“Next, bearing his footsteps near the crouching Bull [Taurus] comes the Charioteer whose calling won him heaven and a name: first of men to speed in a high chariot behind a team of four, he was seen by Jupiter and hallowed in the skies. Him follow the Kids [Haedi, the Kids; Hoedus 1, and Hoedus 11, and Capella, the she-goat, are not properly constellations but simply individual stars in Auriga] that with their constellation close the seas [tranlators’s note: “referring to the matutinal setting of the Kids in mid-November, from when until early March navigation was for the most part suspended”] and the goat famed for having suckled the king of heaven [Zeus]; nourished from her udders he seized the throne of Olympus, drawing strength from that wild milk to wield the lightning and the power of thunder. Therefore Jupiter hallowed it, as was its due, with a place among the eternal stars, repaying heaven gained with the gift of heaven.” [Manilius, Astronomica, 1st century A.D, p.33].

According to Olcott the origin of this ancient constellation is lost. It has been represented for ages as a mighty man seated on the Milky Way, and like a shepherd carrying a goat on his shoulder, and a pair of little kids in his hand. The first magnitude star Capella shines in the heart of the imaginary goat.

“To the Greeks Auriga represented Erichthonius, son of Vulcan and King of Athens who was the first to devise a chariot drawn by four horses which he used in order to conceal his greatly deformed feet. The goat and kids depicted in the constellation figure commemorate the goat upon whose milk Jupiter was reared, together with her offspring.” [Robson, Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology, p.31.]

It is uncertain if a chariot should be part of this constellation. Auriga was the Latin word for a charioteer, or driver of a chariot, and in most classical writings the constellation was meant to represent a charioteer, with or without goats, and the Greeks had the name Eniochos, ‘the holder of the reins’. But on Assyrian tablets Auriga was the ‘Chariot,’ and in accordance with this in Grecco-Babylonian times the constellation ‘Rukubi,’ the Chariot, lay here nearly coincident with our Charioteer. A chariot was imagined in the Big Dipper asterism of Ursa Major. One writer of Astronomical myths (John F. Blake, Astronomical Myths, 1877) thought that the proximity of the chariot in Ursa Major accounts for the name of the Charioteer applied to this constellation.

Auriga is the Latin word for a charioteer or driver, from Latin *or-ig-, ‘he who manages the (horse’s) bit’ [], compounded of aureae (plural), ‘bridle of a horse’, and -iga, ‘driver’. Aureae stands for oreae (plural), a derivative of os, genitive oris, ‘mouth’. The suffix -iga derives from agere, ‘to set in motion, drive, lead’ [Klein].

In Ancient Rome, the Auriga was a slave or a chauffeur whose duty was to drive a biga, the light vehicle powered by two horses.

This constellation, Auriga, is identified with Erichthonius, the son of the goddess Athena (Roman Minerva) and Hephaestus (Roman Vulcan) who, being deformed and unable to walk, invented the chariot. Erichthonius is a name that suggests wool (eri), or fight (eris), and the suffix –chthonius means earth or ground (chthon) []. He is the child produced by Hephaestus’ aborted attempt to have sex with Athena. In the fight (eris) that ensued between the two, some of Hephaestus’ semen fell on Athena’s leg. The goddess wiped it off in disgust with a woolen cloth (eri) and threw it to the ground. Gaia (Earth) gave birth to the child. Erichthonius, in his childhood, enjoyed the protection of Athena, who hid him in a basket or chest woven from Actaean osiers (willows), as she did not want the other gods to know that she was taking care of the child. She gave the basket to the daughters of Cecrops, king of Athens, to guard, instructing them not to open it. They disobeyed, and terrified by what they saw, leaped from the Acropolis to their deaths. Erichthonius was said to have a snake or dragon form for his lower body instead of feet. He is represented in the statue of Athena in the Parthenon as the snake hidden behind her shield, because it was said that when the basket was opened he jumped out and hid behind the shield of Athena, the Aegis. A snake was kept in a basket at the foot of Athena’s statue in the Parthenon, representing him [the snake might be the hamadryad, or kingcobra, from I.E. *sem, described more fully below]. Early histories did not distinguish between Erichthonius and Erectheus, his grandson, but by the fourth century BCE they are entirely distinct figures [].

