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Goddess Aurora and Her Golden Chariot

Aurora Chariot

Are you one who wakes with the dawn? Do you enjoy watching the sun’s light peeking out from the horizon to awaken the rest of us sleeping mortals with its golden glowing halo? If you are one who wakes with the dawn, you are bearing witness each day to Aurora (Eos in Greek) and her golden chariot.

Aurora’s task was to rise from the sea each day in her chariot led by winged horses. Could one ask for a better entrance each morning? Descended from Helios, the sun god, and Selene the goddess of the moon, Aurora was all things light. Each day she soared across the sky to greet a new day carrying pitchers of water to coat the earth with fresh morning dew to provide further reflective glimmers of light for the mortals below.

Such favors could only come from one who loved mortals, which Aurora did...repeatedly. As we know, the gods often could not help themselves and would often find themselves attracted to the mortals they watched over. In the case of Aurora, some myths recount how a dalliance with Mars (Ares - the god of war) quickly put her on Venus’s bad side, leading Aurora to be cursed with a mad desire for mortal men. Some of her conquests included Orion the hunter (before his encounter with the huntress Diana), Cephalus (a young hunter she was bold enough to carry up to the realm of the gods to live with her), and Thithonus of Assyrian, a prince of Troy, whom she later married.

Out of all of her suitors, Tithonus was her most ardent. From the king of the gods, Aurora was able to ensure everlasting immortality for her love. However, in this case, forgetful is the one who bears the freedom of eternity. For, despite her lover gaining the gift of immortality, Aurora overlooked that such a gift did not guarantee eternal youth. Thus, Tithonus continued to age and weaken in his immortal state. Eventually, whether taking pity on her husband or her own vanity, Aurora transformed him into a cicada to live out the rest of his immortal days.

While youth and beauty are what attracted the goddess to the mortals, curse or no curse, she occasionally fell for an immortal. Her first love was actually Titan Astraeus, the god of the dusk and winds. How fitting is it then, that the daughter of light and the god of the winds bore four wind children and five wandering stars (planets)? Their children of the wind were Boreas (North Wind), Notus (South Wind), Zephyrus (West Wind), and Eurus (East Wind). Their wandering stars were Phainon, Phaethon, Pyroeis, Eosphoros (Morning Star) / Hesperos (Evening Star), and Stillbon.

Aurora cared for both her mortal and immortal children and none more so than Memnon, the son of Tithonus. When Memnon  battled the great warrior Achilles in the Trojan war, Aurora pleaded with Jupiter to spare the life of her son, knowing the peril he was in with the undefeated Achilles as his opponent. While her initial plea did not work with the king of the gods and Memnon was slain, she managed to get Jupiter to agree to bestow immortality upon her son, this time with youth in-tact. 

Aurora is symbolic of light, love, and new beginnings. She is often shown with wings and is known as “rosy fingered,” as she carries up the dawning sun. These Tagliamonte earrings have a lovely depiction Aurora driving her chariot and commencing our day.

 

APC 5317

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