Explore the etymology and symbolism of the constellations

Aries

the Ram

Aries
Urania's Mirror 1825

Aries is the first sign of the zodiac. The Greeks associated Aries with the Ram who carried Phrixus and his sister Helle on his back to Colchis (the Georgian region of the Caucasus) to escape the evil designs of their stepmother, Ino, who was about to kill them. In crossing the strait that divides Europe from Asia, Helle became giddy and lost her hold, falling off the Ram into the sea when she disobeyed a warning not to look down, the place thereafter became the Hellespont which today separates Greece and Turkey. Continuing his flight, the ram bore the boy to Colchis, at the eastern end of the Euxine or Black sea. On reaching his journey's end Phrixus sacrificed the ram and hung its fleece in the Grove of Ares where it was turned to gold and became the object of the Argonauts' (Argo Navis) quest.

I suggest that one possible consequence of Helle falling off the Ram might be symbolic over-representation of the masculine element in the Arian psyche.

According to Apollonius Rhodius, Phrixos had journeyed to Aia (better known as Kholkis, or Colchis);

"bestriding a ram which Hermes had made all of gold" (2.1143-45; Seaton 1912) [1].

The Biblical school said that Aries represented Abraham’s Ram caught in the thicket [Allen, Star Names] when the then current religious-law demanded that the first-born son be sacrificed to God.

"Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son [Isaac]" Gen 22:10-13

Abraham and Isaac are said to be represented by the Centaur Centaurus [or perhaps Centaurus and Lupus]. Ara, the Altar, was the place where the sacrifice took place.

Aries' symbol, , represents the spiral horns of a Ram. The Hebrew word for a ram's horn was shofar, from Hebrew shophar, 'ram's horn,' related to Arabic sawafiru, 'ram's horns,' Akkadian shapparu, 'wild goat' [2]. The shofar was blown on two days of the year; Rosh Hashanah, corresponding to the Christian Feast of Trumpets, - rosh means 'head', and hashanah, 'year'; and Yom Kippur, corresponding to the Christian Day of Atonement. The shofar blown at mount Sinai, when the Torah was given, came from the ram which had been sacrificed in place of Isaac [3].

Less commonly, the shofar was called yobel [4]. In Leviticus xxv, the Jubilee Year was laid down as a year of celebration proclaimed every fifty years by blowing trumpets throughout Israel. The word jubilee is related to yobel, a ram's horn trumpet. Hebrew yobhel meant 'leading animal, ram,' and by extension 'ram's horn,' and since a ram's horn was a trumpet blown to announce the start of a special year in which slaves were freed, land left untilled, etc, the term yobel came to be used for the year itself. [John Ayto, Dictionary of Word Origins].

Linguists say that the word 'jubilee' (from Hebrew yobel) is not related to 'jubilation' (an expression of joy) from Latin jubilare; because 'Jubilee' comes from Hebrew and 'jubilation' from Latin. However, Klein says the word 'jubilee' was influenced in form by a confusion of this word with Latin jubilare; "the shared sense of 'celebration' means that jubilee and jubilation have been confused for sixteen hundred years, ever since the Bible was first translated into Latin" [5].

The 49th year is termed the Sabbath. The jubilee is the fiftieth year after the cycle begins, but the cycle only has seven sets of seven years, or 49 years. Thus, the 50th year of the cycle is the same as the first year of the cycle [6]:

“A jubilee (iubileus) is translated as 'a year of forgiveness.' Both the term and the number are Hebrew. It is made up of seven sets of seven years, that is, forty-nine years. On the jubilee trumpets blared, and their old holdings reverted to each person, debts would be forgiven, and liberties confirmed. We ourselves celebrate this number still in the number of days of Pentecost after the resurrection of the Lord, with sin forgiven and the written record of our whole debt erased, as we are freed from every trammel, receiving the grace of the Holy Spirit coming upon us” [The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville, 7th century AD, p.129.]

Freedom from slavery has further associations with Aries, the Jewish Nisan, our March-April, for Josephus said that it was when the sun was here in this month that his people were released from the bondage of Egypt [Allen, Starnames].

