phorbas, who was of great assistance to the Rhodians. The citizens called their island, overrun by a great number of snakes, Ophiussa. In this multitude of beasts was a snake of immense size, which had killed many of them; and when the deserted land began finally to lack men, Phorbas, son of Triopas by Hiscilla, Myrmidon’s daughter, when carried there by a storm, killed all the beasts, as well as that huge snake. Since he was especially favored by Apollo, he was put among the constellations, shown killing the snake for the sake of praise and commemoration. And so the Rhodians, as often as they go with their fleet rather far from their shores, make offerings first for the coming of Phorbas, that such a happening of unexpected valor should befall the citizens as the opportunity for glory which brought Phorbas, unconscious of future praise, to the stars.
Many astronomers have imagined that he is Aesculapius, whom Jupiter, for the sake of Apollo, put among the stars. For when Aesculapius was among men, he so fare excelled the rest in the art of medicine that it wasn’t enough for him to have healed men’s diseases unless he could also bring back the dead to life. He is said most recently, according to Eratosthenes to have restored to life Hippolytus who had been killed by the injustice of his stepmother and the ignorance of his father. Some have said that by his skill Glaucus, son of Minos, lived again. Because of this, as for a sin, Jove struck and burned his house with a thunderbolt, but because of his skill, and since Apollo was his father, put him among the constellations holding a snake.
Certain people have said that he holds the snake for the following reason. When he was commanded to restore Glaucus, and was confined in a secret prison, while meditating what he should do, staff in hand, a snake is said to have crept on to his staff. Distracted in mind, Aesculapius killed it, striking it again and again with his staff as it tried to flee. Later, it is said, another snake came there, bringing an herb in its mouth, and placed it on its head. When it had done this, both fled from the place. Where upon Aesculapius, using the same herb, brought Glaucus, too, back to life.
And so the snake is put in the guardianship of Aesculapius and among the stars as well. Following his example, his descendants passed the knowledge on to others, so that doctors make use of snakes.
This arrow, they say, is one of the weapons of Hercules, with which he is said to have killed the eagle which ate the liver of Prometheus. It seems not unprofitable to speak of Prometheus at greater length. When the men of old with great ceremony used to carry on the sacrificial rites of the immortal gods, they would burn the victims entire in the flame of the sacrifice. And so, when the poor were prevented from making sacrifices on account of the great expense, Prometheus, who with his wonderful wisdom is thought to have made men, by his pleading is said to have obtained permission from Jove for them to cast only a part of the victim into the fire, and to use the rest for their own food. This practice custom later established. Since he had obtained this permission, not as from a covetous man, but easily, as from a god, Prometheus himself sacrifices two bulls. When he had first placed their entrails on the altar, he put the remaining flesh of the two bulls in one heap, covering it with an oxhide. Whatever bones there were he covered with the other skin and put it down between them, offering Jove the choice of either part for himself. Jupiter, although he didn’t act with divine forethought, nor as a god who ought to foresee everything, was deceived by Prometheus - sine we have started to believe the tale! - and thinking each part was a bull, shoe the bones for his half. And so after this, in solemn rites and sacrifices, when the flesh of victims has been consumed, they burn with fire the remaining parts which are the gods.
But, to come back to the subject, Jupiter, when he realized what had been done, in anger took fire from mortals, lest the favour of Prometheus should seem to have more weight than the power of the gods, and that uncooked flesh should not be useful to men. Prometheus, however, who was accustomed to scheming, planned by his own efforts to bring back the fire that had been taken from men. So, when the others were away, he approached the fire of Jove, and with a small bit of this shut in a fennel-stalk he came joyfully, seeming to fly, not to run, tossing the stalk so that the air shut in with its vapours should not put out the flame in so narrow a space. Up to this time, then, men who bring good news usually come with speed. In the rivalry of the games they also make it a practice for the runners to run, shaking torches after the manner of Prometheus.
In return for this deed, Jupiter, to confer a like favour on men, gave a woman to them, fashioned by Vulcan, and endowed with all kinds of gifts by the will of the gods. For this reason she was called Pandora. But Prometheus he bound with an iron chain to a mountain in Scythia named Caucasus for thirty thousand years, as Aeschylus, writer of tragedies, says. Then, too, he sent an eagle to him to eat out his liver which was constantly renewed at night. Some have said that this eagle was born from Typhon and Echidna, other from Terra and Tartarus, but many point out it was made by the hands of Vulcan and given life by Jove.
The following reason for the release of Prometheus has been handed down. When Jupiter, moved by the beauty of Thetis, sought her in marriage, he couldn’t win the consent of the timid maiden, but none the less kept planning to bring it about. At that time the Parcae were said to have prophesied what the natural order of events should be. They said that the son of Thetis’ husband, whoever he might be, would be more famous than his father. Prometheus heard this as he kept watch, not from inclination but from necessity, and reported it to Jove. He, fearing that what he had done to his father Saturn in a similar situation, would happened to him, namely, that he would be robbed of his power, gave up by necessity his desire to wed Thetis, and out of gratitude to Prometheus thanked him and freed him from his chains. But he didn’t go so far as to free him from all binding, since he had sworn to that, but for commemoration bade him bind his finger with the two things, namely, with stone and with iron. Following this practice men have rings fashioned of stone and iron, that they may seem to be appeasing Prometheus. Some also have said that he wore a wreath, as if to claim that he as victor had sinned without punishment. And so men began the practice of wearing wreaths at times of great rejoicing and victory. You may observe this in sports and banquets.
