Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Nebulous Neptune

 Neptune Calming the Tempest  (Rubens, 1635)
I suppose it's fitting that the origins of the god Neptune's astrological connection to the seas is a wee bit nebulous. Astrological Neptune is known for nebulousness. Custom and practice does seem to have made it a relevant connection - sometimes.

While reading something else on Roman festivals in general I noticed this from The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic by William Warde Fowler at Google books HERE. Clicking on the segments will bring up clearer images.

And from HERE:
Neptune is the god of the sea in Roman mythology, a brother of Jupiter and Pluto. He is analogous but not identical to the god Poseidon of Greek mythology. The Roman conception of Neptune owed a great deal to the Etruscan god Nethuns. Originally he was an Italic god paired with Salacia, possibly the goddess of the salt water. At an early date (399 BC) he was identified with Poseidon, when the Sibylline books ordered a lectisternium in his honour (Livy v. 13).

In earlier times it was the god Portunes or Fortunus who was thanked for naval victories, but Neptune supplanted him in this role by at least the first century BC, when Sextus Pompeius called himself "son of Neptune".

Neptune was associated as well with fresh water, as opposed to Oceanus, god of the world-ocean.

Like Poseidon, Neptune was also worshipped by the Romans as a god of horses, under the name Neptune Equester, patron of horse-racing.

Neptune was also considered the legendary progenitor god of a Latin stock, the Faliscans - ancient Italian people - who called themselves Neptunia proles. In this respect he was the equivalent of Mars, Janus, Saturn and even Jupiter among Latin tribes.

  Neptune Sending a Deluge to Troy, by Antonio Tempesta (17th century).

And there's this from
.....In searching for the mythological sense of the fable, we must again have recourse to Egypt, that kingdom which, above all others, has furnished the most ample harvest for the reaper of mysteries. The Egyptians, to denote navigation, and the return of the Phoenician fleet, which annually visited their coast, used the figure of an Osiris borne on a winged horse, and holding a three-forked spear, or harpoon. To this image they gave the name of Poseidon, or Neptune, which, as the Greeks and Romans afterwards adopted, sufficiently proves this deity had his birth here. Thus the maritime Osiris of the Egyptians became a new deity with those who knew not the meaning of the symbol.

So, Roman Neptune took on characteristics of Greek Poseidon, Greek Poseidon took on characteristics of an Egyptian depiction. What happened in astrology, though, to Neptune's link with horses and "stock" - why weren't these attached to Neptune, as well as a connection to the sea?


mike said...

First things first, I'd say! Why is the planet we identify as Neptune named Neptune?

"Claiming the right to name his discovery, Le Verrier quickly proposed the name Neptune for this new planet, though falsely stating that this had been officially approved by the French Bureau des Longitudes. In October, he sought to name the planet Le Verrier, after himself, and he had loyal support in this from the observatory director, François Arago. This suggestion met with stiff resistance outside France. French almanacs quickly reintroduced the name Herschel for Uranus, after that planet's discoverer Sir William Herschel, and Leverrier for the new planet. ... Struve came out in favour of the name Neptune on 29 December 1846, to the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences. Soon, Neptune became the internationally accepted name. In Roman mythology, Neptune was the god of the sea, identified with the Greek Poseidon. The demand for a mythological name seemed to be in keeping with the nomenclature of the other planets, all of which, except for Earth, were named for deities in Greek and Roman mythology."

I wonder what attributes we would assign a planet named Leverrier? How might the subtle differences between Neptune and Oceanus be interpreted astrologically?

The un-named planets were present WAY prior to the existence of humans with our need to place labels on stuff. The trans-Saturn planets received names from astronomers, not astrologers, so it's interesting that the mythological name selected also yielded that planet's astrological qualities based on the mythology of the assigned name.

The International Astronomical Union, since 1919, has been assigning names to planets and asteroids. I find it intriguing that the planets and asteroids named by the IAU are instantaneously ascribed astrological qualities derived from the mythology of the name. Somehow or other the system seems to work, so I have to ponder the effects of synchronicity or some-such mechanism that bridges mythological archetypes assigned to astronomical phenomena, providing a basis in astrology, and can be applied to the collective subconscious and conscious to provide a basis toward understanding and prediction.

Your question regarding horses and Neptune, Sagittarius-Jupiter is typically has correspondence of horses.

"Jupiter (Sagittarius & Pisces, 9th & 12th) Large animals generally, elephants, racehorses, horses generally, animals with valuable fur."

Twilight said...

mike ~ I agree about the question surrounding naming of the outer planets, dwarf planets and asteroids. I have blogged on this before, I think, it has always bugged me. As you say though, somehow the names and attributes have seemed to "fit". I mentioned "custom and practice" as another way of saying what you've written, in longer and form, with point more clearly made, at least from one point of view.

Re horses - but again, why? If naming and/or "rulership" of things has been in accordance with mythology and characteristics have gone with the named entity, why didn't Neptune get at least a half share with Jupiter and Sagittarius, whose mythological entity wasn't a god, but a centaur anyway? I say god trumps centaur. ;-) (Just being contrarian here I guess, but the whole naming thing does still rankle with me.)