“As they struggled [Athena and Hephaestus], some of his seed fell to earth, and from it a boy was born, the lower part of whose body was snake-formed. They named him Erichthonius, because eris in Greek means “strife”, and khthon means ‘earth’”. [Hyginus Fabulae 166 ].

Erichthonius became, by all accounts, a benevolent king of Athens, inheriting the throne from Cecrops, the first king of Athens (who some think was his father). “Having inherited his father’s (Hephaestus’) lameness, found necessary some means of easy locomotion. This was secured by his invention of the four-horse chariot” (Allen, Star Names). According to the Parian marble (the Parian Chronicle) he taught his people to yoke horses and use them to pull chariots, smelt silver (which had been discovered by Indus) and till the earth with a plough (which was invented by Bootes). It was said that Erichthonius invented the quadriga, or four-horse chariot [].

Erichthonius represents a charioteer who invented and drove the four-horse chariot. Helios, the ancient Greek’s sun-god, was usually depicted riding a chariot which was drawn by four horses, but without a charioteer. Indian mythology has a charioteer, Aruna, or Arun, that resembles Erichthonius in some ways. In the Hindu Pantheon Surya, the sun, is shown drawn by seven horses (though in earlier depictions it was four) with his charioteer, the lame Aruna, seated in front of him. “According to Hindu mythology, Aruna or Arun refers to the Charioteer of the Sun, including the rising Sun. Aruna refers to the redness of the rising Sun. He is believed to be a cripple (without thighs). This figure of the Hindu mythology has the literal meaning, in Sanskrit, of the reddish one. Aruna is also the name of the Hittite god of the sea” [], the Vedic Varuna.

“The charioteer for Sun God is Aruna. ‘Arunodayam’ (Rise of Aruna) …, the charioteer rises first as he is in the driving seat, and then comes Surya (the sun). This Aruna is a result of a half developed embryo” [

A Greek title for Auriga was “Eniochos, the Rein-holder, transcribed as Heniochus by Latin authors” (Allen, Star Names). [The suffix –chus means holder from IE *segh, and is also the suffix of Ophiuchus‘ name]. The Charioteer of Delphi, also known as Heniokhos (Iniohos, the rein-holder), is one of the best-known statues surviving from Ancient Greece, erected 474 BC, to commemorate the victory of a chariot team in the Pythian Games. The butterfly-fishes are of the genus Heniochus. The enio– or Latinized henio– of Heniochus comes from Greek, enioi, ‘some’, related to the prefix heno– in henotheism, ‘the worship of one God without denying the existence of other Gods’, and henotic, ‘unifying; harmonizing’, from Greek enotikos, ‘serving to unite’, from enoun, ‘to make one, unite’ [Klein].

Erichthonius was according to some legends autochthonous, ‘born of the earth’, Erichthonios, referred to as the ‘beneficent autochthon‘ []. Automedon was the charioteer of Achilles. The automobile is the modern counterpart of the chariot, ‘auto-mobile’, ‘self-propelling’, from Greek autos, ‘self’. Socrates (Phaedrus 246a – 254e), uses the Chariot allegory to explain his view of the human soul. One horse being well-behaved and the other troublesome, and some souls have difficulty controlling the black horse, even with the help of the white horse []. “Aristotle spoke of autarkia – having your origin in yourself. Capacity for self-movement implied divinity and immortality. The divine or immortal element in us is ‘auto-kinetic’ or, as we say today, ‘automobile'” [10] From Greek autos, ‘self, same, spontaneous; directed from within’, we get the words auto-, autism, automatic, autopsy (‘a seeing for oneself’), authentic

“The Greek word autochthon (autochthonous) was used by the Greek peoples who believed that they had not migrated to their homeland but somehow had always been there. The Athenians and the people of surrounding Attica were sure that they were autochthons and extremely proud of it. At one time some Athenian children of good family wore a gold tettix, ‘cicada’, in the hair to remind them that they were autochthons. In other districts it was elders who wore this gold broach.” [The Metamorphoses of Antoninus Liberalis

Philosophers called prudence the chariot of the virtues, in Latin auriga virtutum. This metaphor relates to a charioteer knowing how to guide the horses with skill.

