Explore the etymology and symbolism of the constellations

Bootes

the Herdsman, the Ploughman, the Ox Driver, or the Shepherd

Bootes
Urania's Mirror 1825

Bootes is the cultivator or Ploughman who drives the Bears, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor around the Pole Star, Polaris. The bears, tied to the Polar Axis, are pulling a plough behind them, tilling the heavenly fields "in order that the rotations of the heavens should never cease".

"It is said that Bootes invented the plough to enable mankind to better till the ground and as such, perhaps, immortalizes the transition from a nomadic life to settled agriculture in the ancient world. This pleased Ceres, the Goddess of Agriculture, so much that she asked Jupiter to place Bootes amongst the stars as a token of gratitude". [The New Patterns in the Sky, Julius D.W. Staal, p.152].

Bootes is the ox-driving Ploughman or Herdsman, from Latin Bootes, from Greek Boötes, plowman, from Greek botein (or bootein), to plow, from bous, cow, from the Indo-European root *gwou- [American Heritage Dictionary]. 

Allen (Star Names) says the word Bootes "has been variously derived: some say from Bous, 'ox', + Greek -othein, 'to drive'". [The suffix -othein is related to the suffix -mosis in the words; osmosis, endosmosis, exosmosis].

Bootes seems to be both the cow-herder and also the cow (Taurus is a Bull, not a cow). Bootes is related to Old French bovier, herdsman, from Latin bovis, genitive of bos, cow, from the Indo-European root *gwou- 'Cow'. Derivatives: cow¹ (Latin bos, bovis, Greek bous, Sanskrit gau, gaus), kine, cowslip, beef, bovine, bugle¹ (these words from Latin bos, stem bov-), buccinator (the buccinator muscles hold in our cheeks during whistling and forceful blowing as in playing a trumpet, hence, the 'trumpeter' muscles, from Latin bucina, horn, trumpet, from *bou-kan-, 'bellower'), Boötes, bucolic (a farmer or shepherd; a rustic), bulimia (excessive or insatiable appetite), butter, butyric (butyric acid, occurs in the normal vaginal secretions of primates, including humans, from Greek bous, ox, bull, cow), buffalo, Gurkha. [Pokorny gwou- 482. Watkins] Klein relates Gautama (Buddha's epithet) to this root.

The above root might be related to Gaea or Gaia 'earth', or goddess of the earth, Mother Earth, whence geography.

Gâus [from the Indo-European root *gwou- 'Cow'] has in Sanskrit the two meanings ‘cow’ and ‘earth.’ In Greek , ‘earth’ can be traced to this word [as well as Gaea, the Greek goddess of the earth.]” The Rigveda-Aryans, like the Iranians, have given the primeval cow this place in their mythology and compare her nourishing to the nourishing earth and call the earth “cow” so often in their hymns, that the Sanskrit word , cow, also has the meaning earth. [Investigations into Germanic Mythology, Viktor Rydberg, Vol. II, p.18]

Arctophylax is a Greek title for Bootes, and John F. Blake in Astronomical Myths, 1877, thought that the original title of this constellation in all probability was 'Arcturus'.

"Arctophylax, on earth Bootes named" [Aratos 3rd century B.C].

Arctophylax (i.e. the 'bear-keeper') is so named because it follows Arctos, that is, the Great Bear (Ursa Major). People have also called this constellation Bootes, because it is attached to the Wain (Ursa Major). It is a very noticeable sign with its many stars, one of which is Arcturus. Arcturus is a star located in the sign of Bootes beyond the tail of the Great Bear. For this reason it is called Arcturus, as if it were the Greek arktos oura (i.e. 'tail of the bear'), because it is located next to the heart of Bootes. It rises in the season of autumn.” [The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville, 7th century AD, p.105.]

The word 'Bootes' actually means 'cow-driver', but in connection with the two Bears (Ursa Major and Ursa Minor) he is often seen as a Bear Driver or Bear Herder (Arctophylax) who chases the Bears around the pole star, Polaris. The prefix Arcto- is from Greek arktos, and related to Latin Ursa, bear. The suffix -phylax is from Greek phulax, from Greek phulassein, phulasso, 'watcher, guard, sentry-keeper'. A phylax was a guard or watchman in ancient Rome, phylaxis relates to the defense of the body against infection, from Greek phulakterion ‘amulet’, prophylaxis is preventive treatment of disease.

