Graham Millar David
as Orpheus - A Myth of the Stars
OF THE STARS
by F. Graham
RASC (Royal Astronomical Society of Canada)
use with permission of the late copyright-holding author and based on
the author's significant pioneer article which appeared in the Journal
of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 89, No. 4, Aug.
"David playing the
harp" was vividly portrayed on the cover of Biblical Archaeology
20:2 1994; this showed a restoration of part of the mosaic floor, dated
508/9 C.E., of the Gaza synagogue. Green's article inside (1) gave
background information, and noted the implied Orphic character of
David. David as a harpist, I suggest, was a myth of the stars.
ancient religion of the fixed stars gradually absorbed sun worship
which became virtually dominant. In the Old Testament there already was
a hint of solar identity in David: he was youthful, ruddy and of fair
countenance (I Sam. 16:12, 17:42). As depicted on the synagogue floor,
his face could be that of the sun god, while his hair was red and the
locks stood out as rays.
a flesh and blood David existed, his history has been overlaid by
euphemerized myth. I have shown (2) that the story of David and Goliath
was an international myth of the stars. (The reader may best understand
the relationships of the constellations about to be named by consulting
the star chart of Fig. 1.)
Figure 1 - Star
was the constellation Hercules, David was Bootes, Goliath Orion, and
the sling was Corona Borealis. The stone that David "slang" was a
Herculid meteor. The names Saul, David and Goliath had roots in the
Sanskrit dictionary, implying that the story was of Indo-European
origin. As may be relevant, the Orphic myth was Greek and thus
mythology the role of meteors, or shooting stars, has been overlooked.
Once the role has been perceived, the explanation of many a folkloric
motif leaps out: the flung thunderbolt, lance, or other projectile, the
flashing sword, the sword drawn from its scabbard and replaced, the
deadly glance of the Gorgon, and so on, including the javelin that Saul
cast at David (I Sam 20:33)-- and the notes of David's harp.
constellation of Lyra, the Harp, is close to Bootes; from it radiate
the Lyrid meteors, a major shower active for about two days, in our
time around April 22nd.
may be seen on the star chart, Hercules is a more credible harpist than
Bootes. In my paper (2) I showed that, under the influence of the
precession (movement of the celestial pole), Bootes succeeded Hercules
as the residence of the Horned One, a major deity. Possibly Hercules
was the original harpist.
lovely little sculpture of a harpist (3), from an island of the
Cyclades, may be the Orphic David in his Indo-European matrix. The
swan's head design at the top of the harp, I suggest, is derived from
the constellation Cygnus, the Swan, adjacent to Lyra in the sky; from
it radiate the Cygnid meteors, a minor shower lasting a few days around
August 18th. Thus the notes of music-- meteors-- emanate from the
swan-head as well as from the harp strings.
as we may theorize, the mythical David was originally the sky-dwelling
divine musician, the patron who taught mankind all the arts. Among the
nations he was known by many names, among them Orpheus.
Kestenbaum Green, "King David's Head from Gaza Synagogue Restored," BAR,
20:2 (1994), pp. 58-63,90.
2. F. Graham
Millar, "The Celestial David and Goliath," Jour. Roy. Astron. Soc.
of Canada, 89 (1995), pp. 141-154:summary on this www site.
3. "Worldwide," BAR
20:5 (1994), p. 88.
The foregoing work is the copyright of the author. However, it may be
referenced, quoted, or the ideas used, provided credit is given to F.
In Bootes the second o has the dierisis, a double dot over the o, that
cannot be shown in ASCII. [LexiLine addendum: Technology has moved
forward and it can now be shown as Boötes
online, but we have left it as originally in the article.]
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