In Northern European countries they used a word for ram which is related to our word hurt; Old French hurter, originally meant 'to butt or toss like a ram', Frankish *hurt, 'ram', Old Norse hrutr, 'ram'; hurtle is another relative.

Reproductive system
[7] Female reproductive system  
dodge Ram
[8] Dodge Ram logo

There are a number of comments on the Net on the resemblance of the Dodge Ram logo to the human female reproductive system:

This is not a new idea, 7th century Isidore commented on the likeness:

"it is called uterus because it is two-fold and divides on both (uterque) sides, into two parts that extend apart and bend back in the shape of a ram's horn" [The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville, 7th century AD, p.240.]

The "two parts that extend apart and bend back in the shape of a ram's horn" is what we call the fallopian tubes, salpinges (singular salpinx). Tuba is a Latin word for trumpet, related to the English 'tube'. In the textbooks the fallopian tubes are called oviducts (the adjective applying to sheep is ovine). Greek salpinx has three meanings; a trumpet, a fallopian tube, and also the eustachian tube in the ear. The Greek salpinx, trumpet, might be the same as the shofar trumpet which has been translated as salpinx into Greek [9]. The salpinges are two tubes leading from the ovaries of female mammals into the uterus. After the ovum or egg matures in the ovary it falls into and down the fallopian tube. The trip to the uterus takes hours or days. Conception takes place in the fallopian tube (with some exceptions).

"Many think that our figure [Aries] was designed to represent the Egyptian King of Gods shown at Thebes with ram's horns, and variously known as Amon, Ammon, Hammon, Amen, or Amun, and worshiped with great ceremony at his temple in the oasis Ammonium, now Siwah, 5° west of Cairo on the northern limit of the Libyan desert [Libya was a term for the African continent]. Kircher gave Aries' title there as Tametouro Amoun, Regum Ammonis" [Star Names]. Sacred to Ammon is a fat-tailed species of ram--ovis platyura aegyptiaca, whose horns are large, curved and downturned-- that is found only in the area of the Sceptre Nome, Egypt.

"Pliny [31st book, ch. 7] tells us that the word Ammonia comes from the Greek word ammos (sand), ammonia being a salt found below the sand in Cyrenaica in Africa. The Greeks and Romans became acquainted with the worship of Jupiter Ammon through the Cyrenians, and so in heathen mythology the addition of Ammon was given to Jupiter in allusion to the sandy desert of Sahara, where a temple to Jupiter was built" [Roots And Ramifications, Arthur John Knapp, 1857, p.133-134]

"they have named Aries (i.e. the Ram) on account of Ammon Jupiter, because those who made the idols fashioned the horns of a ram on his head” [p.106]. “Ammon, whose name for good reason is rendered 'the son of my people,' is so derived that partly its sense is of a proper name, and partly it is an expression in itself, for ammi, after which the Ammonites are named, is the word for 'my people'". [The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville, 7th century AD, p.163]

Several words derive from the ancient Egyptian name Amun via the Greek form Ammon: ammonite (an extinct marine mollusk with a flat partitioned spiral shell, from Latin cornu Ammonis, literally ‘horn of Ammon'), ammonia (‘salt of Ammon’, from Greek Ammon, an Egyptian god near whose temple ammonia and ammoniac were said to be obtained), ammonium chloride (chemical used in batteries), amino (intermediates in metabolism), amine, -amine (ammonia derivatives). Argali is a large wild sheep found in the dry mountainous areas of central and northern Asia. Latin name: Ovis ammon. Also related the word amen, 'so be it' at the end of a prayer.

There is a part of our brain called the horn of Ammon, a group of nerve cells within the hippocampus, which are clustered together in the shape of a horn, and make up the 'horn of Ammon'. "The hippocampus consists of two 'horns' that curve back from the area of the hypothalamus to the amygdala. It appears to be very important in converting things that are 'in your mind' at the moment (in short-term memory) into things that you will remember for the long run (long-term memory)" [10]. Whatever its exact function one thing we do know is that Aries people have short term memory and soon forgive and forget; perhaps in character with the spirit of the Jubilee when sins are forgiven and debts erased etc. The acronym RAM, r(andom-)a(ccess) m(emory), in computer science is a memory device in which information can be accessed in any order.

