Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Appearance of Good Angels in the New Testament


The books of the New Testament are in the same manner full of facts which prove the apparition of good angels. The angel Gabriel appeared to Zachariah the father of John the Baptist, and predicted to him the future birth of the Forerunner.[22] The Jews, who saw Zachariah come out of the temple, after having remained within it a longer time than usual, having remarked that he was struck dumb, had no doubt but that he had seen some apparition of an angel. The same Gabriel announced to Mary the future birth of the Messiah.[23] When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds in the night,[24] and declared to them that the Saviour of the world was born at Bethlehem. There is every reason to believe that the star which appeared to the Magi in the East, and which led them straight to Jerusalem, and thence to Bethlehem, was directed by a good angel.[25] St. Joseph was warned by a celestial spirit to retire into Egypt, with the mother and the infant Christ, for fear that Jesus should fall into the hands of Herod, and be involved in the massacre of the Innocents. The same angel informed Joseph of the death of King Herod, and told him to return to the land of Israel.
After the temptation of Jesus Christ in the wilderness, angels came and brought him food.[26] The demon tempter said to Jesus Christ that God had commanded his angels to lead him, and to prevent him from stumbling against a stone; which is taken from the 92d Psalm, and proves the belief of the Jews on the article of guardian angels. The Saviour confirms the same truth when he says that the angels of children constantly behold the face of the celestial Father.[27] At the last judgment, the good angels will separate the just,[28] and lead them to the kingdom of heaven, while they will precipitate the wicked into eternal fire.
At the agony of Jesus Christ in the garden of Olives, an angel descended from heaven to console him.[29] After his resurrection, angels appeared to the holy women who had come to his tomb to embalm him.[30] In the Acts of the Apostles, they appeared to the apostles as soon as Jesus had ascended into heaven; and the angel of the Lord came and opened the doors of the prison where the apostles were confined, and set them at liberty.[31] In the same book, St. Stephen tells us that the law was given to Moses by the ministration of angels;[32] consequently, those were angels who appeared on Sinai and Horeb, and who spoke to him in the name of God, as his ambassadors, and as invested with his authority; also, the same Moses, speaking of the angel of the Lord, who was to introduce Israel into the Promised Land, says that "the name of God is in him."[33] St. Peter, being in prison, is delivered from thence by an angel,[34] who conducted him the length of a street, and disappeared. St. Peter, knocking at the door of the house in which his brethren were, they could not believe that it was he; they thought that it was his angel who knocked and spoke. St. Paul, instructed in the school of the Pharisees, thought as they did on the subject of angels; he believed in their existence, in opposition to the Sadducees,[35] and supposed that they could appear. When this apostle, having been arrested by the Romans, related to the people how he had been overthrown at Damascus, the Pharisees, who were present, replied to those who exclaimed against him—"How do we know, an angel or a spirit hath not spoken to him?" St. Luke says that a Macedonian (apparently the angel of Macedonia) appeared to St. Paul, and begged him to come and announce the Gospel in that country.
St. John, in the Apocalypse, speaks of the seven angels who presided over the churches in Asia. I know that these seven angels are the bishops of these churches, but the ecclesiastical tradition will have it that every church has its tutelary angel. In the same book, the Apocalypse, are related divers appearances of angels. All Christian antiquity has recognized them; the synagogue also has recognized them; so that it may be affirmed that nothing is more certain than the existence of good angels and their apparitions.
I place in the number of apparitions, not only those of good or bad angels, and the spirits of the dead who show themselves to the living, but also those of the living who show themselves to the angels or souls of the dead; whether these apparitions are seen in dreams, or during sleep, or awaking; whether they manifest themselves to all those who are present, or only to the persons to whom God judges proper to manifest them. For instance, in the

