Ancient Skies: Constellation Mythology of the Greeks

A publication of Countryman Press, W. W. Norton & Company, 2018

Ancient Skies cover

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This non-fiction narrative presents the tales of the forty-eight classical constellations, compiled from literature that spans nine centuries from Homer (c. 750 BC) to Claudius Ptolemy (c. 150 AD). These age-old tales have captured the human imagination from ancient times to the present. They provide an excellent compendium of Greek mythology, as well as a close look at early practical astronomy, philosophical speculation on the cosmos, and fundamental moral beliefs.

The narrative is accompanied by an illustrated guide—a series of star charts carefully reconstructed from ancient sources. These allow the modern reader to detect the constellation patterns in the stars in the same manner that early observers saw them. The stars and constellations are among the few remaining objects that appear to us just as they appeared to our distant ancestors. From anywhere on Earth, a person may view the same celestial panorama simply by stepping outside at night and gazing upward. The charts and tales in Ancient Skies help the reader to see the constellations in the manner of the Greeks and to hear the timeless stories they portray.

Ancient Skies explores a subject that appeals to audiences around the world and has attracted a wide readership for three millennia—from the emergence of the earliest western literature to the most recent best-selling books and movies. The author’s comprehensive research led him to archives and museums across North America and Europe, and to historical and archaeological sites in Greece at Athens, Marathon, Delphi, Mycenae, Olympia, Ithaca, Crete, and dozens of other locations. To produce the star charts, he made observations of all eighty-eight constellations—ancient and modern—from positions around the globe.