April in the calendar of Antiochus of Athens

The second century astrologer continues:

Μὴν Ἀπρίλλιος. April
αʹ. ὁ λαμπρὸς τῆς νοτίας χηλῆς τοῦ Σκορπίου ἑσπέριος ἀνατέλλει καὶ Πλειάδες κρύπτονται · ἐμισημασια. 1.  The radiance of the southern claw of Scorpio arises in the west, and  the Pleiades are absent from the sky.
εʹ. Πλειάδες τελείως κρύπτονται · ἐμισημασια. 5.  The pleiades are completely absent from the sky : weather change.
ιʹ. ὕψωμα ἡλίου. 10.  The lifting-high of the sun.[1]
ιδʹ. Κάνωβος κρύπτεται. 14.  Canopus is absent from the sky.
κʹ. ὁ λαμπρὸς τοῦ Περσέως δύνει. 20.  The radiance of Perseus sets.
κβʹ. ἀρχὴ παχνίτου. 22.  Beginning of Pachnite.[2]
κηʹ. ὁ ἐπὶ τοῦ  ἡγουμένου ποδὸς τοῦ Ὠρίωνος καὶ ὁ μέσος τῆς Ζώνης κρύπτεται · ἐπισημασία. 28.  From the leading foot to the middle of the belt of Orion is absent from the sky : weather change.
λʹ. Κύων κρύπτεται · ἐπισημασία. 30.  Sirius is absent from the sky : weather change.

1. Boll’s note indicates that the sun would be high in some constellation — in Aries, in this case.  He adds: “Since the equinox is given on 22nd March, the hupsoma takes place 20 days later, on the 10th April.  This addition is found in none of the other calendars.”
2. The word is found in no lexicon, so Boll tells us, but seems to be a month in some calendar, as it ends on the entry for 25 May, 33 days later.  Possibly it relates to Pharmuthi?


2 thoughts on “April in the calendar of Antiochus of Athens

  1. Your articles on the calendar of Antiochus of Athens, and the sayings attached to it that predict climate changes, reminded me of the Egyptian (Coptic) calendar which is still in use in Egypt to predict weather and agricultural cycles.

    With your permission, I attach here an excerpt from an article by Gamal Nkrumah in Al-Ahram Weekly (http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2004/682/feature.htm) which gives each month and a saying attached to it (these sayings, now in Arabic, are translated from Coptic):

    Every Coptic month denotes a particular type of climatic condition, which in turn determines what type of farming activity is undertaken and what kind of crop is cultivated or harvested. To this day Egyptian peasants, the fellahin, sow wheat in the month of Hathor and harvest the crop in the months of Baramouda and Bashans.

    The popular saying Tut yaqoul lil har moot — Tut orders the heat to die — indicates that the month signals the end of the summer’s scorching heat. It marks the onset of autumn, cooler evenings even though the days are still quite hot. Tut, also means mulberry in Arabic, and Tut is the mulberry season. Mangoes ripen and dates are harvested in Tut.

    Baba, the second month, is associated with the Nile god of the ancient Egyptians, Hapi. This is the month when the land of Egypt, the Nile Valley, was annually flooded. Agricultural activity came to a virtual standstill.
    The arrival of Hapi was a festive affair. The second month of the Coptic calendar was awaited with much expectation. But, the weather also changes in Baba. Fi Baba khosh wa iqfil al- daraba — in Baba go indoors and shut the windows — goes a traditional Egyptian saying. The days are shorter and the evenings even cooler than Tut. By the end of the month the waters of the Nile would recede, peasants readying themselves for the beginning of the farming season.

    Hathor, the third month, was dedicated to the goddess of beauty and love, for the land was lush and verdant. Hathor Abul dahab al-mantur — father of the scattered gold: that is, of wheat seeds. Named in honour of the ancient Egyptian goddess Hathor, the month is renowned for particularly cool and pleasant weather.

    Kahaka, in the ancient Egyptian tongue, or Kiahk in Coptic is the fourth month in the Coptic calendar. Kahaka signals the onset of winter. In ancient Egypt Kiahk was also closely associated with the sacred Apis Bull. In Kiahk, the days are shorter, and darkness falls early. Sabahak misa’ak, tehaddar fitarak, tehaddar ashak — your morning soon becomes your evening, prepare your breakfast and then immediately prepare your supper.
    The original meaning of Kiahk was Kahaka — the gathering of spirits, or the month when spirits congregate. Ka is spirit both in Coptic, and in the language of the ancient Egyptians.

