[PBP2013] Urania

Pindar, Dirges Fragment 139 (trans. Sandys) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
“But in another song did three goddesses [Mousai, Muses] lull to rest the bodies of their sons. The first of these [Terpsikhore] sang a dirge over the clear-voiced Linos [demigod of the lamentation song]; and the second [Ourania] lamented with her latest strains Hymenaios [demigod of the wedding song], who was seized by Moira (Fate), when first he lay with another in wedlock.”

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 33. 55 ff :
“Hymenaios [in a game of cottabus against Eros] . . . put up as a prize for the victor something clever made by his haughty mother Ourania (Urania), who knew all the courses of the stars, a revolving globe like the speckled form of Argos.”

Urania, meaning heavenly one, is the Muse of Astrology. Her attributes include the astrolabe and the celectial globe, both instruments are still in use today.

Contrary to popular belief/misconception, the sphericity of the earth was established in the 3rd Century BCE, and the oldest known globe of the earth has been dated to the 2nd Century BCE, and was created by Crates of Mallus, the Stoic philosopher. And while Copernicus and Johannes Kepler are both credited as being among the “first” to propose a heliocentric astronomical model, both Copernicus and Kepler referred back to the Pythagoreans (the former to illustrate that a non-geocentric model was neither new nor revolutionary an idea, the latter, though, hypothesised that the Pythagorean “central fire” actually *was* the Sun, and explained this apparent contradiction by pointing out that many Pythagorean teachings were kept secret as a mystery). On the other hand, Aristarchus of Samos, in the 3rd Century BCE, was the first to propose, in no uncertain terms, the first heliocentric model.

These early discoveries were surely influenced by Urania.

When we consider that the ancient mythographers revealed Her sons as Linos and Hymenaios, I see again a clear link back to Eros –and moreover, considering the scarcity of of marriages for love among the ancients (with the likely exceptions possibly most occurring among the lowest of the free workers and amongst slaves), between the Moisai and the Moirai.

Which reminds me: I need to get back to posting the Stargazer videos. Seriously.


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