Ursa Minor

Constellations of Words

Explore the etymology and symbolism of the constellations

the Lesser Bear

Ursa Minor surrounded byDracoinUrania’s Mirror1825

1. Clues to the meaning of this celestial feature
2. The fixed stars in this constellation
3. History_of_the_constellation

Clues to the meaning of this celestial feature

Ursa Minor was once seen as Draco‘s wings, the wings of the Dragon, Thales around 600 B.C. used them to form this constellation. Ursa Minor, the Little Bear, represents Arcas, the son of the Great Mother Bear who is represented in the adjoining constellation, Ursa Major. Ursa Minor also had the title Cynosura, ‘dog’s tail’, in Greek mythology, Cynosura was a nymph on Mount Ida in Crete, who along with Helice (Ursa Major), nursed Zeus/Jupiter when he was being hidden from his father, Cronus/Saturn. In gratitude, Zeus placed her in the heavens as the constellation Ursa Minor. Cynosura is another name for the constellation Ursa Minor or its brightest star, Polaris. According to Allen (Star Names, under Ursa Major) “Subsequent story changed the nurses into the Cretan nymphs Helice and Melissa”, Melissa might represent Ursa Minor.

“Now the one men call by name Cynosura (Ursa Minor) and the other Helice (Ursa Major). It is by Helice that the Achaeans (Greek sailors) on the sea divine which way to steer their ships, but in the other (Ursa Minor) the Phoenicians put their trust when they cross the sea. But Helice (Ursa Major) appearing large at earliest night, is bright and easy to mark; but the other is small, yet better for sailors: for in a smaller orbit wheel all her stars. By her guidance, then, the men of Sidon (Phoenicians) steer the straightest course…” [Phaenomena, Aratus, p.209]

According to Diodorus “the Sicilian travelers direct their course by the Bears, in the same manner as is done at sea” [Star Names]. The expression ‘to get one’s bearings‘ would also mean for a navigator to know your position in reference to the bears (Ursa Major and Ursa Minor), especially Polaris, although I don’t know if this is how the expression originated. An Italian name for Polaris was la Tramontana which is a classical name for the cold northern wind in Italy. Allen says in Star Names p.454 “One derivation of this transmontane is from the fact that the nations along the Mediterranean saw the star beyond their northern mountain boundary; and the word appears in the popular saying, current among the Latin races, of a man’s “losing his Tramontane” when one had lost his bearings.”

PolarisUrsa Minor contains the guiding star Polaris. Nowadays our word Cynosure, from Latin cynosura, from Greek kunosoura, ‘dog’s tail’, is often used just for the Polestar, Polaris, alpha Ursa Minor. Cynosura was a title for the whole constellation of Ursa Minor in classical times. Cynosure means an object that serves as a focal point of attention, or something that serves to guide.

Ursa Minor (Lesser Bear). Aglaosthenes (Greek poet circa 7th BC), who wrote the Naxica, says that she is Cynosura (the dog’s tail), one of the nurses of Jove from the number of the Idaean Nymphae. He says, too, that in the city called Histoe, founded by Nicostratus and his friends, both the harbour and the greater part of the land are called Cynosura from her name. She, too, was among the Curetes who were attendants of Jove (Zeus). Some say that the nymphae Helice (Ursa Major) and Cynosura were nurses of Jove, and so for gratitude were placed in the sky, both being called Bears. We call them Septentriones.” – Hyginus, Astronomica 2.2 [

This constellation also represents Arcas, the son of the Zeus (Jupiter, Jove), and Callisto (Kallisto – Ursa Major or Arktos). The land that is called Arcadia was named after Arcas. Arcadia, or Arcady, is often described in idyllic terms; the ideal land of rustic simplicity:

Arcadia has become a poetic byword for an idyllic vision of unspoiled wilderness filled with the bounties of nature and inhabited by shepherds … Arcadia may refer to some imaginary idyllic paradise, immortalized by Virgil’s Eclogues, … Arcadia (utopia)” [].

