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On this page: Planetae

PLANETAE,

PLANETAE.

022

PLANETAE, s. stellae errantes (ir\avf]-i s. TT/V.ow'&tyxej/oi doTepesas opposed to ra airXavrj ru>v ao-rpwv}. The popular astronomy ot the early Greeks was chiefly confined, as is pointed out else­where [astronomia], to a knowledge of the morning and evening risings and settings of the brightest stars and most remarkable constellations, since upon these observations the formation and regulation of the primitive kalendars in a great measure depended. No single star was more likely to attract attention under such circumstances than the planet Venus, and accordingly The Mowing Star ('Ecixrtyopos) is placed first among the stellar progeny of Erigeneia in the Theogony (381) —

rov? 5e jiter' (sc. cb/e/Aous) acrrepa riKrev '

acrrpa re Aa/ureT 6owra rd t* ovpavbs eo~r€<f)d-vwrat

•whiles both the Morning Star ('Ewavjxfyww), and the Evening Star ("Ec-n-epos), are named in the Ho­meric poems (//. xxii. 317, xxiii. 226, comp. Od. xiii. 93), where they are evidently regarded as distinct from one another. According to Apollo-dorus, in the second book of his work Ilepl &ec£y, Pythagoras was the first who surmised that 4>oo<r-</>3pos and "Ea-ffcpos were one and the same, but by Phavorinus the honour of this discovery is ascribed, to Parmenides. The latter certainly looked upon this body, which he called both 'Earn and"E(T7repos, as altogether different in its nature from the fixed stars, for he placed it in his highest region or aether ; below it, but also in the aether, was the sun, and below the sun, in the fiery region (eV r£ TrupcoSet), which he calls oupcwbs, were the fixed stars. The term ir\avf]rai seems, if we can trust Plutarch and Stobaeus, to have been recognised as early as the epoch of Anaximander, according to whom the sun stood highest in the universe, next below was the moon, and then the fixed stars and the planets (y?rb 8e avrovs toi airXavri ru>v affrpav Kal robs ir\avfj-ras). Empedocles supposed the fixed stars to be imbedded in the crystalline sphere, which, accord­ing to his system, enveloped all things, but the planets to be detached from it, thus implying the necessity felt for some theory, which should account for their erratic course. Democritus wrote a trea­tise Tlepi rav TT\avrjr£>v, among which he reckoned the Sun, the Moon, and 4>&>cr<£opo?, but, as yet, their number had not been determined. This is expressly affirmed, by Seneca (Quaest. Nat. vii. 3), " Democritus subtilissimus antiquorum omnium suspicari ait se plures Stellas esse quae currant ; sed nee numerum illarum posuit, nee nomina, non-dum comprehensis quinque siderum cursibus. Eu-doxus ab ^Egypto hos motus in Graeciam transtu-lit." But although Eudoxus may have been the first to communicate scientific details with respect to the orbits and movements of the planets, Philo-laus, a Pythagorean, who flourished more than a century earlier, was certainly acquainted with the whole five, for he maintained that there was a central fire around which the ten heavenly bodies (5e/ca cTfJofjLara &eTa) revolved. Of these, the most remote from the centre was ovpavbs, that is, the sphere containing the fixed stars, next in order were the planets, then the sun, then the moon, then the earth, and, below the earth, the Anticthon (ai>Ti%#cyi', see Arist. de Coelo, ii. 13), thus com­pleting the number ten if we reckon the planets as five. In the Timaeus of Plato, the planets are

ko\

mentioned specifically as five in number (re^rjvrj Kal TreVre a\\a &o~rpa f ir\avT]rai)9 and in the same passage, we for the first time meet with the name Hermes as connected with one of these (ew<r<£opoj/ 8e Kal rbv iepbv 'Ep-{J.OV Xeyopevov). It is not, however, until we come down to the Epinomis, the work of some disciple of Plato, that the whole five are enumerated, each with a distinguishing appellation derived from a god : r*bv rov Kpovov, rhv rov Albs, rbv rov "Apeos, rty rys 'A^>poStT7]s-, tov rov 'Ep/uLov. In the tract, Tlepl K6(rjjt,ov, found among the writings of Aristotle, although probably not from his pen, we are fur­nished with a second set of names — 4>cuVa>j/ for the star of Kronus ; 4>ae'0cur, for that of Zeus ; Tlvp6€is9 for that of Ares ; ^oxr^pos, for that of Aphrodite ; ZSTiAgcoy, for that of Hermes ; and these seem to have been the ordinary designations employed by men of science. It is here stated also, that Tlvpoeis was by some termed the star of Herakles, and that SriAgcoi' was by some termed the star of Apollo. Pliny gives additional variations, for in his list they are catalogued as sidus satur.ni, Jovis, martis s. herculis, veneris s. junonis s. isidis s. matris deum (Lucifer, Vesper), mer-curi s. apollinis ; and these may be still farther increased from Achilles Tatius, the grammarians and the lexicographers.

The Earth being generally regarded as the centre of the Universe, the Moon was believed to be nearest to it, then the Sun, Venus, and Mercury ; beyond these was Mars, beyond Mars was Jupiter, beyond Jupiter was Saturnus, the fixed stars being the most remote of all. But while astronomers for the most part agreed in placing the Sun, Venus, and Mercury between the Moon and Mars, tho greatest diversity of opinion obtained with regard to their relative position. According to some, the Sun was the nearest of the three to the Earth, ac­cording to others the most distant, while a third set of philosophers assigned to it the middle place between Venus and Mercury. In like manner, some supposed that Mercury was nearer to the Earth than Venus, others the Reverse, and every possible combination of the three bodies was ex­hausted.

Saturnus was believed to perform a complete revolution in thirty solar years, Jupiter in twelve, calculations approaching very nearly to the truth. The period of Mars was fixed at two years, a de­termination less accurate than the two former, but not very wide of the truth. As to Venus and Mercury, not even an approximation was made, for they were both believed to perform their revolution in exactly, or very nearly the same time as the Sun : Pliny, who affects great precision in this matter, fixes 348 days for Venus, and 339 days for Mercury.

Saturnus being thus removed to a great distance from the source of heat was naturally viewed as possessing a cold and icy character (gelidae ac rigentis naturae —frigida stella Saturni), Mars, on the other hand, as of a hot and fiery nature, while Jupiter which lay between them enjoyed a temperature made up by the combination of the extremes. The astrologers caught up these notions, and uniting them with the legends of mythology, adapted them to their own purpose, uniformly representing the influence of Saturnus as malign, and that of Jupiter as propitious.

Haec tamen "ignorat, quid sidus triste minetur

Saturni. Juv. vi. 569.

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