She was transformed into a bear and placed amongst the stars as the constellation Ursa Major. ), ASSES OF DIONYSUS 2 The two asses of Cancer were also said to have been placed there as a reward for their service in the Giant War. Sumerian : KAK.SI.KI (the Arrow), ARROW OF APOLLO The arrow which Apollo used to slay the Cyclopes, to avenge the death of his son Asclepius who had been destroyed by a thunderbolt created on their forge. ), Latin : Ursa Minor (the Little Bear) ), CUP OF APOLLO A cup placed amongst the stars by Apollo in form of the constellation Crater, next to Corvus the crow and Hydra the serpent. Some say Orpheus was himself represented nearby in the form of the constellation "Hercules," the Kneeling Man. The Greek word for constellations was katasterismoi.Of these, the twelve signs whose paths intersect with the dawn rising of the sun were known as zodiakos (the zodiac) or zodiakos kyrklos (circle of small animals). As punishment for his crime he was bound to a fiery wheel and fixed in the heavens as the constellation Engonasin, a warning to others. ), Latin : Hydra (the Water Serpent) (Hyginus 2.25 on Hesiod & Aratus, Aratus 96. Zeus, pitying his son, sent an eagle which snatched away her sandal and delivered it the god, which he used to barter for her favours. (Hyginus 2.23. But she proved unfaithful and Artemis slew her with her arrows. Elsewhere in Greek and Roman literature, the belief in successive periods or races is found with the belief that by some means, when the worst is reached, the system gradually (Plato, Politikos) or quickly (Virgil, Fourth Eclogue) returns to the Golden Age. ), Latin : Aries (the Ram) (Hyginus 2.43. Similar to such stories are the moral tales about the fate of Icarus, who flew too high on homemade wings, or the myth about Phaethon, the son of Helios, who failed to perform a task too great for him (controlling the horses of the chariot of the Sun). ), Latin : Corvus (the Crow) Heracles slew them, but Pholus examining one of the poisonous arrows let it fall on his foot and died. Dionysus afterwards placed the pair amongst the stars as the constellations Virgo and Bootes. ), HYADES Five nymphs whose stars outline the face of the bull Taurus. Also popular were myths of fairylands, such as the Garden of the Hesperides (in the far west) or the land of the Hyperboreans (in the far north), or encounters with unusual creatures, such as the Centaurs, or distinctive societies, such as the Amazons. (Hyginus 2.19. Greek : Drakôn (the Dragon), HESPERIAN DRAGON The huge serpent which guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides. Perhaps the best-known myth of this type is the one that tells how Hades (Latin Pluto), the god of the underworld, carried Persephone off to be his consort, causing her mother, Demeter, the goddess of grain, to allow the earth to grow barren out of her grief. Why the Golden Age came to an end Hesiod failed to explain, but it was succeeded by the Silver Age. Hesiod may have known this version; he wishes to have been born either earlier or later. ), PARTHENOS A maiden daughter of Apollon who died young and was set amongst the stars by her father as the constellation Virgo. Sumerian : ANSHE.KUR.RA (the Horse), PEGASUS A winged horse, son of the Gorgon Medusa. There Io was restored to human form and gave birth to her son Epaphos. His oxen and plough were set alongside him as the Wain, i.e., the constellations Ursa Major and Minor. Their dog Maera was set nearby as Canis Major. Consequently, Zeus hid them in the Earth, where they became spirits among the dead. ), LYRE OF THESEUS The lyre of the hero Theseus who was set in the stars as the constellation "Heracles" next to that of the lyre. The fast-breeding animals quickly got out of control and devoured everything on the island, forcing the inhabitants to abandon their homes. But when he opened the wine, the smell drew the other centaurs who attacked. For a list of Sumerian and Akkadian constellation names see : The Star Catalogue (external link). (Hyginus 2.19. She was rescued by Perseus, who slew the beast. (Hyginus 2.36. (Hyginus 2.8. Greek : Krios (the Ram) Match these infamous gods with their country of origin. The presence of evil was explained by Pandora’s rash action in opening the fatal jar. After the beast was slain by Heracles, Hera