,[36] St. John saw the four animals, and the four-and-twenty elders, who were clothed in white garments and wore crowns of gold upon their heads, and were seated on thrones around that of the Almighty, who prostrated themselves before the throne of the Eternal, and cast their crowns at his feet.
And, elsewhere: "I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the world,[37] who held back the four winds and prevented them from blowing on the earth; then I saw another angel, who rose on the side of the east, and who cried out to the four angels who had orders to hurt the earth, Do no harm to the earth, or the sea, or the trees, until we have impressed a sign on the foreheads of the servants of God. And I heard that the number of those who received this sign (or mark) was a hundred and forty-four thousand. Afterwards I saw an innumerable multitude of all nations, tribes, people, and languages, standing before the throne of the Most High, arrayed in white garments, and having palms in their hands."
And in the same book[38] St. John says, after having described the majesty of the throne of God, and the adoration paid to him by the angels and saints prostrate before him, one of the elders said to him,—"Those whom you see covered with white robes, are those who have suffered great trials and afflictions, and have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb; for which reason they stand before the throne of God, and will do so night and day in his temple; and He who is seated on the throne will reign over them, and the angel which is in the midst of the throne will conduct them to the fountains of living water." And, again,[39] "I saw under the altar of God the souls of those who have been put to death for defending the Word of God, and for the testimony which they have rendered; they cried with a loud voice, saying, When, O Lord, wilt thou not avenge our blood upon those who are on the earth?" &c.
All these apparitions, and several others similar to them, which might be related as being derived from the holy books as well as from authentic histories, are true apparitions, although neither the angels nor the martyrs spoken of in the Apocalypse came and presented themselves to St. John; but, on the contrary, this apostle was transported in spirit to heaven, to see there what we have just related. These are apparitions which may be called passive on the part of the angels and holy martyrs, and active on the part of the holy apostle who saw them.

[22] Luke i. 10-12, &c.
[23] Luke i. 26, 27, &c.
[24] Luke ii. 9, 10.
[25] Matt. ii. 13, 14, 20.
[26] Matt. iv. 6, 11.
[27] Matt. xviii. 16.
[28] Matt. xiii. 45, 46.
[29] Luke xxii. 43.
[30] Matt. xxviii. John.
[31] Acts v. 19.
[32] Acts vii. 30, 35.
[33] Exod. xxiii. 21.
[34] Acts xii. 8, 9.
[35] Rom. i. 18. 1 Cor. iv. 9; vi. 3; xii. 7. Gal. iii. 19. Acts xvi. 9; xxiii. 9. Rev. i. 11.
[36] Rev. iv. 4, 10.
[37] Rev. vii. 1-3, 9, &c.
[38] Rev. vii. 13, 14.
[39] Rev. vi. 9, 10.

Good Angels in the Old Testament


The apparitions or appearances of good angels are frequently mentioned in the books of the Old Testament. He who was stationed at the entrance of the terrestrial Paradise[3] was a cherub, armed with a flaming sword; those who appeared to Abraham, and who promised that he should have a son;[4] those who appeared to Lot, and predicted to him the ruin of Sodom, and other guilty cities;[5] he who spoke to Hagar in the desert,[6] and commanded her to return to the dwelling of Abraham, and to remain submissive to Sarah, her mistress; those who appeared to Jacob, on his journey into Mesopotamia, ascending and descending the mysterious ladder;[7] he who taught him how to cause his sheep to bring forth young differently marked;[8] he who wrestled with Jacob on his return from Mesopotamia,[9]—were angels of light, and benevolent ones; the same as he who spoke with Moses from the burning bush on Horeb,[10] and who gave him the tables of the law on Mount Sinai. That Angel who takes generally the name of God, and acts in his name, and with his authority;[11] who served as a guide to the Hebrews in the desert, hidden during the day in a dark cloud, and shining during the night; he who spoke to Balaam, and threatened to kill his she-ass;[12] he, lastly, who contended with Satan for the body of Moses;[13]—all these angels were without doubt good angels.
We must think the same of him who presented himself armed to Joshua on the plain of Jericho,[14] and who declared himself head of the army of the Lord; it is believed, with reason, that it was the angel Michael. He who showed himself to the wife of Manoah,[15] the father of Samson, and afterwards to Manoah himself. He who announced to Gideon that he should deliver Israel from the power of the Midianites.[16] The angel Gabriel, who appeared to Daniel, at Babylon;[17] and Raphael who conducted the young Tobias to Rages, in Media.[18]
The prophecy of the Prophet Zechariah is full of visions of angels.[19] In the books of the Old Testament the throne of the Lord is described as resting on cherubim; and the God of Israel is represented as having before his throne[20] seven principal angels, always ready to execute his orders, and four cherubim singing his praises, and adoring his sovereign holiness; the whole making a sort of allusion to what they saw in the court of the ancient Persian kings,[21] where there were seven principal officers who saw his face, approached his person, and were called the eyes and ears of the king.

