In this post I will present the solution to one of the puzzles in Poussin’s painting. The focal points are the letter R pointed to by the shepherd in blue robes (Hercules) and “Acadia”, the old name for Nova Scotia, where we find Oak Island. The main reason why Hercules is pointing to the R in “ARCADIA” is to point out that this letter does not belong in the name “ACADIA”. But the R should not just be removed from “ARCADIA”. To solve the puzzles in the painting we are supposed to move the R to several other places in the phrase “ET IN ARCADIA”. Doing that will create new words with specific functions in the puzzles. The R, the letters R in this way is placed next to, and the new words made in “ET IN ARCADIA EGO” represent stars in Hercules, Gemini and Cygnus which analogously should be connected by lines. It is these lines which guide us to Oak Island. The large X I have drawn in previous posts plays a major role in guiding us in these puzzles.
Let us start with this X. One of the lines in the X passes through a lock in a chest (and also separates “ARCADIA” into “ARCA” and “DIA” = ‘chest’ and ‘through’). My interpretation of this is that this X is the key to unlock the secrets of the painting.
The line diagonally downwards towards the left passes through the X Castor is making with his legs. But it also passes through the E in “ET”, and we can see that the folds in the clothes of the shepherd in blue robes (Hercules) are all directed to a specific point on this line. (The line also passes through the T in “ET”, but while the E is lit up, the T is so dark that we can hardly see it).
If we now take a look at what Wikipedia calls “the traditional view of the Hercules constellation” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hercules_constellation
), we see that the point marked by the line and the folds in Hercules robes corresponds well with the star called ε Herculis (Epsilon Herculis).
The Greek letters naming the stars in the image above are the ones Bayer introduced in his Uranometria. Bayer also applied Latin letters when he labeled the stars, but he has labeled them from the most luminous to the less luminous using the letters in the Greek alphabet first, and then letters from the Latin alphabet only if there are more stars in a constellation than letters in the Greek alphabet. Thus, only faint and insignificant stars are given a letter from the Latin alphabet as their label.
If the E in “ET” passed through by the diagonal line refers to a star in Bayer’s atlas, we should therefore expect it to refer to a star with the Greek epsilon as its name, since the epsilon is the Greek equivalent of the Latin E (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epsilon
). I therefore think we have good reasons to believe that the diagonal line, the folds in Hercules robes and the E passed through is pointing out the star ε Herculis. Below I have marked ε Herculis with a red circle in Bayer’s star chart for Hercules:
If I am right in this, the question is what we are supposed to do with ε Herculis. A first hint can be found by drawing a smaller circle around the center of the X, passing through the point now identified as pointing out ε Herculis.
On the opposite side of the center of the X, the circle intersects the line at the tail end of the swan I have argued for in a previous post. (I have emphasized it with stippled lines). I think the point is that we should connect ε Herculis with a star in Cygnus. But which star? In my previous post we saw that Hercules’ finger is pointing to the tail of both birds found in the painting. I think Hercules’ pointing hand and finger also tell us which star we should connect with ε Herculis.
We see above that the hand touches the E in “EGO” while it is pointing to the R in “ARCADIA”. “ARCADIA” is written “Αρκαδία” in Greek, since the Greek equivalent of the Latin R is the Greek letter ρ, called “rho” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rho
. I take this pointing from the E to the R (ε and ρ in Greek), together with the connection I have argued for between ε Herculis and the tail of the swan, as inciting us to draw a line between ε Herculis and ρ Cygni.
The idea that the Latin R should be interpreted as a Greek ρ is also supported by the shadow made by the arm and hand pointing at the R
I will later present two other instances of a reasoning which is precisely analogue to what I am presenting here. In all these three instances the reasoning is confirmed semantically by connecting the letters in “ET IN ARCADIA EGO” which represent the stars which should be connected in the celestial sky. In this instance, where stars referred to by E and R should be connected, we get the semantic confirmation by moving the R in ARCADIA down and place it before the E in EGO. Doing this, “ARCADIA” is changed to “ACADIA” and “EGO” is changed to “REGO”. “ACADIA” is the place we are guided to by connecting ε Herculis and ρ Cygni, while “REGO” is a Latin verb meaning “I guide”.
It is Hercules' who connects the R in "ARCADIA" and the E in "EGO". Taken together, “ACADIA” and “REGO” can therefore be interpreted as Hercules telling us that he is guiding us to Acadia.
Locating ρ Cygni in the celestial sky, we find it at the tail of Cygnus. Here I have marked it with a red circle in Bayer’s star chart for Cygnus.
Let us now place ε Herculis and ρ Cygni in Google Earth. I am using the 1601 positions, like Bayer did in his Uranometria
. Later in this post I will discuss the coordinates we find in Kepler’s Rudolphine Tables
. Here are the coordinates for the two stars:
The 2000 coordinates can be found here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epsilon_Herculis
and here: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rho_Cygni
To convert 2000 coordinates to 1601 coordinates use one of these applications: http://lambda.gsfc.nasa.gov/toolbox/tb_coordconv.cfm http://hea.iki.rssi.ru/AZT22/ENG/cgi-bin/c_prec4.htmhttp://ned.ipac.caltech.edu/forms/calculator.htmlhttp://www.ilanga.com/epochsy/index.shtml
When placing the stars on the globe I have used the Ferro Meridian, in accord with the official French decision from 1634. As the custom was, I have defined the meridian as 20⁰ west of the Paris, where I have picked the Paris Observatory at 2.34⁰ east as the reference point.
