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Zodiac

Zodiacal paintings inspired from greek mythology

Aries

When including fainter stars, visible to the naked eye, the area resembles the head of a ram, having a general herbivore head shape and a spiral horn.

In Greek mythology, this is believed to represent the ram which carried Athamas’s son Phrixus and daughter Helle to Colchis to escape their stepmother Ino. Helle fell off into the sea which later became the Hellespont. On reaching safety, Phrixis sacrificed the ram and hung its fleece in the Grove of Ares, where it turned to gold and later became the quest of Jason and the Argonauts. It appears that Babylonians, Greeks, Persians and Egyptians all agreed on the name of the Ram for this constellation.

The main area of the sky constituting the sign of Aries, containing part of Pisces, the Pleiades, and the constellation of Andromeda, may be the origin of the myth of the girdle of Hippolyte, which forms part of The Twelve Labours of Hercules
Taurus

In Greek mythology, this corresponds with the bull-form Zeus took in order to win Europa, a mythical Phoenician princess, and thus father of Minos. As such, since it is necessary to traverse the area of sky known as the Sea to reach it when passing through the Zodiac, it forms the origin of the myth of the Cretan Bull, one of The Twelve Labours of Herakles.

Gemini

Since this constellation is easily viewable as two parallel stick figures, considering faint stars visible to the naked eye, it was associated with the myth of Castor and Polydeuces (also known as the Dioscuri). A myth of these twins heavily concerns cattle theft, and may be connected to early views of the Milky Way, as a herd of dairy cows or cattle, by which they are situated.

The orientation of the constellation can vary (since they readily form stick figures whether leaning right or left), though the twins are usually viewed as left leaning. However, when right leaning, one of the twins resides in the Milky Way, and the other outside it, a situation making it appear that one of the twins is stealing the cattle, and the other is observing. In this situation, together with the area of the sky that is deserted (now considered as the new and extremely faint constellations Camelopardalis and Lynx), and the other features of the area in the Zodiac sign of Gemini (i.e. Orion, Auriga, and Canis Major), this may be the origin of the myth of the cattle of Geryon, which forms one of The Twelve Labours of Herakles.

Cancer

As the constellation vaguely resembles a crab, it may, together with the Hydra constellation, form the basis of the myth of the Lernaean Hydra, one of The Twelve Labours of Herakles, with which it is associated

Leo

In Greek mythology, it was identified as the Nemean Lion (and may have been a source of the tale) which was killed by Heracles during one of his twelve labours, and subsequently put into the sky.

Virgo

Who exactly Virgo was considered to represent is uncertain; in history, it has been associated with nearly every prominent goddess, including Ishtar, Isis, Cybele, Mary, Mother of Jesus, and Athena. Virgo may also feature, along with Ursa Major, and Ursa Minor, as part of the source of the myth of Callisto, either as Callisto herself, or as Hera. Persephone (who in some mythologies, notably the Eleusinian Mysteries, was considered to be a form of Demeter) is often mentioned as well, Virgo being visible mainly in the spring months when she was believed to have risen from the underworld.

According to one interpretation, the constellation depicts Astraea, the virgin daughter of the god Zeus and the goddess Themis. Astraea was known as the goddess of justice, and was identified as this constellation due to the presence of the scales of justice Libra nearby, and supposedly ruled the world at one point with her wise ways until mankind became so callous she returned to skies disgusted.

Libra

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The constellation, which had originally formed part of the claws of the scorpion (Scorpio), is the youngest of the Zodiac and the only one not to represent a living creature. In later Greek mythology, the constellation, which when considered on its own looks vaguely like a set of scales, was considered to depict the scales held by Astraea (identified as Virgo), the goddess of justice.

Since Libra was originally part of Virgo (as scales), and before that part of Scorpio, it was not a distinct entity for which a zodiac sign was named. Its place may have been taken by Boötes, which is the nearest to the ecliptic. Since the place Boötes should have held on the ecliptic is vacant, it may have, together with Ursa Major, Draco, and Ursa Minor, also in Libra, led to the myth of the apples of the Hesperides, one of The Twelve Labours of Herakles

Scorpio

Scorpio resembles, quite noticeably, a scorpion’s tail, and a vague body . According to Greek mythology, it corresponds to the scorpion which was sent by Gaia (or possibly the goddess Hera) to kill the hunter Orion, the scorpion rising out of the ground at the goddess’ command to attack. Although the scorpion and Orion appear together in this myth, the constellation of Orion is almost opposite to Scorpius in the night sky. It has been suggested that this was a divine precaution to forestall the heavenly continuation of the feud.

