‘Constellation Myths: With Aratus’ Phaenomena’ by Eratosthenes and Hyginus – Book Review

Blurb from Goodreads

Athena seized the writhing serpent and hurled it into the sky, and fixed it to the very pole of the heavens.

The constellations we recognise 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 lost handbook with a guide to astronomy compiled by Hyginus, librarian to Augustus. Together with Aratus’ 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.

My Review

One of my favourite things to do is look up at the sky at night.

I’ve read countless astronomy books as a child and beyond. To me there’s just something so fascinating about astronomy and looking out into space. Dreaming of what lies out there…


But I’ve also always been fascinated by the mythology behind the constellations. How they’ve come to be known by the names we call them such as with my own personal favourite, Orion and his beautiful belt. He’s the hunter who only appears in the Northern Hemisphere night sky in the Winter. I get sad every Springtime when he starts to disappear.

I grew up in the countryside so it was easier to view the stars there but even with the light pollution from where I live now I can still see my beautiful Orion in the Winter night sky. That’s providing it’s not cloudy obvs.

I don’t know… maybe it’s just me who has a favourite constellation and is the only one that tears up every time I gaze up at him. But there’s just something so comforting in knowing that he’s been looking down on earth since prehistoric times; there’s a carving that’s dated approx 30 to 40,000 years ago that’s said to be of him.

So obviously when I saw this book pop up on a suggested read list I knew I had to get my hands on it. Just to get to know a little about the mythic gods behind our beautiful star constellations. And what a fascinating book it proved to be. It’s possibly a little stilted at times but never the less if you have a combined interest in mythology and astronomy this makes for a great informative read and I loved every second of it.

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5 thoughts on “‘Constellation Myths: With Aratus’ Phaenomena’ by Eratosthenes and Hyginus – Book Review

  1. This sounds like a wonderful book ☺️ I love looking up at the sky as well but never got to learn the constellations. Actually planning to do that with my daughter later this month. Wonderful review as always and this book sounds amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do like my classics!! And this is incredibly old school but wow was it fascinating Amanda. And that sounds like a lovely idea to do that with your daughter! Making beautiful memories together ❤ 🙂

      Like

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