[3] Gen. iii. 24.
[4] Gen. xviii. 1-3.
[5] Gen. xix.
[6] Gen. xxi. 17.
[7] Gen. xxviii. 12.
[8] Gen. xxxi. 10, 11.
[9] Gen. xxxii.
[10] Exod. iii. 6, 7.
[11] Exod. iii. iv.
[12] Numb. xxii. xxiii.
[13] Jude 9.
[14] Josh. v. 13.
[15] Judges xiii.
[16] Judges vi. vii.
[17] Dan. viii. 16; ix. 21.
[18] Tobit v.
[19] Zech. v. 9, 10, 11, &c.
[20] Psalm xvii. 10; lxxix. 2, &c.
[21] Tobit xii. Zech. iv. 10. Rev. i. 4.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Punishment of the Fallen Angels and the Giant Race


  Grown to manhood, Noah followed in the ways of his grandfather Methuselah, while all other men of the time rose up against this pious king. So far from observing his precepts, they pursued the evil inclination of their hearts, and perpetrated all sorts of abominable deedsChiefly the fallen angels and their giant posterity caused the depravity of mankind. The blood spilled by the giants cried unto heaven from the ground, and the four archangels accused the fallen angels and their sons before God, whereupon He gave the following orders to them: Uriel was sent to Noah to announce to him that the earth would be destroyed by a flood, and to teach him how to save his own life. Raphael was told to put the fallen angel Azazel into chains, cast him into a pit of sharp and pointed stones in the desert Dudael, and cover him with darkness, and so was he to remain until the great day of judgment, when he would be thrown into the fiery pit of hell, and the earth would be healed of the corruption he had contrived upon it. Gabriel was charged to proceed against the bastards and the reprobates, the sons of the angels begotten with the daughters of men, and plunge them into deadly conflicts with one another. Shemhazai's ilk were handed over to Michael, who first caused them to witness the death of their children in their bloody combat with each other, and then he bound them and pinned them under the hills of the earth, where they will remain for seventy generations, until the day of judgment, to be carried thence to the fiery pit of hell.
   Shemhazai and Azazel, however, were not deterred from entering into alliances with the daughters of men, and to the first two sons were born. Azazel began to devise the finery and the ornaments by means of which women allure men. Thereupon God sent Metatron to tell Shemhazai that He had resolved to destroy the world and bring on a deluge. The fallen angel began to weep and grieve over the fate of the world and the fate of his two sons. If the world went under, what would they have to eat, they who needed daily a thousand camels, a thousand horses, and a thousand steers?
   These two sons of Shemhazai, Hiwwa and Hiyya by name, dreamed dreams. The one saw a great stone which covered the earth, and the earth was marked all over with lines upon lines of writing. An angel came, and with a knife obliterated all the lines, leaving but four letters upon the stone. The other son saw a large pleasure grove planted with all sorts of trees. But angels approached bearing axes, and they felled the trees, sparing a single one with three of its branches.
   When Hiwwa and Hiyya awoke, they repaired to their father, who interpreted the dreams for them, saying, "God will bring a deluge, and none will escape with his life, excepting only Noah and his sons." When they heard this, the two began to cry and scream, but their father consoled them: "Soft, soft! Do not grieve. As often as men cut or haul stones, or launch vessels, they shall invoke your names, Hiwwa! Hiyya!" This prophecy soothed them.
   Shemhazai then did penance. He suspended himself between heaven and earth, and in this position of a penitent sinner he hangs to this day. But Azazel persisted obdurately in his sin of leading mankind astray by means of sensual allurements. For this reason two he-goats were sacrificed in the Temple on the Day of Atonement, the one for God, that He pardon the sins of Israel, the other for Azazel, that he bear the sins of Israel.
    Unlike Istehar, the pious maiden, Naamah, the lovely sister of Tubal-Cain, led the angels astray with her beauty, and from her union with Shamdon sprang the devil Asmodeus. She was as shameless as all the other descendants of Cain, and as prone to bestial indulgences. Cainite women and Cainite men alike were in the habit of walking abroad naked, and they gave themselves up to every conceivable manner of lewd practices. Of such were the women whose beauty and sensual charms tempted the angels from the path of virtue. The angels, on the other hand, no sooner had they rebelled against God and descended to earth than they lost their transcendental qualities, and were invested with sublunary bodies, so that a union with the daughters of men became possible. The offspring of these alliances between the angels and the Cainite women were the giants,  known for their strength and their sinfulness; as their very name, the Emim, indicates, they inspired fear. They have many other names. Sometimes they go by the name Rephaim, because one glance at them made one's heart grow weak; or by the name Gibborim, simply giants, because their size was so enormous that their thigh measured eighteen ells; or by the name Zamzummim, because they were great masters in war; or by the name Anakim, because they touched the sun with their neck; or by the name Ivvim, because, like the snake, they could judge of the qualities of the soil; or finally, by the name Nephilim, because, bringing the world to its fall, they themselves fell.