Twilight said...

mike ~ Searching for other posts touching on this I found:

mike (again) said...

Apparently Neptune's horses transmogrified to boats and sea horses:

"... In this fable, however, it is evident that the horse could signify nothing but a ship; for the two things in which that region excelled being ships and olive-trees, it was thought politic by this means to bring the citizens over from too great a fondness for sea affairs, to the cultivation of their country, by showing that Pallas was preferable to Neptune, or, in other words, husbandry to sailing, which, without some further meaning, the production of a horse could never have done. It notwithstanding appears that Neptune had brought the management of the horse, as likewise the art of building ships, to very great perfection; insomuch that Pamphus, who was the most ancient writer of hymns to the gods, calls him the benefactor of mankind, in bestowing upon them horses and ships which had stems and decks that resembled towers.

If Neptune created the horse, he was likewise the inventor of chariot-races; hence Mithridates, king of Pontus, threw chariots, drawn by four horses, into the sea, in honor of Neptune: and the Romans instituted horse-races in the circus during his festival, at which time all horses ceased from working, and the mules were adorned with wreaths of flowers.

Neptune, represented as a god of the sea, makes a considerable figure: he is described with black or dark hair, his garment of an azure or sea-green color, seated in a large shell drawn by whales, or sea-horses, with his trident in his hand, attended by the sea-gods PalAemon, Glaucus, and Phorcys; the sea-goddesses Thetis, Melita, and Panopea, and a long train of Tritons and sea-nymphs.

... The poets have generally delighted in describing this god as passing over the calm surface of the waters, in his chariot drawn by sea-horses. The fine original description of this is in Homer, from whom Virgil and Statius have copied it."

Twilight said...

mike ~ Yes, thanks, I saw that and thought the thing about horse races held during Neptune's festival strengthened the association of Neptune/horse. The ship association needn't have anything to do with horses at all - ships and sea go together like bread and butter. :-) Sea horse connection is alright - they are still horses of a sort.

Really, because "rulership" of horses doesn't connect to astrological interpretation, regarding personality or mundane prediction (unless maybe predicting outcome of a horse race?) it has not ever been important enough to astrologers to question this peculiarity.

LB said...

Hmmmm . . . what about Pegasus, the divine (Neptune) horse, son of Poseidon (another sea god) who flies to the heavens and brings inspiration (Neptune again) to earth whenever and wherever he stamps his hoof?

I sometimes cry when I see horses and occasionally dream of them. They seem like such sensitive, noble creatures ~ whether they're running wild or in service to us.

LB (again) said...

Here's another link:

Twilight said...

LB (and (again) ~ thanks for the links - all interesting!

I like this from the first link:
Pegasus lived on Mt Olympus until his last day. Ever since then, he became an inspiration for artists of all kinds, a fantasy for kids who dream of their own Pegasus to reach the mysterious caves and labyrinths of their imagination.

So that relates to astrological Neptune, though the reason isn't often explained.

And from the 2nd link:
Given Poseidon's connection to horses as well as the sea, and the landlocked situation of the likely Indo-European homeland, some scholars have proposed that Poseidon was originally an aristocratic horse-god who was then assimilated to Near Eastern aquatic deities when the basis of the Greek livelihood shifted from the land to the sea.

Neptune was worshipped by the Romans primarily as a horse god, Neptune Equester, patron of horse-racing. He had a temple near the race tracks in Rome (built in 25 BC), the Circus Flaminius, as well as one in the Campus Martius. Only July 23, the Neptunalia was observed at the latter temple.

I love the sight of horses too - they are such beautifully naturally sculpted creatures - and along with dogs, have always been mans' best friends.

Some gorgeous examples of horse-hood (I prefer those without as much "pimping-up", but all are lovely).

Just thought - Chinese astrology honours the horse with Year of the Horse, though probably with no relation to Neptune.

LB said...

Twilight ~ Native Americans also have/had a special spiritual relationship with horses:

If you think about it horses are a little like the sea, in that both are wild and both are deserving of our respect and protection, something we humans sometimes forget. Like the sea, horses made life easier and allowed humans to dream of traveling greater distances than ever before ~ which can be good or bad, depending.

Maybe you already mentioned it, but if not this piece of art, "Neptune's Horses" by Walter Crane ties right in with your post.:)

Twilight said...

LB ~ Yes, and yes. :-)

I've always liked the Walter Crane painting - I didn't use it here, looked for a different pic, because I'd used Crane's more than once in the past - here for instance:

And again in a post, when blogging about possible wave energy I think. But it would certainly have fitted in very well here too, so thanks for mentioning it.

LB said...

Twilight ~ For some reason I wasn't able to access the link, but I can see how it would be something you'd like and have used . . . maybe that's why I found it. It's interesting how frequently you and I are on the same wave-length, more than you know. I think I've said it before, but it must be our Sun-Moon connection.:0