Arcadia, that’s older than the moon (if we believe it), takes its name from great Arcas, Callisto’s son” [Ovid Book 1, The Carmentalia 3 ].

“Ancient Greeks heard similarities in its sound to arkys, a hunter’s snare or net. Arcadia was the stomping grounds of the goddess Artemis, the virgin huntress known to the Romans as Diana. It reminded the Greeks also of their verb arkein ‘to be strong, to endure, to be sufficient,’ and its impersonal form, arkei moi, ‘it’s enough for me; I’m happy, content.'” [Acadian Food Words & New Origin of the Word Acadia

“The Greek verb arkein is of unknown origin, but showing archaic Indo-European features like alternation arkh-; o-grade orkh-, with derivatives arkhe, rule, beginning, and arkhos, ruler” [Watkins, American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots, p.5]. Words relating to the Greek verb arkein, ‘to begin, rule, command’ include: arc (part of the circumference of a circle or other curve), arch-, –arch, archaeo-, Archaeanage (3800 to 2500 million years ago. First life appears after the Hadean age which had no life), archaic, archi-, architect, architecture, archetype, archive, archon, –archy, autarchy, endarch, exarch, menarche, mesarch, xerarch, archives, archaeology, monarchy, anarchy, patriarch, archbishop, archenemy, archi-.

“In earliest Northern India the star nearest the pole was known as Grahadhara, the Pivot of the Planets, representing the god Dhruva, and Al Biruni said that among the Hindus of his time it was Dhruva himself” [Allen, Star Names under Polaris].

Dhruva, in Hindu mythology, was the prince blessed to eternal existence and glory as the Pole Star (Dhruva Nakshatra in Sanskrit) by Lord Vishnu []. “Dhruva started his penance, and went without food and water for six months, his mind fixed on the Lord. The austerity of his penance shook the heavens and the Lord appeared before him, but the child would not open his eyes because he was still merged in his inner vision of Vishnu’s form described to him by Narada. Lord Vishnu had to adopt a strategy by causing that inner vision to disappear. Immediately Dhruva opened his eyes and seeing outside what he was all along seeing inside his mental eyes, prostrated before the Lord. …When his sojourn in the world came to an end, a celestial chariot came to take him to ‘God’s Abode’. He told the charioteer that God was everywhere and so the question of taking him to god’s place did not arise. So saying, he sat down closing his eyes in meditation and merged in the Divine”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhruva 

This constellation which contains the guiding star, Polaris, might represent the polar bears in particular, because the North Pole and its surrounds is their environment. “Dhruva went without food and water for six months”; polar bears hibernate for six months and go without food and water; “he sat down closing his eyes in meditation and merged in the Divine”; bears usually den up, and spend their winter in the state of winter dormancy, called torpor. They do not truly hibernate like other hibernating animals []. The Poles have six months of light and six months of darkness. Right at the Poles, the sun only rises once and sets once each year; the sun shines for half the year and it is dark for the other half of the year. This makes a year like one long day; six months of light and six months of darkness. At the summer solstice (about June 22) the Sun reaches the point farthest north of the celestial equator. (The South Pole is in the constellation Octans).

“Ursa Minor, as is now drawn, is enclosed on three sides by the coils of Draco” [Allen, Star Names]. This Pole, or the constellation Ursa Minor, was also imagined as a tree, with Draco, the Dragon (Ladon) guarding the tree in the garden of the Hesperides, or twined round the tree and guarding the golden apples, while tormenting the Titan Atlas (perhaps Camelopardalis) as he held the heavens on his shoulders. Or the dragon in the heavens is guarding the North Pole, or the constellation Ursa Minor

“‘The tree of the Summit’ was a type of the Celestial Pole, Seat of Judgment, and was guarded by the celestial serpent, the Constellation Draco” [].

“By the Hermetic principle, the World Axis or Tree (or Ladder of Isis, or Djed Column) joins the north celestial pole, the opening in the sky, with the opening in the earth, which is a figure of an entrance to the Hall of Records (archives?)” [].

