Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, JoAnn Palmeri, Daniel W. E. Green

Aganice of Thessaly

  • Voula Saridakis
Reference work entry

Alternate Name


Flourished(Thessaly, Greece) – exact dates unknown

Aganice is cited as the first female astronomer of ancient Greece. She was the daughter of Hegetor, a Thessalian.  Plutarch states that with her knowledge of astronomy and astronomical computation, she was familiar with the periods of the full Moon and could foretell the exact time and place of lunar eclipses. With this knowledge, she would persuade other Thessalian women that she had the ability of drawing the Moon down out of the Heavens (De defectu oraculorum 13), hence the Greek proverb, “Yes, as the moon obeys Aglaonike.”

Far from praising her skills, however, Plutarch’s objective in mentioning Aganice was to make an example out of her by stating that such “witches” intentionally meant to deceive other women without any astronomical training.  Plato (Gorgias 513), Horace (Epodes 5.45), and  Virgil (Eclogues8.69) also mention these “Thessalian enchantresses” and their magic powers in making the Moon...

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Selected References

  1. Alic, Margaret (1986). Hypatias Heritage:A History of Women in Science from Antiquity through the Nineteenth Century. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  2. Ménage, Gilles (1984). The History of Women Philosophers. Translator Beatrice H. Zedler. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.Google Scholar
  3. Ogilvie, Marilyn Bailey (1986). Women in Science:Antiquity through the Nineteenth Century. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  4. Plutarch, Coniugalia praecepta. in Plutarch’s Advice to the Bride and Groom and A Consolation to His Wife: English Translations, Commentary, Interpretive Essays, and Bibliography. Editor Sarah B. Pomeroy (1999). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Plutarch, De defectu oraculorum. in Sur la Disparition des Oracles. Translation, introduction, and notes by Robert Flaceliere (1947). Paris: Société d’Édition Les Belles Lettres.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lake Forest CollegeLake ForestUSA