placed it amongst the stars as Draco. Daedalus and Icarus, antique bas-relief; in the Villa Albani, Rome. (Hyginus 2.17. In Greek and Roman mythology, Hades is the ruler of dead, grim and mournful in his character, and severely just and unyielding in the performance of his duties. Dionysus then placed him, his daughter Erigone and their dog Maira, amongst the stars as the constellations Bootes, Virgo and Canis Major. Various myths describe the birth and death of the semi-immortal constellations: such as the Gemini twins, or Dioskouroi, who were said to divide their time equally between Heaven and Haides. Greek Mythology >> Star Myths (Constellations) STAR MYTHS. To commemorate the event, the monster was placed amongst the stars as the constellation Cetus, along with Perseus and Andromeda. ), A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | R | S | T | U | X | Z, Theoi Project © Copyright 2000 - 2017 Aaron J. Atsma, Netherlands & New Zealand. (Hyginus 2.24. ), Latin : Delphinus (the Dolphin) As a reward for this service Poseidon set him amongst the stars as a constellation. (Hyginus 2.14. The rising of its stars heralded the storms of late autumn. A silver denarius showing a caduceus and bust of the Roman god Mercury wearing a winged petasos. ), ORSILOCHUS An Argive man who in local legend was the inventor of the chariot. A number of his labours, although missing from the late Greek constellar arrangements, are perhaps recognisable in their older Eastern forms. ), AEX OF HELIUS A goatish daughter of Helius the sun, who was hidden away in a cave by the Titan gods because of her fearsome face. So, for example, Gemini first rises above the eastern horizon in late May, appearing in the sky just prior to dawn, where its position is immediately replaced by the rising sun. Sumerian : KU (the Fish) & SIM.MAH (the Swallow), FISHES OF APHRODITE When the monster Typhon attacked Olympus, the gods fled in a body to the south. Greek : Hyades (the Rainy Ones), Latin : Vergiliae Even heroes like Achilles, Hector, or Diomedes are largely fictional, though doubtlessly based on legendary prototypes. To commemorate the event he placed the eagle and altar amongst the stars as the constellations Aquila and Ara. Astraea herself was Virgo. The means of separation employed, the cutting off of Uranus’s genitals by his son Cronus, bears a certain resemblance to a similar story recorded in Babylonian epic. It was tamed by the hero Bellerophon who rode it into battle against the three-headed monster Chimera. Greek : Largos (the Hare), HARE OF ORION A hare which was set amongst the stars before the hunter Orion and his dog (Canis) to play out an eternal chase. (Hyginus 2.13 on Euhemerus. *. ), Latin : Scorpio (the Scorpion) Your adventure begins at the Museum of Olympus where a feud has erupted between Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. The gods then transformed her into a horse, and after her child was born set her amongst the stars as a constellation. In memory of this deed, Prometheus, the arrow and the eagle were placed side by side amongst the stars as the constellations Engonasin, Aquila (or Lyra the vulture) and Sagitta. (Hyginus 2.17 on Eratosthenes. Greek mythology books (retellings, translations, and commentary) continue to be some of my favorite reads. ), EAGLE OF ZEUS 1 The eagle which Zeus sent to snatch the handsome Trojan youth Ganymedes up to heaven. ), PHORBAS A hero of the island of Rhodes. After their death they passed six months alternately beneath the Earth and in the world above, which suggests that their worship, like that of Persephone (the daughter of Zeus and Demeter), was connected with fertility or seasonal change. He thereby destroys the symmetry of the myth, in the interests of history: what is now known as the Minoan-Mycenaean period was generally believed in antiquity to have been a good time to live. Orion was also described by Homer both striding across the heavens and hunting wild beasts in the underworld. ), KING LION The lion, king of all the beasts, was set amongst the stars as the constellation Leo in recognition of his supremacy. He is the jailer of the souls of the dead, keeping the gates of the netherworld closed and ensuring that dead mortals who entered his dark kingdom never escape. He was placed amongst the stars