The zodiacal Virgo is held to represent the Assyrian Venus, Ishtar, the ruling divinity of the sixth month, and Sagittarius the archer-god Nergal, to whom the ninth month was dedicated.
The earlier Greek writers - Eudoxus, Eratosthenes, Hipparchus - knew of only eleven zodiacal symbols, but made one do double duty, extending the Scorpion across the seventh and eighth divisions.
3 No representation of the seventh sign has yet been discovered on any Euphratean monument; but it is noticeable that the eighth is frequently doubled,4 and it is difficult to avoid seeing in the pair of zodiacal scorpions carved on Assyrian cylinders the prototype of the Greek scorpion and claws.
The struggle of rival systems of nomenclature, from which our zodiacal series resulted, is plainly visible in their alternations; and the claims of the competing signs were long sought to be conciliated by representing the Balance as held between the claws of the €corpion.
It was represented in zodiacal symbolism by the god Ramman, crowned with a tiara and pouring water from a vase, or more generally by the vase and water without the god.
- The cyclical meaning of the succession of zodiacal signs, though now obscured by interpolations and substitutions, was probably once clear and entire.
The eleventh tablet narrates the deluge; the twelfth associates the apotheosis of Eabani with the zodiacal emblems of the resurrection.
The native Chinese zodiacal system was of unexampled complexity.
The Hare (or Rabbit), Monkey, Dog and Serpent reappeared without change; for the Tiger, Crocodile and Hen, unknown in America, the Ocelot, Lizard and Eagle were substituted as analogous.6 The Aztec calendar dated from the 7th century; but the zodiacal tradition embodied by it was doubtless much more ancient.
They exhibit in an exaggerated form the irregularities of distribution visible in our zodiacal constellations, and present the further anomaly of being frequently reckoned as twenty-eight in number, while the ecliptical arcs they characterize are invariably twenty-seven.
The arrangement would have been correct about 2300 B.C.; it would scarcely have been possible after 1800 B.C. 3 We find nowhere else a well-authenticated zodiacal sequence corresponding to so early a date.
The correspondence does not, however, extend to the stars; and some coincidences adverted to by Humboldt between the nakshatras and the zodiacal animals of Central Asia are of the same nominal character.
The Hindu zodiacal constellations belong then to an earlier epoch than the Chinese " stations," such as they have been transmitted to our acquaintance.
Euphratean exploration has so far brought to light no traces of ecliptical partition by the moon's diurnal motion, unless, indeed, zodiacal associations be claimed for a set of twenty-eight deprecatory formulae against evil spirits inscribed on a Ninevite tablet.4 The safest general conclusions regarding this disputed subject appear to be that the sieu, distinctively and unvaryingly Chinese, cannot properly be described as divisions of a lunar zodiac, that the nakshatras, though of purely Indian origin, became modified by the successive adoption of Greek and Chinese rectifications and supposed improvements; while the manazil constituted a frankly eclectic system, in which elements from all quarters were combined.
7 The " power of the signs " was similarly distributed among the parts of the human body: Et quanquam communis eat tutela per omne Corpus, et in proprium divisis artubus exit: Namque aries capiti, taurus cervicibus haeret; Brachia sub geminis censentur, pectora cancro.8 Warnings were uttered against surgical treatment of a member through whose sign the moon happened to be passing; 9 and zodiacal anatomy was an indispensable branch of the healing art in the Middle Ages.
10 Individuals, too, adopted zodiacal emblems. Capricornus was impressed upon the coins of Augustus, Libra on those ' of Pythodoris, queen of Pontus; a sultan of Iconium displayed Leo as his " horoscope " and mark of sovereignty; Stephen of England chose the protection of Sagittarius.
They were called the " media of the whole circle of the zodiac "; 11 each ten-day period of the Egyptian year was consecrated to the decanal god whose section of the ecliptic rose at its commencement; the body was correspondingly apportioned, and disease was cured by invoking the zodiacal regent of the part affected.
Probably the most ancient zodiacal representation in existence is a fragment of a Chaldaean planisphere in the British Museum, once inscribed with the names of the twelve months and their governing signs.
A zodiac on the " astrological altar of Gabies " in the Louvre illustrates the apportionment of the signs among the inmates of the Roman Pantheon; 3 and they occur as a classical reminiscence in the mosaic pavements of San Miniato and the baptistery at Florence the cathedral of Lyons, and the crypt of San Savino at Piacenza.4 Zodiacal symbolism became conspicuous in medieval art.
In the zodiac of Merton College, Oxford, Libra is represented by a judge in his robes and Pisces by the dolphin of Fitzjames, warden of the college, 1482-1507.6 The great rose-windows of the Early Gothic period were frequently painted with zodiacal emblems; and some frescoes in the cathedral of Cologne contain the signs, each with an attendant angel, just as they were depicted on the vault of the church at Mount Athos.
Zodiacal Light >>
He calculated an orbit for the comet of 1 759 (Halley's), reduced Lacaille's observations of 515 zodiacal stars, and was, in 1763, elected a member of the Academy of Sciences.
(See ZODIACAL LIGHT.)
He was the first, in 1867, to examine the spectrum of the aurora borealis, and detected and measured the characteristic bright line in its yellow green region; but he was mistaken in supposing that this same line, which is often called by his name, is also to be seen in the zodiacal light.
It contains an easy and accurate method for calculating eclipses; an essay on colour, in which three primary colours are recognized; a catalogue of 998 zodiacal stars; and a memoir, the earliest of any real value, on the proper motion of eighty stars, originally communicated to the Gottingen Royal Society in 1760.
The zodiacal signs were not introduced till the Ptolemaic period.
Finally there is the envelope of still vaster extent and of unknown constitution which gives the zodiacal light; its greatest extent is along the ecliptic, but it can also be certainly traced for 35° in a perpendicular direction.