Rams or lambs were sacrificed to redeem the firstborn of animals and humans, to make atonement for sin, as God told Moses to do in Exodus 12:29. The jubilee was proclaimed by the sound of a ram's horn on the Day of Atonement. Amenhotep IV introduced the worship of Aten - Aton, the sun's disc itself, identifying it as Amun-Ra [11]. Atone comes from the words at + one, the word resembles Aton?

Another derivation:

"The Libyan Jupiter [Ammon]; so called from the Greek ammos (sand), because his temple was in the desert. Herodotus calls it an Egyptian word (ii. 42)." (Brewers Dictionary)

Greek ammos (sand) is believed to be related to Ammon, and the Latin word for sand, arena, resembles the word Aries. Latin harena, arena, was the place of combat (literally 'place strewn with sand'). The arena was the area in the center of an ancient Roman amphitheater where contests and other spectacles were held. They were one-to-one combats like two rams with locked horns. Farmers have trouble with rams locking horns and sometimes have to intervene "if they are locked for a day or so" [12]. Nowadays an arena denotes a scene of contest—physical, mental, or figurative. Arenaria are the genus of flowering plants called sandworts.

"Ram is a general West Germanic word for 'male sheep,' now shared only by Dutch (although German has the derivative ramme, 'rammer'). It may be related to Old Norse ramr, 'strong.' the allusion being to the ram's strength in butting. This is reflected in the word's metaphorical applications', it was being used in English for a 'battering-ram,' and by the 14th century the verb ram had emerged. Another relative is the verb ramble, which etymologically denotes 'wander around like a randy ram, looking for ewes to copulate with.' It was borrowed from Middle Dutch rammelen, a derivative of rammen, 'copulate with,' which is connected with ram" [John Ayto, Dictionary of Word Origins].

The word ramble is probably a variant of Middle English romblen, frequentative of Middle English romen, 'to roam' [Klein].

In classical times battering rams were used to break through doors and walls. The zodiacal sign Aries rules the head in general. When a baby is about to be born, the head acts as a battering ram until the cervix is wide enough to let the head through. "To act as a dilating wedge against the cervix, the infant's head must push against it with a rhythmic force. A battering ram is a crude yet accurate metaphor" [13].

"... he [Aries the Ram] will yield his produce for the common benefit, the fleece which by a thousand crafts gives birth to different forms of gain, now workers pile into heaps the undressed wool, now card it, now draw it into a tenuous thread, now weave the threads to form webs, and now they buy and sell for gain garments of every kind... So important is this work that Pallas herself has claimed it for her own hands, of which she has judged it worthy, and deems her victory over Arachne a token of her greatness" [Astronomica, Manilius, 1st century AD, book 4, p.233]. See under 'Astrological influences' below for the full excerpts.

Manilius is describing the process of deriving thread from wool, "and now weave the threads to form webs", and associates it with the weaving competition of Pallas (Greek Athena) and Arachne, who hanged herself. Athena took pity on Arachne. Sprinkling her with the juices of aconite (a-, not, + konis, 'dust', 'without dust', understood to mean the dust of the arena, hence 'without struggle, unconquerable' [Klein]), Athena loosened the rope, which became a cobweb, while Arachne herself was changed into a spider; "and her descendants to forever hang from threads and to be great weavers" (Ovid). [Arachne gives her name to the arachnids; spiders, scorpions, mites, and ticks. Spiders are of the order Araneae, aranea, this word resembles the word Aries; and arena, the Latin word for sand?]. The word 'spider' is cognate with the Latin or Roman word for balance or scales, pendere. The Aries/Libra axis represents the two equinoxes, Aries is the vernal equinox, and Libra the autumnal equinox. The competition between Arachne and Pallas/Athena might be represented in the two equinoxes.

