Astronomy in the Golden Age

Ovid, Fasti 1.295-314 (January 3rd):

What prevents me from speaking of the stars, and how each one rises and falls? That was a part of my promise. Happy souls, who learned these things first, and whose care was to climb into the heavenly houses! It is credible that they lifted their heads above human vices and places equally. Venus and wine did not break their lofty hearts, nor did the business of the forum or the labor of the camp; nor did trifling ambition and glory covered in paint and the ravenous hunger for tremendous wealth vex them. They moved the distant stars closer to our eyes, and they subjected the ether to their minds. Thus is heaven sought: not so that Olympus can bear the weight of Ossa, nor so that Pelion’s summit can touch the highest stars. Under their guidance, we too will mark off the sky, and we will set the proper days to the wandering signs. Therefore, when the third night before the Nones arrives, and when the soaking ground is sprinkled with celestial dew, the arms of eight-footed Cancer will be sought in vain, and he will dive head first into the western waters.

Image result for ovid fasti january

Quid vetat et stellas, ut quaeque oriturque caditque,
dicere? promissi pars fuit ista mei.
felices animae, quibus haec cognoscere primis
inque domos superas scandere cura fuit!
credibile est illos pariter vitiisque locisque
altius humanis exseruisse caput.               300
non Venus et vinum sublimia pectora fregit
officiumque fori militiaeve labor;
nec levis ambitio perfusaque gloria fuco
magnarumque fames sollicitavit opum.
admovere oculis distantia sidera mentis               305
aetheraque ingenio subposuere suo.
sic petitur caelum, non ut ferat Ossan Olympus
summaque Peliacus sidera tangat apex.
nos quoque sub ducibus caelum metabimur illis,
ponemusque suos ad vaga signa dies.               310
Ergo ubi nox aderit venturis tertia Nonis,
sparsaque caelesti rore madebit humus,
octipedis frustra quaerentur bracchia Cancri:
praeceps occiduas ille subibit aquas.

One thought on “Astronomy in the Golden Age

Leave a Reply