The word Auriga, a Latin word for a charioteer, is generally believed to be a compound of aureae (plural), ‘bridles of a horse’, and -iga, ‘driver’. The word Auriga might also be broken down into au-riga. The suffix –riga might relate to rig (from Old Norse rigga), a vehicle with one or more horses harnessed to it. The au– part of Auriga might just mean ‘self’, from Greek autos, au-tos, (Greek –tos, Latin -tus, means ‘the’); ‘the self’; and the –riga; might also relate to regere, meaning ruler; ‘ruler of the self’? The name Eric, resembles Erichthonius, and comes from Old Norse Eiríkr, derived from ei, ‘ever’ and ríkr, ‘ruler’.

Auriga is associated with Erichthonius, and the alpha star of this constellation, Capella, is associated with Amaltheia (Amalthea) the nanny-goat, who suckled the infant Zeus. The stars zeta, Hoedus 1, and eta, Hoedus 11 are her Kids which she put aside in order to suckle the baby Zeus, as a wet-nurse would do. The Kids, two stars in Auriga, were treated as a separate constellation by Manilius. A nanny is a person who rears children other than her own, as Amalthea raised Zeus, and Erichthonius was raised by Athena. When Zeus became an adult, he made a shield from the hide of this goat after she died. This was Zeus ‘aegis’ which protected him and frightened his enemies [11], it had the goulish star Algol (beta Perseus) in the center. The skin of Amalthea, the aegis, from Indo-European *aig– ‘goat’, is the goatskin shield or breastplate of Zeus. Athena was so favored by her father that she was the only god-child of Zeus allowed to wear the Aegis [12]. In Greek the word aigis bore a dual meaning, both ‘stormy’ and ‘goatish,’ hence the close connection between goats and storms in myth [13]. A title given to Auriga was ‘The Good Shepherd’; the Good Shepherd expresses a similar meaning to ‘aegis’; under the protection, guidance or patronage.

The name, Amalthea, the she-goat that nourished the infant Jupiter, “from Greek Amaltheia, which is probably related to Greek malthakos, ‘soft, light, weak’, malakos, ‘soft'” [Klein] [from I.E. root *mel- ‘soft’]. Greek malakos, ‘soft’ is related to the word amalgamate to join or unite; amalgamate; as though joining the two gametes. (Erichthonius is credited with introducing marriage (Greek gamos) among the Athenians.) Valpy sees the word resolved into Am-althea, the prefix Am-, from ama, to unite, related to amal-gamate [Greek…, p.18, 19], and the suffix –althea of Amalthea [Greek…, p.16] as related to Greek althaia, from althainein, to heal [from I.E. root *al-  ‘To grow, nourish’].

The snake, Erichthonius, might be the hamadryad, or king cobra, from *sem which is also the root of the Greek word for charioteer, or coach driver, Heniochus. The Cobra is the most feared of all poisonous snakes and its name comes from the Portuguese cobra de capello (hooded snake). A rearing cobra with a dilated hood (uraeus) was also a potent symbol of royalty in ancient Egypt [14]. Capella is the alpha star of this constellation, Latin capella is a diminutive of capa, from Late Latin cappa, hooded cloak. Coaches are carriages with hoods; French Cocher, the Italian Cocchiere were titles for Auriga – related to the word coach. [Perhaps a relationship between Hoedus, the Latin traditional name for haedi, kid goats, and hood?]

Pliny and Manilius treated the alpha star, Capella as a constellation by itself, also calling it Capra, Caper, Hircus, and by other hircine titles. Charles Earle Funk (Thereby Hangs a Tale) says that because goats were perceived as enjoying the freedom to change their minds, we use the word caprice to mean a whim. The suffix –rice in ‘caprice’ is related to the words hirsute (from Latin hircus, ‘he-goat’), and horror, from riccio ‘curl, frizzled,’ literally ‘hedgehog,’ in which the hair is said to stand erect like spines, as though in horror, from Latin ericius. This word, caprice, might belong to Capricornus but because of the horror stories associated with Auriga I imagine that the suffix ‘-rice’ in caprice must have something to do with this constellation also. Auriga contains and the capricious Kid Goats, and the Nanny Goat, whose skin after she died became the aegis of Zeus, adorned with the petrifying Medusa’s head in its center. One story tells us that the goat, Amalthea, was so ugly that it could frighten even the Titans. Another story mentions that this goat was not Amalthea herself, but the goat that Amalthea owned. Latin ericius resembles the prefix of Erichthonius‘ name, Eri-chthonius, which is thought to be from eri, or eris, strife or fight. It was said that the daughters of Cecrops took one look at Erichthonius as a baby and were so horrified by what they saw that they leaped from the Acropolis to their deaths.

