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This article is about the didactic poet. There was also an Aratus of Sicyon and an Aratus, son of Asclepius


Aratus of Soli


Aratus ( ) (ca. 315 BC/310 BC – 240 BC) was a Greek didactic poet, known for his technical poetry.

Aratus was also called "Mother of All"

Writings

Aratus' major extant work is his hexameter poem Phaenomena ("Appearances"), the first half of which is a verse setting of a lost work of the same name by Eudoxus of Cnidus. It describes the constellations and other celestial phenomena. The second half of Phaenomena, "on weather signs", is chiefly about weather lore. Frequently referred to as the Diosemeia, and sometimes circulated separately under that title, it draws chiefly from a work on weather signs attributed to Theophrastus. The work as a whole has all the characteristics of the Alexandrianmarker school of poetry. Although Aratus was ignorant of astronomy, his poem attracted the favorable notice of 18 distinguished specialists, such as Hipparchus, who wrote a commentary upon it.

Aratus also wrote a number of other poems, many of an astronomical or technical nature.

Later influence

Aratus enjoyed immense prestige among Hellenistic poets, including Theocritus, Callimachus and Leonidas of Tarentum. This assessment was picked up by Latin poets, including Ovid and Virgil. Latin versions were made by none other than Cicero (mostly extant), Ovid (only two short fragments remain), the member of the imperial Julio-Claudian dynasty Germanicus (extant, with scholia), and the less-famous Avienus (extant). Quintilian was less enthusiastic. Aratus was also cited by Luke the Evangelist in the second half of Acts, 17.28, where he relates Saint Paul's address on the Areopagusmarker. Paul, speaking of God, quotes the fifth line of Aratus's Phaenomena (Epimenides seems to be the source of the first part of Acts 17.28, although this is less clear):

Let us begin with Zeus, whom we mortals never leave unspoken.
For every street, every market-place is full of Zeus.
Even the sea and the harbour are full of this deity.
Everywhere everyone is indebted to Zeus.
For we are indeed his offspring... (Phaenomena 1-5).


Authors of twenty-seven commentaries are known; ones by Theon of Alexandria, Achilles Tatius and Hipparchus of Nicaea survive. An Arabic translation was commissioned in the ninth century by the Caliph Al-Ma'mun. He is cited by Vitruvius, Stephanus of Byzantium and Stobaeus. Several accounts of his life are extant, by anonymous Greek writers.

The crater Aratusmarker on the Moon is named in his honour.

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