Credit: StarMap 3D application

His arms extended measure half the skies:

His stride no less. Onward with steady pace

He treads the boundless realms of starry space,

On each broad shoulder a bright star displayed.

And three obliquely grace his hanging blade.

In his vast Head, immersed in boundless sphere

Three stars less bright, but yet as great, he bears;

But farther off removed, their splendour's lost;

Thus grac'd and armed, he leads the starry Host.

 

POEM by Manilius (first century B.C.) and translated by Thomas Creech and published in 1670

 

 

"Now Constellations, Muse, and signs rehearse,           Signs of the Zodiac

In order, let them sparkle in thy verse.                           and star groups.

Those which obliquely round the burning Zone,

And bear the Summer and the Winter Sun,

Those first: then those which roll a different way

From West: nor Heaven's Diurnal whirl obey:

Which Nights serene disclose, and which create

The steady Rules, and fix the Laws of Fate.

 

First Aries, glorious in his Golden Wool,                         Aries

Looks back and wonders at the mighty Bull,                   Taurus

Whose back-parts first appear: He bending lies

With Threat'ning Head, and calls the Twins to rise,           Gemini

They clasp for fear , and mutually embrace;

And next (to) the Twins with an unsteady pace

Bright Cancer rolls: then Leo shakes his mane:                  Cancer, Leo

And following Virgo calms his rage again:                          Virgo

Then Day and Night weigh'd in Libra's Scales,                     Libra

Equal awhile, at last the Night prevails,

And longer grown the heavier scale inclines

And draws bright Scorpio from the Winter signs:               Scorpius

Him Centaur follows with an aiming Eye                           Sagittarius

His Bow full drawn and ready to let fly:

Next narrow Horns the twisted Caper shows,                    Capricornus. the sea-goat

And from Aquarius' Urn a Flood o'erflows.                           Aquarius

Near their loved Waves cold Pisces take their seat,           Pisces

With Aries join and make the round complete.                   Aries

 

Now view the point where turn the shining Bears,               Ursa Major and

And from their height look down on other Stars.                 Ursa Minor

Which never set but only change their sites

To the same point; and whirl the meaner Lights;

Thither the Axis runs, whose adverse Poles                       Poles

Bears the pois'd World, and Heaven about it rolls;

No solid substance that the weight might bear

But an imagined Line stretch'd through the Air;

Begun from either Pole the Line extends

Earth's Centre through and in the other ends.

For since the frame turns round, that fancied Line

Which cuts the middle, too minutely thin

By turning round itself to measure space,

But still confined to one imagin'd place,

Is called the Axis; cause unapt to move                            Axis

It sees Stars whirl, the shining Planets rove,

And swiftly measure the vast space above.

 

First next the Pole appear those friendly Stars

Well known to wretched greedy Mariners;

Which guide their Sails, and which direct their Oars,

When mad for gain they fly to foreign Shores.

(While Heaven itself befriends their Avarice,

What pleas may wretched Mortals make for Vice?)

Seven equal Stars adorn the greater Bear,                               

Which measure larger Circles of the Sphere,                 

And teach the Grecian Sailors how to steer.

The smaller Bear, though less in size and light                Little Bear (Ursa Minor)

In narrower Circles she commands the Night.

Yet Tyre prefers, for though the Ocean toss'd,

They sail by her and find the foreign Coast;

These stand not front to front, but each dothe view

The other's Tail, pursu'd as they pursue.

 

Betwixt and round these two the Dragon twines,            Draco,

At once divides, and to their place confines;

Secure from meeting they're distinctly roll'd,

Nor leave their seats, and pass the dreadful fold:

These keep the Vertex, but betwixt the Bear

And shining Zodiac where the Planets err,

A thousand Figur'd Constellations roll,

Some near the Zodiac, some placed near the Pole:

Whose differing Powers by tenpering Skies combined

Make Seasons fruitful, and refresh Mankind.