The Fall of the Angels


The depravity of mankind, which began to show itself in the time of Enosh, had increased monstrously in the time of his grandson Jared, by reason of the fallen angels. When the angels saw the beautiful, attractive daughters of men, they lusted after them, and spoke: "We will choose wives for ourselves only from among the daughters of men, and beget children with them." Their chief Shemhazai said, "I fear me, ye will not put this plan of yours into execution, and I alone shall have to suffer the consequences of a great sin." Then they answered him, and said: "We will all swear an oath, and we will bind ourselves, separately and together, not to abandon the plan, but to carry it through to the end."
Two hundred angels descended to the summit of Mount Hermon, which owes its name to this very occurrence, because they bound themselves there to fulfil their purpose, on the penalty of Herem, anathema. Under the leadership of twenty captains they defiled themselves with the daughters of men, unto whom they taught charms, conjuring formulas, how to cut roots, and the efficacy of plants. The issue from these mixed marriages was a race of giants, three thousand ells tall, who consumed the possessions of men. When all had vanished, and they could obtain nothing more from them, the giants turned against men and devoured many of them, and the remnant of men began to trespass against the birds, beasts, reptiles, and fishes, eating their flesh and drinking their blood.
Then the earth complained about the impious evil-doers. But the fallen angels continued to corrupt mankind. Azazel taught men how to make slaughtering knives, arms, shields, and coats of mail. He showed them metals and how to work them, and armlets and all sorts of trinkets, and the use of rouge for the eyes, and how to beautify the eyelids, and how to ornament themselves with the rarest and most precious jewels and all sorts of paints. The chief of the fallen angels, Shemhazai, instructed them in exorcisms and how to cut roots; Armaros taught them how to raise spells; Barakel, divination from the stars; Kawkabel, astrology; Ezekeel, augury from the clouds; Arakiel, the signs of the earth; Samsaweel, the signs of the sun; and Seriel, the signs of the moon.[57]
While all these abominations defiled the earth, the pious Enoch lived in a secret place. None among men knew his abode, or what had become of him, for he was sojourning with the angel watchers and holy ones. Once he heard the call addressed to him: "Enoch, thou scribe of justice, go unto the watchers of the heavens, who have left the high heavens, the eternal place of holiness, defiling themselves with women, doing as men do, taking wives unto themselves, and casting themselves into the arms of destruction upon earth. Go and proclaim unto them that they shall find neither peace nor pardon. For every time they take joy in their offspring, they shall see the violent death of their sons, and sigh over the ruin of their children. They will pray and supplicate evermore, but never shall they attain to mercy or peace."
Enoch repaired to Azazel and the other fallen angels, to announce the doom uttered against them. They all were filled with fear. Trembling seized upon them, and they implored Enoch to set up a petition for them and read it to the Lord of heaven, for they could not speak with God as aforetime, nor even raise their eyes heavenward, for shame on account of their sins. Enoch granted their request, and in a vision he was vouchsafed the answer which he was to carry back to the angels. It appeared to Enoch that he was wafted into heaven upon clouds, and was set down before the throne of God. God spake: "Go forth and say to the watchers of heaven who have sent thee hither to intercede for them: Verily, it is you who ought to plead in behalf of men, not men in behalf of you I Why did ye forsake the high, holy, and eternal heavens, to pollute yourselves with the daughters of men, taking wives unto yourselves, doing like the races of the earth, and begetting giant sons? Giants begotten by flesh and spirits will be called evil spirits on earth, and on the earth will be their dwelling-place. Evil spirits proceed from their bodies, because they are created from above, and from the holy watchers is their beginning and primal origin; they will be evil spirits on earth, and evil spirits they will be named. And the spirits of heaven have their dwelling in heaven, but the spirits of the earth, which were born upon the earth, have their dwelling on the earth. And the spirits of the giants will devour, oppress, destroy, attack, do battle, and cause destruction on the earth, and work affliction. They will take no kind of food, nor will they thirst, and they will be invisible. And these spirits will rise up against the children of men and against the women, because they have proceeded from them. Since the days of murder and destruction and the death of the giants, when the spirits went forth from the soul of their flesh, in order to destroy without incurring judgment—thus will they destroy until the day when the great consummation of the great world be consummated. And now as to the watchers who have sent thee to intercede for them, who had been aforetime in heaven, say to them: You have been in heaven, and though the hidden things had not yet been revealed to you, you know worthless mysteries, and in the hardness of your hearts you have recounted these to the women, and through these mysteries women and men work much evil on earth. Say to them therefore: You have no peace!"[58]

