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OutlookNotSoGood
2008-Sep-19, 02:05 AM
I have a tough one that has puzzled me for years:

Why did the ancients name Jupiter "Jupiter", e.g. King Of Planets?

Think about it. They didn't know Jupiter is the biggest planet (or did they?). It's not the brightest planet. It doesn't rise higher in the sky than any other (naked eye) planet.

So what gives?


John

Jens
2008-Sep-19, 02:54 AM
It's an interesting question. But remember that Saturn was Jupiter's father. So you would think that they would have called the biggest planet Saturn.

I would think the best thing would be to do some research into why the planets were named for the particular gods. I have a feeling that it is a question of the Romans having borrowed from the Greeks, the Greeks having borrowed from somebody else.

a1call
2008-Sep-19, 02:55 AM
The name Jupiter is the Roman counterpart of the Greek Zeus as you mentioned.

No answer to why but my wikipedia research indicates that The Persian Name for Jupiter is Hormoz which is a deviation of the term AhurMazda which means the singular God.

I thought the God/s reference in two cultures is interesting.

In Arabic it is called Mushtari which means client, but according to Wikipedia is a derivative of the Greek name.

Jens
2008-Sep-19, 03:01 AM
It's an interesting question. But remember that Saturn was Jupiter's father. So you would think that they would have called the biggest planet Saturn.

I should have checked before looking at that. It seems from what I just read that Saturn wasn't Jupiter's father, but that Kronos (the Greek model for Saturn) was the father of Zeus. In any case, you should check out this page (http://www.friesian.com/week.htm), which talks about the planet names, going back to the Sumerians.

a1call
2008-Sep-19, 03:07 AM
St. Augustine, seven centuries after Aratus, asked:

But since they call Jupiter king of all, who will not laugh to see his star so far surpassed in brilliancy by the star of Venus? . . . They answer that it only appears so because it is higher up and much farther away from the earth. If, therefore, its greater dignity has deserved a higher place, why is Saturn higher in the heavens that Jupiter?(2)

Marduk, the great god of the Babylonians, was the planet Jupiter;(3) so was Amon of the Egyptians;(4) Zeus of the Greeks was the same planet; Jupiter of the Romans, as the name shows, was again the same planet. Why was this planet chosen as the most exalted deity? In Greece it was called “all-highest, mighty Zeus,” (5) in Rome “Jupiter Optimus, Maximus” ;(6) in Babylon it was known as “the greatest of the stars” (7); as Ahuramazda it was called by Darius “the greatest of the gods” (8); In India Shiva was described as “the great ruler” and considered the mightiest of all the gods(9); he was said to be “as brilliant as the sun.” (10) Everywhere Jupiter was regarded as the greatest deity, greater than the sun, moon, and other planets.(11)




Source (http://www.varchive.org/itb/jupiter.htm)

megrfl
2008-Sep-19, 03:20 AM
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are considered the naked eye planets. They were the only planets known to the ancients before the invention of the telescope. The name planet means "wanderer". The ancients noticed that certain "lights" (planets) moved across the sky in relation to the stars.

toothdust
2008-Sep-19, 04:31 AM
That is a very good question. Especially seeing the above posts citing all these different cultures referring to Jupiter as the mightiest of all. I wonder why the sun did not take this claim?

01101001
2008-Sep-19, 06:02 AM
That is a very good question. Especially seeing the above posts citing all these different cultures referring to Jupiter as the mightiest of all. I wonder why the sun did not take this claim?

The old joke that tells some truth: the Sun is worthless, for it shines during the daytime when it's not needed.

Delvo
2008-Sep-19, 07:43 AM
Someone else told me that the planets with orbital periods of over a year are named in a father-son sequence: Uranus, father of Saturn, father of Jupiter, father of Mars. If they didn't know about Uranus without aid, then the established pattern from the others would have dictated that it should be named after Saturn's father. (It couldn't continue because Uranus had no father, being in the first generation, one of the original creating forces in the universe creating everything else.)

Fiery Phoenix
2008-Sep-19, 10:44 AM
The name Jupiter is the Roman counterpart of the Greek Zeus as you mentioned.

No answer to why but my wikipedia research indicates that The Persian Name for Jupiter is Hormoz which is a deviation of the term AhurMazda which means the singular God.