“A gazo-phylacium is a strongbox in a temple where what is given for the needs of the poor is gathered. The term is a composite from Persian and Greek, for gaza in Persian means 'treasury,' and phulakion in Greek means 'custody.' [The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville, 7th century AD, p.401.]

Manilius (Astronomica, 1st century AD, see below) said of Bootes:

"fortune herself makes bold to entrust her treasures, so that the wealth of monarchs and temple finances will be in their keeping".

Another suggestion for the root of Greek phylax, phulax, phulasso, is given by Strong's Greek Dictionary; "probably from phule which is translated from Greek as 'an offshoot, i.e. race or clan, kindred, tribe'". Greek phule comes from the Indo-European root *bheue- Also bheu-. 'To be, exist, grow, pertaining to nature'. Derivatives: be, forebear, bondage, bound4 (on the way somewhere), bustle¹, husband ('house' + Old Norse buandi from bua  'to dwell'), booth (bothe, market stall), build, boodle (estate, from Middle Dutch bodel, riches, property), physic, physician (physikoi were early Greek philosophers who also taught medicine, and eventually their name was applied to doctors), physics, physio-, physique, -phyte, phyt, phyto- (plant), phyton (the smallest unit of plant structure), diaphysis (the shaft of a long bone), epiphysis (epi, -on + physis, growth. The pineal organ), hypophysis (from hupophuein, to grow up beneath. The pituitary gland), imp (a mischievous child, also to furnish with wings), eisteddfod (an annual competitive festival of Welsh poets and musicians), bothy (a hut or small cottage, from Old Irish both, a hut). Suffixed form *bhu-tu-; future (from Latin futurus, 'that is to be'), bower¹ ('dwelling space'), neighbor (from Old English neahgebur: neah, near + gebur, dweller), Boer, boor (from Middle Dutch gheboer, ghebuer, peasant, dweller, especially farmer), byre (a barn for cows, from Old English byre, stall, hut), bylaw, phyle (a large citizens' organization based on kinship), phyletic (relating to the evolutionary descent and development of a species or group of organisms), phylo-, phylum (from Greek phulon ‘race’, a major taxonomic rank, humans are in the phylum Chordata), phylogeny (the evolutionary development and history of a species or higher taxonomic grouping of organisms. Also called phylogenesis. The historical development of a tribe or racial group, from Greek phulon, tribe, class, race, and phule, tribe, clan), beam (from Old English bam, tree, beam, 'growing thing'), boom² (from Middle Dutch boom, tree, maybe related to boom1 a deep sound), bumpkin¹, bumpkin² (from Flemish boom, tree). [Pokorny bheu- 146. Watkins] Klein adds the second element in these words to this root: dubious, probate, prove, superb, tribe, tribune, tribute.

Along with -phylax of Arctophylax being related to *bheue-, it has been suggested that the word Bootes itself may also be linked to this root - a suggested link with Bootes and Dutch boor. In any case there is a phonetic and semantic correspondence with some of the *bheue- words and Bootes: The name Booth is an English place-name for the man who lived in a small hut or bothy from the Middle English word bothe, and usually designated a cowman or shepherd [1]. Byre is a barn for cows.

Physis was a primeval god or goddess of the origin and ordering of nature. The primal being of creation was regarded as both male and female. See Physis (or Phusis).

"O Natura [Phusis, nature], mighty mother of the gods [Gaia (see above) is probably meant], and thou, fire-bearing Olympus’ lord [Zeus] ... why dost thou dwell afar, all too indifferent to men, not anxious to bring blessing to the good, and to the evil, bane?"  [Seneca, Phaedra 959]

"Then Phusis (Nature), who governs the universe and recreates its substance [after the world-shattering battle between Zeus and Typhoeus], closed up the gaping rents in earth’s broken surface, and sealed once more with the bond of indivisible joinery those island cliffs which had been rent from their bed." [Nonnus, Dionysiaca 2. 650 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) http://www.theoi.com/Protogenos/Phusis.html]

The word Bootes was seen as related to Greek boetes which seems to have meant a loud voice. According to Allen (Star Names) "Others thought the word Boetes, Clamorous, transcribed as Boetes, descriptive of the shouts of the Driver to his Oxen (the Bears), or the calls of encouragement to the Hounds" (Canes Venatici), hence the constellation had been sometimes called 'Vociferator' and 'Clamator'. "Bootes is related to the ancient Greek verb Boao, Boo. It means 'roar', 'make a loud roaring noise' and 'command in a loud roaring way'" [from a Greek lady who wrote to me]. Latin has the word bovinor 'bellow', bovo, 'I roar'. Boo originally was an imitation of a cow’s lowing [1]. The word boom, a deep sound, might be related.