The Descendants of Adam and Lilith, Shades and Demons


The Legend of the Jews
 "When the wives of Lamech heard the decision of Adam, that they were to continue to live with their husband, they turned upon him, saying, "O physician, heal thine own lameness!" They were alluding to the fact that he himself had been living apart from his wife since the death of Abel, for he had said, "Why should I beget children, if it is but to expose them to death?"
   Though he avoided intercourse with Eve, he was visited in his sleep by female spirits, and from his union with them sprang shades and demons of various kindsand they were endowed with peculiar gifts. It is the belief that these demons bore a race giants.

The Seven Levels of Hell

Seven Levels of Hell and the Giants and Dwarfs

    When Adam was cast out of Paradise, he first reached the lowest of the seven earths, the Erez, which is dark, without a ray of light, and utterly void. Adam was terrified, particularly by the flames of the ever-turning sword, which is on this earth. After he had done penance, 
   God led him to the second earth, the Adamah, where there is light reflected from its own sky and from its phantom-like stars and constellations. Here dwell the phantom-like beings that issued from the union of Adam with the spirits. They are always sad; the emotion of joy is not known to them. They leave their own earth and repair to the one inhabited by men, where they are changed into evil spirits. Then they return to their abode for good, repent of their wicked deeds, and till the ground, which, however, bears neither wheat nor any other of the seven species. In this Adamah, Cain, Abel, and Seth were born. After the murder of Abel, Cain was sent back to the Erez, where he was frightened into repentance by its darkness and by the flames of the ever-turning sword. Accepting his penitence, 
    God permitted him to ascend to the third earth, the Arka, which receives some light from the sun. The Arka was surrendered to the Cainites forever, as their perpetual domain. They till the ground, and plant trees, but they have neither wheat nor any other of the seven species.
    Some of the Cainites are giants, some of them are dwarfs. They have two heads, wherefore they can never arrive at a decision; they are always at loggerheads with themselves.  It may happen that they are pious now, only to be inclined to do evil the next moment.
   In the Ge, the fourth earth, live the generation of the Tower of Babel and their descendants. God banished them thither because the fourth earth is not far from Gehenna, and therefore close to the flaming fire. The inhabitants of the Ge are skilful in all arts, and accomplished in all departments of science and knowledge, and their abode overflows with wealth. When an inhabitant of our earth visits them, they give him the most precious thing in their possession, but then they lead him to the Neshiah, the fifth earth, where he becomes oblivious of his origin and his home. The Neshiah is inhabited by dwarfs without noses; they breathe through two holes instead. They have no memory; once a thing has happened, they forget it completely, whence their earth is called Neshiah, "forgetting." 
   The fourth and fifth earths are like the Arka; they have trees, but neither wheat nor any other of the seven species.
    The sixth earth, the Ziah, is inhabited by handsome men, who are the owners of abundant wealth, and live in palatial residences, but they lack water, as the name of their territory, Ziah, "drought," indicates. Hence vegetation is sparse with them, and their tree culture meets with indifferent success. They hasten to any waterspring that is discovered, and sometimes they succeed in slipping through it up to our earth, where they satisfy their sharp appetite for the food eaten by the inhabitants of our earth. For the rest, they are men of steadfast faith, more than any other class of mankind.
    Adam remained in the Adamah until after the birth of Seth. Then, passing the third earth, the Arka, the abiding place of the Cainites, and the next three earths as well, the Ge, the Neshiah, and the Ziah, God transported him to the Tebel, the seventh earth, the earth inhabited by men.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Historical Origins of the Constellations


