GAIUS JULIUS HYGINUS (/hᵻˈdʒaɪnəs/ ; c. 64 BC – AD 17) was a
Suetonius remarks that he fell into great poverty in his old age, and
was supported by the historian Clodius Licinus . Hyginus was a
voluminous author: his works included topographical and biographical
treatises, commentaries on
Helvius Cinna and the poems of
Under the name of Hyginus there are extant what are probably two sets of school notes abbreviating his treatises on mythology ; one is a collection of Fabulae ("stories"), the other a "Poetical Astronomy".
* 1 Fabulae * 2 De Astronomia or Poeticon astronomicon * 3 Legacy * 4 Notes * 5 References * 6 External links
Fabulae consists of some three hundred very brief and plainly, even crudely told myths and celestial genealogies, made by an author who was characterized by his modern editor, H. J. Rose , as adulescentem imperitum, semidoctum, stultum—"an ignorant youth, semi-learned, stupid"—but valuable for the use made of works of Greek writers of tragedy that are now lost. Arthur L. Keith, reviewing H. J. Rose's edition (1934) of Hygini Fabulae, wondered "at the caprices of Fortune who has allowed many of the plays of an Aeschylus , the larger portion of Livy 's histories, and other priceless treasures to perish, while this school-boy's exercise has survived to become the pabulum of scholarly effort." Hyginus' compilation represents in primitive form what every educated Roman in the age of the Antonines was expected to know of Greek myth, at the simplest level. The Fabulae are a mine of information today, when so many more nuanced versions of the myths have been lost.
In fact the text of Fabulae was all but lost: a single surviving
manuscript from the abbey of
Among Hyginus' sources are the scholia on
Apollonius of Rhodes '
Argonautica , which were dated to about the time of
DE ASTRONOMIA OR POETICON ASTRONOMICON
Main article: Poeticon astronomicon
De Astronomia was first published, with accompanying figures, by
Erhard Ratdolt in Venice, 1482, under the title Clarissimi uiri
Poeticon astronomicon opus utilissimum . This "Poetic
astronomy by the most renowned Hyginus, a most useful work," chiefly
tells us the myths connected with the constellations, in versions that
are chiefly based on
Catasterismi , a work that was traditionally
Like the Fabulae, the Astronomia is a collection of abridgements, and
the style and level of
The lunar crater Hyginus and the minor planet 12155 Hyginus are named after him.
The English author Sir Thomas Browne opens his discourse The Garden of Cyrus (1658) with a Creation myth sourced from the Fabulae of Hyginus.
* ^ Not everyone is sure that the Hyginus of Fabulae was this
freedman of Augustus; for one, Edward Fitch, reviewing Herbert J.
Rose, Hygini Fabulae in The American Journal of Philology 56,4 (1935),
* ^ "the Fabulae (more correctly Genealogiae) of Hyginus",
according to H. J. Rose, "Second Thoughts on Hyginus" Mnemosyne ,
Fourth Series, 11.1 (1958:42–48) p. 42; the article is in the way of
a set of marginalia to Rose's edition of Fabulae.
* ^ A.L. Keith, in The Classical Journal 31.1 (October 1935) p. 53.
* ^ A Codex Freisingensis, noted by Fitch, reviewing Rose, Hygini
* ^ A. H. F. Griffin, "Hyginus, Fabula 89 (Laomedon)" The Classical
Quarterly New Series, 36.2 (1986), p. 541 note.
* ^ One was discovered at Regensburg in 1864, another in Munich,
1942. Both fragments are conserved in Munich. See M.D. Reeve on
Hyginus, Fabulae in L.D. Reynolds, ed., Texts and Transmission
(Oxford) 1983, pp 189f.
* ^ Noted by Rose 1958:42 note 3.
* ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Hyginus, Gaius Julius".
* Grant, Mary (transl.), The Myths of Hyginus (Lawrence: University
of Kansas Press, 1960).
* Marshall, P.K. (ed.), Hyginus: Fabulae (Munich: Saur, 1993 ).
* Rose, Herbert Jennings (ed.), Hygini Fabulae (Leiden: A.W.
Sijthoff, 1934 ). The standard text, in Latin.
* Smith, R. Scott & Trzaskoma, Stephen M. (transl.), Apollodorus'
Library and Hyginus' Fabulae: Two Handbooks of Greek Mythology
(Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing, 2007), ISBN
* This article incorporates text from Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911).
"Hyginus, Gaius Julius".