Titles for Bootes were Latin Clamans, Clamator from Latin clamorous. As a calendar sign it was first mentioned by Hesiod (Allen Star Names). Bootes who invented the plough could represent the transition from a nomadic life to settled agriculture (as Julius Staal suggested). In order to establish his territory, the aspiring farmer would have needed to make a claim. The claiming of territory has associations with cows as in the Greek myth of Cadmus, who after consulting the oracle was ordered to follow a special cow with a half moon on her flank, which would meet him, and to build a town on the spot where she should lie down exhausted, it guided him to Boeotia, he named the place Boeotia, after the word 'cow' (bos) [2]. A bovate (from Latin bos) is an archaic term for a measure of land also known as an oxgang. It was 1/8 of a ploughgate or as much land as one ox could plough in a year [3]. The word low 'to make the sound of a cow' is related to the word claim. 'Claim' comes from the Indo-European root *kela-2 'To shout'. Derivatives: low² ('to make the sound of a cow'), claim, clamant, clamor, clamorous, acclaim, declaim, exclaim, proclaim (from Latin clamare, to call, cry out), haul (from Old French haler, to haul). Suffixed form *kal-yo-; conciliate (to overcome the distrust or animosity of), council (con-caliom), reconcile (from Latin concilium, a meeting, gathering < 'a calling together' con-, together, + caliom, to call). Suffixed form *kal-end-; calendar, calends (from Latin kalendae, Greek kaleo 'to call'), ecclesia (ek-, out + kalein, to call, ecclesiastical), Paraclete (para- + kalein, literally ‘to call to your side’, the word appears a few times in the New Testament and, as a title for the Holy Spirit), intercalate (to insert a day or month in a calendar), nomenclator (one who assigns names, from Latin calare, to call, call out), clear, glair (the white of an egg), clairvoyant ('clear seeing'), declare, éclair (from Latin clarus, bright, clear), claret, clarify, class (from Latin classis, summons, division of citizens). [Pokorny 6. kel- 548. Watkins]

Icarus, or Icarius, also was a title for Bootes, the name relates to the story of the farmer Icarius who welcomed Dionysus to Attica and in return received the gift of the vine, or received the secret of wine-making from the god. Icarius gave wine to the neighboring shepherds, but when they became intoxicated they thought Icarius had poisoned them, and so they slew him [3].

Bootes is associated with Icarius who was the first man to learn the cultivation of grapes and their fermentation into wine. The traditional astrological influences for Bootes; "likes fine wine". In view of Bootes association with liquor, the word booze, or bouse, might belong here, from Middle English bous, a drink. 'Bootleg' is illegal liquor and refers to the notion of smuggling liquor in one's boot [4]. Boots are generally worn by farmers. To say a man is "in his boots" implies that he is very drunk.

Bootes could also relate to another mythological character named Icarus. Icarus was famous for his death by falling into the Icarian Sea near Icaria, the island that still bears his name. He was the son of Daedalus, the master craftsman. According to Ovid's description of him he appears to have been a very young boy, whose playful antics hindered his father's work [5]. Daedalus made artificial wings for himself and Icarus. Icarus flew too close to the sun, melting the wax holding his artificial wings together, causing him to fall into the Icarian sea and drown. From the Indo-European root above, *bheue-, there is the word imp which along with meaning a mischievous child, it also means to furnish with wings, and it was used in the context of grafting new feathers onto the wings of a trained falcon or hawk to repair damage or increase flying capacity.

Some see the word boy as deriving from the root *gwou-, related to English bovine and cow. "Boy from French *imboiare, a compound verb based on Latin boiae 'leather collar, fetter,' which was adapted from Greek boeiai dorai 'oxhides' (hence 'ox-leather thongs'), from bous 'ox'." [John Ayto, Dictionary of Word Origins]

