Δευτέρα, 18 Ιουνίου 2018

The mysteries of the Moon and the Ancient Greeks : The mythology and the astronomy of Earth's natural satellite in Greece

The Moon is an astronomical body that orbits planet Earth and is Earth's only permanent natural satellite. It is the fifth-largest natural satellite in the Solar System, and the largest among planetary satellites relative to the size of the planet that it orbits (its primary). The Moon is after Jupiter's satellite Io the second-densest satellite in the Solar System among those whose densities are known. The Moon is thought to have formed about 4.51 billion years ago, not long after Earth. The most widely accepted explanation is that the Moon formed from the debris left over after a giant impact between Earth and a Mars-sized body called Theia. The Moon is in synchronous rotation with Earth, and thus always shows the same side to earth, the near side. The near side is marked by dark volcanic maria that fill the spaces between the bright ancient crustal highlands and the prominent impact craters. After the Sun, the Moon is the second-brightest regularly visible celestial object in Earth's sky. Its surface is actually dark, although compared to the night sky it appears very bright, with a reflectance just slightly higher than that of worn asphalt. Its gravitational influence produces the ocean tides, body tides, and the slight lengthening of the day. The Moon's average orbital distance is 384,402 km, or 1.28 light-seconds. This is about thirty times the diameter of Earth. The Moon's apparent size in the sky is almost the same as that of the Sun (because it is 400x farther and larger). Therefore, the Moon covers the Sun nearly precisely during a total solar eclipse. This matching of apparent visual size will not continue in the far future, because the Moon's distance from Earth is slowly increasing.
In Proto-Indo-European religion, the moon was personified as the male god *Mehnot. The ancient Sumerians believed that the Moon was the god Nanna, who was the father of Inanna, the goddess of the planet Venus, and Utu, the god of the sun. Nanna was later known as Sîn, and was particularly associated with magic and sorcery. In Greco-Roman mythology, the Sun and the Moon are represented as male and female, respectively (Helios/Sol and Selene/Luna); this is a development unique to the eastern Mediterraneanand traces of an earlier male moon god in the Greek tradition are preserved in the figure of Menelaus. In Mesopotamian iconography, the crescent was the primary symbol of Nanna-Sîn. In ancient Greek art, the Moon goddess Selene was represented wearing a crescent on her headgear in an arrangement reminiscent of horns. The star and crescent arrangement also goes back to the Bronze Age, representing either the Sun and Moon, or the Moon and planet Venus, in combination. It came to represent the goddess Artemis or Hecate, and via the patronage of Hecate came to be used as a symbol of Byzantium. An iconographic tradition of representing Sun and Moon with faces developed in the late medieval period. Philosophers Aristotle and Pliny the Elder argued that the full moon induced insanity in susceptible individuals, believing that the brain, which is mostly water, must be affected by the Moon and its power over the tides, but the Moon's gravity is too slight to affect any single person. The Moon's regular phases make it a very convenient timepiece, and the periods of its waxing and waning form the basis of many of the oldest calendars. The ~30-day month is an approximation of the lunar cycle. The PIE root of moon, *méhnōt, derives from the PIE verbal root *meh-, "to measure", "indicat[ing] a functional conception of the Moon, i.e. marker of the month" and echoing the Moon's importance to many ancient cultures in measuring time (see Latin mensisand Ancient Greek μείς (meis) or μήν (mēn), meaning "month").Most historical calendars are lunisolar. 