    Touba, the fifth month of the Coptic calendar was in the distant pre- Christian past associated with the god Amun-Ra. In Touba the sun shines a little longer than in Kiahk. Touba Yekhali al-sabeya karkouba — even the young maiden feels as if she is an ancient crone.

    Toubo is to purify in the Coptic tongue and ancient Egyptian. Touba tezeed fih al-shams touba — in Touba the sun increases by a brick — or in other words daylight lasts a little longer, but it is still cold and wet. Touba therefore also signified purification for it is the month that most of Egypt’s rains fall. Epiphany is celebrated in Touba. This is the month that Jesus Christ was supposed to have been baptised in the River Jordan by John the Baptist.
    Amshir is the month of howling winds and sand storms. It is therefore named after the ancient Egyptian god of winds, Mechir. It is also the month that signals the end of winter. Amshir, the Egyptians say, comes in tens — ten hot days, preceded by ten cold days or vice versa, or ten windy days, followed by ten pleasant days with clear skies.

    Amshir abul-za’abib al-kathir, yakhud al-agouza we yetir — Amshir the father of many winds takes the old woman and flies off.

    The seventh month of the Coptic calendar, Baramhat, ushers in spring. Baramhat is the month associated with the sun god Montu, the god of war in ancient Egypt. But, Par-Imhotep, the original name of the month, also signifies its ancient identification with Imhotep.
    Baramhat is characterised by rising temperatures and the harvesting of all sorts of vegetable crops. The popular Egyptian saying fi Baramhat ruh al- gheit we hat — in Baramhat, go to the field and obtain [the harvest] — sheds light on Baramhat’s original significance.
    Devout Coptic Christians fast throughout Baramhat for Lent falls mainly in Baramhat and hence the saying Aash al-Nusrani wa maat, ma ‘akal lahma fi Baramhat. In Lent Copts do not eat meat, fish or any animal products including eggs and dairy products.
    Baramhat is a month of many Coptic Christian special religious days: 10 Baramhat is the Feast of the Holy Cross, and 29 Baramhat is the Feast of the Annunciation, the first of the seven great feasts celebrated by Coptic Christians in honour of Jesus Christ.

    The eighth month of the Coptic calendar is a rather unfortunate one as far as the weather is concerned. Baramouda signifies severe winds and death. The dreadful month coincides with the khamaseen winds that blow hot and dusty from the Sahara. In Baramouda the Nile Valley’s earth becomes dry and scorched.
    The weather is especially jarring in Baramouda, even though the harvest of wheat starts in Baramouda. Easter and several other Christian feasts are celebrated in Baramouda.

    Bashans, the ninth month of the Coptic calendar, was associated in ancient Egypt with the ram-headed god Khonsu. The month traditionally witnessed little agricultural activity save for gathering the last of the harvest. Fi Bashans iknos al-ard kans — in Bashans clear the ground [for grain]. The month is also noted for the entrance into Egypt of the Holy Family, marked on 24 Bashans. Previously the festival was a great secular and popular celebration, but is now considered a strictly religious affair.

    Paona, or Baona, the tenth month, is associated with the Valley of the Kings and signals the onset of hot weather. The unbearable heat of Baona is more than proverbial. Baona yenashif al- maya fi al-shagar — Baona dries the water or dew on the trees. The heat of Baona is truly oppressive.

    Abib, the eleventh month of the Coptic calendar, was named after Api-da, or Apip, the serpent whom Horus, son of Osiris, slew in battle. Apip is another terribly hot month. But there are many pleasant aspects and redeeming features of the month. Abib fehi al- enab yatib — grapes are ripened in Abib.

    Mesrai, the twelfth month of the Coptic calendar, is associated with the birth of the sun. The Coptic fast of the Virgin Mary commences on 1 Mesrai and continues for a fortnight. Meat and dairy products are shunned, but fish is permitted in this particular fast. Mesrai is a corruption of Ramses — Ra and mes (birth) — and the month is sometimes identified with Ramses II.

    The thirteenth and “little month” of Nasie, is basically a prelude to the celebrated Tut.

  2. Many thanks indeed, Dioscorus — very interesting. It’s interesting how the names of the months are conservative, and retain traces of old times, even when those old times are millennia gone.

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