Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The great one is among us!

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 20, 2015

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Astraea or Astrea (Ancient Greek: Ἀστραῖα; “star-maiden”), in ancient Greek religion, was a daughter of Astraeus, an astrological deity and the Titan-god of the dusk, also associated with the winds, as he is the father of the four Anemoi/wind deities, and Eos, (“dawn”; also Aúōs in Aeolic), a Titaness and the goddess of the dawn, who rose each morning from her home at the edge of the Oceanus. Eos had a brother and a sister, Helios, god of the sun, and Selene, goddess of the moon.

Eos is cognate to Vedic Sanskrit Ushas and Latin Aurora, both goddesses of dawn, and all three considered derivatives of a PIE stem *hewsṓs (later *Ausṓs), “dawn”, a stem that also gave rise to Proto-Germanic *Austrō, Old Germanic *Ōstara and Old English Ēostre/Ēastre. This agreement leads to the reconstruction of a Proto-Indo-European dawn goddess.

Appropriately, as god of the dusk, Astraeus married Eos, goddess of the dawn. Together as nightfall and daybreak they produced many children who are associated with what occurs in the sky during twilight. They had many sons, the four Anemoi (“Winds”): Boreas, Notus, Eurus, and Zephyrus, and the five Astra Planeta (“Wandering Stars”, i.e. planets): Phainon (Saturn), Phaethon (Jupiter), Pyroeis (Mars), Eosphoros/Hesperos (Venus), and Stilbon (Mercury). A few sources mention one daughter, Astraea, the goddess of innocence and purity, and sometimes, justice.

Astraea was the virgin goddess of Innocence and purity and is always associated with the Greek goddess of justice, Dike (“justice”), the daughter of Zeus and Themis, and the goddess of justice and the spirit of moral order and fair judgement based on immemorial custom, in the sense of socially enforced norms and conventional rules. She is not to be confused with Asteria, the goddess of the stars and the daughter of Coeus and Phoebe.

Dike and her mother were both personifications of justice. She is depicted as a young slender woman carrying a physical balance scale and wearing a laurel wreath while her Roman counterpart (Justitia) appears in a similar fashion but blind-folded. She is represented in the constellation Libra which is named for the Latin name of her symbol (Scales).

Dike is often associated with Astraea, the goddess of innocence and purity. Astraea is also one of her epithets referring to her appearance in the nearby constellation Virgo which is said to represent Astraea. This reflects her symbolic association with Astraea, who too has a similar iconography.

Virgo is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Its name is Latin for virgin. Lying between Leo to the west and Libra to the east, it is the second largest constellation in the sky (after Hydra). It can be easily found through its brightest star, Spica (α Vir, α Virginis, Alpha Virginis).

According to the Babylonian Mul.Apin, which dates from 1000–686 BCE, this constellation was known as “The Furrow”, representing the goddess Shala’s ear of grain. One star in this constellation, Spica, retains this tradition as it is Latin for “ear of grain”, one of the major products of the Mesopotamian furrow. Virgo is often portrayed carrying two sheaves of wheat, one of which is marked by the bright star Spica.

The constellation was also known as “AB.SIN” and “absinnu”. For this reason the constellation became associated with fertility. According to Gavin White the figure of Virgo corresponds to two Babylonian constellations: the “Furrow” in the eastern sector of Virgo and the “Frond of Erua” in the western sector. The Frond of Erua was depicted as a goddess holding a palm-frond – a motif that still occasionally appears in much later depictions of Virgo.

The Greeks and Romans associated Virgo with their goddess of wheat/agriculture, Demeter-Ceres who is the mother of Persephone-Proserpina. Alternatively, she was sometimes identified as the virgin goddess Iustitia or Astraea, holding the scales of justice in her hand as the constellation Libra.

Another myth identifies Virgo as Erigone, the daughter of Icarius of Athens. Icarius, who had been favoured by Dionysus, was killed by his shepherds while they were intoxicated and Erigone hanged herself in grief; Dionysus placed the father and daughter in the stars as Boötes and Virgo respectively. In the Middle Ages, Virgo was sometimes associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Her attributes include a blue mantle, a white veil, immaculate heart, a crown of 12 stars, pregnant woman, a halo with 12 stars, roses, woman with child etc. A large number of titles to honour Mary or ask for her intercession are used by Roman Catholics. While Mater Dei (i.e. “Mother of God” as confirmed by the First Council of Ephesus, 431) is common in Latin, a large number of other titles have been used by Roman Catholics – far more than any other Christians.

