John Speller's Web Pages A Carol of the Kings, An Armenian Myth

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A Carol of the Kings, An Armenian Myth
"The Southern Cross. It is chronicled in an old Armenian myth, that the Wise Men of the East were none other than the three sons of Noe, and that they were raised from the dead to represent, and to do homage for all mankind, in the cave of Bethlehem. Other legends are also told: one, that these patriarch princes of the flood did not ever die, but were rapt away alive into Enoch's paradise, and were then recalled to begin the solemn gesture of world-wide worship to the King-born Child. Another saying holds, that when their days were full, these Arkite fathers fell asleep, and were laid at rest in a cavern of Ararat, until Messias was born, and that then an angel aroused them from the slumber of ages to bow down and to hail as the heralds of many nations the Awful Child. Be this as it may, whether the Mystic Magi were Sem, Cham, and Japhet, in their first or second existence, under their own names, or those of other men; or whether they were three long-descended and royal sages from the loins or the land of Balaam—one thing has been delivered for very record, that supernatural shape of clustering orbs, which was embodied suddenly from surrounding light, and framed to be the beacon of their westward way, was and is the Southern Cross. It was not a solitary signal-fire, but a miraculous constellation: a pentacle of stars whereof two shone for the Transome, and three for the Stock, and which went above and before the travellers day and night radiantly, until it came and stood over where the young Child lay. And then! what then? must these faithful orbs dissolve and die? shall the gleaming trophy fall? Nay — not so. When it had fulfilled the piety of its first-born office, it arose, and amid the vassalage of every stellar and material law, it moved onward and on, obedient to the impulse of God the Trinity, journeying evermore towards the South, until that starry image arrived in the predestined sphere of future and perpetual abode: to bend, as to this day it bends, above the peaceful sea, in everlasting memorial of the Child Jesus — The Southern Cross." — R. S. Hawker, Epiphany 1859.

Hawker's poem is interesting in tracing connections with Noah, Seth, etc., and has a number of parallels with the 2nd.- or 3rd.-century Syrian gnostic text The Revelation of the Magi.

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Nineteenth-century Armenian bishop's miter, showing the adoration of the Magi. Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
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