Aratus and the Astronomical Tradition (Classical Culture and Society)

Aratus and the Astronomical Tradition (Classical Culture and Society)

Emma Gee

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 0199781680

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Why were the stars so important in Rome? Their literary presence far outweighs their role as a time-reckoning device, which was, in any case, superseded by the synchronization of the civil and solar years under Julius Caesar. One answer is tied to their usefulness in symbolizing a universe built on "intelligent design." From Plato's time onwards, the stars are most often seen in literature as evidence for a divine plan in the layout and maintenance of the cosmos. Moreover, particularly in the Roman world, divine and human governance came to be linked, one striking manifestation of this being the predicted enjoyment of a celestial afterlife by emperors. Aratus' Phaenomena, a didactic poem in Greek hexameters, composed c. 270 BC, which describes the layout of the heavens and their effect on the lives of men, was an ideal text in expressing such relationships: a didactic model which was both accessible and elegant, and which combined the stars with notions of divine and human order. Across a period extending from the late Roman Republic and early Empire until the age of Christian humanism, the impact of this poem on the literary environment is apparently out of all proportion to its relatively modest size and the obscurity of its subject matter. It was translated into Latin many times between the first century BC and the Renaissance, and carried lasting influence outside its immediate genre.

Aratus and the Astronomical Tradition answers the question of Aratus' popularity by looking at the poem in the light of Western cosmology. It argues that the Phaenomena is the ideal vehicle for the integration of astronomical "data" into abstract cosmology, a defining feature of the Western tradition. This book embeds Aratus' text into a close network of textual interactions, beginning with the text itself and ending in the sixteenth century, with Copernicus. All conversations between the text and its successors experiment in some way with the balance between cosmology and information. The text was not an inert objet d'art, but a dynamic entity which took on colors often in conflict in the ongoing debate about the place and role of the stars in the world. With this detailed treatment of Aratus' poem and its reception, Emma Gee resituates a peculiar literary work within its successive cultural contexts and provides a benchmark for further research.

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30 { Aratus and the Astronomical Tradition dominance in the world of Empedoclean Love. A reading of Dike-as-Love is supported by Aratus’ use of her Empedoclean opposite νείκεος (= Empedocles’ Nεῖκος33) in the line before, line 108. Traglia at least detected further Empedoclean reminiscence in Aratus’ διακρίσιος περιμεμφέος (Ph. 109), where διάκρισις is said to be the semantic equivalent of Empedoclean διάλλαξις, the term used in fr.8 (= Inwood 21/8) for elemental ‘separation’ under the control.

Largo sensu it tracks the progress of man against the progress of the cosmos. That cosmos can be either divinely informed, or rationalist. The potential for the use of Aratus and the tradition in this very debate, between competing cosmologies, will be the subject of the next chapter. 3} Wandering Stars ‘Ihr messet das Gewicht der Vokale in einem alten Gedicht und setze Formel zu der einen Planetenbahn in Beziehung. Das ist entzückend, aber es ist ein Spiel’. ‘You measure the weight of the.

Some naïve assumption of the divine plan? Lucretius does not do this, but rather draws on earlier poetry in constructing his argument; his polemic arises through intertextuality. The text with which he engages most in his polemic is that paragon of celestial order, Aratus, in the form of Cicero’s Latin translation. Consider again DRN 5.1430–9. The attentive reader of line 1437 will immediately notice the presence of a Ciceronian formulation in Lucretius’ epic language. At Aratea 237–8, Cicero.

(flos, Avienus 12) and the fountain (fons, Avienus 49) of incorporeal light. Julian draws on Plato, Rep. 508a5–9 and 509b1–5 for the role of the sun in his Hymn. In the former passage, it is the sun which allows us to see best the visible world; in Julian this becomes the quasi-demiurgic role of the sun’s light in HH 133–4. In the latter passage of Plato, the sun is the adjunct to generation, prefacing his generative role in Julian, who assigns him the craftsman-role,71 and in Avienus: note.

The etymology) is implicit in the sudden ‘shadowy’ identity of Jupiter. The darkness of Zeus here is in contrast to Avienus’ earlier emphasis on aether at the outset of his proem (aethram, 2; aethera, 4). Aether in Julian is the cohesive force of the universe (HH 139c–d): οὐχὶ καὶ περὶ τὸν οὐρανὸν φαίνεται κύκλῳ πορευομένη τοῦ πέμπου σώματος οὐσία, ἣ πάντα συνέχει τὰ μέρη καὶ σφίγγει πρὸς αὑτὰ συνέχουσα τὸ φύσει σκεδαστὸν αὐτῶν καὶ ἀπορρέον ἀπ᾽ ἀλλήλων; ‘Again is there not visible in the heavens.

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