The word ‘true‘ is cognate with Sanskrit dhruva, and related to Dhruva, the Hindu god representing the Pole star. True and tree derive from the Indo-European root *deru– Also dreu-. ‘To be firm, solid, steadfast; hence specialized senses ‘wood,’ ‘tree,’ and derivatives referring to objects made of wood’. Derivatives: tree (from Old English trow), truce (from Old English trow, pledge), true (from Old English trowe), truth, trow (to think, to suppose), troth, betroth (from Old English trowth), trust (‘to be solid’), tryst (from Old French triste, waiting place < ‘place where one waits trustingly’), tray, trough, trim, (these words from Old English trum, firm, strong), shelter (shield + truma, troop, from Old English truma, troop), tar¹ (resin, pitch obtained from the pine tree, also the -tar of nectar), tarpaulin, tarmac, dour, duramen (the nonliving central wood of a tree), duress, durum (a hardy wheat), duramater or dura matter (the outermost of the three meninges that surround the brain and spinal cord), endure, indurate, obdurate, (these words from Latin drus, hard), dryad (female deities associated with trees from Greek ‘drus‘, ‘an oak tree’), hamadryad, dendro-, dendrites, dendron, philodendron, rhododendron, (these words from Greek dendron, tree), druid (from Latin druides, the Celtic priestly caste from dru, tree + wid, ‘know’, hence literally meaning ‘they who know the oak’). [Pokorny deru– 214. Watkins] Irish placename Derry. “Dorians, Dorus (son of Hellen, Helen and Hellenes might be Ursa Major), Julius Pokorny derives Dorian from Doris, ‘woodland’ …The Dori– segment would be from the o-grade of Indo-European *deru-, ‘tree’. The original forest must have comprised a much larger area than just Doris. Dorian might be translated as ‘the country people’, ‘the mountain people’, ‘the uplanders’, ‘the people of the woods’ or some such appellation, which is eminently suitable to their reputed origin” [].

Shakespeare wrote in JuliusCaesar

constant as the Northern Star

Of whose true fixed and resting quality

There is no fellow in the firmament.

Ursa Minor is the Little Bear, Arcas, son of the the Great Mother Bear, Ursa Major. Little bear cubs are born very small, about 500th of the mother’s weight, and in legend it was believed that it was born as a shapeless lump of flesh, and the mother bear (Ursa Major) completes the work of gestation by licking the foetus into its proper form, the origin of the expression ‘to lick into shape’; to give proper form to. Little bears are essentially embryos; en– ‘in’ + bryein, ‘to swell, be full’, from Greek bryon, moss, Klein says; “and probably cognate with German kraut, ‘herb’, perhaps also with Latin veru, ‘spit’ which in the Celtic languages is Irish bior, Welsh bêr, Celtic beru“. Latin veru means a dart, a spit used in roasting, or a toasting fork; the word resembles verus, the Latin word for true? The suffix –bryo– of embryo is from Greek bruein ‘to be full, to swell’; Greek bruein resembles the poetic name for a bear, bruin. The words bear, brown and bruin, derives from the Indo-European root *bher ‘Bright, brown’.

When a pregnant female bear begins hibernation, the embryo will attach itself to the uterine wall, and after about eight weeks the cubs will be born while the mother is still in hibernation []. In medicine, the developing fertilized ovum is not called an embryo until after the long axis appears [“By the Hermetic principle, the World Axis or Tree joins the north celestial pole” ]. From the end of the second week after fertilization until the end of the eighth week, it is termed an embryo, then it becomes a fetus when its embryonic tail disappears [bears have no tail, a feature of these two bear constellations is that they do have tails, explained by the myth that Jupiter lay hold of the tails of the two bears and lifted them up into the heavens giving them long tails]. Embryonic also has the meaning; “in an initial or rudimentary stage of development”, an in; “an embryonic nation, not yet self-governing”. This might explain why Arcadia, or Arcady, is described in idyllic terms; the ideal land of rustic simplicity – underdeveloped and shapeless – like an embryo perhaps?

