First from the east, the Ram conducts the year; Whom Ptolemy with twice nine stars adorns, Of which two only claim the second rank, The rest, when Cynthia fills the sign, are lost. Aries has been called the "Prince of the Zodiac," the "Prince of the Celestial Signs," and the "Leader of the Host of the Zodiac." It has also been associated with the ram into which Zeus changed himself to escape the pursuit of the giants. He fled to Egypt, and there the constellation was called "Jupiter Ammon." In Chaldea, where the constellation is supposed to have originated, the ram simply represents the favourite animal of the shepherds. Considering the fact that Aries is in an inconspicuous part of the heavens, and comprises only three stars of any importance, it is surprising the wealth of lore and legend that surrounds it, and the attention paid to it by the ancients, unless we attribute to it some extraneous claim for notoriety, such as the position of these stars as regards the sun at a certain period of the year. There is little doubt that this is the real cause of the importance of this constellation. "If," says Plunket, " we find Aries equally honoured by several nations in very early times, either these nations, independent of each other, happened to observe and mark out the sun's annual course through the heavens at exactly the same date, and therefore chose the same date, or we must suppose thatthey derived their calendar and knowledge of the zodiac from observations originally made by some one civilised race." It is easyto see, as Brown avers, that the comparison of the sun to a ram or bull is a line of thought which nat- urally and spontaneously arises in the mind of archaic man.
In the Euphratean Valley, the probable birthplace of the constellations, the sun was styled a "Lubat," meaning old sheep, and ultimately the planets were called "old sheep stars." Hence the symbolic view of the sun as an old sheep or ram is necessarily of a remote antiquity. v In Aries we have very clear proof that many of the con- stellations must be regarded as mere symbols, and in nowise to be thought of as owing their names to a fancied resemblance to some creature or object, for the obtuse angle formed by the three principal stars in Aries could only resemble at best the hind leg of a sheep or ram, and so we are bound to the conviction that the ram is simply a symbol.
One theory holds that the solar ram, the sun who opened the day, was in time duplicated by the stellar ram, who in 2540 B.C. opened the year, and "led the starry flock through it as their bellwether."
Unfortunately for this theory, as Maunder points out, we know that the constellations were mapped out at a far earlier epoch, when the equinox fell not in Aries, but in the middle of the constellation Taurus.
In mythology Aries has always represented the fabled ram with fleece of gold. Manilius thus describes it: “First Aries, glorious in his golden wool, Looks back and wonders at the mighty Bull”
The old fable is as follows: Phrixus and Helle were children of Athamas, the legendary King of Thessaly. Their step-mother treated them with such cruelty that Mercury took pity on them, and to enable them to escape their mother's wrath sent a ram to bear them away. Mounted on the ram's back the children sped over land and sea, but unfortunately Helle neglected to secure her hold, and fell
from her seat while the ram was flying across the strait which divides Europe from Asia. In memory of this catastrophe this strait was afterwards known as the Hellespont.
Manilius thus refers to this episode:
First golden Aries shines, who whilst he swam Lost part of 's freight and gave to sea a name.
Longfellow also alludes to Helle's fall:
The Ram that bore unsafely the burden of Helle.
Phrixus landed safely at Colchis, at the eastern end of the Black Sea. Out of gratitude for his safe deliverance, he sacrificed the ram and gave the golden fleece to the king of the country, who hung it in the sacred grove of Ares, tinder guard of a sleepless dragon. The golden fleece has always been associated in Greek mythology with the voyage of the ship Argo, and the celebrated Argonautic expedition which set forth in search of it.
The theory has been advanced that the stellar symbols were intended simply as a record of this famous expedition. Even so good an astronomer as Sir Isaac Newton held this view, but Maunder on the contrary claims that there was nothing in the story of the neighboring constellations to support the legend of the golden fleece. Curiously enough Aries is the leading sign in all the systems of astrology which have come down to us through the Greeks, and it figures as the leading sign in most of the explanations of the constellation figures which are on record. Maunder considers that this fact proves that these astrological systems, and these theories concerning the constellation figures, not only took their rise at a later epoch, but that when they did so, the real origin and mean- ing of the designs had been wholly lost. One peculiar fact
respecting Aries for which there is no apparent explanation, is that the ram is always represented with reverted head. On a coin type of Cyzicus, about 500-450 B.C., the ram is thus depicted. Allen notes as an exception to this almost universal figure, the ram erect in the Albumasar of 1489.
