Goddess of Astronomy
|Member of the Muses|
|Parents||Zeus and Mnemosyne|
|Siblings||Euterpe, Polyhymnia, Calliope, Clio, Erato, Thalia, Terpsichore, Melpomene|
|Consort||Apollo, Hermes, Amphimarus|
Urania (// yoor-AY-nee-ə; Ancient Greek: Οὐρανία, romanized: Ouranía; modern Greek shortened name Ράνια Ránia; meaning "heavenly" or "of heaven") was, in Greek mythology, the muse of astronomy, and in later times, of Christian poetry. Urania is the goddess of astronomy and stars, her attributes being the globe and compass.
Urania was the daughter of Zeus by Mnemosyne and also a great granddaughter of Uranus. Some accounts list her as the mother of the musician Linus by Apollo or Hermes or Amphimarus, son of Poseidon. Hymenaeus is also said to have been a son of Urania.
Function and representation
Urania is often associated with Universal Love. Sometimes identified as the eldest of the divine sisters, Urania inherited Zeus' majesty and power and the beauty and grace of her mother Mnemosyne.
Urania dresses in a cloak embroidered with stars and keeps her eyes and attention focused on the Heavens. She is usually represented with a celestial globe to which she points with a little staff, and depicted in modern art with stars above her head. She is able to foretell the future by the arrangement of the stars.
Urania as Muse
Those who are most concerned with philosophy and the heavens are dearest to her. Those who have been instructed by her she raises aloft to heaven, for it is a fact that imagination and the power of thought lift men's souls to heavenly heights.
Urania, o'er her star-bespangled lyre,
With touch of majesty diffused her soul;
A thousand tones, that in the breast inspire,
Exalted feelings, o er the wires'gan roll—
How at the call of Jove the mist unfurled,
And o'er the swelling vault—the glowing sky,
The new-born stars hung out their lamps on high,
And rolled their mighty orbs to music's sweetest sound.
—From An Ode To Music by James G. Percival
During the Renaissance, Urania began to be considered the Muse for Christian poets. In the invocation to Book 7 of John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost, the poet invokes Urania to aid his narration of the creation of the cosmos, though he cautions that it is "[t]he meaning, not the name I call" (7.5)
In popular culture
- The planet Uranus, though mostly named after the Greek god personifying the sky, is also indirectly named after Urania.
- Urania is the namesake for astronomical observatories in Berlin, Budapest, Bucharest, Vienna, Zürich, Antwerp, and Uraniborg on the island of Hven. The main belt asteroid (30) Urania was also named after her.
- The official seal of the U.S. Naval Observatory portrays Urania. Hr.Ms. Urania is a sail training vessel for the Royal Netherlands Naval College. There has been a Hr. Ms. Urania in the Royal Netherlands Navy since 1832.
- Urania is featured on the seal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, as well of its motto: Quo ducit Urania ("Where Urania leads").
Other uses of "Urania"
- Urania is the name traditionally given to the eighth book of Herodotus' Histories.
- Aphrodite Urania (heavenly Aphrodite) is often an epithet given to Aphrodite in contrast with her more earthy aspect Aphrodite Pandemos (Aphrodite for all people).
- Urania is the muse for books 7 and 9 of Paradise Lost.
- Hesiod, Theogony 78; Ovid, Fasti 5.55
- Suidas s.v. Linos
- Smith, s.v. Urania (1); Hyginus, Fabulae 161
- Suda, lambda, 568
- Pausanias, 9.29.6
- Catullus lxi. 2.
- Hirt, Mythol. Bilderb. p. 210.
- Statius, Thebaid 8.548 ff.
- Diodorus, 4.7.1
- Wood, Janet (31 January 2007). Nuclear Power. ISBN 9780863416682.
- "Uranus, Neptune and Pluto".
- Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, Volume III: Books 4.59-8, translated by C. H. Oldfather, Loeb Classical Library No. 340, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1939. ISBN 978-0-674-99375-4. Online version at Harvard University Press. Online version by Bill Thayer.
- Hesiod, Theogony, in The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd., 1914. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library. Internet Archive.
- Hyginus, Gaius Julius, Fabulae, in The Myths of Hyginus, edited and translated by Mary A. Grant, Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1960. Online version at ToposText.
- Ovid, Ovid's Fasti: With an English translation by Sir James George Frazer, London, William Heinemann Ltd.; Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1959. Internet Archive.
- Smith, William, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). Online version at the Perseus Digital Library.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed. (1870). "Urania 1.". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.