In Greek mythology, Selene ("Moon") is the goddess of the moon. She is the daughter of the Titans Hyperion and Theia, and sister of the sun-god Helios, and Eos, goddess of the dawn. She drives her moon chariot across the heavens. Several lovers are attributed to her in various myths, including Zeus, Pan, and the mortal Endymion. In classical times, Selene was often identified with Artemis, much as her brother, Helios, was identified with Apollo.Selene and Artemis were also associated with Hecate, and all three were regarded as lunar goddesses, but only Selene was regarded as the personification of the moon itself. Her Roman equivalent is Luna. The usual account of Selene's origin is given by Hesiod. In the Theogony, the sun-god Hyperion espoused his sister Theia, who gave birth to "great Helios and clear Selene and Eos who shines upon all that are on earth and upon the deathless Gods who live in the wide heaven." Moon figures are found on Cretan rings and gems (perhaps indicating a Minoan moon cult), but apart from the role played by the moon itself in magic, folklore, and poetry, and despite the later worship of the Phrygian moon-god Men, there was relatively little worship of Selene. An oracular sanctuary existed near Thalamai in Laconia. Described by Pausanias, it contained statues of Pasiphaë and Helios. Here Pasiphaë is used as an epithet of Selene, instead of referring to the daughter of Helios and wife of Minos. Pausanias also described seeing two stone images in the market-place of Elis, one of the sun and the other of the moon, from the heads of which projected the rays of the sun and the horns of the crescent moon. Originally Pandia may have been an epithet of Selene, but by at least the time of the late Homeric Hymn, Pandia had become a daughter of Zeus and Selene. Pandia (or Pandia Selene) may have personified the full moon, and an Athenian festival, called the Pandia, usually considered to be a festival for Zeus, was perhaps celebrated on the full-moon and may have been associated with Selene.
Geographically, ancient Arcadia occupied the highlands at the centre of the Peloponnese. The Arcadians were an ancient Greek tribe which was situated in the mountainous Peloponnese. It is considered one of the oldest Greek tribes which settled in Greece and it was probably a relative tribe of the proto-Greeks who are mentioned by the ancient authors as Pelasgians. Whilst Herodotus seems to have found the idea that the Arcadians were not Greek far-fetched, it is clear that the Arcadians were considered as the original inhabitants of the region. This is testified by ancient myths, like the myth of Arcas, the myth of Lycaon etc. Arcadia is also one of the regions described in the "catalogue of ships" in the Iliad. Agamemnon himself gave Arcadia the ships for the Trojan war because Arcadia did not have a navy. Due to its remote, mountainous character, Arcadia seems to have been a cultural refuge. When, during the Greek Dark Age (c. 1200 BC–800 BC), Doric Greek dialects were introduced to the Peloponnese, the older language apparently survived in Arcadia, and formed part of the Arcado-Cypriot group of Greek dialects. The Arcadians founded numerous towns. Lycosura was a city of Arcadia said by Pausanias to be the oldest city in the world, although there is no evidence for its existence before the fourth century BCE. Its current significance is chiefly associated with the sanctuary of the goddess Despoina, which contained a colossal sculptural group, that perhaps inaccurately, Pausanias wrote was made by Damophon of Messene. This group comprises acrolithic-technique statues of Despoina and Demeter seated on a throne, with statues of Artemis and the Titan Anytos standing on either side of them - all in Pentelic marble. The dates of both the temple and the sculptural group have occasioned some dispute. Remains of a stoa, altars, and other structures have been found at the site as well. The Sanctuary of Despoina at Lycosoura is located 9 km WSW of Megalopolis, 6.9 km SSE of Mount Lykaion, and 160 km SW of Athens. In the second century CE, the Greek periegetic writer Pausanias, relying on personal observations, available texts, and consultation with local persons, wrote the only extant account of the ancient city and its sanctuary. He relates that Lycosura was founded by Lycaon the son of Pelasgus, and asserted that it was the oldest city in the world. He notes that Cleitor, the grandson of Arcas (hence