The age of Classical astronomy began with the labours of Eudoxus and others, about four centuries before the Christian Era, but there was an Earlier astronomy whose chief feature was the arrangement of the stars into constellations.
The best known of all such arrangements is that sometimes called the "Greek Sphere," because those constellations have been preserved to us by Greek astronomers and poets. The earliest complete catalogue of the stars, as thus arranged, that has come down to us was compiled by Claudius Ptolemy, the astronomer of Alexandria, and completed 137 a.d.In this catalogue, each star is described by its place in the supposed figure of the constellation, whilst its celestial latitude and longitude are added, so that we can see with considerable exactness how the astronomers of that time imagined the star figures. The earliest complete description of the constellations, apart from the places of the individual stars, is given in the poem of Aratus of Soli—The Phenomena, published about 270 b.c.]
Were these constellations known to the Hebrews of old? We can answer this question without hesitation in the case of St. Paul. For in his sermon to the Athenians on Mars' Hill, he quotes from the opening verses of this constellation poem of Aratus:—
"God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also His offspring."
The poem of Aratus begins thus:—
"To God above we dedicate our song;To leave Him unadored, we never dare;For He is present in each busy throng,In every solemn gathering He is there.The sea is His; and His each crowded port;In every place our need of Him we feel;For we His offspring are."
Aratus, like St. Paul himself, was a native of Cilicia, and had been educated at Athens. His poem on the constellations came, in the opinion of the Greeks, next in honour to the poems of Homer, so that St. Paul's quotation from it appealed to his hearers with special force.
The constellations of Ptolemy's catalogue are forty-eight in number. Those of Aratus correspond to them in 1]almost every particular, but one or two minor differences may be marked. According to Ptolemy, the constellations are divided into three sets:—twenty-one northern, twelve in the zodiac, and fifteen southern.
The northern constellations are—to use the names by which they are now familiar to us—1, Ursa Minor, the Little Bear; 2, Ursa Major, the Great Bear; 3, Draco, the Dragon; 4,Cepheus, the King; 5, Bo├Âtes, the Herdsman; 6, Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown; 7, Hercules, the Kneeler; 8, Lyra, the Lyre or Swooping Eagle; 9, Cygnus, the Bird; 10,Cassiopeia, the Throned Queen, or the Lady in the Chair; 11, Perseus; 12, Auriga, the Holder of the Reins; 13, Ophiuchus, the Serpent-holder; 14, Serpens, the Serpent; 15,Sagitta, the Arrow; 16, Aquila, the Soaring Eagle; 17, Delphinus, the Dolphin; 18, Equuleus, the Horse's Head; 19, Pegasus, the Winged Horse; 20, Andromeda, the Chained Woman; 21, Triangulum, the Triangle.
The zodiacal constellations are: 1, Aries, the Ram; 2, Taurus, the Bull; 3, Gemini, the Twins; 4, Cancer, the Crab; 5, Leo, the Lion; 6, Virgo, the Virgin; 7, Libra, the Scales,—also called the Claws, that is of the Scorpion; 8, Scorpio, the Scorpion; 9, Sagittarius, the Archer; 10, Capricornus, the Sea-goat, i. e. Goat-fish; 11, Aquarius, the Water-pourer; 12, Pisces, the Fishes.
The southern constellations are: 1, Cetus, the Sea-Monster; 2, Orion, the Giant; 3, Eridanus, the River; 4, Lepus, the Hare; 5, Canis Major, the Great Dog; 6, Canis Minor, the Little Dog; 7, Argo, the Ship and Rock; 8, Hydra, the Water-snake; 9, Crater, the Cup; 10, Corvus]the Raven; 11, Centaurus, the Centaur; 12, Lupus, the Beast; 13, Ara, the Altar; 14, Corona Australis, the Southern Crown; 15, Piscis Australis, the Southern Fish.
Aratus, living four hundred years earlier than Ptolemy, differs only from him in that he reckons the cluster of the Pleiades—counted by Ptolemy in Taurus—as a separate constellation, but he has no constellation of Equuleus. The total number of constellations was thus still forty-eight. Aratus further describes the Southern Crown, but gives it no name; and in the constellation of the Little Dog he only mentions one star, Procyon, the Dog's Forerunner. He also mentions that the two Bears were also known as two Wagons or Chariots.
Were these constellations, so familiar to us to-day, known before the time of Aratus, and if so, by whom were they devised, and when and where?
They were certainly known before the time of Aratus, for his poem was confessedly a versification of an account of them written by Eudoxus more than a hundred years previous. At a yet earlier date, Panyasis, uncle to the great historian Herodotus, incidentally discusses the name of one of the constellations, which must therefore have been known to him. Earlier still, Hesiod, in the second book of his Works and Days, refers to several:—
"Orion and the Dog, each other nigh,Together mounted to the midnight sky,When in the rosy morn Arcturus shines,Then pluck the clusters from the parent vines.

