The Mythological Night Sky

One of the highest honours any demigod, thereloadershouse demigoddess, mortal male or female, or beast for that matter could be awarded in Greco-Roman times would be to immortalized as a star or a constellation in the heavens. Here’s a few of those that achieved that honour.

*Andromeda [see] Perseus.

*Aquarius, the Water-Carrier: In Greek mythology, a young handsome lad was known as Ganymede. Ganymede is carried up in a whirlwind to Olympus by the gods to be a cupbearer for Zeus, or, in a more erotic version, a servant of Zeus kidnaps him, or Zeus himself did the deed disguised as an eagle. The erotic upshot was that though Zeus favoured the ladies, goddesses, demigoddesses, even mortal women, for a catamite change of pace now and again… Ganymede was rewarded for his services by eternal youth and immortality, eventually placed in the sky as the constellation Aquarius, the Water-Carrier. See also Aquila. ammunitionscenter

*Aquila (the constellation) was once an eagle owned by the Greek/Roman god Zeus/Jupiter who performed many useful tasks for the King of the Gods, such as carrying his thunderbolts and kidnapping the young and handsome lad Ganymede. See also Aquarius. บาคาร่าออนไลน์

*Ara, the Alter: In ancient Greek mythology, Ara was identified as the altar, made by the trilogy of Cyclopes, an alter where the Olympian gods first made offerings and formed an alliance when they were about to fight the original Titans in order to become masters of the universe, or at least masters of third rock from the sun – well, would you believe a local region of the Mediterranean anyway.

*Arcturus, the Bear-Guardian [see] Ursa Major.

*Aries, the Ram: A young lad, Phrixos (or Phrixus), son of the King of Thessaly, became an unpopular stepchild after his natural mother died and the King remarried, a woman by the name of Ino. Ino had it in for Phrixos, and his sister (Helle) too. Ino arranged for the grain harvest to be ruined, resulting in a famine. She then bribed the Oracle at Delphi to predict that only the sacrifice of Phrixus to the gods would end the famine. Just before the fatal throat cut, a marvellous flying and talking ram appeared, a gift by Hermes to Phrixos’s natural mother, who I gather was able to send it from her place in the afterlife. The flying ram spirited Phrixos (and his sister) away in the nick of time (but unfortunately the sister fell off in mid-flight and perished). When safely deposited in a new land, the local king welcomed Phrixos and of course he eventually married the king’s daughter. In gratitude for his salvation, Phrixos sacrificed the ram to Zeus, who then immortalised it in the heavens as the constellation Aries. The ram’s golden fleece was given to the king who hung it up in a tree guarded by a dragon, which leads to another rather famous tale in Greek mythology – the quest for the golden fleece. skywings

*Asclepius [see] Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer.

*Auriga, the Charioteer: Phaethon, son of the sun god Helios, tried to prove his manhood bona-fides by driving his father’s fiery chariot drawn by a team of highly spirited horses. He failed. When he ran out of control, Zeus had to shoot him down out of the sky. His lifeless body plunged into the River Eridanus. Phaethon was turned into the constellation of Auriga, the Charioteer; even the River Eridanus achieved constellation status under that name, stretching across the night sky west of Orion.

*Bootes, the Ploughman: Dionysus, the god of wine and good times, gave a wine branch to a lowly farmer, Icarius, and taught him how to grow grapes and make wine. The farmer shared some of this wine with neighbouring shepherds, but they got so intoxicated they killed Icarius. His daughter, affluentwords Erigone, led by Dionysus’s faithful dog, Maira, uncovered the site where the shepherds buried Icarius. The daughter distressed and in grief, hung herself. Even the dog died of sorrow. Dionysus cursed the locals. Many went mad and many women hung themselves in that state. When later they learned of the injustice that had prompted all of this, they lynched the original shepherds. Dionysus immortalized the farmer as Bootes the Ploughman. The daughter became the constellation Virgo, and Maira the dog – well he became Canis Minor, the lesser dog.

*Callisto [see] Ursa Major.

*Cancer, the Crab: Hera (Mrs Zeus) hated Hercules since he was a constant reminder of her husband’s wandering ways when it came to the opposite sex. Hercules second great labour was to kill the multi-headed Hydra, but while that battle was raging a giant crab entered the fray and had a go at Hercules too. So, Hercules had to deal with the crab first. Hera was very pleased that the crab had attacked Hercules and thus she herself honoured the crab by placing it in the heavens as the constellation Cancer. I’ve seen an alternative version that had Athena place the crab in the firmament, but Hera seems the more logical choice.

*Canis Major, the Greater Dog [see] Orion.

*Canis Minor, the Lesser Dog [see] Bootes.

*Capricorn: In Greek mythology, this constellation is sometimes identified as Amalthea, the goat that suckled the infant Zeus after his mother Rhea saved him from being devoured by his father Cronos by spiriting him off to Crete and out of harms way. The goat’s broken horn was transformed into the cornucopia or horn of plenty.

*Cassiopeia [see] Perseus.

*Castor [see] Gemini.