Arcadia was applied to the Atlantic regions of New France, particularly to present-day Nova Scotia. The letter began to disappear from the name on early maps—probably at first through a single copyist’s error—so that eventually the region was known as Acadia and in French Acadie. … [Acadian Food Words & New Origin of the Word Acadia

The astrological influences of the constellation given by Manilius:

“Now where heaven reaches its culmination in the shining Bears, which from the summit of the sky look down on all the stars and know no setting and, shifting their opposed stations about the same high point, set sky and stars in rotation, from there an insubstantial axis runs down through the wintry air and controls the universe, keeping it pivoted at opposite poles: it forms the middle about which the starry sphere revolves and wheels its heavenly flight, but is itself without motion and, drawn straight through the empty spaces of the great sky to the two Bears and through the very globe of the Earth, stands fixed, since the entire atmosphere ever revolves in a circle, and every part of the whole rotates to the place from which it once began, that which is in the middle, about which all moves, so insubstantial that it cannot turn round upon itself or even submit to motion or spin in circular fashion, this men have called the axis, since, motionless itself, it yet sees everything spinning about it.

“The top of the axis is occupied by constellations well known to hapless mariners, guiding them over the measureless deep in their search for gain. Helice (Ursa Major), the greater, describes the greater arc; it is marked by seven stars which vie with each other under its guidance the ships of Greece set sail to cross the seas.

Cynosura [Ursa Minor] is small and wheels round in a narrow circle, less in brightness as it is in size, but in the judgment of the Tyrians it excels the larger bear.

“Carthaginians count it the surer-guide when at sea they make for unseen shores. They are not set face to face: each with its muzzle points at the other’s tail and follows one that follows it. Sprawling between them and embracing each the Dragon (Draco) separates and surrounds them with its glowing stars lest they ever meet or leave their stations.” [Astronomica, Manilius, 1st century AD, p.27].

© Anne Wright 2008.

Fixed stars in Ursa Minor
Star 1900 2000 R A Decl 1950 Lat Mag Sp
Polaris alpha 27GEM10 28GEM34 027 12 07 +89 01 44 +66 05 44 2.12 F8
Yildun delta 29GEM48 01CAN12 267 04 38 +86 36 35 +69 56 22 4.44 A0
epsilon 07CAN45 09CAN08 252 45 15 +82 07 21 =73 54 60 var G5
zeta 26CAN01 27CAN24 236 26 58 +77 56 57 +75 06 59 4.34 A2
eta 28CAN56 00LEO19 244 44 06 +75 52 16 +77 49 39 5.04 A8
Kochab beta 11LEO54 13LEO19 222 42 26 +74 21 35 +72 59 01 2.24 K4
Pherkad gamma 20LEO10 21LEO36 230 11 51 +72 00 43 +75 14 16 3.14 A2

Hevelius,Firmamentum, 1690

History of the constellation

from Star Names, 1889, Richard H. Allen

The other, less in size but valued more by sailors,

Circles with all her stars in smaller orbit.

   — Poste’s Aratos

UrsaMinor, The Lesser Bear, is the OrsaMinore of Italy, PetiteOurse of France, and KleineBar of Germany, shared with its major companion the latter’s Septentrio, Arktos, Amaxa, Aganna, and Elike

Similarly it was Kunosouris, but solely Kunosoura; this early and universal title, usually translated the “Dog’s Tail,” (from Greek kuon, dog, and oura, tail) continuing as Cynosura down to the time of the RudolphineTables; although with us “Cynosure” is applied only to Polaris. The origin of this word is uncertain, for the star group does not answer to its name unless the dog himself be attached; still some, recalling a variant legend of Kallisto and her Dog instead of Arcas, have thought that here lay the explanation. Others have drawn this title from that of the Attican promontory east of Marathon, because sailors, on their approach to it from the sea, saw these stars shining above it and beyond; but if there be any connection at all here, the reversed derivation is more {Page 448} probable; while Bournouf asserted that it is in no way associated with the Greek word for “dog.”