“The windblown clouds, supposedly, are skittish goats. But language is itself capricious: the supposed goat in ‘caprice’ was originally a hedgehog. The word is from the Italian capo, head, and riccio, hedgehog, and originally meant ‘horror‘, in which the hair is said to stand erect like spines. … capricious could translate as ‘curly-headed’. Clouds, although not capricious in the hedgehog sense, are often metaphorically perceived as hair, just as the sea is [Charles Earle Funk, Thereby Hangs a Tale].

There is a similarity between the name of the Greek title, Eniochos, for this constellation, Latin Heniochus, and the name Enoch (Hebrew hanokh, translated to the Greek Henoch). The city on the Euphrates, Uruk (Biblical Erech, Eresh, now Warka) “was recognized at once by Sayce, and many others, as identical with the Biblical word, Enoch” [15]. “The theory that the modern name of Iraq could be possibly derived from the name Uruk is not proven” [16]. Erechresembles Erichthonius. There are some parallels between these characters: Both Erichthonius and Enoch inherited cities already built. Cain built Enoch and named it after his son Enoch (Genesis 4:17), which is identified with Uruk or Erech. Uruk has sanctuaries of the goddess Inanna, who is also called Nana or Eanna; this constellation has a nanny-goat Amalthea, Capella. “Enoch walked with God” and lived 365 years; the Charioteer, Aruna, travels with the sun 365 days a year.

Greek eniautos (eni-autos, “in a year” [Valpy, p.89]), means annual, or yearly; the suffix –autos, ‘year’, has the same spelling as autos, ‘self’, except that the in Greek autos, ‘self’ has a diphthong, and is of “unknown origin”. Both autos might belong to this constellation: A surviving fragment of the fourth book of the History of Alexandria describes a procession in honour of Dionysos:

“After the Satyrs come two Sileni, the one with petasos and caduceus as herald, the other with trumpet to make proclamation. And between them walked a man great of stature, four cubits tall in the dress and mask of a tragic actor and carrying the gold horn of Amaltheia. His name was Eniautos.

Greek eniautos (eniautos), means annual, or yearly. The nanny-goat of this constellation performed the same function for Zeus as we understand a children’s nurse, or nanny to do. This word, nanny, is thought to be related to Greek nanna, ‘aunt’, and the names: Anne, Anna, Nancy, etc [17]. The word annual is derived from Latin annus, and comes from the name Anna Porenna, the Roman goddess of the year [18].

The astrological influences of the constellation given by Manilius:

“The Charioteer lifts his team from ocean and wrests his wheels up from the downward slope of the horizon where icy Boreas lashes us with his bitter blasts. He will impart his own enthusiasms and the skills, still retained in heaven, which as driver of a chariot he once took pleasure in on earth (that is, the constellation is identified with Erichthonius). The Charioteer will enable his son to stand in a light chariot and hold in check the four mouths curbed with foam-flecked bits (Erichthonius invented the quadriga, or four-horse chariot), guide their powerful strength, and keep close to the curve round which they wheel. Again, when the bolts have been drawn and the horses have escaped from the starting-pens, he will urge on the spirited steeds and, leaning forward, he will seem to precede them in their swift career; hardly touching the surface of the track with his light wheels, he will outstrip the winds with his coursers’ feet. Holding first place in the contest he will drive to the side in a balking course and, his obstruction delaying his rivals, deny them the whole breadth of the circus-track; or if he is placed mid-way in the press, he will now swing to a course on the outside, trusting in the open, now keep close to the pointed turning-post, and will leave the result in doubt to the very last moment. As a trick-rider too he will be able to settle himself now on one, now on a second horse, and plant his feet firmly upon them: flying from horse to horse he will perform tricks on the backs of animals in flight themselves; or mounted on a single horse he will now engage in exercise of arms, now whilst still riding pick up gifts scattered along the length of the circus. He will possess virtuosity in all that is connected with such pursuits. 

