In Greek mythology, Astræa or Astrea (Template:Lang-grc; English translation: "star-maiden") was a daughter of Zeus and Themis or of Eos and Astraeus. She and her mother were both personifications of justice, though Astræa was also associated with innocence and purity. She is always associated with the Greek Goddess of justice, Dike, who used to live in Earth but then left it since she was sickened by human greed.
Astræa, the celestial virgin, was the last of the immortals to live with humans during the sagacious Bronze Age (the third age, after the Utopian Golden Age and defective Silver Age) in the old Greek religion's five deteriorating Ages of Man.Template:Citation needed According to Ovid, Astraea abandoned the earth at the end of the Iron Age. Fleeing from the new wickedness of humanity, she ascended to heaven to become the constellation Virgo; the scales of justice she carried became the nearby constellation Libra, reflected in her symbolic association with Justitia in Latin culture. In the Tarot, the 8th card, Justice, with a figure of Justitia, can thus be considered related to the figure of Astræa on historical iconographic grounds.
In culture and literatureEdit
Astræa's hoped-for return (that is, the return of the utopian Golden Age of which she was the ambassador) was referred to in a phrase from Virgil's Eclogue IV: "Iam redit et virgo, redeunt Saturnia Regna" (The Virgin and the Days of Old return).
During the European Renaissance, Astræa became associated with the general spirit of renewal of culture occurring at that time, particularly in England, where she became poetically identified in literature with the figure of Queen Elizabeth I as the virgin Queen reigning over a new Golden Age. In Spain she was often identified with the rule of Philip IV. A spectacle play by the Count of Villamediana and thirteen dramas by Calderon de la Barca introduce a character named Astræa to the foreground of political and astrological concerns.
Astræa's departure from the earth at the end of Saturn's reign was memorialized by Ovid in the Metamorphoses, 1.149-50. The English epic poet Edmund Spenser further embellished this myth at the opening of Book V of The Faerie Queene (1596), where he claims that Astræa left behind 'her groome | An yron man', called Talus. Shakespeare refers to Astræa in Titus Andronicus, and also in Henry VI, part 1. In his most famous play, La vida es sueño, Calderon de la Barca has a character named Rosaura (an anagram for "dawns") take on the name of Astræa at Court. This may be a laudatory political allusion to the dawn of a new Golden Age under Philip IV/Segismundo.
- ↑ Astraea - Zeno.org (German)
- ↑ Template:Cite book
- ↑ Hyginus' Astronomica: "Virgin", translated to English by Mary Grant
- ↑ cf. Frances Yates, Astræa : The Imperial Theme in the Sixteenth Century.
- ↑ cf. Frederick A. de Armas, The Return of Astræa: An Astral-Imperial Myth in Calderon.
- ↑ Template:Cite book
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