The Hellenistic poet Aratus of Soli (ca to before bc)1 is known primarily as the author of Phaenomena, a poem which de- scribes the constellations and. Phaenomena, a poem on star constellations and weather signs by Aratus (c. BCE), was among the most widely read in antiquity and one of the few. Aratus’ Phaenomena is a didactic poem—a practical manual in verse that teaches the reader to identify constellations and predict weather. The poem also .

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His only surviving work is the Phaenomenaa book describing the constellations and weather signs. Callimachus, Hymns and Epigrams. Translated by Mair, A. Loeb Classical Library Volume This Loeb volume is still in print and available new from Amazon. In addition to the translation of Aratus’ Phaenomenathe book contains translations of Callimachus’ Hymns and Epigramsand Lycophron’s Alexandra arafus, the source Greek texts, Mair’s introduction and footnotes, and an index of proper phaenomsna. Some more recent translations of Aratus, commentaries and a star chart based on his work appear in the booklist left below.

The Five Planets D. Circles of the Celestial Sphere E. For we are also his offspring; and he in his kindness unto men giveth favourable signs and wakeneth the people to work, reminding them of livelihood.

He tells what time the soil is best for the labour of the ox arstus for the mattock, and what time the seasons are favourable both for the planting of trees and for casting all manner of seeds. For himself it was who set the signs in heaven, and marked out the constellations, and for the year devised what stars chiefly should give to men right signs of the seasons, to the end that all things might grow unfailingly.

Wherefore him do men ever worship first and last. Hail, O Father, mighty marvel, mighty blessing unto men. Hail to thee and to the Elder Race! Hail, ye Muses, right kindly, every one! But for me, too, in answer to my prayer direct all my lay, even as is meet, to tell the stars.

But the Axis shifts not a whit, but unchanging is for ever fixed, and in the midsts it holds the earth in equipoise, and wheels the heaven itself around. Encompassing it two Bears [Ursa Major and Minor] wheel together — wherefore they are also called the Wains.

Now they ever hold their heads each toward the flank of the other, and are borne along always shoulder-wise, turned alternate on their shoulders. If, indeed, the tale be true, from Crete they by the will of mighty Zeus entered up into heaven, for that when in olden days he played as a child in fragrant Dicton, near the hill of Ida, they set him in a cave and nurtured him for the space of a year, what time the Dictaean Curetes were deceiving Cronus.

Now the one men call by name Cynosura and the other Helice. It is by Helice that the Achaeans on the sea divine which way to steer their ships, but in the other the Phoenicians put their trust when they cross the sea. But Helice, appearing large at earliest night, is bright and easy to mark; but the other is small, yet better for sailors: By her guidance, then, the men of Sidon steer the straightest course.

Now towards the one he stretches the end of his tail, but with the coil he intercepts the Lesser Bear. Araus tip of his arats ends by the head of Helice, but in the coil Cynosura has her head. For his coiled circles past her very head pgaenomena comes near her feet, but again, turning back, runs upward.

Not one lone star shines on his head, but hpaenomena his brows are two phaenmoena lit, and two in his eyes, and one beneath is set upon the chin-point of the dread monster.

Aslant is his head, and he seems most like as if he were nodding to the tip of the tail of Helice; his mouth and right temple straight confront the end of her tail.

That head wheels near where the limits of setting and rising blend. That sign no man knows how to read clearly, nor what task he is bent, but men simply call him On His Knees [Engonasin].


Over the middle of the head of the crooked Dragon, he has the tip of his right foot. They would be clear to mark even at the midmonth moon, but his hands are not at all so bright; for faint runs the gleam of stars along on this side and on that.

Yet they too can be seen, for they are not feeble.

Phaenomena | work by Aratus |

Both firmly clutch the Serpent, which encircles the waist of Ophiuchus, but he, stedfast with both his feet well set, tramples a huge monster, even the Scorpion, standing upright on his eye and breast. Now the Serpent is wreathed about his sratus hands — a little above his right hand, but in many folds high above his left. Very bright is he all; but arahus his belt wheels a star, bright beyond the others, Arcturus himself.

Whether she be daughter of Astraeus, who, men say, was of old the father of the stars, or child of other sire, untroubled phaenomwna her course! But another tale is current among men, how of old she dwelt on earth and met men face to face, nor ever disdained in olden time the tribes of men and women, but mingling with them took her seat, immortal though she was.

Her men called Justice; but she assembling the elders, it might be in the market-place or in the wide-wayed streets, uttered her voice, ever urging on them judgements kinder to the people.

Not yet in that age had men knowledge of hateful strife, or carping contention, or din of battle, but a simple life they lived. Far from them was the cruel sea and not yet from afar did ships bring their livelihood, but the oxen and the plough and Justice herself, queen of the peoples, giver of things just, abundantly supplied their every need.