Cox identified the word with Aukosoura, which he renders Tail, or Train, ofLight. Yet this does not seem appropriate to a comparatively faint constellation, and would rather recall the city of that title in Arcadia, the country so intimately connected with the Bears. But the stellar name probably long antedated the geographical, old as this was; Pausanias considering Lycosura the most ancient city in the world, having been founded by Lycaon (Lupus) some time before the Deluge of Deucalion. Indeed the Arcadians asserted that they and their country antedated the creation of the moon, an assertion which gave occasion to Aristotle’s term for them, — Proselenoi and the Latins’ Proselenes.

Singularly coincident with the foregoing Aukosoura was the title that the distant Gaels gave to these stars, — Dragblod, the Fire Tail.

Very recently, however, Brown has suggested that the word is not Hellenic in origin, but Euphratean; -and, in confirmation of this, mentions a constellation title from that valley, transcribed by Sayce as Antasurra, the Upper Sphere. Brown reads this Annassurra, High in Rising, certainly very appropriate to Ursa Minor; and he compares it with K-uv-os, or, the initial consonant being omitted, Unosoura. This, singularly like the Euphratean original, “might easily become Kunosoura under the influence of a popular etymology, aided by the appearance of the tail stars of the constellation. And in exact accordance with the foregoing view is the following somewhat curious passage in the Phainomena, 308-9:

Then, too, the head of Kynosure runs very high,

When night begins.

Ursa Minor was not mentioned by Homer or Hesiod, for, according to Strabo, it was not admitted among the constellations of the Greeks until about 600 B.C., when Thales, inspired by its use in Phoenicia, his probable birthplace, suggested it to the Greek mariners in place of its greater neighbor, which till then had been their sailing guide. Aratos, comparing the two, wrote, as in our motto, of the Minor, its Guards, beta and gamma, then being much nearer the pole than was alpha, our present pole-star. Thales is reported to have formed it by utilizing the ancient wings of Draco, perceiving that the seven chief components somewhat resembled the well-known Wain, but reversed with respect to each other. From all this come its titles Phoinike, Phoenice, and UrsaPhoenicia [these words should relate to the constellation Phoenix, and the related word Phoenician; the Phoenician mariners used Polaris as their guiding star].

The later classical story that made sister nymphs out of the stars of our two Bears, and nurses on Mount Ida of the infant Jove, is alluded to by Manilius in his line {Page 449};

The Little Bear that rocked the mighty Jove.

Although occasionally, but wrongly, figured and described as equal in size, — Euripides wrote:

Twin Bears, with the swift-wandering rushings of their tails, guard the Atlantean pole, —

they have always occupied their present respective positions, and, as Manilius said:

stand not front to front but each doth view

The others Tayl, pursu’d as they pursue;

the scientific poet Erasmus Darwin of the last century, grandfather of Charles Robert Darwin of this, imitating this in his EconomyofVegetation

Onward the kindred Bears, with footsteps rude,

Dance round the pole, pursuing and pursued.

This “dancing” of the stars generally, as well as of the planets, was a favorite simile, and in classical days specially gave name to delta and epsilon of this constellation, as well as in Hindu astronomy; while Dante thus applied it to all those that were circumpolar:

Like unto stars neighboring the steadfast poles,

Ladies they seemed, not from the dance released.

The Arabians knew Ursa Minor as AlDubbalAsghar, the Lesser Bear, — Bayer’s DhubElezguar, and Chilmead’s DubAlasgar, although earlier it was even more familiar to them as another Bier; and they called the three stars in the tail of our figure BanatalNaashalSughra, the Daughters of the Lesser Bier.

Here, and in Ursa Major, some early commentators located the Fold, an ancient stellar figure of the Arabs, and an appropriate title, as Firuzabadi called beta and the gammas in Ursa Minor AlFarkadain, usually rendered the Two Calves, but, better, the Two Young Ibexes; Polaris, too, was well known as a YoungHeGoat, and adjacent stars bore names of desert animals more or less associated with a fold. Perhaps Lowell had this in mind when he wrote, in Prometheus, of

The Bear that prowled all night about the fold

Of the North-star.