Titles used to refer to the Virgin Mary throughout history, at times reflect the changing attitudes towards her. Domina (lady), Regina (queen) and Stella Maris (star of the sea) are some of the early titles of Mary, of which Regina is the earliest.

Domina and Sella Maris are found in Jerome who perhaps originated the etymology of Mary as Stella Maris in the 5th century. While the early emphasis in Stella Maris was on Mary as the Star that bore Christ, by the 9th century, the attention had focused on Mary herself, as indicated in the hymn Ave Maris Stella.

By the 11th century, Mary herself had emerged as the star that acted as a guiding light. By the 13th century, as Mariology was growing, Saint Anthony of Padua had composed Mary Our Queen. Titles continue to be interpreted, e.g. Queen of Heaven was further elaborated in 1954 in the papal encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam by pope Pius XII.

Belief in the incarnation of God the Son through Mary is the basis for calling her the Mother of God. This expression is found in prayers such as the Sub tuum praesidium dated from the third or no later than the fourth century, and was declared a dogma at the Council of Ephesus in 431. At the Second Vatican Council and in Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Redemptoris Mater, she is spoken of also as Mother of the Church.

God the Son is the second person of the Trinity in Christian theology. The doctrine of the Trinity identifies Jesus as God the Son, united in essence but distinct in person with regard to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit (the first and third persons of the Trinity).

In these teachings, God the Son pre-existed before incarnation, is co-eternal with God the Father (and the Holy Spirit), both before Creation and after the End. Son of God for some draws attention to his humanity, whereas God the Son refers more generally to his divinity, including his pre-incarnate existence.

The bright Spica makes it easy to locate Virgo, as it can be found by following the curve of the Big Dipper/Plough to Arcturus in Boötes and continuing from there in the same curve (“follow the arc to Arcturus and speed on to Spica”).

Due to the effects of precession, the First Point of Libra, (also known as the autumn equinox point) lies within the boundaries of Virgo very close to β Virginis. This is one of the two points in the sky where the celestial equator crosses the ecliptic (the other being the First Point of Aries, now in the constellation of Pisces). This point will pass into the neighbouring constellation of Leo around the year 2440.

As of 2002, the Sun appears in the constellation Virgo from September 17 to October 30. In tropical astrology, the Sun is considered to be in the sign Virgo from August 23 to September 22, and in sidereal astrology, from September 16 to October 15.

Astraea, the celestial virgin, was the last of the immortals to live with humans during the Golden Age, one of the old Greek religion’s five deteriorating Ages of Man. According to Ovid, Astraea abandoned the earth during the Iron Age.

Fleeing from the new wickedness of humanity, she ascended to heaven to become the constellation Virgo. The nearby constellation Libra reflected her symbolic association with Dike, who in Latin culture as Justitia is said to preside over the constellation.

According to legend, Astraea will one day come back to Earth, bringing with her the return of the utopian Golden Age of which she was the ambassador. Astraea’s hoped-for return was referred to in a phrase from Virgil’s Eclogue IV: “Iam redit et virgo, redeunt Saturnia Regna” (Astraea returns, returns old Saturn’s reign).

An omphalos (ὀμφαλός) is a religious stone artifact, or baetylus. In Greek, the word omphalos means “navel”. In Greek lore, Zeus sent two eagles across the world to meet at its center, the “navel” of the world. Omphalos stones marking the centre were erected in several places about the Mediterranean Sea; the most famous of those was at Delphi.

In the ancient world of the Mediterranean, it was a powerful religious symbol. Omphalos Syndrome refers to the misguided belief that a place of geopolitical power and currency is the most important place in the world.

The omphalos was not only an object of Hellenic religious symbolism and world centrality; it was also considered an object of power. Its symbolic references included the uterus, the phallus, and a cup of red wine representing royal blood lines.