by Apollo and the Muses as a kneeling man with a lyre. ), Latin : Auriga (the Charioteer) ), HARE OF LEROS The island of Leros was once free of hares, until a young man brought a pregnant female into the country as a pet. (Hyginus 2.32. ), DOLPHIN OF ARION When the famed Corinthian bard Arion was thrown overboard by seamen who coveted his wealth, a dolphin came and carried him safely to shore. Here the constellations were apparently believed to dwell deep beneath the earth in the misty pit of Tartaros, or else within the lands of the dead. The sisters were placed amongst the stars by the god Zeus, after the lustful giant Orion had pursued them across the earth for seven years. The warm months of spring and summer must yield to the cold and violence of winter, so perhaps the use of the word rape is unfortunate. Akkadian & Sumerian : The old Eastern name for the constellation, predating the Greek. CROTUS A horse-legged, satyr hunter who was a companion of the Muses on Mount Helicon. ), Latin : Canicula (the Little Dog) (Hyginus 2.32. (Hyginus 2.20 on Hesiod & Pherecydes & Eratosthenes. Their driver stands immediately behind it in the heavens. As the constellation gradually rises earlier and earlier in the night, its place on the solar horizon at dawn is eventually replaced by the next constellation of the zodiac, namely Cancer, in mid June. (Hyginus 2.1 & 2.6 on Araethus of Tegea. Akkadian : Habasiranu The Greek myths are allegorical, and I bet the smart ancients knew better than to take them literally. (Hyginus 2.25. This angered Gaea, and she plotted with her sons against Uranus.She made a harpe, a great adamant sickle, and tried to incite her children to attack Uranus. (Hyginus 2.5. As a memorial of her trials, Io was set amongst the stars as the constellation "Taurus." ), DRAGON OF ATHENA A gigantic serpent which was cast at the goddess Athena during the giant war. He was instructed by the god in the art of winemaking, but was murdered by peasants who mistook the draught for poison. Sumerian : EN.TE.NA.BAR.HUM, CHIRON The wisest of the Centaurs, a son of the Titan Cronus. ), DOLPHINS OF DIONYSUS When Dionysus was travelling between the islands of the Aegean, he was captured by Tyrrhenian pirates. He’s one of those fellows you’d love to have a pint and ploughman’s lunch with on a lazy Sunday afternoon. ), Latin : Draco (the Dragon) (Hyginus 2.8. Greek : Kyôn (the Dog) Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Sumerian : SHAH (the Pig or Boar), DOLPHIN OF POSEIDON When Poseidon was wooing the goddess Amphitrite, she fled from his advances and hid herself away. Greek : Toxeutês (the Archer) In this way he was depicted lifting the stone at Troezen under which Aegeus had laid the sword as proof of his paternity. The images on this page are from a Renaissance-era ceiling fresco (circa 1573) decorating the Villa Farnese in Caprarola, Italy. The god drove them to terror with his illusions and, when they leapt from the ship, he transformed them into dolphins. ), ALTAR OF PHOLUS The kindly centaur Pholus was set amongst the stars by Zeus for his skill in augury. The hero crushed it beneath his heel, and also despatched the serpent, but as a reward for their service Hera placed the pair amongst the stars in the form of the constellations Cancer and Hydra. Akkadian : Gamlu (the Crook) But because the pair had conflicting fates - one was destined never to be caught, and the other never to surrender the chase--Zeus transferred the pair to the heavens to play out their contest unresolved for all eternity. Akkadian : Purattu (the Euphrates) (Hyginus 2.14. Some say, the adjacent constellation Lyra was his. (Hyginus 2.33. Orion was also set in heaven, but doomed to continue a futile chase for all eternity. This handsome young man was loved by both Persephone, queen of … ), Latin : Bootes (Hyginus 2.35. The goddess woke from her sleep, because of the roughness of the child, and pushed him away in disgust. Zeus, for example, assumed the form of a bull when he carried off Europa, a Phoenician princess, and he appeared in the guise of a swan in order to attract Leda, wife of a king of Sparta. According to Greek cosmological concepts, the Earth was viewed as a flat disk afloat on the river of Ocean. Sumerian : AGA (the Crown of Anu), CROWN OF ARIADNE The crown of