The Rising

Get Paid To Write Online

Get Paid to Write at Home

Get Instant Access

From earliest times, the Sun has been revered and held in awe. For the Greeks of Aristotle's time, sunlight epitomized the fire in the four basic elements - earth, air, fire and water - from which all things arose. Ancient solar observatories, dedicated to the divine Sun-god Ra, can still be found in Luxor, that enchanting city by the Nile; giant Egyptian obelisks, erected thousands of years ago in Luxor and Heliopolis (City of the Sun), now cast their shadows in sundial fashion across parts of Paris, London, and Rome.

According to this incantation from Ptolemaic Egypt:

Opening his two eyes, [Ra, the Sun god] cast light on Egypt, he separated night from day. "tte gods came forth from his mouth and mankind from his eyes. All things took their birth from him.1

And in the Old Testament's Book ofGenesis, we find that the Earth was initially a vast waste, covered by darkness, until God said "Let there be light" and the Sun separated day from night.

Since the time of the ancient Persian prophet Zarathustra (about 1300 BC, Greek Zoroaster), we have associated light with good, beauty, truth and wisdom, in sharp contrast with the dark forces of evil, tte war between good and evil in the Dead Sea Scrolls is depicted as a battle of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness. Dante's divine journey took him from the dark forest to the radiance of paradise, and today we have the evil darkness of Darth Vader in Star Wars.

tte Maya, Toltec and Aztec of Central America had a host of Sun gods; the Aztecs regularly fed the hearts of sacrificial victims to the Sun to strengthen it on its daily journey. Shintoism, a religion based on Sun worship, has continued for thousands of years in Japan, the land of the rising Sun. Today you can celebrate sunrise with Hindu worshipers on the terraced banks, or ghats, along the Ganges River at Benares, India's holiest city.

Nowadays, fire symbolically lights the darkness in many of our rituals, including the torch of the Olympic games, and candlelight vigils or dimmed lights that bring focus to tragic events and times of crisis. In everyday life, most of us feel happier on bright days than on gloomy ones, so cheerful people have a "sunny" disposition while an unhappy day is a "dark" one. And throughout the world, oiled Sun-worshippers lie on tranquil beaches, letting the summer Sun warm their bodies and give them strength.

tte German romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) used sunrise to portray a spiritual relationship with nature (Fig. 1.1), comparing the "radiating beams of light" in one of his paintings to "the image of the eternal life-giving Father." Sunlight seems to dominate, consume and absorb everything in the paintings of the British artist Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), who depicted tiny figures dwarfed by the power, beauty and violence of the physical world. When viewing one of his apocalyptic visions, the spectator can become engulfed and lost in the colored light of the sky and sea (Fig. 1.2). tte artist's dying words were "tte Sun is God."

Examples of artists' perspectives on the Sun are provided at the beginning of every chapter in this book, each chosen for its artistic value and for the new insights

FIG. 1.1 Woman in morning Sun This portrayal of the glowing sunrise by the German artist Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) seems to have a transcendental, mystical quality. The painter once compared the "radiating beams of light" in one of his paintings to "the image of the eternal life-giving Father." (Courtesy ofMuseum Folkwang, Essen.)

FIG. 1.1 Woman in morning Sun This portrayal of the glowing sunrise by the German artist Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) seems to have a transcendental, mystical quality. The painter once compared the "radiating beams of light" in one of his paintings to "the image of the eternal life-giving Father." (Courtesy ofMuseum Folkwang, Essen.)

it offers. Here you will find "another light, a stronger Sun" portrayed by the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890), who used thick brush stokes of blazing, brilliant pigment, as dense as honey, to portray a powerful, yellow Sun that blazes forth with an almost supernatural radiance, tte French artist Claude Monet's (1840-1926) painting of sunrise is included - the one that inaugurated the impressionist movement of painting. He used entire sequences of paintings to depict the subtle changes that varying sunlight causes in our perception of objects, such as haystacks or the cathedral at Rouen.

tte chapter frontispieces also include the works of the Spanish painter Joan Miro (1893-1983), who portrayed the powerful red disk of the Sun that caresses our limbs and brings us joy, or links us to the stars beyond. In other instances, we reproduce works that separate the Sun from any reference to the Earth or sky; they show that the Sun can be an intense source of pleasure and beauty by itself.

Writers have also been captivated by the light of the Sun, from the American author Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), who wrote that pure light was "the reappearance of the original soul," to the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) who wrote in Wius Spoke Zarathustra:

"tte Moon's love affair has come to an end!

Just look! "ttere it stands; pale and dejected - before the dawn!

FIG. 1.2 Regulus In this painting by the British artist Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), every object is in a fiery, misty state. Brilliant yellow rays of light come down from a central, all-powerful Sun, absorbing and consuming everything else. The picture is named after the Roman general Regulus who was punished for his betrayal of the Carthaginians by having his eyelids cut off, and being blinded by the glare of the Sun. Regulus, who is apparently absent from the scene, has been identified with the spectator, staring into the blinding Sun. (Courtesy of the Tate Gallery, London.)

For already it is coming, the glowing Sun -

its love of the Earth is coming!

All Sun-love is innocence and creative desire!

Just look how it comes impatiently over the sea!

Do you not feel the thirst and hot breath of its love?2

tte Sun warms our soul, and lights and heats our days! Today's astronomers may describe the Sun, and our dependence upon it, in greater scientific detail than artists or writers, but that in no way diminishes their sense of awe for the life-sustaining, even mystical power of the Sun.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Telescopes Mastery

Telescopes Mastery

Through this ebook, you are going to learn what you will need to know all about the telescopes that can provide a fun and rewarding hobby for you and your family!

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment