Constellation myths : with Aratus's 'Phaenomena'

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  • "The constellations we recognize today were first mapped by the ancient Greeks, who arranged the stars into patterns for that purpose. In the third century BC Eratosthenes compiled a handbook of astral mythology in which the constellations were associated with figures from legend, and myths were provided to explain how each person, creature, or object came to be placed in the sky. Thus we can see Heracles killing the Dragon, and Perseus slaying the sea-monster to save Andromeda; Orion chases the seven maidens transformed by Zeus into the Pleiades, and Aries, the golden ram, is identified flying up to the heavens. This translation brings together the later summaries from Eratosthenes's lost handbook with a guide to astronomy compiled by Hyginus, librarian to Augustus. Together with Aratus's astronomical poem the Phaenomena, these texts provide a complete collection of Greek astral myths; imaginative and picturesque, they also offer an intriguing insight into ancient science and culture."--Back cover.


  • English translation of the fragments of Eratosthenes's Catasterismi, a selection from Hyginus's Poetica astronomica, and Aratus's Phaenomena.
  • "First published as an Oxford world's classics paperback, 2015."--Verso of title page.
  • Includes bibliographical references (pages 173-200) and index.


  • The mythological narratives. Constellations of the Arctic Circle. Ursa Major, the Great Bear ; Ursa Minor, the Little Bear ; Draco, the Dragon ; Cepheus -- Constellations between the Arctic Circle and the summer tropic. Perseus ; Andromeda ; Cassiopeia, known in the ancient world as Cassiepeia ; Cygnus, the Swan, originally known as the Bird ; Lyra, the Lyre ; Hercules, originally known as Engonasin, the Kneeler ; Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown, originally known as the Crown ; Bootes, the Oxherd, also known as Arctophylax, the Bear-guard ; Auriga, the Charioteer; with the associated star-group of the Goat and Kids -- Constellations between the summer tropic and the equator. Triangulum, the Triangle, also known in the ancient world as Deltoton ; Pegasus, originally known as the Horse ; Sagitta, the Arrow ; Aquila, the Eagle ; Ophiuchus, the Serpent-bearer, and the Serpent ; Canis Minor, the Little Dog, known to the Greeks as Procyon
  • Constellations of the Zodiac. Cancer, the Crab; with the associated star-group of the Asses ; Leo, the Lion; with the neighbouring constellation of Coma Berenices, Berenice's Hair ; Virgo, the Maiden ; Scorpius, the Scorpion, and the Claws (or Libra, the Scales) ; Sagittarius, the Archer ; Capricornus, Capricorn ; Aquarius, the Water-pourer ; Pisces, the Fishes ; Taurus, the Bull; with the associated star-clusters of the Pleiades and Hyades ; Aries, the Ram ; Gemini, the Twins -- Constellations between the equator and the winter tropic. Orion ; Cetus, the Sea-monster ; Delphinus, the Dolphin ; Hydra, the Water-snake, with Crater, the Bowl, and Corvus, the Crow ; Canis Major, the Great Dog -- Constellations between the winter tropic and the Antarctic Circle. Ara, the Altar ; Centaurus, the Centaur, and Lupus, the Wolf, originally known as the Beast ; Lepus, the Hare ; Argo ; Eridanus ; Piscis Austrinus, the Southern Fish
  • The Milky Circle, planets, and constellations of late origin. The planets ; The Milky Circle ; Equuleus, the Foal ; Corona Australis, the Southern Crown -- Aratus, Phaenomena. The constellations ; Measuring of time through observation of the heavens ; Weather signs -- Appendix. Extracts from Geminos, Introduction to the `Phaenomena'. Explanatory Notes
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