The Heroic Age

A Journal of Early Medieval Northwestern Europe

Issue 11 (May 2008)  |   Issue Editors: Larry Swain & Linda Malcor

Founded 1998   |   ISSN 1526-1867

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The Germanic Sword


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The Icelandic Sword In The Stone: Bears In The Sky

Linda A. Malcor
Independent Scholar

© 2008 by Linda A. Malcor. All rights reserved. This edition copyright © 2008 by The Heroic Age. All rights reserved.

Abstract:  This paper examines the Icelandic saga of Hrolf Kraki, compares it to the Greek stories of Theseus and Kallisto, and argues that both traditions of the Sword in the Stone stemmed from a celestial event that occurred in 2160 B.C.E.

§1.  The most famous variant of the Sword in the Stone narrative is from the Arthurian tradition: a twelve-year-old Arthur pulls a sword from an anvil atop a stone in a churchyard, thereby proving his right to become king (Malory, Morte d'Arthur 1:15-20).1 Over the past few years C. Scott Littleton and I have presented a series of articles discussing other variants of the Sword in the Stone tradition, developing the hypothesis that ca. 2160 Before the Common Era (B.C.E.), triggered by the northshift caused by the precession of the celestial pole, a story about a sacred sword being plunged into a tree (or brush pile) emerged among the ancient steppe peoples (Littleton and Malcor, 2006). With the development of forging iron, the sword became iron instead of bronze, and when the story transmitted to the Near East, a stone throne or altar was added to the tale. The knowledge of how to forge iron into swords traveled with the story of a war god who, accompanied by twelve companions, either pulled a sword from or plunged it into a stone.2 The Iron Age came to Greece, the setting for the stories of Theseus and Kallisto, ca. 1100–800 B.C.E., and to Denmark, the setting for Hrolf Kraki's Saga, ca. 500 B.C.E. The Germanic peoples did not start forging iron into longer swords intended for use by cavalry until the Late Roman Iron Age, ca. 180–400 C.E. (Hedeager 1992, 13). Although the tales in question were recorded at much later dates, they contain internal evidence that points to their early—and common—origin as well as details that suggest they were transmitted by diffusion—along with the knowledge of how to forge iron—rather than as part of the general transmission of Indo-European culture across Eurasia. Some of these Sword in the Stone tales are paired with the "Bear's Son Tale" (motif B635.1 "The Bear's Son"), while in other cultures these two traditions are separated from each other.

Hrolf Kraki's Saga

§2.  Hrolf Kraki's Saga belongs to the fornaldar sagas, the tales of "ancient times" (Byock 1998, xii), a classification that shows that the storytellers knew that the material in the saga dated from "the most distant Scandinavian past, a time of myth and legend" (Byock 1998, xii). The saga was recorded by an Icelandic scribe in the 1300s of the Common Era (C.E.; possibly as early as the 1200s C.E.; Byock 1998, viii), but the story may actually hail from fifth- or sixth-century Denmark (Byock 1998, vii, xiii). Portions of the narrative also show up in "the Old English Bēowulf,3 Saxo Gramaticus's Latin Gesta Danorum, and the Latin paraphrase of the Old Norse Skjöldunga Saga" (Byock 1998, 90), as well as in the lay Bjarkamal, which is now mostly lost (Byock 1998, xiii-siv, 85).4 Snorri Sturluson used the Skjöldunga Saga, which was about Hrolf's family, when he composed the Prose Edda in the 1220s (Byock 1998, xv), so some of the king's story shows up there as well. While claiming divine descent—the Skoldungs were said to be the progeny of Odin's son—is hardly original in such narratives, the Skjöldunga Saga preserved the important detail that a war god, in the form of Odin,5 came from Asia and brought a special sword or swords (as well as shields and armor; Byock 1998, xv).6 I will come back to this point in a few moments.

§3.  Folklorists have long been interested in Hrolf Kraki's Saga because it includes the Bear's Son motif (B635.1). This motif is part of Tale Type 301 The Three Stolen Princesses,7 although most of the rest of this tale type is not featured in the saga. Some scholars (e.g., Byock 1998, vii) have argued that the bear elements in this narrative reflect "early cultic practices" in which warriors worshiped a bear; however, the comparison of those elements to narratives outside the Germanic tradition suggests that these stories are actually accounts of an astronomical event that may have been reinforced by a bear cult that was present in Germanic cultures. Little attention, however, has been paid to the Sword in the Stone aspects of the story.

