Proem to Aratus

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1 Introduction


2 Translation

Proem to Aratus’ Phaenomena.

(1) One must point out the phenomena from the South, facing the Bears (Ursa Major & Minor = North), with the risings (=East) to the right, and the settings (=West) to the left.

And the natural arrangement of the sphere of the cosmos is such that it has Cancer in midheaven over the tropic of summer, the Claws (of Scorpio, i.e., Libra) in the ascendant over the equator, Aries in the descendant, and the head of Draco towards the horizon; but it is encompassed by the horizon.

(2) About the arrangement of the phenomena.

The arrangement according to the exposition of Aratus’ Phaenomena is such that it has Capricorn in midheaven over the tropic of winter, Aries in the ascendant over the equator, the Claws in the descendant, and the head of Draco is high relative to the horizon, where “risings and settings mix with each other” (Aratus, Phaenomena 62).

And there are two poles, the Arctic, entirely aloft, which we also call the northerly; and the Antarctic, in the unseen (part of the sky), which we also call the southerly.

(3) About the cycles.

There are four great circles, not including the horizon, because it has already been said(?) that there are the meridian, the equinoctial, the zodiacal and the milky way, and four smallest ones(?), (and?) the Arctic, entirely aloft, in which four constellations are marked out (katēstēriktai zōidia): the two Bears (arktoi, i.e., Ursa Major & Minor), Cepheus, and the chest of Draco.

The tropic of summer is mostly above the Earth, to a lesser extent below the Earth, on which 8 constellations have been marked out: Boötes, Corona Borealis (stephanos, ‘garland’), Hercules (Engounasi, ‘on his knees’), Lyra, Cassiopeia, Auriga (hēniokhos, ‘charioteer’), Cygnus (ornis, ‘bird’), and Perseus.

The tropic of winter is mostly below the Earth, but to a lesser extent above the Earth, and 6 constellations are drawn on it: Eridanus, Argo, Centaurus, and within it Lupus (thērion, ‘beast’), Ara (thymatērion, ‘altar’), and the unseen great Piscis Austrinus (ikhthys notios, ‘southern fish’).

The equinoctial circle is equally above and below the Earth, and 12* constellations are drawn on it: Pegasus (hippos, ‘horse’), Ophiuchus (‘snake-handler’), and within it Serpens (ophis, ‘serpent’), Hydrus (‘water snake’), within which they draw Crater (‘mixing-bowl’), Corvus (korax, ‘raven’), Procyon (‘before the dog’), Aquila (aetos, ‘eagle’), Delphinus (delphis, ‘dolphin’), Orion, Sagitta (oïstos, ‘arrow’), Triangulum (deltōton, ‘delta-shaped’), Andromeda, Lepus (lagōos, ‘hare’), Cetus and Canis Major (kyōn, ‘dog’).

*The text as it now stands actually has 16.

So, all the constellations are 30 in number, not including the notable stars marked out within these, such as these 8: Arcturus within Boötes, Capella (aix, ‘goat’) and Haedi (eriphoi, ‘kids’) within Auriga, the Pleiades and Hyades within Taurus, Spica (stakhys, ‘ear of grain’) and Vindemiatrix (protrygētēr, ‘harbinger of the vintage’) within Virgo, Sirius within Canis Major, and any others there may be like them.

The zodiacal circle contains 12 constellations (zōidia): Cancer, Leo, Virgo, the Claws (Khēlai), i.e., Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini.

So, in all, there are 42 constellations.

The wandering stars (planētes asteres), not including Sun and Moon, are 5: Kronos, Zeus, Ares, Aphrodite, and Hermes.

[Work in Progress]