Omphalos is also the name of the stone given to Cronus, the leader and youngest of the first generation of Titans, the divine descendants of Uranus, the sky, and Gaia, the earth. He overthrew his father and ruled during the mythological Golden Age, until he was overthrown by his own son Zeus and imprisoned in Tartarus.

Cronus was usually depicted with a harpe, scythe or a sickle, which was the instrument he used to castrate and depose Uranus, his father. In Athens, on the twelfth day of the Attic month of Hekatombaion, a festival called Kronia was held in honour of Cronus to celebrate the harvest, suggesting that, as a result of his association with the virtuous Golden Age, Cronus continued to preside as a patron of harvest. Cronus was also identified in classical antiquity with the Roman deity Saturn.

Enlil is associated with the ancient city of Nippur, sometimes referred to as the cult city of Enlil. His temple was named Ekur, “House of the Mountain.” Such was the sanctity acquired by this edifice that Babylonian and Assyrian rulers, down to the latest days, vied with one another to embellish and restore Enlil’s seat of worship. Eventually, the name Ekur became the designation of a temple in general.

Grouped around the main sanctuary, there arose temples and chapels to the gods and goddesses who formed his court, so that Ekur became the name for an entire sacred precinct in the city of Nippur. The name “mountain house” suggests a lofty structure and was perhaps the designation originally of the staged tower at Nippur, built in imitation of a mountain, with the sacred shrine of the god on the top.

Enlil was also known as the god of weather. According to the Sumerians, Enlil requested the creation of a slave race, but then got tired of their noise and tried to kill them by sending a flood. A mortal known as Utnapishtim survived the flood through the help of another god, Ea, and he was made immortal by Enlil after Enlil’s initial fury had subsided.

As Enlil was the only god who could reach An, the god of heaven, he held sway over the other gods who were assigned tasks by his agent and would travel to Nippur to draw in his power. He is thus seen as the model for kingship.[9] Enlil was assimilated to the north “Pole of the Ecliptic”. His sacred number name was 50.

At a very early period prior to 3000 BC, Nippur had become the centre of a political district of considerable extent. Inscriptions found at Nippur, where extensive excavations were carried on during 1888–1900 by John P. Peters and John Henry Haynes, under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, show that Enlil was the head of an extensive pantheon. Among the titles accorded to him are “king of lands”, “king of heaven and earth”, and “father of the gods”.

Ekur (É.KUR, E.KUR, E-kur) is a Sumerian term meaning “mountain house”. It is the assembly of the gods in the Garden of the gods, parallel in Greek mythology to Mount Olympus and was the most revered and sacred building of ancient Sumer.

The Ekur was seen as a place of judgement and the place from which Enlil’s divine laws are issued. The ethics and moral values of the site are extolled in myths, which Samuel Noah Kramer suggested would have made it the most ethically-oriented in the entire ancient Near East.

Its rituals are also described as: “banquets and feasts are celebrated from sunrise to sunset” with “festivals, overflowing with milk and cream, are alluring of plan and full of rejoicing”. The priests of the Ekur festivities are described with en being the high priest, lagar as his associate, mues the leader of incantations and prayers, and guda the priest responsible for decoration. Sacrifices and food offerings were brought by the king, described as “faithful shepherd” or “noble farmer”.

A hymn to Urninurta mentions the prominence of a tree in the courtyard of the Ekur, reminiscent of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden: “O, chosen cedar, adornment of the yard of Ekur, Urinurta, for thy shadow the country may feel awe!”. This is suggested by G. Windgren to reflect the concept of the tree as a mythical and ritual symbol of both king and god.

The destruction and fall of these various structures is remembered in various city laments, destroyed either in a great storm, flood or by variously Elamites, Subarians, Gutians and some other, as yet unidentified “Su-people”.

It was also recorded that the terrible acts of final destruction of the Ekur and its divine laws was committed by Sargon the Great against his own people in approximately 2300 BC. The Curse of Agade describes the same thing happening at the hands of Naram-Sin “Enlil, because his beloved Ekur had been attacked, what destruction he wrought”.

