Saturday, November 30, 2019

Just Say No: Virgo's Origin Story, Hyginus, De Astr. II.25

VIRGO: Hanc Hesiodus Iovis et Themidis filiam dicit; Aratus autem Astraei et Aurorae filiam existimari, quae eodem tempore fuerit cum aurea saecula hominum, et eorum principem fuisse demonstrat. Quam propter diligentiam et aequitatem Iustitiam appellatam; neque illo tempore ab hominibus exteras nationes bello lacessitas esse, neque navigio quemquam usum, sed agris colendis vitam agere consuesse. Sed post eorum obitum qui sint nati, eos minus officiosos, magis avaros coepisse fieri; quare minus Iustitiam inter homines fuisse conversatam. Denique causam pervenisse usque eo, dum diceretur aeneum genus hominum natum. Itaque iam non potuisse pati amplius et ad sidera evolasse. 

--Hyginus, de Astronomica II.25

THE CONSTELLATION VIRGO: Hesiod states that the constellation Virgo represents the daughter of Jupiter & Themis [Justice]. Aratus, however, thinks that it represents the daughter of Astraeus and Aurora [Eos, the goddess of the dawn], who existed during the Golden Age of Mankind, and was their leader. Because of her duty and fairness, she was also called "Justice."  For at that time there was no threat to external war, there was no need for foreign trade or sea travel; everyone just lived off of the fruits of their own land. But after that age ended, the following generations were less able to mind their own business, and became greedy; therefore Justice was accustomed to dwell among humans less and less. Finally it got so bad that it became known as the "Bronze Age of Mankind." No longer able to endure the wretchedness of mankind, Justice flew off into the stars.

Name: Gaius Julius Hyginus
Date: 64 BCE – 17 CE
Works: Fabulae
               De Astronomica*

REGION 1 / 4
Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans

Hyginus was a freedman of the Roman emperor Augustus who was in charge of the Imperial library on the Palatine Hill in Rome. His work, the Fabulae, are a sourcebook for Greek and Roman myths. Although there is quite a bit of overlap between his writings and his contemporary and friend Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Hyginus’ works are much more succinct.
Early Roman Lit: through 2nd c BCE: Republican Rome: through 1st c. BCE; Golden Age: 70 BCE to 18 CE; Silver Age: 18 CE to 150 CE; Age of Conflict: 150 CE - 410 CE; Byzantine and Late Latin: after 410 CE