Daniel Selzle

Classical Stargazing

Project Description:
A number of famous events in Roman history were chosen and a picture of the night sky from that date was identified. Daniel wrote a poem in Latin from the point of view of an observer looking at the ancient night sky.

Author's Notes:
Trying to combine astronomy with my main area of study, classics, was no simple task, but I decided to focus on one thing our culture shares with the ancient Romans: the shapes we see in the sky, and the stories behind them. Using the program Stellarium, I was able to calculate what the night sky looked like on the dates and in the locations of several important events in Roman history. Examining which stars, planets, and constellations were rising and setting, I connected the mythological characters in the sky with the historical events occurring below, and used this as inspiration for several short poems written in Latin, in a traditional epic meter, which I also translated into English for my presentation. It was fascinating to be able to look at the same stars that shone above soldiers and emperors two thousand years ago, and the fact that we see the same gods and heroes in the sky made that huge period of time seem a lot smaller, and those ancient Romans seem a lot closer.

Link to Resources:
Power Point