§4.  Hrolf Kraki's Saga tells of the Danish king, his family, twelve of his most famous champions and twelve berserkirs (Byock 1998, 32). The number twelve is usually interpreted as evidence of Christian impact because of Jesus and his Twelve Disciples. The sword god, however, has been accompanied by twelve companions since at least the time of the Hittites (Macqueen 1986, 125), and it is quite possible that Jesus wound up with twelve disciples because the sword god had twelve companions rather than the other way around. The chief of Hrolf's companions was Bodvar Bjarki ("warlike little bear"; Byock 1998, 83, n. 46), who was one of three brothers, all sons of Bjorn, who was turned into a were-bear because he refused the amorous advances of a witch, and Bera, whose name means "she-bear" (Byock 1998, 34-41). Bjorn is killed by hunters shortly after he tells Bera to ask the king for what is under his left shoulder (or arm) when he dies. Bera follows his instructions and obtains a ring, but she fails to abstain completely from eating the bear's meat, which is fed to her by the queen.8 As a result her first son, Elk-Frodi, is born as a man to his waist but as an elk from his waist down,9 her second son, Thorir, has hound's feet, and her third son, Bodvar Bjarki, is abnormally strong and can fight as a spirit bear in a battle in which he is not physically taking part. When the boys turn twelve,10 Bera directs each of her sons to Bjorn's cave as she deems him ready to leave her.11 In the cave three marvelous weapons are embedded in stone.12 Elk-Frodi tries to take the largest sword, but it will not budge for him. He next tries the short sword, which dislodges easily, and he soon discovers that he can plunge the weapon repeatedly into and pull it out of either stone or wood without ill effect (Mills 1933, 45).13 Thorir tries the larger sword and fails to draw it, but the axe pulls free.14 Bera waits to tell Bodvar about the cave until he is eighteen, but, before he claims his inheritance, she uses the ring from under the bear's shoulder to identify him to the king. Bodvar takes revenge on the queen for feeding his father to his mother, then he travels to the cave where he pulls the largest sword from the stone. He makes a birch wood scabbard for the sword (Mills 1933, 49)—effectively embedding it in a tree—and leaves it there for much of his career, since it proves to be a troublesome weapon to wield. Bodvar then becomes Hrolf's chief champion.15 After many adventures, Hrolf, his twelve champions and his twelve berserkirs encounter a farmer named Hrani, "blusterer", who tests them with cold, thirst and fire (Byock 1998, 80, n. 11; 84, n. 65; 96).16 Hrani then tells Hrolf to go on with only his twelve champions and to send the berserkirs back home. Hrolf follows this advice, and all goes well for a time. Then Hrani shows up again and tries to give Hrolf a shield, sword and armor ("brynja"). Hrolf rejects the gifts, and Hrani leaves, furious (Byock 1998, 95). Bodvar alone is able to recognize Hrani as Odin and suspects that Hrolf has caused their deaths by insulting the god. All goes well as long as Bodvar fights in spirit-bear form in Hrolf's final battle, but when he obeys the summons to fight physically, the bear disappears from the field and a witch is able to overcome them with spells that would not operate as long as the spirit-bear was participating in the battle (Byock 1998, 92). Hrolf and his champions are all killed, and Bodvar is buried in the same gravemound with Hrolf, the other champions and their weapons. In the late fourteenth-century Saga of Thorrd Menace, Skeggi, son of Skin-Bjorn,17 broke into Hrolf's gravemound at Lejre and took Hrolf's sword Skofnung and Hjalti's axe but could not take Bjarki's sword Laufi "because there was no way he could bend his arms" (Hreinsson et al. 1997, 3:361-396).18

§5.  Burial customs in Denmark changed in the "first centuries" of the Common Era, reflecting the development of a cult of Odin in that region (Davidson 1969, 28). This coincides with the arrival of the knowledge of how to forge iron into swords. Odin is associated with wolves, particularly werewolves, the ūlfheðnar ("wolf-skinned"),19 who were analogous to the berserkir ("bear-skinned"; Puhvel 1987, 196). Germanic warriors were said to become a wolf, dog or bear when the "battle madness" consumed them (Kershaw 2000, 27). In Indo-European mythology in general, the wolf, dog and horse are frequently associated with death (Kersahw 2000, 27). While some battle-mad warriors were associated with dogs, such as the Irish Cú Chulainn, the Germanic warriors were more frequently associated with the bear (berserkir) and the wolf (úlfheðnar) (Kershaw 2000, 83), although the connection with dogs may explain Thorir's hound's feet. That there are two types of frenzied warriors associated with Odin may indicate that we have a doublet caused by impact from an outside tradition, possibly from the steppes, where werewolf-type warriors were remarked on in the fifth-century B.C.E. by Herodotus (Histories 4.20, 4.100). Hrolf, however, worshiped a god who was already in place before Odin arrived: the hammer-wielding Thor.20 Similarly in Greece, the club-wielding Herakles was supplanted by the Greek hero with the Sword from the Stone.

