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Aura (mythology)

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In Greek and Roman mythology, Aura is the divine personification of the breeze. The plural form, Aurae, "Breezes," is often found.

The velificatio, a billowing garment that forms an arch overhead, is the primary attribute by which an Aura can be identified in art. A pair of velificantes (figures framed by a velificatio) that appear on the Augustan Altar of Peace have sometimes been identified as Aurae.[1] Pliny describes statues of the Aurae velificantes sua veste, "making a sail with their garment," at the Porticus Octaviae in Rome.[2] Aurae can resemble Nereids, from whom they are distinguishable mainly by the absence of marine imagery.[3]

The Augustan poet Ovid introduces Aura into the tragic story of Cephalus and Procris, playing on the verbal similarity of Aura and Aurora, the Roman goddess of the dawn who was the counterpart of Greek Eos.[4]

In the Dionysiaca of Nonnus (early 5th century), Aura is the goddess of the breeze and the fresh, cool air that comes in the early morning. She was the daughter of Lelantos and Periboa and mother of Iacchus by Dionysus.

References

  1. Paul Zanker, The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus (University of Michigan Press, 1988, 1990), pp. 240–241.
  2. Pliny the Elder, Natural History 36.29.
  3. Babette Stanley Spaeth, "The Goddess Ceres in the Ara Pacis Augustae and the Carthage Relief," American Journal of Archaeology 98 (1994), pp. 77–78.
  4. Ovid, Ars Amatoria 3.687–746 and Metamorphoses 7.672–862; Peter Green, From Ikaria to the Stars: Classical Mythification, Ancient and Modern (University of Texas Press, 2004), pp. 253–254. See also Servius, note to Aeneid 6.445.

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