the toponym Arcadia), dwelled in Lycosura. In Greek mythology, Pelasgus was the eponymous ancestor of the Pelasgians, the mythical inhabitants of Greece who established the worship of the Dodonaean Zeus, Hephaestus, the Cabeiri, and other divinities. In the different parts of the country once occupied by Pelasgians, there existed different traditions as to the origin and connection of Pelasgus. The ancient Greeks even used to believe that he was the first man. According to the Arcadian tradition, he was either an autochthon, or a son of Zeus by Niobe (brother of Argus). The Oceanide Meliboea, the nymph Cyllene, or Deianeira, became by him the mother of Lycaon of Arcadia. In Greek mythology, Lycaon was a king of Arcadia, son of Pelasgus and Meliboea, who, in the most popular version of the myth, tested Zeus' omniscience by serving him the roasted flesh of Lycaon's own son Nyctimus, in order to see whether Zeus was truly all-knowing. In return for these gruesome deeds, Zeus transformed Lycaon into a wolf, along with his offspring; Nyctimus was restored to life. Despite being notorious for his horrific deeds, Lycaon was also remembered as a culture hero: he was believed to have founded the city Lycosura, to have established a cult of Zeus Lycaeus and to have started the tradition of the Lycaean Games, which Pausanias thinks were older than the Panathenaic Games. According to Hyginus, Lycaon dedicated the first temple to Hermes of Cyllene. The Arcadian town Nonakris was thought to have been named after the wife of Lycaon. Arcas was a hunter who became king of Arcadia. He was remembered for having taught people the art of weaving and baking bread. Arcas was the son of Zeus and Callisto. Arcas became the new king of Arcadia and the country's greatest hunter. One day, when Arcas went hunting in the woods, he came across his mother. Seeing her son after so long, she went forth to embrace him. Not knowing that the bear was his mother, he went to kill her with an arrow. Zeus however, watching over them, stopped Arcas from shooting Callisto, and turned Arcas into a bear, then putting them into the stars. They are now referred to as Ursa Majornand Ursa Minor, the big and little bears. When Hera heard of that, she became so angry that she asked Tethys to keep them in a certain place so that the constellations would never sink below the horizon and receive water.
The name Pelasgians was used by classical Greek writers to either refer to populations that were the ancestors or forerunners of the Greeks, or to signify all pre-classical indigenes of Greece. In general, "Pelasgian" has come to mean more broadly all the indigenous inhabitants of the Aegean Sea region and their cultures, "a hold-all term for any ancient, primitive and presumably indigenous people in the Greek world". During the classical period, enclaves under that name survived in several locations of mainland Greece, Crete, and other regions of the Aegean. Populations identified as "Pelasgian" spoke a language or languages that at the time Greeks identified as "barbaric", though some ancient writers nonetheless described the Pelasgians as Greeks. The Pelasgians first appear in the poems of Homer: those who are stated to be Pelasgians in the Iliad are among the allies of Troy. Later Greek writers offered little unanimity over which sites and regions were "Pelasgian". One of the first was Hesiod; he calls the oracular Dodona, identified by reference to "the oak", the "seat of Pelasgians", clarifying Homer's Pelasgic Zeus. He mentions also that Pelasgus (the eponymous ancestor of the Pelasgians) was the father of King Lycaon of Arcadia.
In the History of the Peloponnesian War, the Greek historian Thucydides wrote about the Pelasgians stating that : Before the time of Hellen, son of Deucalion ... the country went by the names of the different tribes, in particular of the Pelasgian. It was not till Hellen and his sons grew strong in Phthiotis, and were invited as allies into the other cities, that one by one they gradually acquired from the connection the name of Hellenes; though a long time elapsed before that name could fasten itself upon all. He regards the Athenians as having lived in scattered independent settlements in Attica but at some time after Theseus they changed residence to Athens, which was already populated. A plot of land below the Acropolis was called "Pelasgian" and was regarded as cursed, but the Athenians settled there anyway.