The Greek Texts

§6.  The Greek variant of the Sword in the Stone narrative shows up in the tales of Theseus. Theseus was known as an abductor of women and fighter of half-men/half-beasts (Walker 1995, 16). He kidnaps Helen, Ariadne and Persephone, following Tale Type 301, although the Bear's Son motif does not appear in his story. His cult was established in shrines by the eighth century B.C.E., and he became a Pan-Hellenic hero by mid-seventh century B.C.E. (Walker 1995, 15).21

§7.  The settlement of Greece by IE speakers began ca. 2000 B.C.E., shortly after the precession, and was "completed by the . . . Dorians about 1200 B.C.E." (Puhvel 1987, 128). Although some scholars (e.g. Ginzel 1995) have argued that the knowledge of how to forge not only iron but also steel appeared in Greece around the time of Alexander the Great, Bakhuizen (1977) has dated the practice to the ninth or eighth century B.C.E. This earlier date is consistent with what we see in the Greek narratives.

§8.  Theseus first appears as the son of either Poseidon or Aegeus in Bacchylides's Ode 17, which dates to the mid-fifth century B.C.E., (Walker 1995, 85).22 Like Odin, Theseus was an "unnatural, illegitimate foreigner" who carried a spear (Bacchylides Ode 18.49) and wore a cloak (Bacchylides Ode 18.54; Walker 1995, 96).23

§9.  The Bear's Son motif, which is absent from the stories of Theseus, exists in another Greek tale, that of Kallisto.24 Kallisto was one of Artemis's nymphs who had the misfortune to catch Zeus's eye. Zeus rapes her, and when Artemis discovers that Kallisto is pregnant, she turns the unlucky nymph into a bear. Kallisto gives birth to a son, who is called (among other things) Arkas, mostly so the Arkadians can take their name from him. Arkas is raised to be a great hunter, who eventually corners his mother in bear form. Zeus sets Kallisto in the stars as a bear, Ursa Major, and turns Arkas into either the star Arcturus (also rendered Arkturus) or the entire constellation, which we now know as Boötes but which the Greeks sometimes called Arcturus after its brightest star (Allen 1963, 92). The star has been known by this name for at least 3000 years (Allen 1963, 92).25

§10.  What the Greek texts preserved in the case of the Kallisto narrative that the Icelandic texts did not is the evidence that the Greeks knew they were talking about a story in the stars.

The Story in the Stars

§11.  Johannesson (1978, 148) suggested that Bjorn was Ursa Major and that at least parts of Hrolf Krarki's Saga represented a story in the stars. 26 The temptation is to view Bodvar as Ursa Minor, but the Little Bear does not seem to have figured in the oldest forms of this story. Indeed, the Greek Thales created Ursa Minor ca. 600 B.C.E. (Vamplew 2006, 56; Allen 1963, 448). While some sources call Ursa Minor Arkas (Vamplew 2006, 56), the star Arcturus is more consistently said to represent Kallisto's son, who goes by multiple names. This plethora of names was caused in part by the fact that the story of Kallisto was attributed to stars that were already described by narratives of Herakles and the apples of the Hesperides (Rey 1997, 38). So while Theseus was an overlay on story of Herakles in the texts, Kallisto was an overlay on the story of Herakles in the stars.

§12.  Tiberius's general Germanicus Caesar (15 B.C.E.–19 C.E.) gave the names of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor as "The Bears of Crete, called Arctoe, or, in Latin, Ursae" (Germanicus Caesar 1976, 53). He saw the bears as the nurses of the Cretan Zeus and named them Helike and Cynosura (Germanicus Caesar 1976, 54).27 Germanicus also knew the story that the bears never touched the ocean (Germanicus Caesar 1976, 54), even though the constellations do touch the ocean when viewed from Crete and Greece (Gain 1976, 103 n.393-8). The Greek Bear's Son tale contains the detail that Kallisto was never allowed to set in the ocean, and Homer (Iliad 18.483-489 and Odyssey 5.271-275) credits this same attribute to the star "Arctos". This is a phenomenon that only occurs above the 41st parallel (Allen 1963, 417), which eliminates all points south as a possibility for the origin of the tale. In contrast, the Caucasus Mountains are indeed north of the 41st parallel, so anything originating north of the Caucasus Mountains could have included this detail.28 This is precisely the region from which Littleton and I think the celestial phenomenon was viewed that generated the story of the Sword in the Stone (Littleton and Malcor, 2006).

