Astraea, Astrea or Astria (Ancient Greek: Ἀστραῖα;[1] "star-maiden" or "starry night"), in ancient Greek religion, is a daughter of Astraeus and Eos[2][3]. She is the virgin goddess of justice, innocence, purity and precision. She is closely associated with the Greek goddess of justice, Dike (daughter of Zeus and Themis). She is not to be confused with Asteria, the goddess of the stars and the daughter of Coeus and Phoebe.

Salvatore Rosa 005
Astrea, the virgin goddess of Innocence and purity, by Salvator Rosa


Astraea, the celestial virgin, was the last of the immortals to live with humans during the Golden Age, one of the old Greek religion's five deteriorating Ages of Man.[2] According to Ovid, Astraea abandoned the earth during the Iron Age.[4] Fleeing from the new wickedness of humanity, she ascended to heaven to become the constellation Virgo. The nearby constellation Libra reflected her symbolic association with Dike, who in Latin culture as Justitia is said to preside over the constellation. In the Tarot, the 8th card, Justice, with a figure of Justitia, can thus be considered related to the figure of Astraea on historical iconographic grounds.

According to legend, Astraea will one day come back to Earth, bringing with her the return of the utopian Golden Age of which she was the ambassador.

In literature

Astraea's hoped-for return was referred to in a phrase from Virgil's Eclogue IV: "Iam redit et virgo, redeunt Saturnia Regna" (Astraea returns, returns old Saturn's reign or, more precisely, now let the young woman return, return to old Saturn his kingdoms).[5]

During the European Renaissance, Astraea became associated with the general spirit of renewal of culture occurring at that time, particularly in England, where she became poetically identified in literature[6] with the figure of Queen Elizabeth I as the virgin Queen reigning over a new Golden Age. In Spain, she was often identified with the rule of Philip IV. The French author Honore D'Urfe wrote a very popular serial novel called L'Astree (Astraea), the first and second parts being published in 1607 and 1610 and each installment very much anticipated by the aristocratic public at the time. Rousseau in his Confessions (p. 160 Penguin Classics) notes it as one of the novels read with his father and says it "was the one that recurred most frequently to my mind". A spectacle play by the Count of Villamediana and thirteen dramas by Calderon de la Barca introduce a character named Astraea to highlight the political and astrological concerns.[7] In Russia, Astraea was identified first with Elizabeth, then with Catherine the Great.

The English epic poet Edmund Spenser further embellished this myth at the opening of Book V of The Faerie Queene (1596), where he claims that Astraea left behind "her groome | An yron man" called Talus. Shakespeare refers to Astraea in Titus Andronicus, and also in Henry VI, Part 1. In his most famous play, La vida es sueño, Calderon de la Barca has a character named Rosaura (an anagram for "dawns") take on the name of Astraea at Court. This may be a laudatory political allusion to the dawn of a new Golden Age under Philip IV/Segismundo.

John Dryden's poem Astraea Redux is titled so as to compare the return of Charles II to England at the end of Interregnum to the return of Astraea.

Astraea is also referenced in John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost, in Book IV between lines 990 and 1000. When Satan is discovered in the Garden of Eden and brought before the Angel Gabriel, the two are on the verge of war.

"[God (The Eternal)] Hung forth in Heav'n his golden Scales, yet seen
Betwixt Astrea and the Scorpion signe,
Wherein all things created first he weighd,
The pendulous round Earth with ballanc't Aire
In counterpoise, now ponders all events,
Battels and Realms:"
An 1886 bas-relief figure of Astraea in the Old Supreme Court Chamber at the Vermont State House.

The British writer Aphra Behn used "Astrea" as one of her code-names while working as a spy for King Charles II.[8] She subsequently used the name "Astrea" to identify the speaker in many of her poems, and was herself referred to as "The Incomparable Astrea".[9]

The goddess's return forms the framing device of Delarivier Manley's 1709 satire The New Atalantis. Astrea is the one of the three allegorical female narrators.

James Thornhill depicted Astraea in the painted Hall of the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, in a mural portraying the accession of the House of Hanover as the return of the Golden Age.

"Astræa" is also the title of a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson.[10]

In Book 2 of Robert Browning's The Ring and the Book there is the following reference:

There’s an end to all hope of justice more. Astraea's gone indeed, let hope go too! Who is it dares impugn the natural law? Deny God’s word "the faithless wife shall die?"