the Cretan princess Ariadne. Some scholars hold that Persephone’s time belowground represents the summer months, when Greek fields are parched and bare, but the Hymn to Demeter, the earliest source for the myth, states explicitly that Persephone returns when the spring flowers are flourishing (line 401). ), HERACLES & APOLLO When Apollo commanded that Heracles be sold into slavery to atone for murder, the hero was enraged as wrestled the god for the Delphic tripod. The punishment of mortals’ presumption in claiming to be the gods’ superiors, whether in musical skill or even the number of their children, is described in several myths. Myths about the gods described their births, victories over monsters or rivals, love affairs, special powers, or connections with a cultic site or ritual. Greek : Hydrokhoos (Water-Bearer) (Hyginus 2.37. On the other hand, events described in the Iliad probably owe far more to Homer’s creative ability than to genuine tradition. In time, Heracles’ popularity was responsible for connecting his story with the Argonauts, an earlier attack on Troy, and with Theban myth. (Hyginus 2.1 & 2.6 on Araethus of Tegea. Poseidon in wrath sent a sea-monster to devour the girl. Greek : Delphin (the Dolphin) Akkadian : Alluttu (the Crab) The boy and eagle were placed amongst the stars as the adjacent constellations Aquarius and Aquila. ), MEGISTO An Arcadian princess, daughter of King Ceteus. The pair were famed horsemen who were transferred to the heavens at death to form the constellation Gemini. (Hyginus 2.6. In memory of this he was placed in the heavens as the water-pourer Aquarius. (Hyginus 2.2 on Aglaosthenes, Aratus 25. Hector donning his breastplate, amphora by Euthymides, c. 500, Dionysus and Ariadne with an Eros figure, fragmentary Apulian red-figure pelike, terra-cotta from Apulia, Italy, about 360–350, Poseidon, Apollo, and Artemis, marble relief, portion of the east section of the Parthenon frieze, 448–429, Reverse side of a silver denarius showing Odysseus walking with a staff and being greeted by his dog, Argus, in a narrative illustration of Homer's. The crudity is relieved, however, in characteristic Greek fashion, by the friendly collaboration of Uranus and Gaea, after their divorce, on a plan to save Zeus from the same Cronus, his cannibalistic sire. ), CETEUS A King of Arcadia who was placed amongst the stars as the constellation Kneeler. When he was about to kill his mother Callisto who had been transformed into a bear, Zeus raised the pair to heavens as the constellations Arctophylax (the Bear-Watcher) andUrsa (the Bear). (Hyginus 2.5. ), THE VINTAGER A star on the right wing of the constellation Virgo. Mercury is commonly identified with the Greek god Hermes. Poseidon (god of the sea) was unusually atavistic in that his union with Earth, and his equine adventures appear to hark back to his pre-marine status as a horse or earthquake god. ), MELANIPPE A daughter of the centaur Chiron. When Asclepius dared to extend his craft by bringing back men from the dead, Zeus struck him dead with a thunderbolt. She received from the gods as a wedding gift upon her marriage to the god Dionysus. (Hyginus 2.13. When he was about to commit suicide in his grief, Hera transformed Meropes into an eagle and placed him amongst the stars in the form of Aquila. In the Works and Days, Hesiod makes use of a scheme of Four Ages (or Races): Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Iron. He was seized and carried off to heaven by an eagle sent down by Zeus, to become the cup-bearer of the gods. ), Latin : Lepus (the Hare) When she boasted that her daughter was more beautiful than the Nereids, Poseidon sent a sea monster to devour the girl. (Hyginus 2.28. Sumerian : GU.LA (the Great), GANYMEDES A handsome Trojan prince. When he died she set him amongst the stars to continue for eternity the struggle with the serpent. He then placed Aex among the stars as Capra. These races or ages are separate creations of the gods, the Golden Age belonging to the reign of Cronus and the subsequent races being the creation of Zeus. Greek : Arktos Mikra (the Little Bear) or Amaza (the Wagon) or Kynosoura (the Dog's Tail), CYNOSURA An Idaean nymph who nursed the infant god Zeus in the Dictaeon cave of Crete. 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