The foundations are broken with large axes and it’s watercourses are disabled, the “gate of peace” is demolished and wars start all over the land, statues are burnt and wealth carried off. There is a body of evidence showing that Naram-Sin instead rebuilt the Ekur, likely in a single building project that continued into the reign of his son Shar-Kali-Sharri, suggesting it was destroyed during Gutian raids. It was noted that statues of the Sargonic kings were still honoured there during the Ur III period.

Restorations of the Ekur were later carried out by Ur-Nammu around 2050 BC and Ishme-Dagan around 1950 BC, who made it fragrant again with incense “like a fragrant cedar forest”. Evidence was also found of further building work under the reign of Agum Kakrime. Another restoration at Nippur was carried out by Assyrian and Babylonian king Esarhaddon between 681 and 669 BC.

In the Hymn to Enlil, the Ekur is closely linked to Enlil whilst in Enlil and Ninlil it is the abode of the Annanuki, from where Enlil is banished. The fall of Ekur is described in the Lament for Ur. In mythology, the Ekur was the centre of the earth and location where heaven and earth were united. It is also known as Duranki and one of its structures is known as the Kiur (“great place”).

Göbekli Tepe (“Potbelly Hill”), which is a direct translation of Armenian “Portasar” which means “Mountain Navel”, is an archaeological site at the top of a mountain ridge in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey, approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa. The tell has a height of 15 m (49 ft) and is about 300 m (984 ft) in diameter.

When ancient Armenians built Portasar about 12,000 years ago there was already some kind of level of sophisticated organization which was surely required to accomplish such a massive undertaken for its time period.

The tell includes two phases of ritual use dating back to the 10th-8th millennium BCE. During the first phase, pre-pottery Neolithic A (PPNA), circles of massive T-shaped stone pillars were erected. More than 200 pillars in about 20 circles are currently known through geophysical surveys. Each pillar has a height of up to 6 m (20 ft) and a weight of up to 20 tons. They are fitted into sockets that were hewn out of the bedrock.

In the second phase, pre-pottery Neolithic B (PPNB), the erected pillars are smaller and stood in rectangular rooms with floors of polished lime. Topographic scans have revealed that other structures next to the hill, awaiting excavation, probably date to 14-15 thousand years ago, the dates of which potentially extend backwards in time to the concluding millennia of the Pleistocene.

The site was abandoned after the PPNB-period. Younger structures date to classical times. But the complex was not simply abandoned and forgotten to be gradually destroyed by the elements. Instead, each enclosure was deliberately buried under as much as 300 to 500 cubic meters (390 to 650 cu yd) of refuse consisting mainly of small limestone fragments, stone vessels, and stone tools.

The site was deliberately backfilled sometime after 8000 BCE: the buildings were buried under debris, mostly flint gravel, stone tools, and animal bones that must have been imported from elsewhere. Many animal, even human, bones have also been identified in the fill. Why the enclosures were buried is unknown, but it preserved them for posterity.

It was excavated by a German archaeological team under the direction of Klaus Schmidt from 1996 until his death in 2014. Schmidt engaged in some speculation regarding the belief systems of the groups that created Göbekli Tepe, based on comparisons with other shrines and settlements. He assumed shamanic practices and suggested that the T-shaped pillars represent human forms, perhaps ancestors, whereas he saw a fully articulated belief in gods only developing later in Mesopotamia, associated with extensive temples and palaces.

This corresponds well with an ancient Sumerian belief that agriculture, animal husbandry, and weaving were brought to mankind from the sacred mountain Ekur, which was inhabited by Annuna deities, very ancient gods without individual names. Schmidt identified this story as a primeval oriental myth that preserves a partial memory of the emerging Neolithic.

It is also apparent that the animal and other images give no indication of organized violence, i.e. there are no depictions of hunting raids or wounded animals, and the pillar carvings mainly ignore game on which the society mainly subsisted, like deer, in favor of formidable creatures like lions, snakes, spiders, and scorpions. These are constellations.

The pictograms may represent commonly understood sacred symbols, as known from Neolithic cave paintings elsewhere. The reliefs depict mammals such as lions, bulls, boars, foxes, gazelles and donkeys; snakes and other reptiles, arthropods such as insects and arachnids; and birds, particularly vultures.

