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


  • Martiin P. Cuypers
Reference work entry

BornSoli (near Mersin, Turkey), late fourth century BCE

DiedPella, (Macedonia, Greece), before 240 BCE

Aratus is the author of the Phaenomena, a description in poetry of the constellations and the apparent motions of the sky, which was widely read throughout Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

After studying with Stoic (and Peripatetic?) philosophers in Athens, Aratus was invited, in 276 BCE, to the court of Antigonus Gonatas in Pella, where he seems to have spent most of his active career as a scholar and poet. Ancient sources, besides offering many less trustworthy biographical details, ascribe to Aratus occasional poetry (e.g., celebrating Antigonus’ marriage), a collection of “light verse” (Kata lepton), epigrams, hymns, epistolary character sketches, and an edition of  Homer.

But Aratus was best known for his didactic poems on anatomical, pharmacological, and especially astronomical subjects. The Kanôn(measuring rod) probably held a mathematical description of the planetary orbits....

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Selected References

  1. Aratus (1997). Phaenomena, edited with introduction, translation, and commentary by Douglas Kidd. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. — (1998). Phénomènes, edited by Jean Martin. 2 Vols. Paris: Belles lettres.Google Scholar
  3. Erren, M. (1994). “Arat und Aratea 1966–1992.” Lustrum 36: 189–284, 299–301.Google Scholar
  4. Fantuzzi, M. (2002). “Aratos [4].” In Brill’s New Pauly. Vol. 1, pp. 955–960. Leiden: E. J. Brill.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universiteit LeidenLeidenBelgium