As has been suggested Bootes may immortalize the transition from a nomadic life to settled agriculture in the ancient world. The aspiring farmer who made claims on land would need to guard his property and produce against those who had still remained nomads, at least before bylaws became established. Titles for Bootes were Greek Arktophulax, translated 'the Bear-watcher' and the 'Bear-guard', from Greek phulax, 'watcher, guard, sentry-keeper'. A phylax was a guard or watchman in ancient Rome, and in earlier Chaldea Arcturus was identified with Papsukal, the Guardian Messenger. The name of the alpha star, Greek Arktouros, Latin Arcturus, was often interchanged with the name of the constellation. The suffix -urus is from Greek ouros, 'watcher, guard, ward'. This -ouros root is related to the word guard in the Germanic languages. Manilius below says "those born under Arctophylax - Arcturus, ... are charged with the guardianship of the people or, as the stewards of grand houses. The suffix -urus of Arcturus is from the Indo-European root *wer-4 'To perceive, watch out for'. Derivatives: wary, aware, ware², ward, lord (from hlaf, loaf of bread + weard, warder), steward (a steward was a sty-ward, warder of pigs), stewardess, warder², warden, award, reward, wardrobe, warder, guard, garderobe, regard, guardian, rearward², ware¹, beware. From the Greek root ouros; Arcturus, pylorus (pylorus  pule, gate + ouros, guard; the passage at the lower end of the stomach that opens into the duodenum, from Greek ouros, a guard. In myth Pylos is the gate to the underworld). Probably variant *(s)wor-, *s(w)or-; ephor (elected magistrates exercising a supervisory power over the kings of Sparta), panorama (pan- + Greek horan, to see), revere¹ (to regard with awe, from Latin vereri, to respect, feel awe for). [Pokorny 8. wer- 1164. Watkins] Edward (composed of the Anglo-Saxon elements ead 'riches, prosperity, happiness' and weard 'protector'), Stuart from steward.

"Old Oxherd was on guard with unsleeping eyes, in company with the heavenly Serpent [Draco] of the Arcadian Bear [Ursa Minor], looking out from on high for some nightly assault of Typhon" [DIONYSIACA BOOK 2]

Bootes has been identified with Philomelus, or Philomelos, 'Friend of Ease' [6], or Philomenus, whose brother Plutus was very wealthy, but gave none of his riches to his brother. Out of necessity Philomenus bought two oxen, invented the wagon or plough, and supported himself by ploughing his fields and cultivating crops. His mother, Demeter (Ceres), admiring him for this, put him in the heavens as the constellation Bootes, his wagon or plough being the constellation Ursa Major. [7]:

"[Constellation Waggoner] Hermippus, who wrote about the stars, says that Ceres [Demeter] lay with Iasion (Jason), son of Thuscus. Many agree with Homer that for this he was struck with a thunderbolt. From them, as Petellides, Cretan writer of histories, shows, two sons were born, Philomelus and Plutus, who were never on good terms, for Plutus, who was richer, gave nothing of his wealth to his brother. Philomelus, however, compelled by necessity, bought two oxen with what he had, and became the inventor of the wagon. So, by plowing and cultivating the fields, he supported himself. His mother, admiring his invention, represented him plowing among the stars, and called him Bootes" [Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 4 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) http://www.theoi.com/Georgikos/Bootes.html ]

"[On inventions:] The ox and the plough [were invented] by Buzyges (Ox-Yoker) of Athens, or, as others say, by Triptolemus." [N.B. Bouzyges is the same as Bootes.] [Pliny the Elder, Natural History 7. 199 [8]]

The second and third centuries Hermetic documents attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, or the Egyptian deity Thoth, were translated by G.R.S. Mead in 1906. In the The Mystery Myth section it tells how Isis went to see her son Horus who was being reared at Boutos. Mead comments "Generally supposed to stand for the city Buto, but may be some word-play. Can it be connected with Bootes, the Ploughman—the constellation Arcturus—the voyage being celestial. Budge (p. 192) gives its [Bootes] Egyptian equivalent as Per-Uatchit, i.e. 'House of the Eye'". Buto was a cobra-goddess whose original home and cult center was in the Delta of the Nile at Per-Uatchit. The 'House of the Eye' might mean to be translated 'the Watcher'. The Uatchit, of Per-Uatchit looks like it could be pronounced 'watchit'. Buto was a cobra-goddess or sometimes was depicted in art as a woman wearing the uraeus. The uraeus is a cobra-headdress which the Greeks called ouraios [similar to Greek ouros, a guard? Arct-urus]. Wikipedia (quoting Herod. ii. 155, and Aelian. V. Hist. ii. 41) says that the Greeks identified the goddess Wadjet (Buto) with Leto, mother of Apollo and Artemis, whom the Romans called Latona.