“The battering ram (aries) gets its name from its appearance, because like a fighting ram (aries) it batters a wall with its impetus. A head of iron is fashioned on a strong and knotty tree-trunk, and, suspended by ropes, the ram is driven against a wall by many hands, and then drawn back it is aimed again with a greater force. Finally, beaten with frequent blows, the side of the wall gives way, and the battering ram breaks through where it has caved in, and makes a breach. Against the thrust of a battering ram the remedy is a sack filled with straw and set in the place where the battering ram strikes, for the impact of the thrust of the battering ram is softened in the yielding hollow of the sack. Thus harder things give way rather easily to softer.” [The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville, p.364.]

The ancients (Isidore and Varro) saw a link between the word Aries the word ara (another constellation Ara), meaning altar, Isidore says:

“The ram (aries) is either named after the word Ares, that is, after 'Mars' - whence we call the males in a flock 'males' (mas, genitive maris) - or because this animal was the first to be sacrificed on altars (ara, genitive aris) by pagans. So, the 'ram' because it was placed on the altar; whence also this (Sedulius, Paschal Poem 1.115:  The ram is offered at the altar.” [Isidore, The Etymologies, 7th century AD, p.247.]

The Roman god of war, Mars, was identified with the Greek god Ares. His name is the basis of the words; martial (as in martial arts or martial law), March (the third month of the year), the names Marcus, Mark, Martin. Roman Mars/Greek Aries represents the masculine archetype; Isidore sees a relationship between the words Mars and male, from Latin masculus, diminutive of mas, male. Isidore thinks the word marriage is also a relative:

“But 'husband' (maritus) without an additional term means a man who is married. 'Husband' comes from 'masculine' (mas, adjective) as if the word were mas (i.e. 'male,' noun), for the noun is the primary form, and it has masculus as a diminutive form; maritus is derived from this” [Isidore, The Etymologies, 7th century AD, p.210.]

Also a connection between musculus (from Indo-European *mus- 'A mouse; also a muscle') and masculus:

“The mussel (musculus) is a shellfish from whose milt oysters conceive, and they are called musculus as if the word were masculus (i.e. 'male')” [Isidore, The Etymologies, 7th century AD, p.262.]

On the word frankincense Isidore says:

“Also we call it masculum because it is spherical in its nature like testicles (compare masculus, 'male')" [Isidore, The Etymologies, 7th century AD, p.348.]

The Babylonians called this constellation 'The Hired Laborer':

"indicating that the month of Aries was a time of special activity when extra help is needed. From about 1730 BCE until AD 217 Aries was the Princeps Signorum Coelestium - the background constellation of the first day of spring, 'the Indicator of the Reborn Sun'. After AD 217, due to the precession of the Equinoxes, Aries relinquished this honor to Pisces, the Fishes" [The New Patterns in the Sky, Julius D.W. Staal 1988.]

The astrological influences of the constellation given by Manilius:

"The Ram, who is rich with an abundance of fleecy wool and, when shorn of this, with a fresh supply, will ever cherish hopes; he will rise from the sudden shipwreck of his affairs to abundant wealth only to meet with a fall, and his desires will lead him to disaster; he will yield his produce for the common benefit, the fleece which by a thousand crafts gives birth to different forms of gain, now workers pile into heaps the undressed wool, now card it, now draw it into a tenuous thread, now weave the threads to form webs, and now they buy and sell for gain garments of every kind; no nation could dispense with these, even without indulgence in luxury. So important is this work that Pallas herself has claimed it for her own hands, of which she has judged it worthy, and deems her victory over Arachne a token of her greatness. These are the callings and allied crafts that the Ram will decree for those born under his sign: in an anxious breast he will fashion a diffident heart that ever yearns to commend itself by its own praise. When the Ram emerges above the surface of the waves (rising) and the curve of his neck appears before his horns, he will give birth to hearts that are never content with what is theirs; he will engender minds bent on plunder and will banish all sense of shame: such is their desire for venture. Even thus does the ram himself rush forth with lowered horns, resolved to win or die. Not for them the gentle ease of a fixed abode with none but peaceful cares; it is ever their delight to travel through unknown cities, to explore uncharted seas, and enjoy the whole world's hospitality. The Ram himself gives you evidence of this: once furrowing a trail through the glassy sea, he tinged it with the gold of his fleece, when on his back he carried Phrixus, bereft of his sister (Helle) by fate's decree, and brought him to the banks of the Phasis and to Colchis". [Astronomica, Manilius, 1st century AD, book 4, p.233].

