- This article is about the didactic poet. There was
also an Aratus of Sicyon and an
Aratus, son of Asclepius
Aratus of Soli
( ) (ca. 315 BC/310 BC – 240 BC) was a
, known for his technical poetry.
Aratus was also called "Mother of All"
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
. 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
, and sometimes circulated separately under that
title, it draws chiefly from a work on weather signs attributed to
. The work as a whole
has all the characteristics of the Alexandrian 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.
Aratus enjoyed immense prestige among Hellenistic
poets, including Theocritus
and Leonidas of Tarentum
. This assessment
was picked up by 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
(extant, with scholia
), and the less-famous Avienus
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 Areopagus.
Paul, speaking of God
quotes the fifth line of Aratus's Phaenomena
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
- 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
Authors of twenty-seven commentaries are known; ones by Theon of Alexandria
, Achilles Tatius
and Hipparchus of Nicaea
translation was commissioned
in the ninth century by the Caliph Al-Ma'mun
. He is cited by Vitruvius
, Stephanus of Byzantium
. Several accounts of his life are extant,
by anonymous Greek writers.
Aratus on the
Moon is named in his honour.
- Two important recent editions of Aratus' work:
- Douglas Kidd, Phaenomena, edited with introduction,
translation and commentary, Cambridge, 1997.
- Jean Martin, Aratos. Phénomènes, edited with
translation and notes, 2 vols., Collection Budé, 1998.
- The Apostle and the Poet: Paul and Aratus (Dr.
- Review of above by Mark Possanza, BMCR
- Hellenistic Bibliography, Aratus and Aratea compiled
by Martijn Cuypers
- "Written in the Stars:Poetry and Philosophy in the
Phaenomena of Aratus" by Richard L. Hunter, Arachnion
- Suda On-Line: Aratus, with a list of works
ascribed to Aratus; the Suda is a
- Ancient Greek Scientists