The astrological influences of the constellation given by Manilius:

"True is the name men have given him (the Bearwarden), threatening-like he presses forward as one does over a team of bullocks." [Manilius, Astronomica, 1st century AD, book 5, p.29.]

"To those born under Arctophylax - Arcturus, fortune herself makes bold to entrust her treasures, so that the wealth of monarchs and temple finances will be in their keeping [translator's note: custodianship is a suitable endowment for the Bearward]; they will be kings under kings and ministers of state [politicians], and be charged with the guardianship of the people or, as the stewards of grand houses, they will confine their business to the care of another's home." [Translator's note: strictly speaking Arcturus is a star, but the name is used by ancient astrologers for the whole constellation of Bootes and for the star alone, it is often difficult to distinguish which of these the authors are referring to]." [Manilius, Astronomica, 1st century AD, book 5, p.329.]

"...as the stewards of grand houses, they will confine their business to the care of another's home".  It was the serving of wine to neighboring shepherds that caused Icarius (above) to lose his life. The association with wine, and being "the stewards of grand houses" (domibusve), should mean what we now term 'butlers'. The butler or bottler is the person who has charge of the liquors in a large establishment, so called from the French bouteiller, from bouteille. Though 'bottle' and 'butler' are not recognized cognate of 'Bootes', the words have a similar resonance. Dionysus, the god, showed Icarius his gratitude for his hospitality by teaching him the cultivation of the vine, and giving him bags filled with wine [9]. Wineskins or animal skins were a common vessel before glass bottles were invented.

"The role of the butler, for centuries, has been that of the chief steward of a household, the attendant entrusted with the care and serving of wine and other bottled beverages which in ancient times might have represented a considerable portion of the household's assets." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butler

© Anne Wright 2008.

Fixed stars in Bootes
Star 1900 2000 R A Decl 2000 Lat Mag Sp
kappa (κ) 28VIR34 29VIR57 14h 13m 29s +51° 47' 25" +58 53 52 4.60 A7
theta (θ) 01LIB13 02LIB36 14h 25m 11.8s +51° 51' 3" +60 06 57 4.06 F6
lambda (λ) 05LIB35 06LIB58 14h 16m 23s +46° 5' 18" +54 38 57 4.26 A1
Merga 38 14LIB03 15LIB26 14h 49m 18.7s +46° 6' 58" +57 53 03 5.76 F4
Seginus gamma (γ) 16LIB16 17LIB40 14h 32m 4.7s +38° 18' 30" +49 33 11 3.00 A7
Mufrid eta (η) 17LIB56 19LIB20 13h 54m 41.1s +18° 23' 52" +28 05 04 2.80 G0
rho (ρ) 19LIB19 20LIB42 14h 31m 49.8s +30° 22' 17" +41 42 40 3.78 K3
Arcturus alpha (α) 22LIB50 24LIB14 14h 15m 39.7s +19° 10' 57" +30 46 15 0.04 K2
Nekkar beta (β) 22LIB50 24LIB15 15h 1m 56.8s +40° 23' 26" +54 09 16 3.63 G5
Izar epsilon (ε) 26LIB42 28LIB06 14h 44m 59.2s +27° 4' 27" +40 37 42 2.70 K0
zeta (ζ) 01SCO39 03SCO02 14h 41m 8.9s +13° 43' 42" +27 52 56 3.86 A2
Princeps delta (δ) 01SCO45 03SCO09 15h 15m 30.2s +33° 18' 53" +49 03 09 3.54 G4
Alkalurops mu (μ) 01SCO47 03SCO11 15h 24m 29.4s +37° 22' 38" +53 25 31 4.47 A7
Ceginus phi (φ) 03SCO41 05SCO06 15h 37m 49.6s +40° 21' 12" +57 13 10 5.41 G5
Bootes
Hevelius, Firmamentum, 1690

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

Bootes' golden wain.  —   Pope's Statius His Thebais.

Bootes only seem'd to roll

His Arctic charge around the Pole.   —   Byron's 3d Ode in Hours of Idleness.

Bootes, the Italians' Boote and the French Bouvier, is transliterated from Bootes, which appeared in the Odyssey, so that our title has been in use for nearly 3000 years, perhaps for much longer; although doubtless at first applied only to its prominent star Arcturus. Degenerate forms of the word have been Bootis and Bootres.