But to come back to the beginning of the inquiry and the death of the eagle. Hercules, when sent by Eurystheus for the apples of the Hesperides, out of ignorance of the way came to Prometheus, who was bound on Mount Caucasus, as we have shown above. When victor, he returned to Prometheus to tell him that that dragon we have mentioned was slain, and to thank him for his kindness since he had pointed out the way. Straightway he gave what honour he could to the one that deserved it, for [he killed the eagle?] and since it was slain, men began, when victims were sacrificed, to offer livers on the altars of the gods to satisfy them in place of the liver of Prometheus.
Eratosthenes says about the Arrow, that with this Apollo killed the Cyclopes who forged the thunderbolt by which Aesculapius died. Apollo had buried this arrow in the Hyperborean mountain, but when Jupiter pardoned his son, it was borne by the wind and brought to Apollo along with the grain which at that time was growing. Many point out that for this reason it is among the constellations.
This is the eagle which is said to have snatched Ganymede up and given him to his lover, Jove. This bird, too, Jupiter is thought first to have singled out from the tribe of birds, because it alone, men say, strives to fly straight into the rays of the rising sun. And so it seems to fly above Aquarius, who, as many imagine, is Ganymede.
Some, too, have said that the bird was a certain Meropes, who ruled the island of Cos, and who called the island Cos from the name of his daughter, and the inhabitants Meropians from his own name. He had a wife, Ethemea, of the race of nymphs, who was stuck with the arrows of Diana when she ceased worshipping her. At last she was snatched away alive by Proserpina to the Land of the Dead. Meropes, moved by longing for his wife, would have committed suicide, but Juno, pitying him, changed him into an eagle and put him among the constellations, for, if she had put him there in human form, since he would have a man’s memory, he would still be moved with longing for his wife.
Aglaosthenes, who wrote the Naxica, says that Jove was taken secretly from Crete, brought to Naxos, and there nourished. After he came to man’s estate and wished to attack the Titans in war, he sighted an eagle as he was sacrificing, and considering this an omen, he placed it among the stars.
Some, too, have said that Mercury (though others say Anaplades) stirred by Venus’s beauty, fell in love with her, and when she permitted no favours, became greatly downcast, as if in disgrace. Jove pitied him, and when Venus was bathing in the river Achelous he sent and eagle to take her sandal to Amythaonia of the Egyptians and give it to Mercury. Venus, in seeking for it, came to him who loved her, and so he, on attaining his desire, as a reward put the eagle in the sky.
Eratosthenes and others give the following reason for the dolphin’s being among the stars. Amphitrite, when Neptune desired to wed her and she preferred to keep her virginity, fled to Atlas. Neptune sent many to seek her out, among them a certain Delphin, who, in his wandering s among the islands, came at last to the maiden, persuaded her to marry Neptune, and himself took charge of the wedding. In return for this service, Neptune put the form of a dolphin among the constellations. More than this, we se that those who make statues of Neptune place a dolphin either in his hand or beneath his foot - a thing they think will please the god especially.
Aglaosthenes, who wrote the Naxica, says that there were certain Tyrrhenian shipmasters, who were to take Father Liber, when a child, to Naxos with his companions and give him over to the nymphs, his nurses. Both our writers and many Greek ones, in books on the genealogy of the gods, have said that he was reared by them. But, to return to the subject at hand, the shipmates, tempted by love of gain, were going to turn the ship off course, when Liber, suspecting their plan, bade his companions chant a melody. The Tyrrhenians were so charmed by the unaccustomed sounds that they were seized by desire even in their dancing, and unwittingly cast themselves into the sea, and were there made dolphins. Since Liber desired to recall thought of them to men’s memory, he put the image of one of them among the constellations.
Others, however, say that this is the dolphin which bore Arion, the citharist, from the Sicilian Sea to Taenarum. He excelled all others in skill, and was travelling about he island for the sake of gain, when his servants, thinking there was more profit in treacherous freedom than in quiet servitude, planned to cast their master into the sea and divide his goods among them. When he realized their designs, he asked from them, not as a master from his salves, nor as an innocent man from evil-doers, but as a father from his sons, to allow him to attired himself in the garb he had often worn when victor, since there was no other one who, so well as himself, could honor his death with lamentation. When he had obtained permission, straightway taking up his cithara, he began to mourn his own death, and attracted by the sweet sounds, dolphins from all over the sea swam along at the singing of Arion. Then, invoking the power of the immortal gods, he threw himself down upon them, ad one of them took him and carried him to the shore at Taenarum. In memory of this, the statue of Arion placed there seems to have on it the likeness of a dolphin, and for this happening the dolphin’s form is pictured by ancient astronomers among the constellations. But the slaves who thought they had escaped from servitude, driven by a storm to Taenarum, were seized their master and visited with no slight punishment.