Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




A.G. McKay


The Phaenomena, written by Aratus of Soli in 276-274 B.C., enjoyed immense popularity in antiquity and was translated into Latin verse by Marcus Tullius Cicero, Germanicus Caesar and Rufius Festus Avienus, and into Latin prose by an anonymous author writing in the seventh century A.D. Previous studies of these works have provided important observations about individual aspects of the Latin poems and this thesis seeks to add to the understanding and appreciation of the works by comparing in detail the three verse translations and, where appropriate and possible, the prose Aratus Latinus, with the Greek original with each other. The first chapter examines the problem of the popularity of the Greek Phaenomena down to the Renaissance and the second chapter investigates the nature of translation as a Roman literary phenomenon. The five chapters which follow include statistical surveys, based on both scansion of the poems and on computer-concordances compiled for the thesis, and stylistic analyses in order to elucidate the degree to which the translations were dependent upon and independent from the Greek model and the similarities and differences among the translations themselves Chapter III investigates four aspects of metre (metrical patterns, first and fourth foot, elision, and caesurae and disereses). Chapter IV examines the quantity of sound and, in particular, initial consonantal alliteration. Chapter V contains a discussion of compound adjectives and epithets and Chapter VI, a discussion of special astronomical vocabulary (words of brightness, color terms and four special words: this, laetus, tristis, crinis). Chapter VII investigates Greek words and Latin archaisms in the Latin translations and establishes evidence for Cicero's creation of a uniquely Latin poem through the use of Latin archaisms. The final chapter discusses further the emergence of a distinctly Roman Phaenomena, for Germanicus in the use of references to aspects of Roman life and for Avienus in the area of borrowings from the previous Latin translations of Aratus' poem. It concludes with a study of the ways in which each of the verse translators alter the emphasis of the original by reshaping its theme, thereby emphasizing the extent to which the translators went beyond their Greek model to create individual and original Latin works.

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