Of this constellation, I think, Salmoneus may be held to have been born imitating heaven on earth, he imagined that by setting his  team of four on a bridge of bronze and driving it across he had expressed the crash of the heavens (referring to Phaeton’s disastrous attempt to drive the sun-chariot one day) and had brought to earth Jove’s very self; however, while counterfeiting thunderbolts he was struck by real ones and, falling after the fires he had flung himself, discovered in death that Jove existed. You may well believe that under this constellation was born Bellerophon, who flew amid the stars and laid a road on heaven (The Milky Way): the sky was the field over which he sped, whilst land and sea lay far beneath his feet, and his path was unmarked by footprints. By examples such as these are you to mark the rising figure of the Charioteer”. [Manilius, Astronomica, book 5, 1st century A.D., p. 305-309].

Manilius referring to Capella, Alpha Auriga:

“The Olenian goat [Capella, Olenian either as being on the left arm of the Charioteer, or as the daughter of Oleniss], keeping watch over the Kids which stray ahead, enstarred on the right in the cold north sky for her services as foster-mother of mighty Jove (Jupiter). She gave the Thunderer (Jupiter) sound nourishment, satisfying with her own milk the infant’s hungry body and giving him therewith sufficient strength to wield his bolts. Of the Goat are born anxious minds and trembling hearts, which start at every noise and are apt to flutter at the slightest cause. Inborn in them, too, is a longing to explore the unknown, even as goats seek fresh shrubs on mountain slopes and rejoice, as they browse, to move ever further afield”. [Manilius, book 5 of Astronomica 1st century A.D., p. 305-309]

Manilius referring to the Hyades rising: Hoedus 1, Hoedus 1 (zeta Auriga) and Hoedus 11, Hoedus 11 (eta Auriga) when rising (on the Ascendant):

“The Kids display their quivering chins, promise to mankind of their shaggy backs at a later hour, on the right horizon where the north wind blows. Think not that hence is fashioned a product of severe mien, that hence are born stern-faced Catos (Cato the Censor), an inflexible Torquatus (who killed his son) and men to repeat the deed of Horatius (who killed his sister). Such a charge would be too much for the sign, nor does such greatness befit the frisking Kids, who rejoice in frivolity and stamp their young with a wanton breast. These abandon themselves to playful sport and nimble activity, and spend their youth in fickle loves. Though honor never inspires them to shed their blood, lust often drives them to do so, and their base desires cost even their lives; to perish thus is their least disgrace, since their triumph is a triumph of vice. The Kids also give to those born under them the custody of flocks, and beget a shepherd of their own kind, one to hang a pipe round his neck and draw from its different stops melodious strains”. [Manilius, book 5 of Astronomica, 1st century A.D., p. 305-309]

Manilius referring to the Hyades setting; Haedi 1 (zeta Auriga) and Haedi 11 (eta Auriga) when setting (on the descendant):

“But when the heedless Kid, like one astray in secluded dells, looks for his brethren’s tracks and rises at a distance far behind the flock, he fashions an adroit mind and a spirit which occupies itself with business of every kind, which falters not under cares, and which is never satisfied with home. Such men are the servants of the state, passing through the magistracies and judicial offices. When he is there, the auctioneer’s spear (a spear was fixed in the ground at public auctions) will not look in vain for a lifted finger or confiscated goods lack a bidder; when he is there, no criminal will go scot-free or any debtor to the treasury defraud the state. He is the city’s attorney. In addition, he indulges in a host of love affairs, and at the Wine-god’s (Dionysus/Bacchus) behest drops public business, when he reveals himself as agile at dancing and more supple than performers on the stage”. [Manilius, book 5 of Astronomica, 1st century A.D., p. 305-309].

© Anne Wright 2008.

