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Aratus and the Astronomical Tradition$
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Emma Gee

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199781683

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199781683.001.0001

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Planetary Motion

Planetary Motion

(p.110) 5 Planetary Motion
Aratus and the Astronomical Tradition

Emma Gee

Oxford University Press

This chapter picks up the Roman historical thread of Ch.2. So far, we will have been led to see Aratus as an icon of order. In this chapter, three elements of disorder in Aratus come to the fore. These are planetary motion, namelessness and celestial change. In early imperial literature, all three elements become part of a system of cosmic symbolism with an inverse relation to the orderliness of the Aratean original. In an Aratean universe irrevocably tinged, after the 50s BC, by Lucretius, Roman literature cultivates the germ of disorder. What is more, cosmic forces become emblematic of disorder in the human sphere, in the form of civil war. The planets, in particular, come to symbolise the disorderly motion attendant on the human familial and civic failure which results in civil conflict.

Keywords:   Aratus, Roman literature, Roman civil war, Roman epic poetry, Lucan, Roman didactic poetry, Manilius, Roman drama, Seneca

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