Cetus, detail from Hyginus Astronomica (9th century)

A Latin art/poetry chimera, this depiction of the constellation Cetus comes from the Aratea of Marcus Tullius Cicero, a manuscript that included a Latin translation of Hyginus Astronomica, a Greek astronomical poem originally written by Aratus of Soli circa 270 BCE. Sections of the poem referring to individual constellations were incorporated into illustrations of those same constellations. The text on Cetus’ body includes a description of its location in the cosmos, and the following:

“This [monster], it is said, dared at Neptune’s behest to approach Andromeda (whom we spoke of before) and was killed on her account. Because of the vastness of its body and the virtue of that man [Perseus] it was placed among the stars…”

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