See also


  1. ^ "Astraea". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b Aratus, Phaenomena 97–128
  3. ^ Hyginus, Astronomica 2.25
  4. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.149–50: See The Metamorphoses. Translated by Frank Justus Miller (1916). New York: Barnes & Noble Classics. p. 6 Book I. ISBN 978-1-59308-276-5.
  5. ^ "Lewis & Short: Virgo". Perseus Latin Word Study Tool. Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  6. ^ cf. Frances Yates, Astraea : The Imperial Theme in the Sixteenth Century.
  7. ^ cf. Frederick A. de Armas, The Return of Astraea: An Astral-Imperial Myth in Calderon.
  8. ^ "Aphra Behn". About Education. October 17, 2015. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  9. ^ Stiebel, Arlene. "Biography: Aphra Behn". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  10. ^ Emerson, Ralph Waldo (1847). Poems. Retrieved 24 September 2010.


5 Astraea

Astraea (minor planet designation: 5 Astraea) is a large asteroid from the asteroid belt. Its surface is highly reflective (bright) and its composition is probably a mixture of nickel–iron with silicates of magnesium and iron. It is a S-type object in the Tholen classification system.Astraea was the fifth asteroid discovered, on 8 December 1845, by Karl Ludwig Hencke and named for Astræa, a goddess of justice named after the stars. It was his first of two asteroid discoveries. The second was 6 Hebe. A German amateur astronomer and post office headmaster, Hencke was looking for 4 Vesta when he stumbled on Astraea. The King of Prussia awarded him an annual pension of 1,200 marks for the discovery.Photometry indicates prograde rotation, that the north pole points in the direction of right ascension 9 h 52 min, declination 73° with a 5° uncertainty. This gives an axial tilt of about 33°.

Astraea is physically unremarkable but notable mainly because for 38 years (after the discovery of Vesta in 1807) it had been thought that there were only four asteroids. With an apparent magnitude of 8.7 (on a favorable opposition on 15 February 2016), it is indeed only the seventeenth-brightest main-belt asteroid, and fainter than, for example, 192 Nausikaa or even 324 Bamberga (at rare near-perihelion oppositions).

After the discovery of Astraea, thousands of other asteroids would follow. Indeed, the discovery of Astraea proved to be the starting point for the eventual demotion of the four original asteroids (which were regarded as planets at the time) to their current status, as it became apparent that these four were only the largest of a whole new type of celestial body.

An occultation on 6 June 2008 produced an effective diameter (silhouette) of 115 ± 6 km.Astraea has been studied by radar. Arecibo observed Astraea in March 2012.

Acanthastrea echinata

Acanthastrea echinata, commonly known as the starry cup coral, is a species of corals in the family Lobophylliidae. It is a wide-ranging species found from the western Indian Ocean, throughout the Pacific Ocean, and eastward to the southeastern Atlantic Ocean. It can inhabit any reef habitat to depths of 50 m. This species, which may become threatened with the global decline of coral reefs, is a popular coral used in aquariums.

Asteroid family

An asteroid family is a population of asteroids that share similar proper orbital elements, such as semimajor axis, eccentricity, and orbital inclination. The members of the families are thought to be fragments of past asteroid collisions. An asteroid family is a more specific term than asteroid group whose members, while sharing some broad orbital characteristics, may be otherwise unrelated to each other.

Astraea-class cruiser

The Astraea class was an eight ship class of protected cruisers built for the Royal Navy during the 1890s. The ships served on a number of foreign stations during their careers, particularly in the waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and around the Cape of Good Hope. Already obsolete by the outbreak of the First World War, most continued to see service in a variety of roles, though rarely in a front line capacity. By the end of the war the majority were being used as training or depot ships, and they were soon sold out of the service and scrapped. However one ship, HMS Hermione, was bought by the Marine Society and used as a training ship until 1940.

Astraea (gastropod)

Astraea is a genus of medium to large sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks in the family Turbinidae, the turban snails.

Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice

The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice is an international charitable foundation based in the United States focused on issues related to LGBT and intersex rights. The organization provide grants to individuals and organizations, promotes philanthropy, and provides capacity building assistance.

Astraea Redux

Astraea Redux, written by John Dryden in 1660, is a royalist panegyric in which Dryden welcomes the new regime of King Charles II. It is a vivid emotional display that overshadows the cautious Heroique Stanzas that Dryden composed for Oliver Cromwell’s death. In the former, Dryden apologizes for his allegiance with the Cromwellian government. Dryden was later excused by Samuel Johnson for this change in allegiance when he wrote, ‘if he changed, he changed with the nation.’The period between Cromwell and the Restoration is presented in Astraea as a time of chaos, and Charles is greeted as a restorer of peace. In the traditional form of the panegyric, Charles is praised for qualities which it is hoped he will attain as well as for those he already possesses, and Dryden recommends that Charles adopt a policy of toleration.

The poem well illustrates Dryden's lifelong commitment to peace and political stability. It also that Dryden was looking for a royal patron.The name of the poem Astraea Redux is defined in The Nuttall Encyclopaedia as "an era which piques itself on the return of the reign of justice to the earth."