Fixed stars in Auriga
Star 1900 2000 R A Decl 2000 Lat Mag Sp
Hasseleh iota ( 15GEM15 16GEM38 4h 56m 59.6s +33° 9′ 58″ +10 26 54 2.90 K3
Hoedus 1 zeta (ζ) 17GEM14 18GEM38 5h 2m 28.7s +41° 4′ 33″ +18 11 46 3.08 var K4
epsilon (ε) 17GEM28 18GEM51 5h 1m 58.1s +43° 49′ 24″ +20 56 16 var F0
Hoedus 11 eta (η) 18GEM03 19GEM27 5h 6m 30.9s +41° 14′ 4″ +18 16 42 3.28 B3
Capella alpha (α) 20GEM28 21GEM51 5h 16m 41.4s +45° 59′ 53″ +22 51 50 0.08 G5
upsilon (υ) 26GEM47 28GEM10 5h 51m 2.4s +37° 18′ 20″ +13 52 29 4.99 M1
Menkalinan beta (β) 28GEM31 29GEM55 5h 59m 31.7s +44° 56′ 51″ +21 30 06 1.90 var A2
delta (δ) 28GEM32 29GEM55 5h 59m 31.6s +54° 17′ 5″ +30 50 26 3.88 G6
theta (θ) 28GEM34 29GEM57 5h 59m 43.3s +37° 12′ 45″ +13 46 04 2.71 A0

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

Thou hast loosened the necks of thine horses, and goaded their flanks with affright,

To the race of a course that we know not on ways that are hid from our sight.

As a wind through the darkness the wheels of their chariot are whirled,

And the light of its passage is night on the face of the world.

— Algernon Charles Swinburne’s Erechtheus

Auriga, the Charioteer or Wagoner in early days the Wainman, is the French Cocher, the Italian Cocchiere, and the German Fuhrmann

It is a large constellation stretching northward across the Milky Way from its star gamma, which also marks one of the Bull’s horns, to the feet of Camelopardalis, about 30° in extent north and south and 40° east and west; and is shown as a young man with whip in the right hand, but without a chariot, the Goat being supported against the left shoulder and the Kids on the wrist. This, with some variations, has been the drawing from the earliest days, when, as now, it was important, chiefly from the beauty of Capella and its attendant stars so prominent in the northwest in the spring twilight, and in the northeast in early autumn. But the Hyginus of 1488 has a most absurd Driver in a ridiculously inadequate four-wheeled car, with the Goat and Kids in their usual position, the reins being held over four animals abreast — a yoke of oxen, a horse, and a zebra (!); while the Hyginus of Micyllus, in 1535, has the Driver in a two-wheeled cart with a pair of horses and a yoke of oxen all abreast. A Turkish planisphere shows {Page 84} these stars depicted as a Mule, and they were so regarded by the early Arabs, who did not know — at all events did not picture — the Driver, Goat, or Kids. In this form Bayer Latinized it as the Mulusclitellatus, the Mule with Panniers.

Ideler thinks that the original figure was made up of the five stars alpha (Capella), beta (Menkalinan), epsilon, zeta (Haedi1), and eta (Haedi11); the Driver, represented by alpha (Capella), standing on an antique sloping Chariot marked by beta (Menkalinan); the other stars showing the reins. But later on the Chariot was abandoned and the reins transferred to their present position, the Goat being added by a misunderstanding, the word Aix, analogous to Aigis, simply meaning a Storm Wind that, apparently, in all former times the stars alpha (Capella), eta (Haedi11, and zeta (Haedi1) have portended at their heliacal rising, or by their disappearance in the mists. Still later to alpha as the Goat were added the near-by eta and zeta as her Kids, the Eriphoi, an addition that Hyginus said was made by Cleostratos.

But the results of modem research now give us reason to think that the constellation originated on the Euphrates in much the same form as we have it, and that it certainly was a well-established sky figure there millenniums ago. A sculpture from Nimroud is an almost exact representation of Auriga with the Goat carried on the left arm; while in Graeco-Babylonian times the constellation Rukubi, the Chariot, lay here nearly coincident with our Charioteer, perhaps running over into Taurus

Eniochos, the Rein-holder, was transcribed Heniochus by Latin authors, and personified by Germanicus and others as Erechtheus (Erechtheus), or more properly Erichthonius (Erichthonius), son of Vulcan and Minerva, who, having inherited his father’s lameness, found necessary some means of easy locomotion. This was secured by his invention of the four-horse chariot which not only well became his regal position as the 4th of the early kings of Athens, but secured for him a place in the sky. Manilius thus told the story:

Near the bent Bull a Seat the Driver claims,

Whose skill conferr’d his Honour and his Names.

His Art great Jove admir’d, when first he drove

His rattling Carr, and fix’t the Youth above.