§13.  Regarding the ring under the left shoulder of the bear in Hrolf Krari's Saga: There is a nebula in Ursa Major (Ernst and de Vries 1961, 221), which was visible to the ancient Greeks, who may have called it Helike (Allen 1963, 438; today we know it as the "Owl Nebula"), which was one of the names used for Kallisto.29 It is possible, then, that the nebula is represented by the odd detail of the ring in the saga.

§14.  Germanicus also knew that there were multiple tales about these constellations, including one that they were ploughs, which he thought of as an older tradition (Germanicus Caesar 1976, 53-54). The whole idea of Ursa Major being a chariot, wagon or similar vehicle may be tied to its proximity to the celestial pole (Allen 1963, 427). Stories connect the "Wain" with Charlemagne (Allen 1963, 428), as well as with Arthur (largely because of the name of the star Arcturus), and both these figures have legends attached to them that they sleep under a mound with twelve of their greatest knights, something that we also find in Hrolf Kraki's Saga.

§15.  Germanicus recorded several stories about Boötes as well. He calls the constellation both the "Guardian of the Bears" and "Icarus" (Germanicus Caesar 1976, 55).30 In one fragment (Framenta Vaticana, Rehm in Anderson and Smyth 2007) the Bear's son, Arkas, is fed to Zeus by Lykaon; Zeus turns Lykaon into a wolf and puts Arkas back together again.31

§16.  Precession caused a shift of the celestial north pole from Taurus into Aries ca. 2160 B.C.E. (Barber and Barber 2004, 199, 208, 210). "The precession out of Taurus into Aries occurred nearly two thousand years before Mithraism became popular" (Barber and Barber 2004, 206), yet it is quite clear from the imagery of the warrior slaying the bull, with a scorpion and serpent attacking from below and a dog lapping up the bull's blood, that the myths celebrated by the cult carried information taken from the sky. The artists were not subtle about the connection: most Mithraic images include the sun, moon and stars. In the worship of Mithras, we have the warrior stabbing the bull, Aries attacking the adjacent sign of Taurus (Barber and Barber 2004, 206). The hero of the tale of the Ram (e.g., the Golden Fleece) can replace the Ram in such narratives, and this is how some cultures told the story of the celestial precession. Theseus's most infamous opponent, the Minotaur, was a "form of the Cretan bull-god" (Puhvel 1987, 137). This half-bull figure may be a reference to Taurus, as in the Mithraic tradition. It is also possible that the Elk-Frodi material from Hrolf Krarki's Saga may represent a Germanic interpretation of the same figure, since the Old English word for "bull" or "steer" (stéor) is related to the Old English word for "deer" (déor).

§17.  Germanicus noted that the cycle for Aries is the same length as that of Ursa Major, and he singled out Aries, the Claws (Libra) and Orion's belt as being particularly close to the celestial pole (Germanicus Caesar 1976, 59). He knew Libra as both "the Altar" (part of Scorpio separated into a southern constellation) and "the Claws" (of Scorpio; Germanicus Caesar 1976, 63, 103, n.393-8).32 The Altar "only just rose in Mediterranean latitudes" because it was "so far south" (Gain 1976, 103, n. 393-8). So these celestial phenomena were thought of by the ancients as going together, and what the Sword in the Stone narratives suggest is that there once existed a tale about how the warrior associated with Aries stabbed a sword across the Zodiac, passed the Bears and the star Arcturus, and plunged it into the stone Altar associated with Libra.


§18.  By 128 B.C.E. Hipparchus was discussing precession in his writings (Schaeffer 2006, 99), but ancient narratives talked about the phenomenon long before it was expressed in scientific terms. Although the Bear's Son tale is absent from the Arthurian tradition, Arthur has long had his name associated with the word for "bear" in Celtic languages, and some pundits have gone so far as to connect his name with Ursa Major (e.g., Allen 1963, 425). The Sword in the Stone, then, appears to be a tale about the north shift, and, because of Ursa Major's relation to the celestial pole, the Bear's Son tale became part of this complex of tales used to discuss precession. In Greek tradition, the stories appear separately, but the Icelandic variant, which presents the two tales together, likely preserves a more ancient form of the story, which is exactly what we would expect given the paradox of the periphery.