*Centaurus, the Centaur: The ancient Greeks depicted the southern constellation as a centaur and gave it its current name. The name Centaurus however in mythology is often given not to an actual centaur but to that deformed human who would later mate with mares and spawn the centaur race. More commonly however, Centaurus is credited as being the first centaur. See also Sagittarius.

*Cepheus [see] Perseus.

*Cetus, the Sea Monster (or Whale) [see] Perseus.

*Chiron, the Centaur [see] Sagittarius.

*Corona Borealis: Ariadne aided Theseus when he entered the labyrinth to slay the Minotaur by providing him with a ball of string which he unravelled as he made passage in through the maze and thus could follow the trail out again. Of course he promised eternal love to Ariadne, but shortly after having set sail from Crete, he abandoned her on the island of Naxos, no doubt on command from the deity Dionysus who wanted Ariadne for himself. Rank has its privileges! Dionysus duly carried her off to Olympus and made her an immortal and as a wedding gift gave her a golden crown. That crown was later placed in the heavens as the Corona Borealis.

*Corvus, the Crow: The crow or raven is Apollo’s sacred bird. When Apollo sent his raven to fetch some water in the god’s cup (Crater), the raven took his damn sweet time about it. To cover for his laziness, and lateness, he blamed the water-snake (the Hydra) for making him tardy. Apollo however knew a fib when told one and saw through the raven’s tall tale. Since he saw through the fraud and was not tricked Apollo rather pissed that his sacred bird would lie, put the raven in the sky (Corvus) along with the water snake (the Hydra) and the cup (Crater). For another version of the fate of the Hydra, see also Hydra. To further punish the raven, Hydra the snake keeps water from the eternally thirsty raven, yet the raven always sees the water, just out of reach.

*Crater, the Cup [see] Corvus, the Crow.

*Cygnus, the Swan: When the rash wannabe charioteer Phaethon (son of Helios) had to be dispatched by Zeus for reckless driving, a relative, Kyknos, mourned so greatly that the gods turned him into a swan. When it was time to die, Kyknos-the-swan sang all the way to the heavens to become the constellation Cygnus, the Swan. As an aside, when you know it’s time to face the end, you sing your ‘swan song’.

*Delphinus, the Dolphin: Poseidon, the god of the sea, had the hots for the Nereid, Amphitrite. Being a shy sort of lass, she made a beeline out to sea to escape (which seems to be an odd strategy seeing how she’s fleeing from the god of the sea). Be that as it may, Poseidon sends out all manner of his marine creatures to find her. A dolphin does so and talks Amphitrite into reconsidering and so to make a long story short, Poseidon and Amphitrite tie the knot. As a reward, Poseidon immortalises dolphins by casting one into the heavens to become the constellation Delphinus.

*Draco, the Dragon: Hercules was tasked with his eleventh labour to fetch the golden apples from the garden of Hesperides. The tree that bore the apples was well guarded by a giant serpent called Ladon. So, of course, Hercules, at least in some retellings, had to slay the serpent before nicking off with the fruit. The late and great Ladon was immortalized as the constellation Draco, placed next to the constellation of Hercules himself, club raised and poised to strike. Oh, once Hercules handed over the apples, they were returned to him; he dedicated them to the goddess Athena who returned them to their rightful place. Golden apples are far too powerful to be entrusted to the keeping of mere mortals. See also Hercules.

*Eosphoros [see] Venus.

*Eridanus [see] Auriga, the Charioteer.

*Equuleus, the Pony: In Greek mythology, Pegasus, the winged horse, had either a brother or son, the foal Celeris (meaning “swiftness” or “speed”). Celeris was given to Castor (one of the two Gemini twins) by Hermes (Mercury to the Romans). Another version has Equuleus as the horse struck from Poseidon’s trident during a pissing contest between him and the goddess Athena when contesting who would be the superior patron of Athens (that name gives away who won). Because Equuleus’s section of stars rises before the constellation of Pegasus, it is often called Equus Primus, or the First Horse. See also Pegasus.

*Ganymede [see] Aquarius, the Water-Carrier.

*Gemini, the Twins: The Dioscuri, the “Sons of Zeus” or the “Heavenly Twins” are better known as Castor and Polydeuces (who is even better known as Pollux). Despite the “Sons of Zeus” tag, Pollux was the son of Zeus and Leda, and Castor the son of Leda and her husband, the King of Sparta. However they were twins, and brothers to Helen (of Troy), daughter of Zeus and Leda. When Castor was fatally wounded, Pollux asked Zeus to let him die alongside his beloved brother. They were eventually placed among the stars as the constellation we know as Gemini.

*Hercules was finally undone by an act of deception. His wife without knowing the true facts of the matter had Hercules put on a poisoned robe, which was akin to him bathing in a tub of acid. In agony, the demigod builds his own funeral pyre and lays on it awaiting death. A passing King of Malis, a former Argonaut, Poias, lights the pyre. An almighty thunderclap booms out as the pyre started burning as Zeus took Hercules up to Olympus and made him an immortal god. Even his stepmother, Hera, finally give up her intense anger towards him and they were reconciled. To honour his son, Zeus set up the stars in the constellation now named for him. See also Draco, Hydra and Leo.



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