I thought the God/s reference in two cultures is interesting.

In Arabic it is called Mushtari which means client, but according to Wikipedia is a derivative of the Greek name.

Actually, no, that's not the meaning. Mushtari is an adjective that means "huge" or "the giant" in Arabic. Though, it can also mean "client". However, they are two different words. They just happen to be pronounced the same. After all, that's Arabic. A very complex language.

Anyway, go figure. The ancient Arabs must have known it was indeed the largest planet of all.

astromark
2008-Sep-19, 11:12 AM
The old joke that tells some truth: the Sun is worthless, for it shines during the daytime when it's not needed.

Just as ' The sun is a star' Do not be so foolish boy. It does not shine at night.

It is obvious from this thread that the ancients had more free time than most of us...

tofu
2008-Sep-19, 11:21 AM
I think it's because Jupiter is bright and ever-present. If it happens to be near Saturn, you look at the two and clearly one is the "king" and one is the lesser. I happened to have a job that kept me outside at night a lot back in 2000, when Jupiter and Saturn were in conjunction, and I remember how spectacular it was. There's no doubt in my mind that if I was naming things, Jupiter would be the king. Venus and Mars come and go, but the king was there every night for a very long time.

Romanus
2008-Sep-19, 11:31 AM
I think it's because...IMO...Jupiter is the most imposing planet to the naked eye. Though not as bright as Venus, it's visible for most of the year, and is always brighter than any star. I know it would always catch my attention first if I lived under the night sky.

parallaxicality
2008-Sep-19, 11:33 AM
As far as I can determine from editing Wikipedia's article on planets, the Greeks got their names from the Babylonians, so it was the Babylonians who originally named Jupiter after their king god.

grant hutchison
2008-Sep-19, 11:36 AM
I guess there may be ancient documentation describing the thinking behind this, but failing that we can only try to reconstuct what might have gone on.
Here's my guess:
Mercury too faint and difficult to see. Venus bright, but always close to the sun, so never present in the completely dark sky, and thought by the ancient Greeks to be two different objects.
Mars is bright and red, but also very variable in its brightness, since its distance from Earth can vary five-fold. Red and moody, it seems like a good choice for a war-god.
So Jupiter is the first planet that shows reasonably sustained presence and brightness in the night sky.
Saturn is dimmer and more slow-moving, and I seem to recall Isaac Asimov pointing out that these were attributes that might reasonably be tied to an older god, inferior to Jupiter.

Grant Hutchison

Swift
2008-Sep-19, 11:51 AM
I think it's because...IMO...Jupiter is the most imposing planet to the naked eye. Though not as bright as Venus, it's visible for most of the year, and is always brighter than any star. I know it would always catch my attention first if I lived under the night sky.
That makes sense to me. One just had to watch the sky to the south all this past summer, with Jupiter dominating the sky, to recognize this.

Fiery Phoenix
2008-Sep-19, 01:26 PM
That makes sense to me. One just had to watch the sky to the south all this past summer, with Jupiter dominating the sky, to recognize this.

Exactly! It's been nearly three months and I can see Jupiter in the south just right after sunset. It used to stay in the sky all night, but since August 25th or so, it's started to disappear by 1AM, I think. I'm not exactly sure why, though.

a1call
2008-Sep-19, 01:29 PM
Actually, no, that's not the meaning. Mushtari is an adjective that means "huge" or "the giant" in Arabic. Though, it can also mean "client". However, they are two different words. They just happen to be pronounced the same. After all, that's Arabic. A very complex language.

Anyway, go figure. The ancient Arabs must have known it was indeed the largest planet of all.

Thank you for the clarification.
I was wondering about that.

I would be interested to know the Viking/Nordic, Native-American, Japanese and Chinese references and myths regarding Jupiter.

Somewhat unrelated but the American Indians refereed to the big and small dippers as big and small bears and so did ancient Middle-Easterners. The thing is that bears don't have tails but the dippers have very prominent ones. So there might have been origin to this which predates the Japanese Migration to the Americas making the American Natives.