Dike (mythology)

In ancient Greek culture, Dike or Dice ( or ; Greek: Δίκη, "Justice") is the goddess of justice and the spirit of moral order and fair judgement based on immemorial custom, in the sense of socially enforced norms and conventional rules. According to Hesiod (Theogony, l. 901), she was fathered by Zeus upon his second consort, Themis. She and her mother are both personifications of justice. She is depicted as a young, slender woman carrying a physical balance scale and wearing a laurel wreath. She is represented in the constellation Libra which is named for the Latin name of her symbol (Scales). She is often associated with Astraea, the goddess of innocence and purity. Astraea is also one of her epithets referring to her appearance in the nearby constellation Virgo which is said to represent Astraea. This reflects her symbolic association with Astraea, who too has a similar iconography.

Diploastrea heliopora

Diploastrea heliopora, commonly known as diploastrea brain coral or honeycomb coral among other vernacular names, is a species of hard coral in the family Diploastreidae. It is the only extant species in its genus. This species can form massive dome-shaped colonies of great size.


Dipsastraea is a genus of stony corals in the family Merulinidae. Members of this genus are native to the Indo-Pacific region. They are zooxanthellate corals.

Favites abdita

Favites abdita, also known as the larger star coral, is a species of stony coral in the family Merulinidae. It is native to the Indo-Pacific region and its range extends from East Africa and the Red Sea through the Indian Ocean to the Western Pacific Ocean. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated its conservation status as being "near-threatened".

Goniastrea retiformis

Goniastrea retiformis is a species of stony corals in the family Merulinidae. It is native to shallow water in the Indo-Pacific region.

HMS Astraea (1781)

HMS Astraea (or Astrea) was a 32-gun Fifth Rate Active-class frigate of the Royal Navy. Fabian at E. Cowes launched her in 1781, and she saw action in the American War of Independence as well as during the Napoleonic Wars. She is best known for her capture of the larger French frigate Gloire in a battle on 10 April 1795, while under the command of Captain Lord Henry Paulet. She was wrecked on 23 March 1808 off the coast of Anegada in the British Virgin Islands.

HMS Astraea (1893)

HMS Astraea was an Astraea-class second class cruiser of the Royal Navy. She was built towards the end of the nineteenth century, and survived to serve in the First World War.


Montastraea is a genus of colonial stony coral found in the Caribbean seas. It is the only genus in the monotypic family Montastraeidae and is also a monotypic itself, being represented by the single species, Montastraea cavernosa, commonly known as great star coral. It forms into massive boulders and sometimes develops into plates. Its polyps are the size of a human thumb and fully extend at night.

Rolo Tomassi

Rolo Tomassi are a British band from Sheffield, England. Their name is taken from a dialogue in the film L.A. Confidential. The band is known for their strong DIY ethic and chaotic style and performances. They are currently signed to Holy Roar (for UK and EU releases) and Ipecac Recordings (for US and Japanese releases).

The band released two albums on Hassle Records: Hysterics (2008) and the Diplo-produced Cosmology (2010). After creating in 2011 their own record label called Destination Moon, they released Eternal Youth, a compilation album of B-sides, remixes and rarities from throughout their career, and their third album Astraea, in 2012 with the first line-up change in their career. They then released two albums on Holy Roar records: Grievances (2015) and Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It (2018).

The Good Witch of the West

The Good Witch of the West (Japanese: 西の善き魔女, Hepburn: Nishi no Yoki Majo) is a series of fantasy novels by Noriko Ogiwara, published by Chuokoron-Shinsha. The series has been adapted into both a manga series and a thirteen episode anime television series subtitled Astraea Testament broadcast in Japan in 2006. The story revolves around a fifteen-year-old commoner who discovers that she is really a princess. The manga and novels were licensed for English language releases in North America by Tokyopop. After Tokyopop went out of business JManga began translating the manga and has progressed farther than TokyoPop did.

Turbinaria stellulata

Turbinaria stellulata, also known as disc coral, is a species of colonial stony coral in the family Dendrophylliidae. It is native to the Indo-Pacific region. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated its conservation status as being "vulnerable".

Virgo (astrology)

Virgo (♍) (Greek: Παρθένος, Parthenos) is the sixth astrological sign in the Zodiac. It spans the 150-180th degree of the zodiac. Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this area on average between August 23 and September 22, and the Sun transits the constellation of Virgo from approximately September 16 to October 30. Individuals born during these dates, depending on which system of astrology they subscribe to, may be called Virgos or Virgoans. The symbol of the maiden is based on Astraea. In Greek mythology, she was the last immortal to abandon Earth at the end of the Silver Age, when the gods fled to Olympus – hence the sign's association with Earth.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.