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Aglaonike (seated)

Aglaonike (Gr. Ἀγλαονίκη, Aglaonikē; fl. 2nd century BC), also known as Aganice of Thessaly, is cited as the first female astronomer in ancient Greece. She is mentioned in the writings of Plutarch and Apollonius of Rhodes as the daughter of Hegetor of Thessaly[1] or as the daughter of Hegemon. She was regarded as a sorceress for her ability to make the Moon disappear from the sky, which has been taken to mean she could predict the time and general area where a lunar eclipse would occur.[2][3]

A Greek proverb makes reference to Aglaonike's alleged boasting: "Yes, as the moon obeys Aglaonike".[4]

A number of female astrologers, apparently regarded as sorcerers, were associated with Aglaonike. They were known as the "witches of Thessaly" and were active from the 1st to 3rd centuries BC.[4]

In Plato’s Gorgias, Socrates speaks of “the Thessalian enchantresses, who, as they say, bring down the moon from heaven at the risk of their own perdition.”[5]

Plutarch wrote that she was “thoroughly acquainted with the periods of the full moon when it is subject to eclipse, and, knowing beforehand the time when the moon was due to be overtaken by the earth’s shadow, imposed upon the women, and made them all believe that she was drawing down the moon.”[6]

One of the craters on Venus is named after Aglaonike.[4]

As "Aglaonice", she is a character in the Jean Cocteau film Orpheus, where she is a friend of Eurydice and leader of the League of Women.

Aglaonike is a featured figure on Judy Chicago's installation piece The Dinner Party, being represented as one of the 999 names on the Heritage Floor.[7]


  1. ^ Plutarch, de Off. Conjug. p. 145, de Defect. Orac. p. 417.
  2. ^ Ogilvie, Marilyn Bailey (1986). Women in Science. The MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-15031-X. 
  3. ^ Schmitz, Leonhard (1867), "Aganice", in Smith, William, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology 1, Boston, p. 59 
  4. ^ a b c Howard, Sethanne (2008). Hidden Giants, 2nd Edition. Lulu.com. p. 31. ISBN 9781435716520. 
  5. ^ Gorgias
  6. ^ Plutarch, Conjugalia Praecepta
  7. ^ "Aglaonice". Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: The Dinner Party: Heritage Floor: Aglaonice. Brooklyn Museum. 2007. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSmith, William, ed. (1870). "article name needed". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 

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