Personification of dawn
Aurora, by Guercino, 1621–1623
|Symbol||Chariot, saffron, circada|
|Siblings||Sol and Luna|
Aurora (Latin: [au̯ˈroːra]) is the Latin word for dawn, and the goddess of dawn in Roman mythology and Latin poetry. Like Greek Eos and Rigvedic Ushas, Aurora continues the name of an earlier Indo-European dawn goddess, Hausos.
In Roman mythology, Aurora renews herself every morning and flies across the sky, announcing the arrival of the sun. Her parentage was flexible: for Ovid, she could equally be Pallantis, signifying the daughter of Pallas, or the daughter of Hyperion. She has two siblings, a brother (Sol, the sun) and a sister (Luna, the moon). Roman writers rarely imitated Hesiod and later Greek poets by naming Aurora as the mother of the Anemoi (the Winds), who were the offspring of Astraeus, the father of the stars.
Aurora appears most often in sexual poetry with one of her mortal lovers. A myth taken from the Greek by Roman poets tells that one of her lovers was the prince of Troy, Tithonus. Tithonus was a mortal, and would therefore age and die. Wanting to be with her lover for all eternity, Aurora asked Jupiter to grant immortality to Tithonus. Jupiter granted her wish, but she failed to ask for eternal youth to accompany his immortality, and he became forever old. Aurora turned him into a cicada.
Mention in literature and music
A Phrygian was the husband of Aurora, yet she, the goddess who appoints the last road of night, carried him away
Aurora now had left her saffron bed,
And beams of early light the heav'ns o'erspread
Saffron Aurora had brought forward her fair-weather team: the breeze offshore tells us to haul the sail-yards up.
But all so soon as the all-cheering sun
Should in the furthest east begin to draw
The shady curtains from Aurora's bed,
Away from the light steals home my heavy son...
In traditional Irish folk songs, such as "Lord Courtown":
One day I was a-musing down by the Courtown banks
The sun shone bright and clearly, bold Neptune played a prank...
There was Flora at the helm and Aurora to the stern
And all their gallant fine seamen, their course for to steer on.
In "On Imagination" by Phillis Wheatley:
From Tithon's bed now might Aurora rise,
Her cheeks all glowing with celestial dies,
While a pure stream of light o'erflows the skies.
Once more the old mysterious glimmer steals
From thy pure brows, and from thy shoulders pure,
And bosom beating with a heart renewed.
Thy cheek begins to redden through the gloom,
Thy sweet eyes brighten slowly close to mine,
Ere yet they blind the stars, and the wild team
Which love thee, yearning for thy yoke, arise,
And shake the darkness from their loosened manes,
And beat the twilight into flakes of a fire
A mountain shade suggests your shape
I tumble down on my knees
Fill my mouth with snow
The way it melts
I wish to melt into you
Save me from the fallen shadows
Pull me out of my dream
Wade me through the phantom shallows
Shelter me from the screams
In Chapter 8 of Charlotte Brontë's Villette, Madame Beck fires her old Governess first thing in the morning and is described by the narrator, Lucy Snowe: All this, I say, was done between the moment of Madame Beck's issuing like Aurora from her chamber, and that in which she coolly sat down to pour out her first cup of coffee.
Depiction in art
- Aurora, fresco by Guido Reni (1614) in Palazzo Pallavicini-Rospigliosi, Rome
- Aurora by Guercino (1591–1666)
- The Countess de Brac as Aurora by Jean-Marc Nattier (1685–1766)
- Aurora e Titone by Francesco de Mura (1696–1782)
- Aurora and Cephalus, by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson (1767–1824)
- The Gates of Dawn by Herbert James Draper (1863–1920)
- Aurora and Cephalus by Pierre-Narcisse Guérin (1774–1833)
- Aurora by Odilon Redon (1840 – 1916).
- Aurore by Denys Puech (1854 – 1942).
- "When Pallantis next gleams in heaven and stars flee..." (Ovid, Fasti iv. 373.
- Fasti v.159; also Hyginus, Preface to Fabulae.
- The Aeneid by Virgil - Translated by John Dryden
- LacusCurtius ● Rutilius Namatianus — A Voyage Home to Gaul
- D. A. Harris, Tennyson and personification: the rhetoric of 'Tithonus' , 1986.
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