1.   A version of this paper was presented at the 2007 Western States Folklore Society annual meeting at the University of California, Los Angeles.  [Back]

2.   The better-known Germanic version of this story is the Sword in the Tree, which Littleton and I addressed at the WSFS conference in 2006.  [Back]

3.   Beowulf, however, lacks several of the motifs of "The Bear's Son" tale. For the common source of the tales of Beowulf and Hrolf Kraki, see Byock 1998, xxv, xxvii.  [Back]

4.   The beginning of this lay was recited in 1030 B.C.E. before the Battle of Stiklestad (Byock 1998, xiii-xiv).  [Back]

5.   Although Odin has magical and priestly proclivities, he, as Puhvel puts it, "holds down much of [the warrior-god] . . . slot" (Puhvel 1987, 204). While Thor appears to be the chief deity in many areas, Odin "dominated in . . . Viking society" (Puhvel 1987, 192), and it is the Viking variant that we have preserved in the Prose Edda.  [Back]

6.   Sigurd Kvændrap (Nyberg 2004, 33-34) suggests that Saxo's insistence that Odin came from Byzantium (Asia) reflects the ninth century Norse contact with Byzantium and that Odin is a symbol for a cultural link between Scandinavia and Greece.  [Back]

7.   The tale type also includes motifs F610 "Remarkably strong men", B631 "Human offspring from marriage to animal" and F611.1.5 "Strong man son of man and she-bear" (Dickson 1929, 117 n.48, 118 nn. 49 and 50; 172 n. 30), which figure so strongly in Hrolf Kraki's Saga.  [Back]

8.   I will leave this propensity for feeding relatives to each other, as in so many Greek stories, for another paper to explore.  [Back]

9.   Elk-Frodi could also leave the print of one of his elk hooves in stone at will, though he tends to do this to seal an oath (Byock 1998, 46).  [Back]

10.   Twelve seems to be a typical age for the hero to begin his career.  [Back]

11.   Bera is an example of the Female Sword Bestower, who is part of the "Bear's Son" tale type motif where a "Helper . . . assists boy in acquiring special weapon" (Byock 1998, xi).  [Back]

12.   A gloss found in the Skjóldunga Saga, is that the name comes from Danish krag, "sea-crow" (Byock 1998, 85, n. 67). A "kraki" is a "pole ladder" or "stake", which Saxo Grammaticus describes as "a tree trunk trimmed so that is can be used as a ladder" (Byock 1998, 84-85, n. 67).  [Back]

13.   This, then, is a variant of the Germanic Sword in the Tree story combined with that of the Sword in the Stone, something that shows that the storytellers had a sense that somehow the two narratives belong together.  [Back]

14.   Thorir goes on to become the king of the Gauts by filling a throne built for two men.  [Back]

15.   Hrolf himself has bear connections and may have had a "Bear's Son" tale told about him at one point as well. His mother is Yrsa, a name that "may derive from the Latin ursa (she-bear)" (Byock 1998, 81, n. 20). In Hrolf Kraki's Saga, Yrsa, is said to have been named after her dog. Anglo-Saxon sources preserve the spelling "Yrse."  [Back]

16.   While Svipdag is also a name for Odin, the saga fails to make the connection between the one-eyed berserkir and the god (Byock 1998, 81-82, n.28).  [Back]

17.   Possibly "bear skin", perhaps referring to a "bear shirt" and, by extension, a berserkir.  [Back]

18.   The name "Laufi" simply means "sword" and may be derived from the Latin gladius (Burton 1883, 123). The mid-thirteenth-century Saga of the People of Laxardal adds the detail that the sword Skofnung was lost on Gellir Thorkelsson's final journey by sea and was not with him when he was buried at Roskilde (Hreinsson et al. 1997, 5:119-120). This may be related to the Sword Thrown into the Sea/Lake motif that is so well known from the Arthurian tradition.  [Back]

19.   Essentially on top of where Caesar says the German peoples were a few centuries later, the Neuri may have had a significant impact on the development of Germanic lore, since these were the "Scythians" that Herodotus singled out as "werewolves", creatures that are specifically associated with Odin in Germanic tradition.  [Back]

20.   According to the Eyrbyggja Saga, Hrolf (Thórólf) "kept a temple dedicated to Thor" (Turnville-Petre 1964, 87).  [Back]

