Lucifer (Roman mythology)

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The "morning star" (left below the moon)
The moon goddess Selene with Lucifer / Phosphoros, the morning star and Hesperos, the evening star, approx. 200 AD.
Cephalos and Aurora with Phosphorus (= Lucifer)
painting by F. Boucher (detail), 1763

Lucifer , the "light bearer" is the personification of the morning star in Roman mythology .


Lucifer is seen as the forerunner of Helios , whereby his horse sometimes changes color according to the time of day or he drives like him in a chariot across the sky.

Lucifer is equated with Phosphóros , the bringer of the dawn in Greek mythology, as he z. B. already appears in Hesiod . The name “Lucifer” is a direct translation of the Greek “Phosphóros”: The “light carrier” is made up of the Latin lux (“light”) and ferre (“to carry”) and is thus a literal equivalent of the Greek φωσφορος phosphoros (“ light-bearing ").

Since Eos , the goddess of the dawn, is considered the mother of Phosphorus in Greek mythology , Aurora , the Roman equivalent of Eos, was regarded as the mother of Lucifer. But there is also a connection to Venus , the goddess of the corresponding planet: Hyginus Mythographus calls the goddess of love Lucifer herself , bringing light. According to the Virgil commentator Maurus Servius Honoratius , Venus led Aeneas to Laurentium in the form of the morning star . Claudian assumes a love affair between Lucifer and Venus. In addition, Lucifer was considered the astral equivalent of the deified Caesar .

In the 6th century, John of Gaza imagined a torch-bearing Lucifer , with the Prometheus myth as an influence. One can also find in such a description the proximity of Lucifer to the Cautes of Persian-Roman mystery cults.

Lucifer in Christianity

These originally very positive connotations of Lucifer in paganism found support in early Christianity in scriptures in which Lucifer is related to Christ as the herald of the day , for example in 2 Cor 4,6  EU , 2 Petr 1,19  EU and above all in Rev 2:28  EU , which is why Lucifer was even occasionally used as a baptismal name . In contrast to these more positive aspects of Lucifer in the New Testament , the morning star appears as a fallen angel in Hebrew mythology of the Old Testament . In Isa 14:12  EU he is the symbol of the opponents of the people of Israel:

Oh, you fell from heaven, you shining son of the dawn. You fell to the ground, you conqueror of the peoples.

This fallen morning star is identified from the 4th century with Satan , of whom Jesus says in Lk 10.18  EU :

I saw Satan fall from the sky like lightning.

As a result, Lucifer eventually became Lucifer , one of the devil's names in Christianity .

Quotes from ancient literature

  • Virgil Aeneid II, 801: And Lucifer is already leading the day up from behind the summit of Ida.
  • Virgil Georgica III, 324f: Let us rush to the cool pastures on Lucifer's ascent while the day is new and the grass is in the dew.
  • Ovid Metamorphoses 2, 114–115: Aurora pushed open her purple gates in the dawn and opened her rose-filled halls; the stars departed, led by Lucifer, who was the last to disappear.
  • Ovid Amores I, VI, 65: And already the deaf-tire Lucifer is harnessing his chariot, chasing it with power on passionate wings.
  • Tibullus Elegies I, 9,62: They often bring them to Bacchus at banquets while Lucifer's chariot announces the break of day.
  • Statius Thebaids 2,134: And so Aurora, rising from the Mygdonian resting place, drove away the cool shadows from the sky, brushed the drops of dew from her hair and blushed in the purple rays of the sun. The rose-colored Lucifer passes her his last fire through clouds, and a strange world disappears on a slow horse. In order for the embers to fill the entire circle of the sun, he refuses the sister to ward off the rays.
  • Lukan De bello civili X, 434: Lucifer looked down from the cliffs of Casius and sent the day into the Egyptian land, as did the warming sun.
  • Claudian De Raptu Proserpinae II, 119: (Cytherea / Venus): This is how it goes, sisters, (…) as long as my Lucifer on a dew-wet horse moisten the yellow fields.


Individual evidence

  1. ^ As in Euripides , Ovid or Statius
  2. See e.g. B. Tibull's Elegies I, 9,62 or Ovid Amores I, VI, 65
  3. Hesiod Theogony 374
  4. ^ Hyginus De astronomia 2
  5. Commentary on Aeneid II, 801
  6. See also R. Merkelbach: Mithras: a Persian-Roman mystery cult. Walter de Gruyter, 1994, p. 82
  7. cf. JH Voss (translator): Vergils Äneide. Leipzig, Philipp Reclam jun. 1875
  8. cf. JH Voss (translator): Des Publius Virgilius Maro Landbau. Four chants. Hamburg: Bohn 1789
  9. ^ Theodor Birt (ed.): Auctores antiquissimi 10: Claudii Claudiani Carmina. Berlin 1892, p. 368 ( Monumenta Germaniae Historica , digitized version )