It has been variously derived: some say from Bous, Ox, and othein, to drive, and so the Wagoner, or Driver, of the Wain Ursa Major; Claudian writing:

Bootes with the wain the north unfolds;

or the Ploughman of the Triones that, as Arator, occurs with Nigidius and Varro of the century before our era. But in recent times the figure has been {Page 93} imagined the Driver of Asterion and Chara in their pursuit of the Bear around the pole, thus alluded to by Carlyle in Sartor Resartus:

What thinks Bootes of them, as he leads his Hunting Dogs (Canes Venatici) over the zenith in their leash of sidereal fire ?

Others, and perhaps more correctly, thought the word Boetes, Clamorous, transcribed as Boetes, from the shouts of the Driver to his Oxen, — the Triones (the Bears; Ursa Major and Ursa Minor), — or of the Hunter in pursuit of the Bear; Hevelius suggesting that the shouting was in encouragement of the Hounds (Canes Venatici). In translations of the Syntaxis this idea of a Shouter was shown by Vociferator, Vociferans, Clamans, Clamator, Plorans, the Loud Weeper, and even, perhaps, by Canis latrans, the Barking Dog, that Aben Ezra applied to its stars in the Hebrew words Kelebh hannabah. The Arabians rendered their similar conception of the figure by AlAwwa’, — Chilmead's Alhava.

The not infrequent title Herdsman, from the French Bouvier, also is appropriate, for not only was he associated with the Oxen of the Wain, but in Arab days the near-by circumpolar stars were regarded as a Fold with its inmates and enemies.

Other names were Arktophulax and Arktouros, the Bear-watcher and the Bear-guard, the latter first found in the Works and Days, "a Boeotian shepherd's calendar," by Hesiod, eight centuries before our era. But, although these words were often interchanged, the former generally was used for the constellation and the latter for its lucida (Arcturus), as in the Phainomena and by Geminos and Ptolemy. Still the poets did not always discriminate in this, the versifiers of Aratos confounding the titles notwithstanding the exactness of the original; although Cicero in one place definitely wrote:

Arctophylax, vulgo qui dicitur esse Bootes.

Transliterated thus, — or Artophilaxe, and as Arcturus, both names are seen for the constellation with writers and astronomers even to the 18th century; Chaucer having "ye sterres of Arctour." The scientific Isidorus knew it as Arcturus Minor, his Major being the Greater Bear. Smyth derived this word from Arktou oura, the Bear's Tail, as Bootes is near that part of Ursa Major; but this is not generally accepted — indeed is expressly condemned by the critic Buttmann.

Statius also called it Portitor Ursae; Vitruvius had Custos and Custos Arcti, the Bear-keeper; Ovid, Custos Erymanthidos Ursae; the Alfonsine Tables, {Page 94} Arcturi Custos; while the Bear-driver is often seen with early English writers.

Although Manilius knew it in connection with the Bear, he changed the simile when he wrote:

whose order'd Beams

Present a Figure driving of his Teams;

and Aratos long before had united the two thoughts and titles:

Behind and seeming to urge on the Bear,

Arctophylax, on earth Bootes named,

Sheds o'er the Arctic car his silver light.

Plaustri Custos, the Keeper of the Wain, was another name for it that altered the character of Bootes' duties; Ovid following in this with:

interque Triones

FIexerat obliquo plaustrum temone Bootes .

It has been Lycaon, the father, or grandfather, of Kallisto, when that nymph was identified with Ursa Major; as well as Arcas, her son; Ovid distinctly asserting in the 2d of the Fasti that Arctophylax in the skies was the earthly Arcas, although it is often wrongly supposed that the latter is represented by Ursa Minor; it was Septentrio, from its nearness to the north, so taking one of the Bear's titles; and Atlas, because, near to the pole, it sustained the world.

Hesychios, of about A.D. 370, called it Orion, but this seems unintelligible unless originating from a misunderstanding of Homer's lines, translated by Lord Derby:

Arctos call'd the Wain, who wheels on high

His circling course, and on Orion waits, as if they were in close proximity. Or the title may come from some confusion with the Orus, or Horus, of the Egyptians, that was associated with both Orion and Bootes. La Lande alluded to this when he wrote:

Arctouros ou l'Orus voisin de 1'Ourse, pour le distinguer de la constellation meridionale d'Orion;

and, in considering this very different derivation of our word Arcturus, it should be remembered that Kandaus; and Kandaon were the titles also applied to Bootes, as the latter Greek word was to Orion by the Boeotians. It would be interesting to know more of this connection.

