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Antoine Court de Gebelin-‘About The Heliac Table’

The following text is a description and explanation of the above engraving.


Another sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA, an excerpt from Antoine Court de Gebelin’s ‘Monde Primitif’, Volume IV-History of the Calendar. Paris_1776. Page 592 and 593.


‘This engraving is a copy of the famous ‘ Table of the Sun’, or ‘Heliac Table’ found in Rome and published for the first time in 1617 by Girolamo Aleandro with a very deep and thoughtful commentary. It’s original is a bas-relief in white marble of three feet and a half high of height and the same in length.

This precious monument represents the Sun with all of his attributes; attributes that made him be called Apollo, Hercules, Bacchus and Mercury. We recognize Apollo by his quiver and bow. Hercules by his club and to the lion skin. Bacchus by his garland of fruits and the cup that supports the lyre. Mercury by his lyre, the caduceus and the stone pile.

The quiver, the bow and the arrows are the essential symbols of the children of Latone, Apollo and Diana. We already saw in this study that Diana was always represented as a huntress. Apollo was no less famous regarding this matter: He is the one that killed the snake Python with the strike of his arrows. Homer represents him always as an excellent hunter whose arrows reach faraway; it is these arrows that caused all the trouble that swarmed the Greek army at the siege of Troy.

The stone piles were consecrated to Mercury as Protector of the highways and roads. Mercury had, indeed, this very quality, because the roads were called by their stone mark; the custom in favor was to consecrate these rock piles to him from the stones that were cluttering the roads and were piled, making as many road marks as trophies in his honor.

The other attributes of the ‘Heliac Table’ are already explained in our earlier allegorical studies, so we will not here proceed further. But what can be highlighted is this: As a whole, these attributes seem to hint at, in a synthetic way, to four arts specific to Apollo, the four elements and the four seasons.

Apollo was an archer, or drawer of arrows, a Seer, a Doctor and a Musician. The first of these arts is represented by the bow; the second by the cup, as in the proverb: ‘Truth is in the Wine’; the third by the club, of which name was given to both Apollo and Hercules of ‘Alexi-Kakos’ (who chase evil away) and the name ‘Pean’ or the striker, the stunner; and finally, the fourth by the lyre describes Apollo in his quality of musician.

The four elements are designated by the arrows, by the winged caduceus, by the cup and the club. The arrows, being similar to the sun rays, point to Fire; the wings, to Air; the cup to the humid element; and the club with the stones to the Earth.

Finally, we discover the four Seasons, as Apollo is Spring, Hercules Summer, Bacchus Autumn and Mercury with his harmony, Winter.’


Original French


Antoine Court de Gebelin. An engraving by François Huot after an original drawing in blue pencil by André Pujos.
Antoine Court de Gebelin-‘About The Heliac Table’

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