In many versions, however, Apollo sent the scorpion after Orion, having grown jealous of Artemis’ attentions to the man. Later, to apologize for killing her friend, Apollo then helped Artemis hang Orion’s image in the night sky. However, the scorpion was also placed up there, and every time it appears on the horizon, Orion starts to sink into the other side of the sky, still running from the attacker.

Scorpius also appears in one version of the story of Phaethon, the mortal son of Helios, the sun. Phaeton asked to drive the sun-chariot for a day. Phaeton lost control of the chariot. The horses, already out of control, were scared by the great celestial scorpion with its sting raised to strike, and the inexperienced boy lost control of the chariot, as the sun wildly went about the sky (this is said to have formed the constellation Eridanus). Finally, Zeus struck him down with a thunderbolt to stop the rampage.

The Chinese included these stars in the Azure Dragon, a powerful but benevolent creature whose rising heralded spring.

In Maori mythology, this constellation can be Maui’s magic jawbone (used to fish up the North Island of New Zealand), the front of Tama-rereti’s waka/canoe (used to ferry the stars into the sky) or one of the posts Tane used to hold Ranginui (the sky-father) in the sky. While three posts (Sirius, Matariki/The pleides and Orion) hold up the top half of Ranginui, only a single post (Scorpius) supports the lower half of his body. It therefore appears bent under the weight

Sagittarius

Chiron, the centaur

Capricorn

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 in Greek mythology. The goat’s broken horn was transformed into the cornucopia or horn of plenty. Some ancient sources claim that this derives from the sun “taking nourishment” while in the constellation, in preparation for its climb back northward.

However, the constellation is often depicted as a sea-goat, a goat with a fish’s tail. One myth that deals with this says that when the goat-god Pan was attacked by the monster Typhon, he dove into the Nile; the parts above the water remained a goat, but those under the water transformed into a fish.

In Sumeria, the constellation was associated with the god Ea or Enki, who brought culture out of the sea to humankind.

The constellation, together with its early Greek name, associated ideas about sin, and the constellation of Aquarius, who was said to have poured out a river, may represent the origin of the myth of the Augean Stable, which forms one of The Twelve Labours of Herakles.

The constellation is located in an area of sky called the Sea or Water, consisting of many watery constellations such as Aquarius, Pisces, and Eridanus.

Aquarius

The best-known myth identifies Aquarius with Ganymede, a beautiful youth with whom Zeus fell in love, and whom he (in the guise of an eagle, represented as the constellation Aquila) carried off to Olympus to be cupbearer to the gods. Crater is sometimes identified as his cup.

Aquarius generally resembles the figure of a man, and when considering fainter humanly visible stars, it takes on the image of a man with a bucket from which is pouring a stream. Aquarius was also identified as the pourer of the waters which flooded the earth in the Great Flood, in the ancient Greek version of the myth. As such, the constellation Eridanus was sometimes identified as being a river poured out by Aquarius.

It may also, together with the constellation Pegasus, be part of the origin of the myth of the Mares of Diomedes, which forms one of The Twelve Labours of Heracles. Its association with pouring out rivers, and the nearby constellation of Capricornus, may be the source of the myth of the Augean stable, which forms another of the labours.

Pisces

The constellation resembles two roundish objects, each of which is tied to the same point by a long length of string . Generally the objects have been considered as fish, although since by including fainter stars visible to the naked eye, the strings themself take on the appearance of stick-figure bodies (with the roundish objects thus becoming heads). Some forms of early Greek mythology viewed it as men bound to a point. It is generally thought that in earlier depictions, only the constellation Piscis Austrinus was considered to be a fish.

According to one version in Greek mythology, this constellation represents fish into which Aphrodite and her son Eros transformed in order to escape the monstrous Typhon. The two fishes are often depicted tied together with a cord (or their tails), to make sure they do not lose one another.

According to another version, since the binding point is below the ecliptic, and thus considered to represent being in the underworld, and that one of the figures (the one on the left) appears to escape, but the other (on the right) seems to head back toward the ecliptic, then, together with Cetus (another constellation in the Zodiac sign of Pisces), this may have formed the basis of the myth of the capture of Cerberus, one of The Twelve Labours of Herakles

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