But Manilius anticipated him in writing of the Bears:

Secure from meeting they’re distinctly rolled,

Nor leave their Seats, and pass the dreadfull fold.

{Page 450} The Arabs also likened the constellation to a Fish, while with all that nation, heathen or Muhammadan, it was AlFass, the Hole in which the earth’s axle found its bearing.

Others of them, as well as the Persians, figured here the Ihlilagji, the Myrobalanum, or Date-palm Seed or Fruit, which the grouped stars were thought to resemble; but Hyde, writing the word Myrobalanaris, said that it signified one of their geometrical figures, — described by Ideler as bounded by our alpha, delta, epsilon, zeta, eta, gamma, beta, , and the stars in the head of Camelopardalis. In Persia, where this foregoing figure was popular, Ursa Minor also was HeftRengh, HeftAverengh, or HafturenghKihin, the last word designating its inferiority in size to Ursa Major

Jensen sees here the Leopard of Babylonia, an emblem of darkness which this shared, there and in Egypt, with all other circumpolar constellations; while on the Nile it was the well-known JackalofSet even as late as the Denderah zodiac. This Jackal also appears in the carvings on the walls of the Ramesseum, but is there shown with pendent tail strikingly coinciding with the outlines of the constellation.

Plutarch said that with the Phoenicians it was Doube or Dobher (?), similar to the Arabian title, but defined by Flammarion as the “Speaking Constellation,” — better, I think, the “Guiding One,” indicating to their sailors the course to steer at sea. Jacob Bryant assigned it to Egypt, or Phoenicia, as Cahenourah, whatever that may be.

The early Danes and Icelanders knew it as the SmallerChariot, or Throne, ofThor; and their descendants still call it LitliVagn, the Little Wagon; as also, but very differently, Fiosakonurlopti, the Milkmaids of the Sky. But the Finns, apparently alone among the northern nations of Europe in this conception, have VahaOtawa, the Little Bear.

Dante called the seven stars Cornu, doubtless then a common name, for it appeared in Vespucci’s 3Lettera as Elcorno, his editor erroneously explaining this as a typographical error for carro, the wain; Eden and others of his time translating this as the Horne. And it has been the Spanish shepherds’ similarly shaped Bocina, a Bugle; and the Italian sailors’ Bogina, a Boa.

Caesius mentioned Catuli, and CanesLaconicae, the Lapdogs or Puppies, and the Spartan Dogs, as titles for both of the Bears.

With the Chinese it was PeihSing

Alrucaba, or Alruccaba, which probably should be AlRukkabah, is first found in the AlfonsineTables, although the edition of 1521 applied it only to the lucida (alpha, Polaris). While this generally is supposed to be from the Arabic AlRakabah, the Riders, Grotius asserted that it is from the Chaldee Rukub, {Page 451} a Vehicle, the Hebrew Rekhubh; and, if so, would seem to be equivalent to the Wain and from the Hebrew editor of Alfonso. Others have thought it from Rukbah, the Knee, as beta always has marked the forearm of the Bear, and Alrucaba, in a varied orthography, was current for that star some centuries ago, as it is now for Polaris. Riccioli gave a queerly combined name for the constellation, Dubherukabah; and Bayer had Eruccabah, ending his list of titles with Ezra, a blunder in some connection with the commentator Aben Ezra, whom he often cited as an authority; still Riccioli followed him in this.

The GenevaBible, rendering the Hebrew Ash, etc., by “Arcturus with his Sonnes,” incorrectly added the marginal note, “the North Star with those that are about him.”

Caesius typified the constellation as the Chariot sent by Joseph to bring his father down into Egypt, or that in which Elijah was carried to heaven; or as the Bear that David slew.