© Anne Wright 2008.

Fixed stars in the Aries
Star 1900 2000 R A Decl 2000 Lat Mag Sp
Mesarthim gamma (γ) 01TAU47 03TAU11 1h 53m 31.8s +19° 17' 37" +07 09 43 4.83 A0
Sheratan beta (β) 02TAU34 03TAU58 1h 54m 38.4s +20° 48' 29" +08 29 06 2.72 A5
Hamal alpha (α) 06TAU16 07TAU40 2h 7m 10.4s +23° 27' 45 +09 57 49 2.23 K2
41 Aries 16TAU49 18TAU12 2h 49m 59s +27° 15' 38" +10 26 46 3.68 B8
Botein delta (δ) 19TAU27 20TAU51 3h 11m 37.8s +19° 43' 36" +01 49 09 4.53 K2
Aries
Hevelius, Firmamentum, 1690

from Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning, 1889, Richard H. Allen

. . . the fleecy star that bears

Andromeda far off Atlantic seas

Beyond th' Horizon.

  - Milton's Paradise Lost.

Aries the Ram, is Ariete in Italy, Belier in France, and Widder in Germany — Bayer's Wider; in the Anglo-Saxon tongue it is Ramm, and in the Anglo-Norman of the 12th century, Multuns. The constellation is marked by the noticeable triangle to the west of the Pleiades, 6° north of the ecliptic, 20° north of the celestial equator, and 20° due south from gamma Andromedae (Mirach).

It always was Aries with the Romans; but Ovid called it Phrixea Ovis; and Columella, Pecus Athamantidos Helles, Phrixus, and Portitor Phrixi; others, Phrixeum Pecus and Phrixi Vector, Phrixus being the hero-son of Athamas, who fled on the back of this Ram with his sister Helle to Colchis to escape the wrath of his stepmother Ino. It will be remembered that on the way Helle fell off into the sea, which thereafter became the Hellespont, as Manilius wrote:

First Golden Aries shines (who whilst he swam

Lost part of 's Freight, and gave the Sea a Name);

and Longfellow, in his translation from Ovid's Tristia:

The Ram that bore unsafely the burden of Helle.

{Page 76} On reaching his journey's end, Phrixus sacrificed the creature and hung its fleece in the Grove of Ares, where it was turned to gold and became the object of the Argonauts' quest. From this came others of Aries' titles: Ovis aurea and auratus, Chrysomallus, and the Low Latin Chrysovellus.

The Athamas used by Golumella was a classical reproduction of the "Euphratean Tammuz Dum-uzi (Semetic Tammuz who is Sumerian Dumuzid, prototype of the Classical Adonis), the Only Son of Life, whom Aries at one time represented in the heavens, as did Orion at a previous date, perhaps when it marked the vernal equinox 4500 B.C.

Cicero and Ovid styled the constellation Cornus; elsewhere it was Corniger ("Horn-bearer) and Laniger ("Wool-bearer"); Vervex, the Wether; Dux opulenti gregis; Caput arietinum; and, in allusion to its position, Aequinoctialis. Venms Portitor, the Spring-bringer, is cited by Caesius (Dutch astronomical writer), who also mentioned Arcanus, that may refer to the secret rites in the worship of the divinities whom Aries represented.

From about the year 1730 before our era he was the Princeps signorum coelestium, Princeps zodiaci, and the Ductor exercitus zodiaci, continuing so through Hipparchos' time; Manilius writing of this:

The Ram having passed the Sea serenely shines,

And leads the Year, the Prince of all the Signs.