Philomelus is another designation, as if he were the son of the neighboring Virgo Ceres; and the early title Venator Ursae, the Hunter of the Bear, again {Page 95} appears as Nimrod, the Mighty Hunter before the Lord, with the biblical school of two or three centuries ago; although this was more usual for Orion.

Pastor, the Shepherd, presumably is from the Arabic idea of a Fold around the pole, or from the near-by flock in the Pasture towards the southeast, in our Hercules and Ophiuchus; or perhaps by some confusion with Cepheus, who also was a Shepherd with his Dog.

Pastinator is Hyde's rendering of a supposed Arabic title signifying a Digger or Trencher in a vineyard. A commentator on Aratos called it Trugetes, the Vintager, as its rising in the morning twilight coincided with the autumnal equinox and the time of the grape harvest; Cicero repeating this in his Protrygeter; but both of these names better belonged to the star Vindemiatrix, our epsilon Virginis (Virgo).

Still its risings and settings were frequently observed and made much of in all classical days, and even beyond the Augustan age, although many, perhaps most, of these allusions were to its bright star. As a calendar sign it was first mentioned by Hesiod, thus translated by Thomas Cooke:

When in the rosy morn Arcturus shines,

Then pluck the clusters from the parent vines;

and again, but for a different season of the year:

When from the Tropic, or the winter's sun,

Thrice twenty days and nights their course have run;

And when Arcturus leaves the main, to rise

A star bright shining in the evening skies;

Then prune the vine.

Columella, Palladius, Pliny, Vergil, and others have similar references to Bootes, or to Arcturus, as indicating the proper seasons for various farm-work, as in the 1st Georgic:

Setting Bootes will afford the signs not obscure.

Icarus, or Icarius, also was a title for our constellation, from the unfortunate Athenian who brought so much trouble into the world by his practical expounding of Bacchus' ideas as to the proper use of the grape, and who was so unworthily exalted to the sky, with his daughter Erigone as Virgo, and their faithful hound Maera as Procyon or Sirius. From this story came the Icarii boves applied to the Triones (Ursa Major and Ursa Minor) by Propertius, and in the Andrews-Freund Lexicon to Bootes himself.

Ceginus, Seginus, and Chegninus, as well as the Cheguius of the Arabo-Latin Almagest, may have wandered here in strangely changed form from the neighboring Cepheus; although Buttmann asserted that they probably {Page 96} came, by long-repeated transcription and consequent errors, from Kheturus, the Arabian orthography for Arcturus. Bayer had Thegius, as usual without explanation; still I find in Riccioli's Almagestum Novum: Arabice Theguius, quasi plorans aut vociferans; but Arabic scholars do not confirm this.

La Lande cited Custos Boum, the Keeper of the Oxen, and Bubulus, or Bubulcus, the Peasant Ox-driver, although Ideler denied that the latter ever was used for Bootes. Juvenal, however, had it, and Minsheu defined Bootes as Bubulcus coelestis. Landseer, following La Lande, said that the Herdsman was the national sign of ancient Egypt, the myth of the dismemberment of Osiris originating in the successive settings of its stars; and that there it was called Osiris, Bacchus, or Sabazius, the ancient name for Bacchus and Noah; and that Kircher's planisphere showed a Vine instead of the customary figure, thus recalling incidents in the histories of those worthies, as well as of Icarius.

Homer characterized the constellation as opse duon, late in setting, a thought and expression now become hackneyed by frequent repetition.

Aratos had it:

he, when tired of day,

At even lingers more than half the night;

Manilius somewhat varying this by

Slow Bootes drives his ling'ring Teams;

Claudian, Juvenal, and Ovid, by tardus, slow, piger, sluggish, which their later countryman Ariosto, of the 16th century, repeated in his pigro Arturo; and Minsheu, in the 17th century, wrote of it as

Bootes, or the Carman, a slow moving starre, seated in the North Pole neere to Charles Waine, which it followes.

And all this because, as the figure sets in a perpendicular position, eight hours are consumed in its downward progress, and even then the hand of Bootes never disappears below the horizon — a fact more noticeable in early days than now. The reverse, however, takes place at its rising in a horizontal position; hence the athroos, "all at once", of Aratos.

