The Ancient Library

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On this page: Astyanax – Astydamas – Astydameia – Astynomi – Asylum – Atalante


repeated prohibitions against all consulta­tion of astrologers whatever.

In the practice of their art they used calendars written on tablets, in which were set down, for every day, the motion and relative distances of the stars, whether lucky or unlucky. With the help of another set of tablets they proceeded to make their calculations for every hour in detail. They would, for instance, note the hour of a person's birth, ascertaining the relative position of the constellation domi­nant at the time. According to this they determined the fortunes of the individual who was born at the hour in question. In the same way they ascertained the time favourable to any given undertaking. Among the lucky stars we may mention Venus, Jupiter, and Luna; Saturn and Mars were unlucky; Mercury was lucky or unlucky according to the other circum­stances of the case.

Astyanax. Son of Hector and AndrS-mache. After the fall of Troy he was thrown down from the wall by the Greeks, because the prophet Calchas had pointed him out as destined to become the avenger of Troy.

Astydamas. A Greek tragedian, son of Morsimus. (See philocles.) His first ap­pearance was in 399 b.c., and he won the prize fifteen times. He wrote '240 pieces, but a few titles are all that remains of them. His sons Astydamas and PhilOcles were also tragic poets.

Astydameia. Wife of Acastus of Iolc6s, Peleus had rejected her advances, and Asty­dameia accordingly slandered him to Acas­tus, who made an attempt on the life of Peleus, to her own destruction and that of her husband. (See acastcs and peleus.)

Astynfimi (Gr. astunomoi). The title of ten functionaries at Athens, drawn an­nually by lot from the ten tribes, five for the city and five for Piraeus. They were a kind of city police, responsible for keeping the streets clean, for decency and quiet among the public, and probably for the pro­tection of buildings. They had such powers of jurisdiction as were necessary to enforce their authority. Flute-girls and female per­formers on the harp orclthara were subject to their control. [Arist., Const, of Athens, c.50.]

Asylum. A Greek word meaning an inviolable refuge for persons fleeing from pursuit. Among the Greeks all holy shrines were Asylums, and any pursuer who should remove a suppliant by force was regarded as a transgressor against the gods. The term

asylum was especially applied to such shrines as secured to the suppliants abso­lute security within their limits, which were often considerable. The priests and the community in each case watched jealously over this right. The sanctuary of Zeus Lycgpus in Arcadia, of Poseidon in the island of Calauria, and of Apollo in Delos, are excellent examples of such asylums. These sanctuaries were exceptionally numer­ous in Asia. In Rome there was an asylum of great antiquity, said to have been founded by Romulus, in a grove of oaks on the Capitoline Hill. (See veiovis.) The erection of buildings in its neighbourhood gradually rendered it inaccessible. During the Roman period the right of asylum attaching to Greek sanctuaries was, at first, maintained and even confirmed by Roman commanders. But its abuse led to a considerable reduc­tion of the number of asylums under Tiberius. The right of asylum was now confined to such shrines as could found their claims upon ancient tradition. During the imperial period, however, the custom arose of making the statues of the emperors re­fuges against momentary acts of violence. Armies in the field used the eagles of the legions for the same purpose.

Atalante. A Greek heroine of the type of Artemis. There were two slightly differ­ent versions of her story, one current in Arcadia and the other in Boaotia.

(1) The Arcadian version. Atalante, daughter of Zeus and Clyme'ne, was ex­posed by her father, who had desired male offspring only. She was suckled by a bear, until she was found and brought up by a party of hunters. Under their care she grew up to be a huntress, keen, swift and beautiful. She took part in the Calydonian boar-hunt, was the first who struck the boar, and received from Melgager the head and skin of the beast as the prize of victory. (See meleager.) She is also associated with the voyage of the Argonauts. She turned a deaf ear to the entreaties of her numerous suitors; but at last she propitiated the wrath of AphrSdlte by returning the faith­ful love of the beautiful Milamon, who had followed her persistently, and suffered and struggled for her. Their son was Partheno-paeus, one of the Seven against Thebes. (See seven against thebes.)

(2) The Boeotian version. Atalante was the daughter of Schoeneus, son of Athamas, and distinguished for beauty and swiftness of foot. An oracle warns her against mar­riage, and she accordingly lives a lonely

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