But about A.D. 420 his office was transferred to Pisces.

Brown writes as to the origin of the title Aries, without any supposition of resemblance of the group to the animal:

The stars were regarded by a pastoral population as flocks; each asterism had its special leader, and the star, and subsequently the constellation, that led the heavens through the year was the Ram.

Elsewhere he tells us that when Aries became chief of the zodiac signs it took the Akkadian titles Ku, I-ku, and I-ku-u, from its lucida Hamal, all equivalents of the Assyrian Rubu, Prince, and very appropriate to the leading stellar group of that date, although not one of the first formations.

He also finds, from an inscription on the Tablet of the Thirty Stars, that the Euphratean astronomers had a constellation Gam, the Scimetar, stretching from Okda (another name for Alrisha) of the Fishes (Pisces) to Hamal of Aries, the curved blade being formed by the latter's three brightest components. This was the weapon protecting the kingdom against the Seven Evil Spirits, or Tempest Powers.

Jensen thinks that Aries may have been first adopted into the zodiac by the Babylonians when its stars began to mark the vernal equinox; and that the insertion of it between Taurus and Pegasus compelled the cutting off a {Page 77} part of each of those figures, — a novel suggestion that would save much theorizing as to their sectional character.

The Jewish Nisan, our March-April, was associated with Aries, for Josephus said that it was when the sun was here in this month that his people were released from the bondage of Egypt; and so was the same month Nisanu of Assyria, where Aries represented the Altar and the Sacrifice, a ram usually being the victim. Hence the prominence given to this sign in antiquity even before its stars became the leaders of the rest; although Berossos and Macrobius attributed this to the ancient belief that the earth was created when the sun was within its boundaries; and Albumasar, of the 9th century [This author, known also as 'Abu Ma'shar and Ja'phar, was from Balh' in Turkestan, celebrated as an astrologer and quoted by Al Biruni, but with the caution that he was a very incorrect astronomer. The Lenox Library of New York has a copy of his Opus introductorii in astronomia Albumazaris abalachi, Idus Februarii, 1489, published at Venice with illustrations. Its similarity to the Hyginus of the preceding year would indicate that they issued from the same press.], in his devolution of Years wrote of the Creation as having taken place when "the seven planets" — the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn — were in conjunction here, and foretold the destruction of the world when they should be in the same position in the last degree of Pisces.

Dante, who called the constellation Montone, followed with a similar thought in the Inferno:

The sun was mounting with those stars

That with him were, what time the Love Divine

At first in motion set those beauteous things.

To come, however, to a more precise date, Pliny said that Cleostratos of Tenedos first formed Aries, and, at the same time, Sagittarius; but their origin probably was many centuries, even millenniums, antecedent to this, and the statement is only correct in so far as that he may have been the first to write of them.

Many think that our figure was designed to represent the Egyptian King of Gods shown at Thebes with ram's horns, or veiled and crowned with feathers, and variously known as Amon, Ammon, Hammon, Amen, or Amun, and worshiped with great ceremony at his temple in the oasis Ammonium, now Siwah, 5° west of Cairo on the northern limit of the Libyan desert. Kircher gave Aries' title there as Tametouro Amoun, Regum Ammonis. But there is doubt whether the Egyptian stellar Ram coincided with ours, although Miss Clerke says that the latter's stars were called the Fleece.

{Page 78} As the god Amen was identified with Zeus, and Jupiter of the Greeks and Romans, so also was Aries, although this popularly was attributed to the story that the classical divinity assumed the Ram's form when all the inhabitants of Olympus fled into Egypt from the giants led by Typhon. From this came the constellation's titles Jupiter Ammon; Jovis Sidus (Jovis is Jupiter and sidus means constellation); Minervae Sidus, the goddess being Jove's daughter (or the Greek Athena - Athena's constellation); the Jupiter Libycus of Propertius, Dens Libycus of Dionysius, and Ammon Libycus of Nonnus.

