Aurora

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Aurora is the goddess of the dawn in Roman mythology.

Aurōra continues the name of an older Indo-European morning goddess, Hausos, just as Greek Eos and Rigvedic Ushas. The name Aurōra originated from Proto-Italic *ausōs, and ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *haéusōs, the “dawn” conceived as a divine entity. Aurōra has cognates in the goddesses Ēṓs, Uṣas, Aušrinė, Auseklis, and Ēastre.

Roman mythology describes Aurōra, who in the mornings renews herself and glides across the sky to herald the rising of the Sun. She might have been either the daughter of Hyperion or Pallantis, according to Ovid, denoting the daughter of Pallas. Sol, the Sun, her brother, and a sister make up her two siblings (Luna, the Moon). By referring to Aurōra as the mother of the Anemoi (the Winds), who were the progeny of Astraeus, the father of the stars, Roman writers occasionally mimicked Hesiod and later Greek poets.

The most frequent way that Aurōra appears in sexual poetry is with one of her mortal lovers. According to a tale created by Roman writers and based on Greek literature, she had a relationship with Tithonus, the ruler of Troy. Tithonus was a mortal, therefore he would age and pass away. Aurōra begged Jupiter to bestow immortality to Tithonus so that they may spend all of eternity together. Jupiter fulfilled her desire, but because she didn’t ask for perpetual youth to go along with his immortality, he continued to become older until he was old for all time. He was changed into a cicada by Aurōra.

Aurōra Taking Leave of Tithonus 1704, by Francesco Solimena

Featured image: Aurora in a fresco by Guercino.

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