Young astronomers now know it as the LittleDipper

In the old German manuscript already alluded to mention is made of “Ursa Minor under the North Pole, which is called by another name Tramontane (. . because on one side of the Mons Coelius, whereon sits the Pole Star)”; thus indicating another origin for this name than that found under Polaris as from the Mediterranean nations. I have seen no explanation of this, yet frequent references are met with in early records to some mountain located in the North as the seat of the gods and the habitation of life, the South being, “the abode of the prince of death and of demons.” Sayce writes:

In early Sumerian days the heaven was believed to rest on the peak of “the mountain of the world” in the far northeast, where the gods had their habitations (cf. Isai. xiv, 13) [the mount of congregation, in the uttermost parts of the north], while an ocean or “deep” encircled the earth which rested upon its surface.

Von Herder referred to it as

Albordy, the dazzling mountain, on which was held the assembly of the gods;

and identified it with “the holy mountain of God” alluded to in the BookoftheProphetEzekiel, xxviii, 14; and Professor Whitney quoted from the 62d verse of the 1st chapter of the SuryaSiddhanta

the mountain which is the seat of the gods;

and from the 34th verse of the 12th chapter:{Page 452} A collection of manifold jewels, a mountain of gold, is Meru [Allen notes: Whatever geographical foundation there may be for this Meru probably lies in the Pamir, the Roof of the World, that has lately become of strategical importance in Asia.] passing through the middle of the earth-globe, and protruding on either side.

Commenting upon which, he says:

“the ‘seat of the gods’ is Mount Meru, situated at the north pole.”

The Norsemen had the same idea in their Himinbiorg, the Hill of Heaven, and the abode of Heimdallr, the guardian of the bridge Bifrost, the Rainbow, which united the earth to Asaheimr, or Asgard, the Yard, City, or Stronghold of the Ass, their gods, and the Olympus of Northern mythology. While far back of them the Egyptians supported their heavenly vault by four mountains, one at each of the cardinal points. Towards our day, in the report by “Christophorus Colonus, the Admyrall,” recorded by Peter Martyr,

we read that the great discoverer thought “that the earth is not perfectlye rounde; But that when it was created, there was a certeyne heape reysed thereon, much hygher than the other partes of the same.”

Columbus called this Paria, asserting that it contained Paradise; but it would seem from his narrative that he located it somewhere in the neighborhood of his discoveries between North and South America. Even in Chilmead’s Treatise, more than a century after Columbus, we find serious reference to this mythical mountain as

“the mountaine Slotus, which lies under the Pole, and is the highest in the world.”

May we not see in these the origin of Mons Coelius, the Heavenly Mountain, and of the name Tramontana from our constellation’s location above that celestial elevation ? And I would here call attention to the old story of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, [These canonized Sleepers are still commemorated in the ritual of the Roman Catholic Church for the 27th of June] who, under the persecution of Decius in our 3d century, slumbered for nearly 200 years in the grotto under the similarly named Mount Coelian; these worthy successors of Epimenides the Cnosian and predecessors of our Rip Van Winkle being early associated with the seven stars of Ursa Major, and so perhaps with this, the Minor.

The latter’s genethliacal influence was similar to that of its companion; the Prince, in Tennyson’s Princess, thus accounting for his temperament:

For on my cradle shone the Northern star;

and likeness in their motions is alluded to in the same author’s InMemoriam where

{Page 453} the lesser wain

Is twisting round the polar star, —

one of the Greater Bear’s titles being the Twister; and in the LazyTeam, a designation that it still more deserves than does Ursa Major.

In Proctor’s attempt to reform constellation names he calls this simply Minor, the Greater Bear being Ursa

Ursa Minor, as now drawn, is enclosed on three sides by the coils of Draco; formerly it was almost entirely so. Argelander here enumerates 27 stars down to the 5½ magnitude, and Heis 54.

one unchangeable upon a throne

Broods o’er the frozen heart of earth alone,

Content to reign the bright particular star

Of some who wander and of some who groan.

Christina G. Rossetti’s LaterLife

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