The Hebrews knew it as Teli, and inscribed it on the banners of Gad or Naphtali; the Syrians, as Amru or Emru; the Persians, as Bara, Bere, or Berre; the Turks, as Kuzi; and in the Parsi Bundehesh it was Varak: all these being synonymous with Aries. The unexplained Arabib, or Aribib, also is seen for it. The early Hindus called it Aja and Mesha, the Tamil Mesham; but the later followed the Greeks in Kriya.

An Arabian commentator on Ulug Beg called the constellation Al Kabsh alAlif, the Tame Ram; but that people generally knew it as Al Hamal, the Sheep, — Hammel with Riccioli, Alchamalo with Schickard, and Alhamel with Chilmead (Hamal is also the alpha star of the constellation).

As one of the zodiacal twelve of China it was the Dog, early known as Heang Low, or Kiang Leu; and later, under Jesuit influence, as Pih Yang, the White Sheep; while with Taurus and Gemini it constituted the White Tiger, the western one of the four great zodiac groups of China; also known as the Lake of Fullness, the Five Reservoirs of Heaven, and the House of the Five Emperors.

Chaucer and other English writers of the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries Anglicized the title as Ariete, which also appeared in the Low Latin of the 17th century. It was about this time, when it was sought to reconstruct the constellations on Bible lines, that Aries was said to represent Abrahams Ram caught in the thicket; as also Saint Peter, the bishop of the early church, with Triangulum as his Mitre. Caesius considered it the Lamb sacrificed on Calvary for all sinful humanity.

Aries generally has been figured as reclining with reverted head admiring his own golden fleece, or looking with astonishment at the Bull (Taurus) rising backward; but in the Albumasar of 1489 he is standing erect, and some early artists showed him running towards the west, with what is probably designed for the zodiac-belt around his body. A coin of Domitian bears a representation of him as the Princeps juventutis, and he appeared on those of Antiochus of Syria with head towards the Moon and Mars — an appropriate figuring; for, astrologically, Aries was the lunar house of that planet. In common with all the other signs, he is shown on the zodiacal rupees generally attributed to the great Mogul prince Jehangir Shah, but {Page 78} really struck by Nur Mahal Mumtaza, his favorite wife, between 1616 and 1624, each figure being surrounded by sun-rays with an inscription on the reverse.

Its equinoctial position gave force to Aratos' description of its "rapid transits," but he is strangely inexact in his

faint and starless to behold

As stars by moonlight  —

a blunder for which Hipparchos seems to have taken him to task. Aratos however, was a more successful versifier than astronomer. Among astrologers Aries was a dreaded sign indicating passionate temper and bodily hurt, and thus it fitly formed the House of Mars, although some attributed guardianship over it to Pallas Minerva, daughter of Jove whom Aries represented. It was supposed to hold sway over the head and face; in fact the Egyptians called it Arnum, the Lord of the Head; while, geographically, it ruled Denmark, England, France, Germany, Lesser Poland and Switzerland, Syria, Capua, Naples and Verona, with white and red as its colors. In the time of Manilius it was naturally thought of as ruling the Hellespont and Propontis, Egypt and the Nile, Persia and Syria; and, with Leo and Sagittarius, was the Fiery Trigon.

Ampelius said that it was in charge of the Roman Africus, the Southwest Wind, the Italians' Affrico, or Gherbino; but the Archer (Sagittarius) and Scorpion (Scorpius) also shared this duty, Pliny wrote that the appearance of a comet within its borders portended great wars and wide-spread mortality, abasement of the great and elevation of the small, with fearful drought in the regions over which the sign predominated; while 17th-century almanacs attributed many troubles to men, and declared that "many shall die of the rope "when the sun was in the sign; but they ascribed to its influence "an abundance of herbs."

Its symbol, , probably represents the head and horns of the animal.

The eastern portion is inconspicuous, and astronomers have mapped others of its stars somewhat irregularly, carrying a horn into Pisces and a leg into Cetus.

The sun now passes through it from the 16th of April to the 13th of May.

A nova is reported to have appeared here in May, 1012, described by Epidamnus, the monk of Saint Gall, as oculos verberans.

[Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning, Richard H. Allen, 1889.]