Disinfo Agent
2008-Sep-19, 01:31 PM
Somewhat unrelated but the American Indians refereed to the big and small dippers as big and small bears and so did ancient Middle-Easterners. The thing is that bears don't have tails but the dippers have very prominent ones. So there might have been origin to this which predates the Japanese Migration to the Americas making the American Natives.How do you figure that?

a1call
2008-Sep-19, 01:38 PM
How do you figure that?

The likelihood of two unrelated cultures naming a tailed constellation after the same un-tailed animal is surprising and suggestive of a common origin (IMHO).

tofu
2008-Sep-19, 01:55 PM
The likelihood of two unrelated cultures naming a tailed constellation after the same un-tailed animal is surprising and suggestive of a common origin (IMHO).

This is very interesting. I found this page (http://homepage.mac.com/kvmagruder/bcp/aster/general/dipper.htm) which gives an story from the greek mythology. But what's interesting to me is, why would you name a group of stars that doesn't look like a bear, after a bear, and then have to go so far out of your way to explain it?

It seems more likely to me that the greek mythology was written to explain a common name for the constellation, and that common name is shared among all cultures.

So the question is, why did some ancient people name this group of stars after a bear? Why not a bull, for example?

edit to add:
Here's a native american tale (http://www.ilhawaii.net/~stony/lore22.html) involving a bear's tail.

Ilya
2008-Sep-19, 01:59 PM
I think it's because...IMO...Jupiter is the most imposing planet to the naked eye. Though not as bright as Venus, it's visible for most of the year, and is always brighter than any star. I know it would always catch my attention first if I lived under the night sky.

While Venus is brighter, it always clings to horizon around sunset or sunrise. Jupiter does rise to the zenith.

tofu
2008-Sep-19, 02:05 PM
this site (http://souledout.org/nightsky/ursamajorandminor.html) suggests that we are actually drawing the constellation backwards, and if you draw it the correct way, it looks like a bear with no tail.

But that doesn't explain why different cultures would create myths to explain a long tail.

Grey
2008-Sep-19, 03:08 PM
Here's my guess:
Mercury too faint and difficult to see. Venus bright, but always close to the sun, so never present in the completely dark sky, and thought by the ancient Greeks to be two different objects.
Mars is bright and red, but also very variable in its brightness, since its distance from Earth can vary five-fold. Red and moody, it seems like a good choice for a war-god.
So Jupiter is the first planet that shows reasonably sustained presence and brightness in the night sky.
Saturn is dimmer and more slow-moving, and I seem to recall Isaac Asimov pointing out that these were attributes that might reasonably be tied to an older god, inferior to Jupiter.This reasoning seems eminently sensible to me. And Jupiter has been quite impressive this summer.

ravens_cry
2008-Sep-19, 03:33 PM
this site (http://souledout.org/nightsky/ursamajorandminor.html) suggests that we are actually drawing the constellation backwards, and if you draw it the correct way, it looks like a bear with no tail.

But that doesn't explain why different cultures would create myths to explain a long tail.
The Book of Job also refers to them as bears.
Job 38:32 "Can you bring our Mazzaroth* in its season? Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs?" NKJV
*said to literally mean constellations
Or is this a matter of translation?

Jens
2008-Sep-20, 02:39 PM
Somewhat unrelated but the American Indians refereed to the big and small dippers as big and small bears and so did ancient Middle-Easterners. The thing is that bears don't have tails but the dippers have very prominent ones. So there might have been origin to this which predates the Japanese Migration to the Americas making the American Natives.

I think you are being a bit loose with the "Japanese migration" bit. AFAIK there was no Japanese migration to the Americas until the 19th century. I think you are probably referring to the Asian migration across the Bering Straits. I don't think those people could properly be called Japanese, though of course the Japanese descended in part from those same people.

a1call
2008-Sep-20, 05:48 PM
Yes, I was making a reference to a PBS program that I vaguely recall concluding that Asian migrants to Americas were closest related to today's Japanese but I could definitely be way off on that (DNA).

Added: As for the native Americans referring to the big dipper as the big bear, I read that in a book a few decades past. There seems not to be very many web references to it. It is mentioned in this site a number of times:


To many tribes, Sky Bear is the Ursa Major (Big Dipper) constellation


Source (http://www.kstrom.net/isk/books/middle/mi207.html)