In historical times, the Earth was Moonless. Giordano Bruno (a 16th century Italian philosopher) is reputed to have written in De Immenso: “There are those who have believed that there was a certain time (as our Mythologian says) when the moon, which was believed to be younger than the sun, was not yet created. The Arcadians, who dwelt not far from the Po, are believed to have been in existence before it (the moon).” “Theodorus writes in his first book that the moon had appeared a little while before the war which was fought by Hercules against the giants. Aristochius and Dionysius Chalcidensis, in the first of their works, confirm the same.”  “Mnaseas said that the Arcadians were born before the moon, and so they were called ‘proselenian’; meaning, ‘before the moon’.” Bruno goes on to step upon the sensibilities of future scholars by noting that, “the earth, which is of the same species as the moon, is of creatable and destructible substance, and is truly animal and even mortal, although divine. Therefore, the planets (worlds) are able to be created and destroyed, and it is not possible that they have been eternal, since we have proved them to be alterable and consisting of changing parts.” Velikovsky has discussed this same idea by noting that one of the most remote recollections of mankind is in regard to the period of Earth’s history when it was Moonless. Velikovsky quotes everyone from Democritus and Anaxagoras to Aristotle and Apollonius of Rhodes to show that such a pre-Hellenic time existed. Those humans living at the time were called Pelasgians, Proselenes (“before the Moon”), and Arcadians (pre-Danai and pre-Deukalion).  They were said to have dwelt in the mountains, fed on acorns, and lived as aborigines. Plutarch, Hippolytus, Censorinus, and a doubting Lucian wrote of pre-Lunar people, as did Ovid, who said that the Arcadians possessed their land before the birth of Jove, and were older than the Moon. There are even Biblical references which allude to a Moonless Earth or at least can be so interpreted.  Finally, the memory of a Moonless Earth is contained in the oral traditions of such Indians as those of the Bogota highlands in the eastern Cordilleras of Columbia, i.e. according to tribesmen of Chibchas, “In the earliest times, when the moon was not yet in the heavens.” The references to the aboriginal nature of the pre-Moon folk, and the fact they lived before “the birth of Jove” is particularly noteworthy.  
The period when the Earth was Moonless is probably the most remote recollection of mankind. Democritus and Anaxagoras taught that there was a time when the Earth was without the Moon. Aristotle wrote that Arcadia in Greece, before being inhabited by the Hellenes, had a population of Pelasgians, and that these aborigines occupied the land already before there was a moon in the sky above the Earth; for this reason they were called Proselenes. Apollonius of Rhodes mentioned the time “when not all the orbs were yet in the heavens, before the Danai and Deukalion races came into existence, and only the Arcadians lived, of whom it is said that they dwelt on mountains and fed on acorns, before there was a moon.”  Plutarch wrote in The Roman Questions: “There were Arcadians of Evander’s following, the so-called pre-Lunar people.”Similarly wrote Ovid: “The Arcadians are said to have possessed their land before the birth of Jove, and the folk is older than the Moon.”  Hippolytus refers to a legend that “Arcadia brought forth Pelasgus, of greater antiquity than the moon.” Lucian in his Astrology says that “the Arcadians affirm in their folly that they are older than the moon.” Censorinus also alludes to the time in the past when there was no moon in the sky.
By the Archaic period, educated Greek men and women knew from observing solar eclipses and ships sailing to the horizon that the moon was a round ball. The astronomer Thales in the 600s BC also knew that the moon didn’t make its own light, but shone by reflecting light from the sun. In the 400s BC, Greek scientists like Anaxagoras knew why eclipses happened. By the Hellenistic period, in the 200s BC, Aristarchus figured out that the moon went around the earth, and (based on the work of the Libyan Eratosthenes) about how big the moon was.
The development of astronomy by the Greek and Hellenistic astronomers is to be a major phase in the history of astronomy. Greek astronomy is characterized from the start by seeking a rational, physical explanation for celestial phenomena. Most of the constellations of the northern hemisphere derive from Greek astronomy, as are the names of many stars, asteroids, and planets. It influenced Indian, Arabic-Islamic and Western European astronomy. Philolaus (c. 480 BC–c. 405 BC) the Pythagorean described a cosmos with the stars, planets, Sun, Moon, Earth, and a counter-Earth (Antichthon) ten bodies in all circling an unseen central fire. Such reports show that Greeks of the 6th and 5th centuries BC were aware of the planets and speculated about the structure of the cosmos. Also, a more detailed description about the cosmos, Stars, Sun, Moon and the Earth can be found in the Orphism, which dates back to the end of the 5th century BC, and it is probably even older. Within the lyrics of the Orphic poems we can find remarkable information such as that the Earth is round, it has an axis and it moves around it in one day, it has three climate zones and that the Sun magnetizes the Stars and planets. In the 3rd century BC, Aristarchus of Samos proposed an alternate cosmology (arrangement of the universe): a heliocentric model of the solar system, placing the Sun, not the Earth, at the center of the known universe ("Greek Copernicus"). His astronomical ideas were not well-received, however, and only a few brief references to them are preserved. We know the name of one follower of Aristarchus: Seleucus of Seleucia. Aristarchus also wrote a book On the Sizes and Distances of the Sun and Moon, which is his only work to have survived. In this work, he calculated the sizes of the Sun and Moon, as well as their distances from the Earth in Earth radii.
