Who was Astraeus?

Astraios (in Greek), was one of the Greek Titans, the older gods who ruled before Zeus and the Olympians. Astraeus is a second-generation Titan, descended from Titan Crius and Nymph Eurybia. His name means “Of the Stars”, and he was the father of the stars and winds. Astrology was one of his specialties, but he was also connected to the seasons and possibly navigation.

A red-figure kalyx-krater depicting the sun god Helios and the stars, represented by young male children descending into the ocean. Attica, c. 430 BCE. (British Museum, London)

Astraeus was the father of all the stars, both the “fixed” stars that moved through the sky together, and the five Astra Planeta (Wandering Stars/planets), or “wanderers” who moved about freely and they are the 5 planets as we know them today: Phainon (Saturn), Phaethon (Jupiter), Pyroeis (Mars), Eosphoros/Hesperos*(Venus), and Stilbon (Mercury).**

He was also considered the god of dusk, when the stars first appear, while his wife Eos (Aurora), goddess of the dawn, appeared when the stars set. Together, as nightfall and daybreak, they produced many children who are associated with what occurs in the sky during twilight. Ancient astronomers and astrologers believed in the great importance of the appearance of stars at twilight and dawn, so it makes sense that the deities in charge of them were associated with those times. (The astrological signs, for example, take their dates from when their constellations appeared on the horizon at sunrise.)

Astraeus and Eos had many sons together, including the four Anemoi (Winds): Boreas (North Wind), Notus (South Wind), Eurus (East Wind), and Zephyrus or Zephyr (West Wind).

Aratus and Hyginus, mention that he had also one daughter, Astraea, the goddess of innocence and justice. Ovid, describes her as the last of the immortals to abandon earth because of human wickedness. Astraea is very much related with the Virgo Constellation.

Because of his relation to the planets and the stars, Astraeus is the father of Astrology. He himself was an astrologer and taught the people this sacred art.

Although we don’t have many info and descriptions of Astraeus, there is a beautiful scene in Dionysiaka, by Nonnus of Panopolis. There, Demeter (Goddess of Agriculture), goes to Astraeus to ask about her daughter, Persephone. Nonnus describes that “Astraeus had covered the surface of a table with dark dust, where he was describing in traced lines a circle with the tooth of his rounding tool, within which he inscribed a square in the dark ashes, and another figure of an equilateral triangle”. This scene is fascinating to me, because it is a sample of how the ancients connected Astrology, Astronomy and Geometry. It is a foreword of how we understand the magic of Secret Geometry.

A little bit further, the poet mentions: “She recounted all her daughter’s wooers and craved a comfortable oracle; for divinations can steal away anxieties by means of hopes to come that take away the sorrows”. This is another important mark I would like to stand. Astrology, when it’s done right, can offer apart from great comfort, great hope too. We need hope in our lives, cause it’s a secret drive within us that now than ever, we need to have in abundance.

And finally, in the following verses of the poem, Nonnus narrates: “He called to a servant, and Asterion (Astraeus) lifted a round revolving sphere, the shape of the sky, the image of the universe, and laid it upon the lid of a chest. Here, the ancient, begun to study. He turned it upon its pivot and directed his gaze round the circle of the Zodiac, observing from all the angles, as much the planets, as the fixed stars. He rolled the pole about with a push, and the counterfeit sky went rapidly round and round in mobile course with a perpetual movement, carrying the artificial stars about the axle set through the middle. Observing the sphere with a glance all round, the deity found that the Moon at the full, was crossing the curved line of her conjunction, and the Sun was half through his course opposite the Moon, moving at his central point under the earth; a pointed cone of darkness creeping from the earth into the air opposite to the Sun and covered the whole Moon”.

In this beautiful description of a Lunar Eclipse, and it’s importance ofcourse, we are also receiving a knowledge about the various instruments that were possibly used in order to make an astrological prediction. The author also implies that Fixed stars in delineation, are as much significant, as the Planets. There is so much knowledge lost through out the ages. Important Knowledge that perhaps if we had access to it, civilization would have taken a different route in its spiritual evolution.

Let’s only hope that the sons of Astraeus, the four winds, will help carry the knowledge of Astrology and reintroduce it, into the four corners of the earth. Because Astrology, not only gives us hope, but aids in knowing ourselves deeply. And as Socrates said: «People would make wiser choices if they only knew their virtues and their vices”.

*Cicero wrote: The star of Venus, called Eosphoros when it precedes, Hesperos when it follows the sun – De Natura Deorum 2, 20, 53.

Pliny the Elder: The star called Venus … when it rises in the morning is given the name Eosphoros … but when it shines at sunset it is called Hesperos – Natural History 2, 36

**At this point, I would like to mention that the ancient Greeks, when they were referring to the planets, apart from their names, they were calling the planets as sacred to each God. For example, when they were mentioning Phaethon, they called it the “Sacred planet of Jupiter.”

Sources:

Hesiod, Theogony 375 ff

Hesiod, Theogony 378 ff :

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 8 – 9

Aratus, Phaenomena and Diosimia 96 ff

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae Preface (Mary Grant trans.)

Ovid, Metamorphoses 15. 545 ff

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 6. 1 ff

Xenophon, Memorabilia (D 24-30)

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