Next in the round do not to plough forgetWhen the Seven Virgins and Orion set."
[]Much the same constellations are referred to by Homer. Thus, in the fifth book of the Odyssey,—
"And now, rejoicing in the prosperous gales,With beating heart Ulysses spreads his sails:Placed at the helm he sate, and marked the skies,Nor closed in sleep his ever-watchful eyes.There view'd the Pleiads and the Northern Team,And great Orion's more refulgent beam,To which around the axle of the skyThe Bear, revolving, points his golden eye."
Thus it is clear that several of the constellations were perfectly familiar to the Greeks a thousand years before the Christian era; that is to say, about the time of Solomon.
We have other evidence that the constellations were known in early times. We often find on Greek coins, a bull, a ram, or a lion represented; these may well be references to some of the signs of the zodiac, but offer no conclusive evidence. But several of the constellation figures are very unusual in form; thus the Sea-goat has the head and fore-legs of a goat, but the hinder part of a fish; and the Archer has the head and shoulders of a man, but the body and legs of a horse. Pegasus, the horse with wings, not only shows this unnatural combination, but the constellation figure only gives part of the animal—the head, neck, wings, breast, and fore-legs. Now some of these characteristic figures are found on quite early Greek coins, and yet earlier on what are known as "boundary stones" from Babylonia. These are little square pillars, covered with inscriptions and sculptures, and record for the most part the gift, transfer, or sale of ]land. They are dated according to the year of the reigning king, so that a clear idea can be formed as to their age. A great many symbols, which appear to be astronomical, occur upon them; amongst these such very distinguishing shapes as the Archer, Sea-goat, and Scorpion (). So that, just as we know from Homer and Hesiod that the principal constellations were known of old by the same names as those by which we know them to-day, we learn from Babylonian boundary stones that they were then known as having the same forms as we now ascribe to them. The date of the earliest boundary stones of the kind in our possession would show that the Babylonians knew of our constellations as far back as the twelfth century b.c., that is to say, whilst Israel was under the Judges.
We have direct evidence thus far back as to the existence of the constellations. But they are older than this, so much older that tradition as well as direct historical evidence fails us. The only earlier evidence open to us is that of the constellations themselves.
A modern celestial globe is covered over with figures from pole to pole, but the majority of these are of quite recent origin and belong to the Modern period of astronomy. They have been framed since the invention of the telescope, and since the progress of geographical discovery brought men to know the southern skies. If these modern constellations are cleared off, and only those of Aratus and Ptolemy suffered to remain, it becomes at once evident that the ancient astronomers were not acquainted with the entire heavens. For there is a large space in the south, ]left free from all the old constellations, and no explanation, why it should have been so left free, is so simple and satisfactory as the obvious one, that the ancient astronomers did not map out the stars in that region because they never saw them; those stars never rose above their horizon.
The Ancient Constellations South of the Ecliptic.
Thus at the present time the heavens for an observer in England are naturally divided into three parts, as shown in the accompanying diagram. In the north, round the ]pole-star are a number of constellations that never set; they wheel unceasingly around the pole. On every fine night we can see the Great Bear, the Little Bear, the Dragon, Cepheus and Cassiopeia. But the stars in the larger portion of the sky have their risings and settings, and the seasons in which they are visible or are withdrawn from sight. Thus we see Orion and the Pleiades and Sirius in the winter, not in the summer, but the Scorpion and Sagittarius in the summer. Similarly there is a third portion of the heavens which never comes within our range. We never see the Southern Cross, and hardly any ]star in the great constellation of the Ship, though these are very familiar to New Zealanders.
The Celestial Sphere.
The outline of this unmapped region must therefore correspond roughly to the horizon of the place where the constellations were originally designed, or at least be roughly parallel to it, since we may well suppose that stars which only rose two or three degrees above that horizon might have been neglected.
From this we learn that the constellations were designed by people living not very far from the 40th parallel of north latitude, not further south than the 37th or 36th. This is important, as it shows that they did not originate in ancient Egypt or India, nor even in the city of Babylon, which is in latitude 32-1/2°.
But this vacant space reveals another fact of even more importance. It gives us a hint as to the date when the constellations were designed.
An observer in north latitude 40° at the present time would be very far from seeing all the stars included in the forty-eight constellations. He would see nothing at all of the constellation of the Altar, and a good deal of that of the Centaur would be hidden from him.
On the other hand, there are some bright constellations, such as the Phoenix and the Crane, unknown to the ]ancients, which would come within his range of vision. This is due to what is known as "precession;" a slow movement of the axis upon which the earth rotates. In consequence of this, the pole of the heavens seems to trace out a circle amongst the stars which it takes 25,800 years to complete. It is therefore a matter of very simple calculation to find the position of the south pole of the heavens at any given date, past or future, and we find that the centre of the unmapped space was the south pole of the heavens something like 4,600 years ago, that is to say about 2,700 b.c.
