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Transcript of Birth-Day Constellations
By: Olivia Achenbach
In mythology, Castor and Pollux were the sons of the fair Leda. Zeus seduced her in the guise of a swan, which was placed in the heavens as Cygnus. As a result of this union, Lead laid two eggs, which hatched into four children; two of these children were Castor and Pollux. These two infants were identical twins. Castor became an incredible hunter, while Pollux was an incomparable boxer.
Cancer the Crab
In mythology, Cancer represents a crab that became involved in battling with Hercules while he was fighting the dreaded Hydra. Hercules was the son of Zeus and the nymph Alcmene, the product of one of the king of the gods’ many brief illicit affairs. Zeus’s wife, Hera, thereafter hated Hercules and did her best to destroy him, first making him kill his wife and children in a fit of madness, and then getting him involved in a virtually-impossible tasks, or labors, which would surely kill him.
Leo the Lion
In Greek mythology, Leo was the lion that Hercules fought with the first of his labors- the Nemean lion. It was sent from the Moon, it was said, by Hercules’ stepmother and mortal enemy Hera. The lion lived in a cave, from which it periodically emerged to prey on the local people. When Hercules came upon the lion, he attacked it with spears and arrows, but they all bounced off- its skin was invincible. So Hercules had to resort to hand-to-hand combat. After a terrible struggle, he managed to strangle the beast. Then he skinned it and made its skin into a cloak so that it would make him invincible too.
Libra the Scales
The association of Libra with scales or balance and by extension harmony and justice- dates to Ancient Babylonian times. Then, the autumnal equinox occurred in Libra, when the days and night are of equal length, that is, in balance. The Greeks, however, did not consider Libra to be a separate constellation at all. They saw its shares as part of Scorpius, in particular the Scorpion’s claws. It was the Romans who began to identify Libra with scales again, appreciating the balance of the days and nights at the equinox.
Aries the Ram
In mythology, the ram was the source of the fabulous Golden Fleece that Jason and the Argonauts went to steal. The ram was a magical creature that could speak, think, and fly through the air.Hermes gave the ram to the two children of King Athamas, Helle and her brother Phrizus, who fled on it to escape their hated stepmother. Helle unfortunately fell off into a strait that become known as the Hellespont. Phrixus safely reached Colchis on the Black Sea and sacrificed the ram to show his gratitude for being saved. He gave the Golden Fleece to Aeetes, King of Colchis, who set the ferocious dragon Draco, that never slept, to guard it.
Pisces the Fishes
In mythology, the two fishes represent Aphrodite and her son, Eros. One day they had to hide in the rushes along the bank of the Euphrates River to escape the awesome dragon-headed monster Typhon. When the monster was nearly upon them, two fishes swam up and carried them away to safety, becoming immortalized in the sky as the constellation Pisces.
Scorpio the Scorpion
In Greek mythology, the Scorpion was the creature that killed the famed hunter, Orion. Orion was the mightiest of hunters, and he knew it. This led him, unwieldy, to boast to Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, that he could track down and kill any creature on the face of the Earth. With this, the Earth trembled with rage, and cracked open. A scorpion scuttled out and stung Orion to death. With some compassion, the gods placed Orion and the Scorpion on opposite sides of the heavens, so that Orion sets in the west as the scorpion rises in the east.
Virgo the Virgin
In Ancient Greece, Virgo was Demeter, the goddess of agriculture and fertility. By Zeus, she gave birth to a daughter, Persephone. Hades, god of the underworld and Zeus’ brother, kidnapped Persephone and took her to his underground world and made her his wife. Demeter searched far and wide for her, neglecting the crops she was supposed to nurture. Eventually she learned what had happened, and Zeus persuaded Hades to return Persephone to the living Earth. But Persephone has to go back to the Underworld for part of every year because she ate some of the pomegranate seeds.
Sagittarius the Archer
He is the consummate archer, keen of eye with a deadly aim. Sagittarius dates back to Babylonian times, when the centaur was a favorite creature. But Greek historians suggest that Sagittarius was a two-legged, satyr like beast., half man, half goat. A satyr is described as having a human torso, goat’s legs, and a short tail. Sagittarius was supposed to be Crotus, the inventor of archery, who was fathered by the pipe-playing god, Pan.
Aquarius the Water Bearer
The Egyptians believed that Aquarius caused the annual flooding of the Nile River, and so it was a very important constellation to them. It is no coincidence that the hieroglyph for running water is now the astrological sign for Aquarius. Traditional star maps depict Aquarius as a youth pouring water from a pitcher. Beneath his feet, the gushing water ends up in the mouth of Piscis Austrinus, the southern Fish. The beautiful youth was probably Ganymede, son of the king of Tros.
Capricorn the Sea goat
The Greeks saw Capricornus as a strange creature that had the head and forelimbs of a goat, but the tail of a fish. They identified it with the pipe-playing god Pan, who was also a strange hybrid creature with goat’s legs and horns. Pan was the great god of the forests and meadows, through which he forever wandered, playing and dancing with the nymph Syrinx with amorous intent, but her sisters turned her into reeds as he was about to pounce. As he sighed, his breath blew over the reeds, which gave off musical sounds. He cut off a number of them of different length and bound them together to form the pipes of pan, which are also called the syrinx.
Taurus the Bull
Europa was playing one day on the seashore with her girlfriends when she spied a beautiful white bull grazing quietly among her father’s herd. Not knowing, of course, that it really was Zeus, she stroked it and climbed on its back. The beautiful bull then leapt into the sea and swam, with the now terrified Europa on his back, to Crete. There, Zeus revealed his true self and made love to her. Among the three children born of the union, one was Minos, who became king of Crete and who established bull worship at his palace at Knossos. There, too, he kept his monstrous offspring the Minotaur, half-man, half-bull, that inhabited the Labyrinth and lived on human flesh.
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