Even so long as the earth still nurtured the Golden Race, aratud had her dwelling on earth. But with the Silver Race only a little and no longer with utter readiness did she mingle, for that she yearned for the ways of the men arattus old. Yet in that Silver Age was she still upon the earth; but from the echoing hills at eventide she came alone, nor spake to any man in gentle words.

But when she had filled the great heights with gathering crowds, then would she with threats rebuke their evil ways, and declare that never more at their prayer would she reveal her face to man. Far meaner than themselves! But ye arattus breed a viler progeny! Verily wars and cruel bloodshed shall be unto men and grievous woe shall be laid upon them. For dread is the Bear and dread stars are near her. Seeing them thou needest not further conjecture what stars beyond them model all her form.

Such stars are borne along, beautiful and great, one in front of her forefeet, and one beneath her hind knees. But all singly one here, one there, are wheeled along without a name. Then the fields are seen bereft of corn-ears, when first the Sun comes together with the Lion.

Then the roaring Etesian winds fall swooping on the vasty deep, and voyaging is no longer seasonable for oars. Then let broad-beamed ships be my choice, arxtus let steersmen hold the helm into the wind.

Her the interpreters of Zeus call the Olenian Goat. Large is she and bright, but there at the wrist of the Charioteer faintly gleam the Kids. Very lifelike are his signs; so clear defined his head: Oft-spoken is their name and not all unheard-of are the Hyades.

Broadcast are they on the forehead of the Bull. One star occupies the tip of his left horn and the right foot of the Charioteer, who is close by. Together they are carried in their course, but ever earlier is the Bull than the Charioteer to set beneath the West, albeit they fare together at their rising. For their name, too has come unto heaven, for that they were near akin to Zeus.

Cepheus himself is set behind the Bear Cynosura, like to one that stretches out both his hands. From her tail-tip to both his feet stretches a measure ;haenomena to that from foot to foot.


Afatus a little aside from his belt look to find the first coil of the mighty Dragon. For few and alternate stars adorn her, which expressly mark her form with lines of light. Like the key of a twofold door barred within, wherewith men striking shoot back the bolts, so singly set shine her stars. Thou hast not to wait for a night, I ween, whereon to see her more distinct!

So bright is her head and so clearly marked are both the shoulders, the tips of her feet and all her belt.

Yet even there she is racked, with arms stretched far apart, and even in Heaven bonds are her portion. Uplifted and outspread there for all time are those hands of hers.

Three other separate stars, large and bright, at equal distance set on flank and shoulders, trace a square upon the Horse.


His head is not so brightly marked, nor his neck, though it be long. But the farthest star on his blazing nostril could fitly rival the former four, that invest him with such splendour.

Nor is he four-footed. Parted at the navel, with only half a body, wheels in heaven the sacred Horse. He it was, men say, that brought down from lofty Helicon the bright water of bounteous Hippocrene. From the rock the water wells and never shalt thou see it far from the men of Thespiae; but the Horse himself circles in the heaven of Zeus and is there for thee to behold. For a little below her is he set. Southward a little from Deltoton are the stars of the Ram.

Ever one is higher than the other, and louder hears the fresh rush of the North wind. From both there stretch, as it were, chains, whereby their tails on either side are joined. The meeting chains are knit by a single beautiful and great star, which is called the Knot of Tails.

Let the left shoulder of Andromeda be thy guide to the northern Fish, for it is very near. But he moves in the North a taller form than the others. His right hand is stretched toward the throne of the mother of his bride, and, as if pursuing that which lies before his feet, he greatly strides, dust-stained, in the heaven of Zeus.

Seven are they in the songs of men, albeit only six are visible to the eyes. Yet not a star, I ween, has perished from the sky unmarked since the earliest memory of man, but even so the tale is told.

Small and dim are they all alike, but widely famed they wheel in heaven at morn and eventide, by the will of Zeus, who bade them tell of the beginning of Summer and Winter and of the coming of the ploughing-time. Wreathed in mist is the Bird, but yet the parts above him are rough with stars, not very large, yet not obscure. Like a bird in joyous flight, with fair weather it glides to the west, with the tip of its right wing outstretched towards the right hand of Cepheus, and by its left wing is hung in the heavens the prancing Horse.

He is behind Aegoceros [Capricorn], who is set in front and further down, where the mighty Sun turns. In that month use not the open sea lest thou be engulfed in the waves. Neither in the dawn canst thou accomplish a far journey, for fast to evening sped the dawns; nor at night amid they fears will the dawn draw earlier near, though loud and instant be thy cry.

Grievous then is the crashing swoop of the South winds when the Sun joins Aegoceros, and then is the frost from heaven hard on the benumbed sailor. Of that season and that month let the rising of Scorpion at the close of night be a sign to thee.