Some say that these expressions of sluggishness are from its setting late in the season when the daylight is curtailed, or a reference to the natural gait of the Triones that Bootes is driving around the pole; while still others, more astronomically inclined, attributed them to his comparative nearness to

that point where slowest are the stars,

Even as a wheel the nearest to its axle,

that Dante wrote of in the Purgatorio.

{Page 97} Bootes' association with the Mons Maenalus, on which he is sometimes shown, is unexplained unless by the suggestion found under that constellation heading. This association was current even in early days, if Landseer be correct where he says:

Eusebius, quoting an ancient oracle which has apparent reference to this constellation as formerly represented, writes  —

A mystic goad the mountain herdsman bears.

Brown says that it was known in Assyria as Riu-but-same, "that reappears in Greek as Bootes"; and thus

"the idea of the ox-driving Ploughman or Herdsman, as applied to the constellation, is Euphratean in character".

Among its Arabian derivatives are Nekkar, often considered as Al Nakkar, the Digger, or Tearer, analogous to the classic Trencher in the vineyard; but Ideler showed this to be an erroneous form of Al Bakkar, the Herdsman, found with Ibn Yunus.

Alkalurops, which appeared for Bootes in the Alfonsine Tables as Incalurus, is from Kalaurops, a herdsman's Crook or Staff, with the Arabic article prefixed; this now is our title for the star mu (Alkalurops). The staff, ultimately figured as a Lance, gave rise to the name Al Ramih, which came into general use among the Arabians, but subsequently degenerated in early European astronomical works into Aramech, Ariamech, and like words for the constellation as well as for its great star.

The same figure is seen in Al Hamil Luzz, the Spear-bearer, or, as Caesius had it, Al Kameluz, Riccioli's Kolanza, and the Azimeth Colanza of Reduan's translator, which Ideler compared to the Latin cum lancea and the Italian colla lancia. Similarly, Bayer said that on a Turkish map it was Oistophoros, the Arrow-bearer; and elsewhere Sagittifer and Lanceator.

Al Haris al Sama’ of Arabic literature originally was for Arcturus, although eventually applied to the constellation. But long before these ideas were current in Arabia, that people are supposed to have had an enormous Lion, their early Asad, extending over a third of the heavens, of which the stars Arcturus and Spica were the shin-bones; Regulus, the forehead; the heads of Gemini, one of the fore paws; Canis Minor, the other; and Corvus, the hind quarters.

In Poland Bootes forms the Ogka, or Thills, of that country's much-extended Woz Niebeski, the Heavenly Wain; and in the Old Bohemian tongue it was Przyczck, as unintelligible as it is unpronounceable.

{Page 98} The early Catholics knew it as Saint Sylvester; Caesius said that it might represent the prophet Amos, the Herdsman, or Shepherd Fig-dresser, of Tekoa; but Weigel turned it into the Three Swedish Crowns (representing Scandinavia).

Proctor asserted that Bootes, when first formed, perhaps included even the Crown, as we know that it did the Hunting Dogs (Canes Venatici); and that, so constituted,

"it exhibits better than most constellations the character assigned to it. One can readily picture to one's self the figure of a Herdsman with upraised arm driving the Greater Bear before him".

The drawing by Heis, after Durer, is of a mature man, with herdsman's staff, holding the leash of the Hounds (Canes Venatici); but earlier representations are of a much younger figure: in all cases, however, well equipped with weapons of the chase, or implements of husbandry; the earliest form of these probably having been the winnowing fan of Bacchus.

The Venetian Hyginus of 1488 shows the Wheat Sheaf, Coma Berenices, at his feet; Argelander's Uranometria Nova has different figures on its two plates — one of the ancient form, the other of the modern holding the leash of the Hounds (Canes Venatici) in full pursuit of the Bear Ursa Major.

This constellation and the Bear Ursa Major, Orion, the Hyades, Pleiades (Taurus), and Dog (Canis Major) were the only starry figures mentioned by Homer and Hesiod; the latter's versifier, Thomas Cooke, giving as a reason therefore — "the names of which naturally run into an hexameter verse"; but the general assumption that these great poets knew no other constellations does not seem reasonable, although it will be noticed that all those alluded to are identical with each author.

Bootes is a constellation of large extent, stretching from Draco to Virgo, nearly 50° in declination, and 30° in right ascension, and contains 85 naked-eye stars according to Argelander, 140 according to Heis.

Poises Arcturus aloft morning and evening his spear.

— Emerson's translation of Hafiz' To the Shah.

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