Monday, August 8, 2016

Dog Days of Summer - John Singleton Copley 1738-1815

Dogs from John Singleton Copley 1738-1815

1755 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815). The Gore Children with Dog

1758  John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815). Mary and Elizabeth Royall

1767 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815). Girl with Bird and Dog

1771 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815). Mary Elizabeth Martin

1783 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815) Charles Callis Western and His Brother Shirley Western)

1785 John Singleton Copley (American, artist, 1738-1815) Daughters of King George III (Sophia, Mary and Amelia),

Dog Days of Summer is the name for the most sultry period of summer, from about July 3 to Aug. 11. Named in early times by observers in countries bordering the Mediterranean, the period was determined to extend from 20 days before to 20 days after the conjunction of Sirius (the dog star) & the sun.  The Greek poets Hesiod (ca. 750-650 BCE) & Aratus (ca. 310–240 BCE) refer, in their writings, to "the heat of late summer that the Greeks believed was actually brought on by the appearance of Sirius," a star in the constellation, that the later Romans, & we today refer to as Canis Major, literally the "greater dog" constellation. Homer, in the Iliad, references the association of "Orion's dog" (Sirius) with oncoming heat, fevers, & evil, in describing the approach of Achilles toward Troy:
Sirius rises late in the dark, liquid sky
On summer nights, star of stars,
Orion's Dog they call it, brightest
Of all, but an evil portent, bringing heat
And fevers to suffering humanity.

The term "dog days" was used by the Greeks in Aristotle's Physics.  Astronomer Geminus, around 70 B.C., wrote: "It is generally believed that Sirius produces the heat of the 'dog days,' but this is an error, for the star merely marks a season of the year when the sun"s heat is the greatest." The lectionary of 1559 edition of the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer indicates: "Naonae. Dog days begin" with the readings for July 7 & end August 18. But the readings for September 5 indicate: "Naonae. Dog days end."  This corresponds very closely to the lectionary of the 1611 edition of the King James Bible which indicates the Dog Days beginning on July 6 & ending on September 5.