[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

VMs: [VMS] Goat vs. sheep, Sagittarius

  > [Pam:] I think it was Dana Scott who called the two young
  > animals, light and dark "goats".  I am very inclined
  > to agree.  Sheep don't have dew claws, those tiny hard
  > horns above the hooves; goats do.  And those dew claws
  > are very clearly depicted on each foot.
No dispute about them being goats. But, as Pam observed in a later
message, that is only one of the oddities in the VMS zodiac
illustrations. My "reading" of those discrepancies is that the author
wanted to draw the Western symbols for zodiac signs, but had only an
imprecise notion of them.

For Aries, in particular: perhaps "Aries" had been translated
in his native language into a word that meant "goat", or 
"goat or sheep". (Just as "corn" in English means "wheat or maize".)

Perhaps he was not very familiar with sheep, and assumed they were
just a type of goat. (Like someone assuming that the panda is a type
of bear).

Perhaps the only "Aries-like" model he could copy from (in flesh or
image) was a goat, and he was not aware that in Western culture the
sheep and goat have very different symbolic associations,
and thus one cannot be used for the other.

The same things can be said of Cancer, only with "crab" and "lobster"
(or "crayfish") replacing "sheep" and "goat". And, if it was OK to
draw *two* fish for Pisces, why not draw *two* crustaceans for Cancer?

Ditto for Sagittarius: he may have relied on the literal translation
of the name as "archer", unaware that the name refers to a specific
archer who was a centaur. 

Note that this by itself does not imply an exotic origin for the VMS,
only that the author was not someone immersed in mainstream European
scholarly culture, but rather some sort of "outsider" trying to
"connect" to that culture in some sense -- perhaps a foreign scholar,
yes, but perhaps also a poor student from a backward province, a
merchant aspiring to become a philosopher, whatever.

But this is hardly a new observation...

All the best,

To unsubscribe, send mail to majordomo@xxxxxxxxxxx with a body saying:
unsubscribe vms-list