Both in the Vedic hymns and in the Homeric poems dawn is imagined as radiant young woman. The Vedic hymns describe her as she who, everyday anew, suffuses the world with vital energy and rouses its creatures form the inertia spread over the world by night.
यूयं हि देवीर्ऋतयुग्भिरश्वैः परिप्रयाथ भुवनानि सद्यः |
परबोधयन्तीरुषसः ससन्तं दविपाच्चतुष्पाच्चरथाय जीवम् ।।
You, goddesses, with seasonably-yoked steeds circle the living world in a day, rousing – dawns! – the drowsy, two- and four-footed, beings to activity. (Rigveda, 4.51.5)
In the Homeric poems dawn is a vital part of the poetic device of chronography (telling the time in a graphical way, using the motion of stars, for example) and is given the epithets κροκόπεπλος (krokopeplos = saffron-robed) and ῥοδοδάκτυλος (rhododaktylos = rosy fingered). These epithets were used in stock lines of striking beauty handed down orally from bard to bard, until they had become an established convention of poetical time-keeping.
ἦμος δ’ ἠριγένεια φάνη ῥοδοδάκτυλος Ἠώς – When the early-born rosy-fingered dawn came forth.
Ἠὼς μὲν κροκόπεπλος ἐκίδνατο πᾶσαν ἐπ’ αἶαν – Saffron-robed dawn was spread over the entire globe.
So striking is their beauty and perfect in their economy are the pictures drawn by those lines, that some of the greatest poets of the English language could not resist the temptation to incorporate their imagery into their own works.
when the rosy-fingred Morning faire, / Weary of aged Tithones saffron bed, / Had spread her purple robe through deawy aire (Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Qveene, Book 1, Canto 2, Stanza 7)
Now Morn, her rosy steps in the eastern clime / Advancing, sowed the earth with orient pearl (John Milton, Paradise Lost, BookV, l. 1-2)