Mars makes iron. He gives men the martial temperament, ' sturdy hardiness', as the Wife of Bath calls it. But he is a bad planet, Infortuna Minor. He causes wars. His sphere, in Dante, is the Heaven of martyrs; partly for the obvious reason but partly, I suspect, because of a mistaken philological connection between martyr and Martem.
Sol is the point at which the concordat between the mythical and the astrological nearly breaks down. Mythically, Jupiter is the King, but Sol produces the noblest metal, gold, and is the eye and mind of the whole universe. He makes men wise and liberal and his sphere is the Heaven of theologians and philosophers. Though he is no more metallurgical than any other planet his metallurgical operations are more often mentioned than theirs. We read in Donne's Allophanes and Idios how soils which the Sun could make into gold may lie too far from the surface for his beams to take effect (61). Spenser's Mammon brings his hoard out to 'sun’ it. If it were already gold, he would have no motive for doing this. It is still hore (grey); he suns it that it may become gold. Sol produces fortunate events.
In beneficence Venus stands second only to Jupiter; she is Fortuna Minor. Her metal is copper. The connection is not clear till we observe that
was once famed for its copper mines; that
copper is cyprium, the Cyprian metal; and that Venus, or Aphrodite,
especially worshipped in that island, the Lady of Cyprus. In mortals
she produces beauty and amorousness; in history, fortunate events. Dante
makes her sphere the Heaven not, as we
might expect from a more obvious poet,
of the charitable, but of those, now penitent, who in this life loved greatly and lawlessly. Here he meets Cunizza, four times a wife and
twice a mistress, and Rahab the
harlot (Paradiso, ix). They are
in swift, incessant flight (viii,
19-27) — a likeness in unlikeness to the impenitent
and storm-borne lovers of Inferno, v. Cyprus
Mercury produces quicksilver. Dante gives his sphere to beneficent men of action. Isidore, on the other hand, says this planet is called Mercurius because he is the patron of profit (mercibus praeest). Gower says that the man born under Mercury will be 'studious' and 'in writinge curious'...
The Discarded Image
Chapter V – The Heavens