Vergil had something similar in his 3rd Georgic

These names appear as late as the 17th century with Bullialdus and Longomontanus, Riccioli writing Erichtonius

Others saw here Myrtilus, the charioteer of Oenomaus, who betrayed his master to Pelops; or Cillas, the latter’s driver; Pelethronius, a Thessalian; and Trethon; while Euripides and Pausanias identified him with the unfortunate Hippolytus, the Hebrew Joseph of classical literature. {Page 85} Additional titles in Greece were Armelates, Diphrelates, Ippelates, and Elasippos, all signifying a Charioteer; while La Lande’s Bellerophon and Phaethon are appropriate enough, and his Trochilus may be, if the word be degenerated from trochalos, running; but his Absyrthe, correctly Apsurtos, the young brother of Medea (Absyrtis, or Apsyrtus), is unintelligible.

Although Auriga was the usual name with the Latins, their poets called it Aurigator; Agitatorcurrusretinenshabenas; Habenifer and Tenenshabenas, the Charioteer and the Rein-holder; some of these titles descending to the Tables and Almagests down to the 16th century. Arator, the Ploughman, appeared with Nigidius and Varro for this, or for Bootes; in fact the same idea still holds with some of the Teutonic peasantry, among whom Capella and the Kids (zeta (Haedi1), and eta (Haedi11)) are known as the PloughmanwithhisOxen. Grimm mentions for the group Voluyara, as stars that ploughmen know. The Acator occasionally seen may be an erroneous printing of Arator.

From the Goat and Kids came Gustoscaprarum, Habenscapellas, Habenshaedos, and Habenshircum. Habensoleniamcapram and OleniaesiduspluvialeCapellae of Ovid’s Metamorphoses are from the Oleninen of Aratos, thought to be derived from olene, the wrist, on which the Kids are resting. Some, however, with more probability have referred the word to Olenus, the father and birthplace of the nymph Amalthea in ancient Aetolia.

Isidorus of Hispalis [This early Hispalis, the modern Seville, was the site of the first European observatory of our era, erected by the Moor Geber in 1196.] — Saint Isidore — called it Mavors, the poetical term for Mars, the father of Romulus and so the god of the shepherds; Nonius, the Portuguese Pedro Nunez of the 16th century, similarly said that it was Mafurthis; and Bayer found for it Maforte: but his Ophiultus, probably a Low Latin word also applied to alpha (Capella), seems to be without explanation.

Some have thought that Auriga was Horus with the Egyptians; but Scaliger said that the Hora of the translation of Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos should be Roha, Bayer’s Roh, a Wagoner; Beigel, however, considered it a misprint for Lora, the Reins.

The barbarous Alhaior, Alhaiot, Althaiot, Alhaiset, Alhatod, Alhajot, Alhajoth, Alhojet, Alanac, Alanat, and Alioc, — even these perhaps do not exhaust the list, — used for both constellation and lucida (alpha star Capella), are probably degenerate forms of the Arabs’ AlAnz and AlAyyuk, specially applied to Capella as the Goat, which they figured as the desert Ibex, their Badan; and Ideler thinks that this may have been the earliest Arabic designation for the star.

The 1515 Almagest says, “etnominaturlatineantarii . . . idestcollarium,”   this Collarium perhaps referring to the collar in the Charioteer’s harness; {Page 86} but the Antarii has puzzled all, unless it be Professor Young, who suggests that it may be the reins diverging from the Driver’s hand like guy-ropes, which the original means as used by Vitruvius in his description of a builder’s derrick.

The Arabians translated the classic titles for the Rein-holder into AlDhualInan, AlMasikalInan, and AlMumsikalInan, — Chilmead’s MumassichAlhanam; but the Rabbi Aben Ezra [This celebrated man, often cited in bygone days as Abenare, Avenore, Evenare, was Abraham ben Meir ben Ezra of Toledo, the great Hebrew commentator of the l2th century, an astronomer, mathematician, philologist, poet, and scholar, and the first noted biblical critic.] mixed things up by calling the figure Pastorincujusmanuestfrenum

Some have illustrated it as SaintJerome, but Caesius likened it to Jacob deceiving his father with the flesh of his kids; and Seiss says that it represents the GoodShepherd who laid down his life for the sheep. A Chariot and Goat are shown on coins of consular Rome, and a Goat alone on those of Paros, that may have referred to this constellation.

Capella’s course admiring landsmen trace,

But sailors hate her inauspicious face.

— Lamb’s Aratos

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