Calisto, daughter of Lycaon, was violated by Jupiter, and Juno
changed her into a bear. Jupiter placed her among the stars that she
might be more under his protection. Homer calls it Arktos the
bear, and Hamaxa the waggon. The Romans called it Ursa the bear, and Septemtriones the seven ploughing oxen; whence
“Septentrionalis” came to signify the north. The common names in Europe
for the seven bright stars are “the plough,” “the waggon,” “Charles's
wain,” “the Great Bear,” etc.
Boswell's father used to call Dr. Johnson Ursa Major. (See Bear.)
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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