To place ε Herculis with the 1601 coordinates 251.26°, + 31.57° correctly on Google Earth with a meridian at 20⁰ - 2.34⁰ = 17.66⁰ west as prime meridian, we also have to take into account that Google Earth measures longitudes westward on the western hemisphere in negative numbers.
The Google Earth longitude for ε Herculis is therefore
-((360° - 251.26°) + 17.66°) = -(108.74° + 17.66°) = -126,40°
With a similar calculation for ρ Cygni we find that the Google coordinates corresponding to the 1601 positions for the two stars are:
ε Herculis: -126,40°, + 31.57°
ρ Cygni: -57.90°, + 43.85°
Below I have drawn a line from the 1601 position of ε Herculis to the 1601 position of ρ Cygni, first with the 1792 celestial globe as background and then with a 1790 terrestrial globe as background (Both made by the Italian Cassini).
In the image above we can see that Nova Scotia is labeled “Acadia”. Poussin is directing us to Acadia, but my hypothesis is that this has to do with Oak Island. In the image above I have marked the position of Oak Island with a red pin. As we shall see, if the intention here is to bring us to Oak Island, the accuracy is quite extraordinary. I would therefore like to emphasize that Poussin and his collaborators may just have used the celestial sky to point out a position they knew corresponded to an unspecified position in Acadia. Since irregularities were not discovered on Oak Island until 1795, later collaborators could have picked out Oak Island any time between 1638 and 1795, when the necessary positional knowledge was acquired.
Using the application found at http://www.movable-type.co.uk/scripts/latlong.html
to calculate bearings on the globe, we find that the bearing from ε Herculis to ρ Cygni is 56.05⁰ while the bearing from ε Herculis to Oak Island is 56.15⁰, a difference of just 0,1⁰. One gets the same result by using the ruler on Google Earth to measure the bearing.
Below I have drawn a red line representing the 56.05⁰ bearing from ε Herculis through Oak Island below the yellow line representing the 56.15⁰ bearing from ε Herculis to ρ Cygni.
The image below gives a closer look at the line from ε Herculis to ρ Cygni compared to the position of Oak Island. The line passes by approximately 9 km north of Oak Island.
I emphasize that I don’t think Poussin and his collaborators were able to find a specific place on earth this close to the line from ε Herculis to ρ Cygni, only that they knew that the line passed through Acadia. I believe someone at a later time picked out Oak Island.
Let us now take a look at what we find in Kepler’s Rudolphine Tables
. The main source for the star catalog in this book is the measurements made by Tycho Brahe, which Johann Bayer used in his Uranometria
. On Wikipedia we can read this about the Rudolphine Tables
“For most stars these tables were accurate to within one arc minute, and were the first to include corrective factors for atmospheric refraction. The tables were sufficiently accurate to predict a transit of Mercury observed by Pierre Gassendi in 1631 and a transit of Venus observed by Jeremiah Horrox in 1639.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolphine_Tables
Although the book was published in 1627 it uses the same epoch as Brahe had used, giving the positions of stars for January 1, 1601. The coordinates for stars found in the Rudolphine Tables can therefore be used to solve the puzzles in “Et in Arcadia Ego”, but not all the stars plotted by Bayer in Uranometria are found in the Rudolphine Tables. We do find ε Herculis, but we don’t find ρ Cygni.
ε Herculis is the star described as “Hac orientalior, in femore sinistro”, having the coordinates 2.45 and 53.21.
Kepler is using a coordinate system which is different from the ones most common today. The first column gives the longitude, but measured along the ecliptic and not the celestial equator. The right pointing arrow following after 2.45 is the astrological symbol for Sagittarius. Sagittarius is the 9th sign of the Zodiac, starting with Aries. To translate the longitude to a number between 0 and 360 we therefore have to add 8 x 30⁰ = 240⁰ to 2.45, which gives us 242.45. With the coordinates (242.45, 53.21) we can go to http://lambda.gsfc.nasa.gov/toolbox/tb_coordconv.cfm
and translate the ecliptic coordinates to celestial coordinates (Use the same year as input and output Coordinate Epoch). This gives the following result:
Rudolphine Tables.......................251.28°, + 31.62°(16h 45m 7s, +31° 37m 9s)
Calculated from epoch 2000...........251.26°, + 31.57°(16h 45m 2s, +31° 34m 12s)
We see that the coordinates found in the star catalog from the Rudolphine Tables
agrees rather well with the coordinates calculated from the 2000 epoch (which we can consider as the true coordinates), although ε Herculis is not among the most accurately measured stars in the catalog. The two points on an Earth Globe corresponding to the two pairs of coordinates are located approximately 8 km apart.