21.   "Classical Greek culture" was spawned by the colonial Ionians, who settled on the coast and islands of Asia Minor following the invasion of the Dorians (Puhvel 1987, 128). Hans Herter argued that Theseus was a pan-Ionian hero (Walker 1995, 9-10). Walker (1995, 13-14), however, proposes that tales of Theseus came from northeast Attica (Walker 1995, 14). Ares, who was already established in Greece before Theseus arrived, was "headquartered" in Thrace and Hesphaistos in Lemnos "where a pre-Greek population lingered in classical times" (Puhvel 1987, 133). The stories of Herakles also predated the arrival of tales of Theseus.  [Back]

22.   Poseidon may have originally gained his stronghold in the Peloponeseus "during the second millennium" B.C.E. (Puhvel 1987, 132).  [Back]

23.   Walker (1995, 86) argues that Theseus originated from the Cretan Sea, but the evidence in the tale suggests that it simply traveled there from somewhere else, possibly becoming entangled with the Cretan Zeus material because of the Bear's Son element of the narrative before the story fractured into the two forms that appear in later Greek texts.  [Back]

24.   Kallisto may be splintered off from Artemis Kallistē ("Fairest Artemis"), and both "Artemis and Arkas . . . are dialectal cognates of [the Greek] árktos, 'bear'" (Puhvel 1987, 136).  [Back]

25.   Hesiod (ca. 700 B.C.E.) called the star Arctouros ("Bear-guard") and Arctophilaxe ("Bear-watcher"; Allen 1963, 93). Arkas was believed to be the celestial Arcturus, although writers as early as Ovid (43 B.C.E. - 17 C.E.) scrambled Arcturus with Ursa Minor (Allen 1963, 94), or even with Ursa Major (Allen 1963, 98), sometimes in the same work.  [Back]

26.   Johannesson (1978, 109-112) also discussed Bjarke.  [Back]

27.   Stories that call Kallisto Helike probably have replaced her name with that of her "birthplace in Arcadia" (Allen 1963, 433). Germanicus associated Helike with the Cretans but thought of Cynosura as connected with the Phoenecians (Germanicus Caesar 1976, 54). Aratos "made the two Bears the Cretan nurses of the infant" Zeus, but Crete, according to the ancients, however, never contained any bears (Allen 1963, 422). For more information on the Cretan Zeus, see Puhvel 1987, 131.  [Back]

28.   The "Babylonian Bear", which has been considered by many to be the source of Ursa Major (Allen 1963, 425), could not possibly have been the origin for the Greek story if the constellation was constructed by independent observation from Babylon, which was considerably south of the 41st parallel.  [Back]

29.   Ursa Major contains the spiral galaxy M81 as well as galaxies M62 and M97 (Ernst and de Vries 1961, 82-83, 221).  [Back]

30.   Germanicus also knew the bright star in Boötes as "Arcturus (Germanicus Caesar 1976, 55), but he makes the odd observation that the star "lies where [the Guardian's] . . . garment is fastened by a knot" (Germanicus Caesar 1976, 55) when the star is traditionally on the Guardian's left knee. Graham Anderson argues that the name Arkas developed into Arktouros (Anderson and Smyth 2007).  [Back]

31.   Hesiod says that Lykaon was Kallisto's father and that Arcturus was called Arkas (Anderson and Smyth 2007). Hyginus (Poetic Astronomy 2.1 in Anderson and Smyth 2007) tells how Jupiter turned Kallisto into Ursa Major and her son, Arkas, into the Bear-Guardian. Other sources (Ps.-Libanius, Narrationes 12 vol. 8 pp. 41f. Foerster in Anderson and Smyth 2007) say that Hermes raised Arkas, and it was understood that he was the eponymous figure for the Arkadians. Other names include Arctophylax (Hyginus De Astronomia 2.4 in Anderson and Smyth 2007). On multiple stories for the same stars, see Servius Auctus on Virgil Georgics 1.67 (Anderson and Smyth 2007). Arcturus was the "star of rain and storms." Arkas appears in Ovid Methamorphoses 2.401-531 and Fasti 2.153-192 (Anderson and Smyth 2007), which flags him as being related to the IE storm god. In Plautus's Rudens 1-82, Arcturus was a "storm-spirit and upholder of justice" (Anderson and Smyth 2007, sec. 32) who comes down to earth in the day.  [Back]

32.   Ridpath (1994, 76) associates the Altar with the story of Centaurus sacrificing Lupus.  [Back]

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