Franz Joseph Dölger-Institut

zur Erforschung der Spätantike

Γνῶσις und ἀγνωσία. Zwei christliche Interpretationen des arateischen Sternhimmels

JbAC 61 (2018) Seiten: 9-36

mit Taf. 1-2.
The two Christian interpretations of the celestial constellations assiduously follow the verses of Ara-tus, although there is some distortion of detail in the direction of the author’s own ideas, some of which have been hitherto undetected. The interpreters also rely on the countless ancient commenta-ries of the Φαινόμενα as well as on the astrological lore, in particular the uncanonic constellations invented by the ›Babylonian‹ astrologer Teucrus who had already been cited by the Augustean poet Manilius. Manifold contradictions overlap one another, predominantly Engonasin-Hercules (Adam) hanging from the top of the pole and the upright standing Serpentarius (Christus). It can also be said that modern interpretation perpetuates some of the errors, unaware of the symmetry that exists between Engonasin and Ophiuchos. The many inconsistencies, include the method of adaption, in particular the reversal of perspective, which can be explained by pre-existing texts. The second interpreter relies on the first and repeats some of his errors. The main discrepancy between the two of them concerns the polar Dragon. In the first interpreter᾿s mind it is the cause of all evil, whereas for the second it is the origin of all movement and generation in contrast to the ›un-finished‹ snake compressed by Ophiuchos. It is notable that both of these opposing views of the Dragon are based on the Aratean description of the stars.

Wolfgang Hübner