On the Sizes and Distances (of the Sun and Moon) (Peri megethon kai apostematon) is widely accepted as the only extant work written by Aristarchus of Samos, an ancient Greek astronomer who lived circa 310–230 BCE. This work calculates the sizes of the Sun and Moon, as well as their distances from the Earth in terms of Earth's radius.
Shortly afterwards, Eratosthenes calculated the size of the Earth, providing a value for the Earth radii which could be plugged into Aristarchus' calculations. Hipparchus wrote another book On the Sizes and Distances of the Sun and Moon, which has not survived. Both Aristarchus and Hipparchus drastically underestimated the distance of the Sun from the Earth.  Hipparchus is considered to have been among the most important Greek astronomers, because he introduced the concept of exact prediction into astronomy. He was also the last innovative astronomer before Claudius Ptolemy, a mathematician who worked at Alexandria in Roman Egypt in the 2nd century. Ptolemy's works on astronomy and astrology include the Almagest, the Planetary Hypotheses, and the Tetrabiblos, as well as the Handy Tables, the Canobic Inscription, and other minor works. The Almagest is one of the most influential books in the history of Western astronomy. In this book, Ptolemy explained how to predict the behavior of the planets, as Hipparchus could not, with the introduction of a new mathematical tool, the equant. The Almagest gave a comprehensive treatment of astronomy, incorporating theorems, models, and observations from many mathematicians. This fact may explain its survival, in contrast to more specialized works that were neglected and lost.
A True Story is a novel written in the second century AD by Lucian of Samosata (ancient city in river Euphrates), a Greek-speaking author of Syrian descent. The novel is a satire of outlandish tales which had been reported in ancient sources, particularly those which presented fantastic or mythical events as if they were true. It is Lucian's most well-known work. It is the earliest known work of fiction to include travel to outer space, alien lifeforms, and interplanetary warfare. As such, A True Story has been described as "the first known text that could be called science fiction". The novel begins with an explanation that the story is not at all "true" and that everything in it is, in fact, a complete and utter lie. The narrative begins with Lucian and his fellow travelers journeying out past the Pillars of Heracles, in the Atlantic Ocean. Blown off course by a storm, they come to an island (America) with a river of wine filled with fish and bears, a marker indicating that Heracles and Dionysus have traveled to this point, and trees that look like women. Shortly after leaving the island, they are caught up by a whirlwind and taken to the Moon, where they find themselves embroiled in a full-scale war between the king of the Moon and the king of the Sun over colonization of the Morning Star. Both armies include bizarre hybrid lifeforms. The armies of the Sun win the war by clouding over the Moon and blocking out the Sun's light. Both parties then come to a peace agreement. Lucian then describes life on the Moon and how it is different from life on Earth. 
After returning to Earth, the adventurers are swallowed by a 200-mile-long (320 km) whale, in whose belly they discover a variety of fish people, whom they wage war against and triumph over. They kill the whale by starting a bonfire and escape by propping its mouth open. Next, they encounter a sea of milk, an island of cheese, and the Island of the Blessed. There, Lucian meets the heroes of the Trojan War, other mythical men and animals, as well as Homer and Pythagoras. They find sinners being punished, the worst of them being the ones who had written books with lies and fantasies, including Herodotus and Ctesias. After leaving the Island of the Blessed, they deliver a letter to Calypso given to them by Odysseus explaining that he wishes he had stayed with her so he could have lived eternally. They then discover a chasm in the ocean, but eventually sail around it, discover a far-off continent and decide to explore it.The book ends abruptly with Lucian stating that their future adventures will be described in the upcoming sequels.
Πηγή : https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon

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