This title Ar, Ari, Arya, or Aryan appears to have originally designated the Early Aryans as “The Ploghmen” from the Sumerian Ar, Ara, “plough”, which is now disclosed as the source of the Old English ear, “to plough, to ear the ground” and of “ar-able”, etc. The name is connected to the Indo-European root Ar- meaning “assemble/create” which is vastly used in names of or regarding the Sun, light, or fire, found in Ararat, Aryan, Arta etc.

Ensi means dream interpreter (en, enigmatic background+sig, to dwell; to complete), and city ruler (Old Sumerian), city governor (post-Sargonic) (en, lord, manager,+si, plowland,+ genitive; cf., nísañ, governor). They held most political power in Sumerian city states during the Uruk period (c.4100-2900 BCE).

Ensí (spelled PA.TE.SI, in Sumerian cuneiform, hence occasionally transliterated as patesi; possibly derived from <en si-k>, “lord of the plowland”; borrowed into Akkadian as iššakkum) is a Sumerian title designating the ruler or prince of a city state. Originally it may have designated an independent ruler, but in later periods the title presupposed subordinance to a lugal (King/Emperor).

In Old Norse, ǫ́ss (or áss, ás, plural æsir; feminine ásynja, plural ásynjur) is the term denoting a member of the principal pantheon in the indigenous Germanic religion known as Norse religion. This pantheon includes Odin, Frigg, Thor, Baldr and Týr. The second pantheon comprises the Vanir. In Norse mythology, the two pantheons wage the Æsir-Vanir War, which results in a unified pantheon.

The cognate term in Old English is ōs (plural ēse) denoting a deity in Anglo-Saxon paganism. The Old High German is ans, plural ensî. The Gothic language had ans- (based only on Jordanes who glossed anses with uncertain meaning, possibly demi-god and presumably a Latinized form of actual plural *anseis). The reconstructed Proto-Germanic form is *ansuz (plural *ansiwiz). The a-rune ᚫ was named after the æsir.

Unlike the Old English word god (and Old Norse goð), the term ōs (áss) was never adopted into Christian use and survived only in a secularized meaning of “pole, beam, stave, hill” or “yoke”.

Æsir is the plural of áss, óss “god” (gen. āsir) which is attested in other Germanic languages, e.g., Old English ōs (gen. pl. ēsa) and Gothic (as reported by Jordanes) anses “half-gods”.

These all stem from Proto-Germanic *ansis ~ ansuz, which itself comes from Proto-Indo-European *h₂énsus (gen. hn̥sóus) “life force” (cf. Avestan aŋhū “lord; lifetime”, ahura “godhood”, Sanskrit ásu “life force”, ásura “god” (< *hn̥suró)). It is widely accepted that this word is further related to *hens- “to engender” (cf. Hittite hass- “to procreate, give birth”, Tocharian B ās- “to produce”).

Old Norse áss has the genitive áss or ásar, the accusative æsi and ásu. In genitival compounds, it takes the form ása-, e.g. in Ása-Þórr “Thor of the Aesir”, besides ás- found in ás-brú “gods’ bridge” (the rainbow), ás-garðr, ás-kunnigr “gods’ kin”, ás-liðar “gods’ leader”, ás-mogin “gods’ might” (especially of Thor), ás-móðr “divine wrath” etc. Landâs “national god” (patrium numen) is a title of Thor, as is allmáttki ás “almighty god”, while it is Odin who is “the” ás.

The Big Dipper or Plough is an asterism (not a constellation) of seven stars recognized as a distinct grouping in many cultures; six of them are second magnitude stars, while only Megrez (δ) is of third magnitude. The North Star (Polaris), the current northern pole star on Earth, can be located by extending an imaginary line from Merak (β) through Dubhe (α). This makes it useful in celestial navigation.

In both Ireland and the United Kingdom, this pattern is known as the Plough. The symbol of the Starry Plough has been used as a political symbol by Irish Republican and left wing movements. Another former name was the Great Wain (i.e., wagon). In northern England, it is occasionally still known as the Butcher’s Cleaver, and in the northeast, as Charlie’s Wagon. This derives from the earlier Charles’s Wain and Charles his Wain, which derived from the still older Carlswæn.