It is, of course, not possible to fix either time or latitude very closely, since the limits of the unmapped space are a a little vague. But it is significant that if we take a celestial globe, arranged so as to represent the heavens for the time 2,700 b.c., and for north latitude 40°, we find several striking relations. First of all, the Great Dragon then linked together the north pole of the celestial equator, and the north pole of the ecliptic; it was as nearly as possible symmetrical with regard to the two; it occupied the very crown of the heavens. With the single exception of the Little Bear, which it nearly surrounds, the Dragon was the only constellation that never set. Next, the Water-snake (see diagram, p. lay at this time right along the equator, extending over 105° of Right Ascension; or, to put it less technically, it took seven hours out of the twenty-four to cross the meridian. It covered nearly one-third of the equatorial belt. Thirdly, the intersection of the equator with one of the principal meridians of the sky was marked by the Serpent, which is carried by the ]Serpent-holder in a very peculiar manner. The meridian at midnight at the time of the spring equinox is called a "colure,"—the "autumnal colure," because the sun crosses it in autumn. Now the Serpent was so arranged as to be shown writhing itself for some distance along the equator, and then struggling upwards, along the autumnal colure, marking the zenith with its head. The lower part of the autumnal colure was marked by the Scorpion, and the foot of the Serpent-holder pressed down the creature's head, just where the colure, the equator, and the ecliptic intersected (see diagram, p..
It is scarcely conceivable that this fourfold arrangement, not suggested by any natural grouping of the stars, should have come about by accident; it must have been intentional. For some reason, the equator, the colure, the zenith and the poles were all marked out by these serpentine or draconic forms. The unmapped space gives us a clue only to the date and latitude of the designing of the most southerly constellations. We now see that a number of the northern hold positions which were specially significant under the same conditions, indicating that they were designed at about the same date. There is therefore little room for doubt that some time in the earlier half of the third millennium before our era, and somewhere between the 36th and 40th parallels of north latitude, the constellations were designed, substantially as we have them now, the serpent forms being intentionally placed in these positions of great astronomical importance.
It will have been noticed that Ptolemy makes the Ram the first constellation of the zodiac. It was so in his [160]days, but it was the Bull that was the original leader, as we know from a variety of traditions; the sun at the spring equinox being in the centre of that constellation about 3000 b.c. At the time when the constellations were designed, the sun at the spring equinox was near Aldebaran, the brightest star of the Bull; at the summer solstice it was near Regulus, the brightest star of the Lion; at the autumnal equinox it was near Antares, the brightest star of the Scorpion; at the winter solstice it was near Fomalhaut, the brightest star in the neighbourhood of the Waterpourer. These four stars have come down to us with the name of the "Royal Stars," probably because they were so near to the four most important points in the apparent path of the sun amongst the stars. There is also a celebrated passage in the first of Virgil's Georgics which speaks of the white bull with golden horns that opens the year. So when the Mithraic religion adopted several of the constellation figures amongst its symbols, the Bull as standing for the spring equinox, the Lion for the summer solstice, were the two to which most prominence was given, and they are found thus used in Mithraic monuments as late as the second or third century a.d., long after the Ram had been recognized as the leading sign.
It is not possible to push back the origin of the constellations to an indefinite antiquity. They cannot at the very outside be more than 5000 years old; they must be considerably more than 4000. But during the whole of this millennium the sun at the spring equinox was in the constellation of the Bull. There is therefore no possible ]doubt that the Bull—and not the Twins nor the Ram—was the original leader of the zodiac.
The constellations, therefore, were designed long before the nation of Israel had its origin, indeed before Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees. The most probable date—2700 b.c.—would take us to a point a little before the Flood, if we accept the Hebrew chronology, a few centuries after the Flood, if we accept the Septuagint chronology. Just as the next great age of astronomical activity, which I have termed the Classical, began after the close of the canon of the Old Testament scriptures, so the constellation age began before the first books of those scriptures were compiled. Broadly speaking, it may be said that the knowledge of the constellation figures was the chief asset of astronomy in the centuries when the Old Testament was being written.
Seeing that the knowledge of these figures was preserved in Mesopotamia, the country from which Abraham came out, and that they were in existence long before his day, it is not unreasonable to suppose that both he and his descendants were acquainted with them, and that when he and they looked upward to the glories of the silent stars, and recalled the promise, "So shall thy seed be," they pictured round those glittering points of light much the same forms that we connect with them to-day.