 

First near the North, as conscious of his Shame              Hercules

A Constellation kneels without a Name;

And next Bootes comes, whose ordered Beams               Bootes, the Herdsman

Present a Figure driving of his teams.

Below his Girdle, near his Knees, He bears

The bright Arcturus, fairest of the Stars.                            Arcturus

Behind his Back the radiant Crown is viewed,                    The Crown

And shines with Stars of different magnitude;                     (Corona Borealis)

One placed i'th' front above the rest displays                       Gemma (Alphecca)

A vigorous light, and darts surprising rays.

This shone since Theseus first his faith betrayed,

The Monument of the forsaken Maid.

 

Not far from these distended Lyra lies,                               Lyra, the Lyre

Well strung, the sounding glory of the Skies.

This Orpheus struck when with his wondrous Song

He charmed the Woods, and drew the Rocks along;

When Hell obeyed, when Death resigned her Chain,

And loosed his dear Eurydice again;

This gained it Heaven, and still its force appears,

As then the Rocks it now draws on the Stars.

The Planets dance, and to the tuneful Sound

The Heaven consents, and moves the fateful Round.

 

Next (to) Ophiuchus strides the mighty Snake,                  Ophiuchus, the Serpent-bearer

Untwists his winding Folds, and smooths his Back,             and Serpens, the Serpent

Extends its Bulk, and o'er the slippery Scale

His wide stretched hands on either side prevail:

The Snake turns back his head and seems to rage,

That war must last where equal Powers engage.

 

Next view the Swan, whom Jove advanced above,                Cygnus, the Swan

That Form's reward by which he caught his Love.

When shrouded in the fair deceiptful shape,

He cheated trusting Leda to a Rape:

Now graced with stars his Wings stretched o'er the Skies.

And next the Swan, the shining arrow flies;                           Sagitta, the Arrow

The Tow'ring Eagle next doth boldly soar,                              Aquila, the Eagle

As if the Thunder in his Claws he bore;

He's worthy Jove, since He, a bird supplies

The Heaven with sacred Bolts, and arms the Skies.

Next, raised from Seas the Dolphin's tail appears,                  Delphinus, the Dolphin

The Glory of the Flood and of the Stars.

Whom while the Horse (one radiant Star doth grace                Pegasus, the Winged Horse

His generous Breast) pursues with eager pace,                       Scheat (the star)

His Legs before, as running, He extends,

But closed in fair Andromeda he ends,                                  Andromeda

Five splendid Stars in its unequal frame,

Deltoton bears, and from the shape, a name;                         Triagulum, the triangle

But those that grace the sides, dim light display

And yield unto the Basis brighter Ray.

 

Next with her Cepheus, Cassiopeia shines,                          Cepheus, Cassiopeia

Her posture sad, and mourns amongst the Signs;

She sees her daughter chained, the rolling Tide

The Monster spouts, and curses her old Pride:                      Cetus, the Whale

She fears that Perseus will inconstant prove,                         Perseus

And now in Heaven forget his former Love;

But He attends, and bears the Gorgon's Head,                       The star Algol

His Spoil, and witness of a coming aid.                                   (the Gorgon's Head)

Near the bent Bull a feat the Driver claims,                              Auriga, the Charioteer

Whose skill conferred his Honour and his Names,

His Art great Jove admired, when first he drove

His rattling Car and fixed the Youth above."

                                                              

Now near the Twins, behold Orion rise;                                Orion the Hunter

His arms extended measure half the skies:

His stride no less. Onward with steady pace

He treads the boundless realms of starry space,

On each broad shoulder  a bright star displayed.                   Betelgeuse and Bellatrix

And three obliquely grace his hanging blade.                         Alnitak, Alnilan and Mintaka

In his vast Head, immersed in boundless sphere

Three stars less bright, but yet as great, he bears;

But farther off removed, their splendour's lost;

Thus grac'd and armed, he leads the starry Host.