These stars are the brightest of the formal constellation Ursa Major (also known as the Great Bear and Charles’ Wain), a large circumpolar constellation in the northern celestial hemisphere, said to resemble a bear. Ursa Major includes the familiar asterism the Big Dipper and the stars Mizar, Dubhe, and Alkaid.

Ursa Major is commonly used as a navigational pointer towards the current northern pole star, Polaris in Ursa Minor. The Big Dipper and the constellation as a whole have mythological significance in numerous world cultures, usually as a symbol of the north.

Boötes is a constellation in the northern sky, located between 0° and +60° declination, and 13 and 16 hours of right ascension on the celestial sphere. Exactly whom Boötes is supposed to represent in Greek mythology is not clear. The name comes from the Greek Boōtēs, meaning herdsman or plowman (literally, ox-driver; from bous “cow”).

It contains the fourth brightest star in the night sky, the orange-hued Arcturus (α Boo, α Boötis, Alpha Boötis), the brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere. Boötes is home to many other bright stars, including eight above the fourth magnitude and an additional 21 above the fifth magnitude, making a total of 29 stars easily visible to the naked eye.

As one of the brightest stars in the sky, Arcturus has been significant to observers since antiquity. In Mesopotamia, it was linked to the god Enlil, and also known as Shudun, “yoke”, or SHU-PA of unknown derivation in the Three Stars Each Babylonian star catalogues and later MUL.APIN around 1100 BC.

The name of the star derives from Ancient Greek Arktouros and means “Guardian of the Bear”, ultimately from arktos, “bear” + ouros, “watcher, guardian”. It has been known by this name since at least the time of Hesiod. Together with Spica and Denebola (or Regulus, depending on the source), it is part of the Spring Triangle asterism, and by extension, also of the Great Diamond after factoring in Cor Caroli.

In ancient Babylon the stars of Boötes were known as SHU.PA. They were apparently depicted as the god Enlil, who was the leader of the Babylonian pantheon and special patron of farmers. The name Boötes was first used by Homer in his Odyssey as a celestial reference point for navigation, described as “late-setting” or “slow to set”, translated as the “Plowman”.

Ninshubur (also known as Ninshubar, Nincubura or Ninšubur) was the sukkal or second-in-command of the goddess Inanna in Sumerian mythology. Due to similarities between the two, some believe the later Hermes to have been based in part on Ninshubur.

A goddess in her own right, her name can be translated as ‘Queen of the East’, and she was said to be a messenger and traveller for the other gods. As Inanna was associated with the planet Venus, Ninshubur was said to be associated with Mercury, as Venus and Mercury appear together in the sky.

Ninshubur accompanied Inanna as a vassal and friend throughout Inanna’s many exploits. She helped Inanna fight Enki’s demons after Inanna’s theft of the sacred me. Later, when Inanna became trapped in the Underworld, it was Ninshubur who pleaded with Enki for her mistress’s release.

Though described as an unmarried virgin, in a few accounts Ninshubur is said to be one of Inanna’s lovers. In later Akkadian mythology, Ninshubur was male. In “A hymn to Nergal” Ninshubur appeared as the minister of the underworld.

Shupria (Shubria) or Arme-Shupria (Akkadian: Armani-Subartu from the 3rd millennium BC) was a Proto-Armenian Hurrian-speaking kingdom, known from Assyrian sources beginning in the 13th century BC, located in the Armenian Highland, to the southwest of Lake Van, bordering on Ararat proper. The capital was called Ubbumu. Scholars have linked the district in the area called Arme or Armani, to the name Armenia.

Weidner interpreted textual evidence to indicate that after the Hurrian king Shattuara of Mitanni was defeated by Adad-nirari I of the Middle Assyrian Empire in the early 13th century BC, he then became ruler of a reduced vassal state known as Shubria or Subartu. The name Subartu (Sumerian: Shubur) for the region is attested much earlier, from the time of the earliest Mesopotamian records (mid 3rd millennium BC).

Together with Armani-Subartu (Hurri-Mitanni), Hayasa-Azzi and other populations of the region such as the Nairi fell under Urartian (Kingdom of Ararat) rule in the 9th century BC, and their descendants, according to most scholars, later contributed to the ethnogenesis of the Armenians.

