Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/527

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FROM the remotest periods of which we have quoted or written records, the moon has been an object of adoring and speculative contemplation. As the babe in the cradle, crowing and smiling, stretches out its tiny hands to grasp the shining flame of the distant candle, so the infant races of the world gazed at the radiant orb above them, seeking to grasp and penetrate its mystic beauties.

Nor is it to be marveled at, when we consider that this planet was the most brilliant and changeable, as well as the nearest and apparently largest celestial body that presented itself to their nightly view, and that in the clear, exquisite ether of Arabian skies, and the calm nights of India and Egypt, it shone among the heavenly host with a luster unknown to dwellers in the crowded cities of a northern clime.

But the children of these tropic lands did something more than gaze, speculate, and admire: with supreme patience they reared lofty towers and grand pyramids, and invented instruments which have led up step by step to the transit instrument, the micrometer, and the telescope of to-day. A college of astronomy was founded by the priesthood of Egypt, the worship of the moon growing out of their frequent use of her pictured or carved image in making their meteorological announcements to the people; as, for instance, when the Nile was about to overflow, warning heralds were sent through the streets bearing aloft the familiar symbols of the river goddess, and a gilded figure of the moon in the phase it would present at the date of the expected rising.

In the course of time, the signification was forgotten, the symbol was worshiped, and finally what it represented deified. The moon no longer appeared to the unlettered populace as merely a brilliant lamp suspended from a revolving dome, and shining until extinguished by the waters of the ocean, but now was looked upon with awe as a region of sublime mysteries.

This veneration of the moon gradually spread with population to all parts of the world. We have records of ancient Chinese ceremonials; relics found among Druidical remains in Western Europe; accounts of astronomical picture-writings of a religious character, and lunar calendars of gold, silver, and stone, discovered in ancient temple-ruins in Mexico, Central and South America.

Among the buildings devoted to lunar worship may be mentioned the wonderful Temple of Diana at Ephesus, built at the combined expense of the nations of Asia, and the magnificent mansion of the moon adjoining the Temple of the Sun in ancient Cuzco; this building was in form a pyramidal pavilion with doors and inclosures completely