Berosus, a Babylonian priest in the time of Alexander the Great, said that the ancients (those ancient to him) believed that the world was created when the sun was in Aries.
Pliny said that Cleostratos of Tenedos first formed Aries, but there is no doubt that the constellation origin- ated many centuries before this. Plunket informs us that in the Egyptian calendars no reference is made to Aries, but in Egyptian mythology the importance of the ram is revealed. Amen or Amon, the great god of the Theban triad, is sometimes represented as ram-headed. The great temple to him in
conjunction with the sun, i.e., to Amen-Ra, is approached through an avenue of gigantic ram-headed sphinxes. At the season of all the year when Aries specially dominated the eclip- tic, the statue of the god Amen was carried in procession to the Nekropolis, from which place the constellation Aries was fully visible. "The preparations for this great festi- val began before the full moon next
to the spring equinox, and on the fourteenth day of that moon all Egypt was in joy over the dominion of the Ram. The people crowned the Ram with flowers, carried him with extraordinary pomp in grand procession, and rejoiced in him to the utmost." The ancient Persians, who called Aries "Bara," had a similar festival. Between 1400 and 1 100 B.C., when Rameses II. dedicated the temple of Aboo Simbel, the sun when it penetrated into the shrine of the temple was in conjunction with the first stars of the constellation Aries, and this fact doubtless led the King to honour Aries in connection with the god Amen. The Egyptians called Aries "the Lord of the Head.' Not only the Egyptians, but all the great civilized nations of the East, had traditions of a year beginning when the sun and moon entered the constellation Aries.
Jensen is of the opinion that Aries may have been first adopted into the zodiac by the Babylonians when its stars began to mark the vernal equinox. Plunket on the contrary, thinks that the choice of the constellation as Prince and Leader of the signs was made, not when its stars marked the spring equinox, but when they indicated the winter solstice. According to this view Aries, Cancer,
Libra, and Capricornus marked the four seasons and the cardinal points in 6000 B.C. In the Rig- Veda, the first lunar station in the Indian series is named "Aswini." The two chief stars in the station are the twinstars as they may be called, Â£ and y Arietis. Joyous hymns were addressed to the twin heroes, the Aswins, which may properly be.called New Year's hymns, composed in honour of these stars, whose appear- ance before sunrise heralded the approach of the great festival day of the Hindu New Year. Next to Agni and Soma, the twin deities named the Aswins are the most prominent in the Rig-Veda. They .are celebrated in more than fifty entire hymns, while their name occurs more than four hundred times. These twin heroes of Hindu myth- ology correspond to the famous twins of Grecian mythology, Castor and Pollux.
The Arabs, whose first manzil or lunar station was formed by these same two stars, knew them as "the two tokens," that is to say of the opening year. They called the constellation Aries "Al-Hamal," the Sheep, while the early Hindus called it "Aja," and "Mesha."
The Hebrews called the constellation "Tell," and as- signed it in their zodiac to either Simeon or Gad. Dr. Seiss, following Csesius, regarded Aries as symbolizing the Lamb of the World.
Aries, the April sign according to Hagar, was known in Peru as "the Market Moon" or "Kneeling Terrace." At this season the early crops were harvested and borne home on the backs of llamas. The festival was called "Ayri huay" or that of the axe, and referred, to the reaping of these crops. This conception of the constellation is decidedly at variance with the Eastern idea of it.
The Syrians called Aries "Amru" or "Emm," while the Turkish name for the constellation was "Kuzi."
The Romans generally called the constellation "Aries," but Ovid named it "Phrixea Ovis" and "Cornus." Other Latin names for it are "Vermis Portitor," the Spring- bringer, and "Arcanus."
As one of the zodiacal twelve of China, Aries was first known as "the Dog," and later as "the White Sheep." At the time when it was sought to reconstruct the constellations on Biblical lines, Aries was selected to represent Abraham's ram caught in the thicket, or St. Peter.
The Anglo-Normans of the 12th century called Aries " Multuns," and the poet Dante refers to it as " Montone." In Italy, Prance, and Germany, Aries is called respec- tively, "Ariete," "B&ier," and "Widder." The symbol of the constellation T probably represents the head and horns of the animal. In this region of the sky a brilliant temporary star appeared in the year 1012a.d.
Astrologically considered Aries is the house and joy of Mars, and signifies a dry constitution, long face and neck, thick shoulders, swarthy complexion, and a hasty passion- ate temper. It governs the head and face, and all dis- eases relating thereto. It reigns over France, England, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Lesser Poland, Syria, Naples, Capua, Verona, etc. It is a masculine sign, and
is regarded as fortunate. According to Eleanor Kirk, who is a great authority on the subject, people born under Aries, that is between Mar. 20th and Apr. 19th are usually very executive, earnest, and determined. They are leaders, and dominate those about them. They are noble, generous, progressive, and have occult power. They are good scholars, bright, genial, and witty.
The natal gem of Aries is the bloodstone, the symbol of good luck; the natal flower, the violet; the metal, iron. Alpha Arietis was called "Hamal" or "Hamel" by the Arabs, meaning a sheep, and the name " Al-Nath" has also been found for it on msome of the ancient Arabic globes. 44 Arietis' ' is another name for this star.
Among the Greeks in early times, Hamal held the im- portant office of sunrise herald, at the vernal equinox. In Ptolemy's list it is described as "The one above the head" (of the Ram), and astrologers regarded it as dan- gerous and evil, denoting bodily hurts.
Brown asserts that the stellar Ram was in the first place only the star Hamal, the constellation being formed around it afterwards. Chaucer refers to the star as "Alnath," that is to say the "horn push," a name more commonly associated with the star in the tip of the northern horn of the Bull, a star common to the constellations Taurus and Auriga. Other Buphratean names for this star have been "Lu- lim" or "Lu-nit," the ram's eye, and "Simal," the Horn Star. It was also called " Anuv" and "Ku," meaning the Prince or the Leading One, the ram that led the heavenly flock.
Of the Grecian temples, at least eight, at various places, and of dates ranging from 1580 to 360 B.C. were oriented to this star, and it is the only star to which Milton makes individual allusion.
Hamal is much used in navigation in connection with lunar observations, and culminates at 9 p.m. on the nth of December. It is approaching our system at the rate of nine miles per second. According to Miss Clerke, 1 Hamal is distant from the earth about forty light years. The star Beta Arietis was known to the Arabs as "Sharatan," meaning "a sign," this star having marked the vernal equinox in the days of Hipparchus.
Gamma Arietis has been called the "First star in Aries" as at one time it was nearest to the equinoctial point. It is a beautiful double star, easily visible in a small tele- scope, and was discovered to be double by Dr. Hooke in 1664. This star was known to the Arabs as " Mesarthim," meaning the "two attendants," a reference to Beta and Gamma Arietis, these two stars being considered as attendants on Hamal. The Persians called these stars "The Protecting Pair."
The faint stars east of Hamal on the back of the Ram form a little group known as "Musca Borealis," the Northern Fly. The figure appears in Burritt's Atlas. According to Allen the inventor of this asterism is unknown. Musca has been also styled "the Wasp" and "the Bee." It comes to the meridian on the 17th of December at 9 P.M.
Source: ”Star lore of all ages; a collection of myths, legends, and facts concerning the constellations of the Northern Hemisphere”, 1911 by Olcott, William Tyler
If you are interested in learning more about the ancient science of the sky, its origin, meaning and its practical use in measuring time cycles with its application to stocks and commodity trading you may want to read my book "Wall Street Watchman":