Young Folks' Library, Volume XI (of 20) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 349 pages of information about Young Folks' Library, Volume XI (of 20).

has been known and sung by poets in all ages.  Its supremacy over the remainder of the starry host is recognized in the name given it by the Arabs, those nomad watchers of the skies, for while they term the moon “El Azhar,” “the Brighter One,” and the sun and moon together “El Azharan,” “the Brighter Pair,” they call Venus “Ez Zahra,” the bright or shining one par excellence, in which sense the same word is used to describe a flower.  This “Flower of Night” is supposed to be no other than the white rose into which Adonis was changed by Venus in the fable which is the basis of all early Asiatic mythology.  The morning and evening star is thus the celestial symbol of that union between earth and heaven in the vivifying processes of nature, typified in the love of the goddess for a mortal.

The ancient Greeks, on the other hand, not unnaturally took the star, which they saw alternately emerging from the effulgence of the rising and setting sun, in the east and in the west, for two distinct bodies, and named it differently according to the time of its appearance.  The evening star they called Hesperus, and from its place on the western horizon, fabled an earthly hero of that name, the son of Atlas, who from the slopes of that mountain on the verge of the known world used to observe the stars until eventually carried off by a mighty wind, and so translated to the skies.  These divine honors were earned by his piety, wisdom, and justice as a ruler of men, and his name long shed a shimmering glory over those Hesperidean regions of the earth, where the real and unreal touched hands in the mystical twilight of the unknown.

But the morning star shone with a different significance as the herald of the day, the torchbearer who lights the way for radiant Aurora on her triumphal progress through the skies.  Hence he was called Eosphorus, or Phosphorus, the bearer of the dawn, translated into Latin as Lucifer, the Light-bearer.  The son of Eos, or Aurora, and the Titan Astraeus, he was of the same parentage as the other multitude of the starry host, to whom a similar origin was ascribed, and from whom in Greek mythology he was evidently believed to differ only in the superior order of his brightness.  Homer, who mentions the planet in the following passage: 

  “But when the star of Lucifer appeared,
  The harbinger of light, whom following close,
  Spreads o’er the sea the saffron-robed morn.”

(LORD DERBY’S “Iliad.”)

recognizes no distinction between those celestial nomads, the planets, “wandering stars,” as the Arabs call them, which visibly change their position relatively to the other stars, and the latter, whose places on the sphere are apparently fixed and immutable.  In this he and his compatriots were far behind the ancient Egyptians, who probably derived their knowledge from still earlier speculators in Asia, for they not only observed the movements of some at least of the planets, but believed that Mercury and Venus revolved as satellites round the sun, which in its turn circled round our lesser world.  Pythagoras is said to have been the first to identify Hesperus with Phosphor, as the

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Young Folks' Library, Volume XI (of 20) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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