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Young Folks' Library: Wonders of Earth, Sea and Sky

The Planet Venus
By
AGNES M. CLERKE.
I.
HESPERUS AND PHOSPHOR.
The radiant planet that hangs on the skirts of dusk and dawn
"like a jewel in an Ethiop's ear,"
has been known and sung by poets in all ages. Its supremacy over the remainder of the
starry host is recognized in the name given it by the Arabs, those nomad watchers of the
skies, for while they term the moon "El Azhar," "the Brighter One," and the sun and
moon together "El Azharan," "the Brighter Pair," they call Venus "Ez Zahra," the bright
or shining one par excellence, in which sense the same word is used to describe a flower.
This "Flower of Night" is supposed to be no other than the white rose into which Adonis
was changed by Venus in the fable which is the basis of all early Asiatic mythology. The
morning and evening star is thus the celestial symbol [pg 283] of that union between earth and
heaven in the vivifying processes of nature, typified in the love of the goddess for a
mortal.
The ancient Greeks, on the other hand, not unnaturally took the star, which they saw
alternately emerging from the effulgence of the rising and setting sun, in the east and in
the west, for two distinct bodies, and named it differently according to the time of its
appearance. The evening star they called Hesperus, and from its place on the western
horizon, fabled an earthly hero of that name, the son of Atlas, who from the slopes of that
mountain on the verge of the known world used to observe the stars until eventually
carried off by a mighty wind, and so translated to the skies. These divine honors were
earned by his piety, wisdom, and justice as a ruler of men, and his name long shed a
shimmering glory over those Hesperidean regions of the earth, where the real and unreal
touched hands in the mystical twilight of the unknown.
But the morning star shone with a different significance as the herald of the day, the
torchbearer who lights the way for radiant Aurora on her triumphal progress through the
skies. Hence he was called Eosphorus, or Phosphorus, the bearer of the dawn, translated
into Latin as Lucifer, the Light-bearer. The son of Eos, or Aurora, and the Titan Astraeus,
he was of the same parentage as the other multitude of the starry host, to whom a similar
origin was ascribed, and from whom in Greek mythology he was evidently believed to
differ only in the superior order of his brightness. Homer, who mentions the planet in the
following passage:
[pg 284]
"But when the star of Lucifer appeared,
The harbinger of light, whom following close,
 
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