Exactly whom Boötes is supposed to represent in Greek mythology is not clear. According to one version, he was a son of Demeter, Philomenus, twin brother of Plutus, a ploughman who drove the oxen in the constellation Ursa Major. This is corroborated by the constellation’s name, which itself means “ox-driver” or “herdsman.”

The ancient Greeks saw the asterism now called the “Big Dipper” or “Plough” as a cart with oxen. This influenced the name’s etymology, derived from the Greek for “noisy” or “ox-driver”. Another myth associated with Boötes tells that he invented the plow and was memorialized for his ingenuity as a constellation.

Another myth associated with Boötes by Hyginus is that of Icarius, who was schooled as a grape farmer and winemaker by Dionysus. Icarius made wine so strong that those who drank it appeared poisoned, which caused shepherds to avenge their supposedly poisoned friends by killing Icarius.

Maera, Icarius’s dog, brought his daughter Erigone to her father’s body, whereupon both she and the dog committed suicide. Zeus then chose to honor all three by placing them in the sky as constellations: Icarius as Boötes, Erigone as Virgo, and Maera as Canis Major or Canis Minor.

Following another reading, the constellation is identified with Arcas and also referred to as Arcas and Arcturus, son of Zeus and Callisto. Arcas was brought up by his maternal grandfather Lycaon, to whom one day Zeus went and had a meal.

To verify that the guest was really the king of the gods, Lycaon killed his grandson and prepared a meal made from his flesh. Zeus noticed and became very angry, transforming Lycaon into a wolf and gave back life to his son. In the meantime Callisto had been transformed into a she-bear, by Zeus’s wife, Hera, who was angry at Zeus’s infidelity.

This is corroborated by the Greek name for Boötes, Arctophylax, which means “Bear Watcher”. Callisto in form of a bear was almost killed by her son who was out hunting. Zeus rescued her, taking her into the sky where she became Ursa Major, “the Great Bear”. The name Arcturus (the constellation’s brightest star) comes from the Greek word meaning “guardian of the bear”. Sometimes Arcturus is depicted as leading the hunting dogs of nearby Canes Venatici and driving the bears of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

Triangulum is a small constellation in the northern sky. Its name is Latin for “triangle”, derived from its three brightest stars, which form a long and narrow triangle. In the Babylonian star catalogues, Triangulum, together with Gamma Andromedae, formed the constellation known as MULAPIN, “The Plough”.

It is notable as the first constellation presented on (and giving its name to) a pair of tablets containing canonical star lists that were compiled around 1000 BC, the MUL.APIN. The Plough was the first constellation of the “Way of Enlil”—that is, the northernmost quarter of the Sun’s path, which corresponds to the 45 days on either side of summer solstice. Its first appearance in the pre-dawn sky (heliacal rising) in February marked the time to begin Spring ploughing in Mesopotamia.

The Ancient Greeks called Triangulum Deltoton (Δελτωτόν), as the constellation resembled an upper-case Greek letter delta (Δ). It was transliterated by Roman writers, then later Latinised as Deltotum. Greek astronomers such as Hipparchos and Ptolemy called it Trigonon (Τρίγωνον), and later, it was Romanized as Trigonum. Other names referring to its shape include Tricuspis and Triquetrum. Alpha and Beta Trianguli were called Al Mīzān, which is Arabic for “The Scale Beam”.

Eratosthenes linked it with the Nile Delta, while the Roman writer Hyginus associated it with the triangular island of Sicily, formerly known as Trinacria due to its shape. It was also called Sicilia, because the Romans believed Ceres, patron goddess of Sicily, begged Jupiter to place the island in the heavens.

In Chinese astronomy, Gamma Andromedae and neighbouring stars including Beta, Gamma and Delta Trianguli were called Teen Ta Tseang Keun (“Heaven’s great general”), representing honour in astrology and a great general in mythology.

A small constellation, Triangulum is bordered by Andromeda to the north and west, Pisces to the west and south, Aries to the south, and Perseus to the east. The centre of the constellation lies half way between Gamma Andromedae and Alpha Arietis.

Let the show begin!

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