The Constellations Aquarius The Water Bearer While attending to his fathers flocks on Mount Ida, Ganymede (the most handsome man the gods and goddesses had ever seen) caught the attention of Zeus. Zeus sent for him to come to Mt. Olympus. On Mount Olympus, Ganymede served the gods by bringing them water whenever they needed it. He also served as cup bearer to Zeus. honored by Zeus, constellation called Aquarius, which means water carrier
Andromeda The Chained Lady Cassiopeia, Andromedas mother, boasted that she was the most beautiful woman in the world, even more beautiful than the gods. Poseidon, was upset because he believed his sea nymphs were. In his anger, he created a great sea monster, Cetus Cassiopeia was being stubborn and it was decreed that she must sacrifice her daughter Andromeda, to this sea monster. So Andromeda was chained to a large rock. As Cetus approached Andromeda, Perseus arrived carrying the head of Medusa. When Perseus saw Andromeda, he went to her aid. He drew the head of Medusa from the bag. Perseus then freed the beautiful Andromeda and, claiming her as his bride, took her home with him as his queen to rule.
Cancer The Crab Hercules, was given 12 labors by Hera, to test his strength and courage. Hera hoped these 12 labors would prove to Zeus that Hercules was unworthy of his love. In order to make sure that Hercules failed at this task, Hera sent a large crab to grab Hercules by the heel and distract him while he was fighting the Hydra. As the crab grabbed his foot, Hercules stomped down with his other foot and crushed the crab. He then cut the final head of the Hydra off. To honor Hercules great victory and to remind Hera of her failure, Zeus placed the constellation of Cancer the Crab in the sky.
Capricorn The Sea Goat The front half of a goat and the tail of a fish. It is also referred to as the Gateway of the Gods through which the souls of men released at death would pass to the life here after. Cronus was told by the oracle one of would eventually kill him in battle. In order to keep this from happening, Cronus had every baby boy born to him as a son killed. Some legends say he would swallow them when they were born. Zeus mother gave him to some sea nymphs with instructions to take him to a far-away place where Cronus could not find him and raise him there. One day, Zeus was playing with the goat Amalthea and broke off one of her horns. Zeus took this as a sign that he was supposed to break off his relationship with Amalthea and the sea nymphs and go fight his father, Cronus. Zeus gave the horn to the sea nymphs and Amalthea telling them that as they had always provided for his needs, so now this horn, which was now a magic horn, would always provide all the food and drink they would ever need. Zeus then left them to go
and fight Cronus, and won. Zeus was now the king of the gods and one of his first acts was to place the constellation Capricorn in the heavens in honor of Amalethea and the nymphs. Casseopia Queen of the Night Sky She boasted that she was the most beautiful woman in the kingdom. Poseidon was so angry, he created a great sea monster, Cetus. In an effort to stop the destruction, the people when to Poseidon and asked what could be done to stop this monster. Poseidon replied that if Casseopia would admit that his sea nymphs were indeed more beautiful than she, he would stop the monster. But Casseopia refused. The people asked Poseidon if there were any other way to stop the destruction. He replied that if the beautiful Andromeda, Casseopias only daughter, were to be sacrificed to Cetus the destruction would stop. Poseidon and Zeus decreed that Casseopia be placed in the sky,
as punishment for being so conceited about her looks, she would suffer the humiliating position of being upside down in the sky during the fall of the year when her constellation is best seen. Corona Borealis The Northern Crown Minos, the second king of Crete, had a great labyrinth built to confine the ferocious Minotaur. Each year, King Minos exacted, as part of his tribute from Athens, twelve of the most handsome or beautiful young people to be placed in the labyrinth as food for the monster. In the third group to be selected was Theseus. Minos daughter Ariadne, fell in love with Theseus and offered to help him if he would take her away with him when he escaped. He agreed. She gave him a ball of magical thread to unwind while he was in the labyrinth so that when he killed the Minotaur he could follow the thread and find his way out again. Theseus attacked and killed the terrible monster and then followed the magical thread and was able
to find his way out of the labyrinth. Theseus sailed away from Crete taking Ariadne with him. Bacchus had fallen in love with the beautiful Ariadne and treated her with great tenderness. He had a crown made for her with one each of the seven most beautiful jewels to be found mounted in it. Some stories say that there were seven diamonds. When Ariadne died, Zeus placed her crown in the sky and changed the jewels to seven stars, which can still be seen today as the constellation Corona Borealis, Ariadnes Crown. Draco The Dragon Zeus stole Europa and her father ordered her brother Cadmus to go and search for her, and not return until he had found her. Cadmus wandered over the whole world looking for Europa, but could not find her. He knew he would never find her because no one can find someone that Zeus has hidden.
However, while searching for water, Cadmus attendants were killed by a large dragon. Cadmus went to fight this dragon, and upon finding the dragon in a cave, was able to kill it with his spear. Cadmus was told by Minerva to plant the dragons teeth in the ground. From these teeth grew warriors who fought each other until only five were left. Because Draco had been so faithful in guarding the caves and their contents, Zeus placed his constellation in the northern sky, where, because his constellation never sets, he can guard all the treasures of Zeus. Hercules The Strong Man The favorite son of Zeus, who had made special preparations for Hercules birth so that he would be the mightiest of all the heroes. Hercules would spend the first part of his life among mortals. He would learn how they lived
and what was important in their lives. Hercules was known for his great strength, courage, and agility. He was also known for his Twelve Labors, Zeus commemorated all the mighty acts of Hercules by placing his constellation in a very prominent place in the sky. Leo The Lion Leo was a ferocious lion who fell to the earth in the forests of Nemaea. He feasted on the animals of the forest and also caught and ate many human beings. Many brave men lost their lives trying to kill this giant lion, for its skin was so tough that no arrow or spear could pierce it. Twelve Labors of Hercules was to kill the lion, Knowing that no
spear or arrow could pierce the lions skin, Hercules entered the lions cave and was able to strangle the lion. Hercules then reappeared at the caves entrance wearing the lions skin as a robe. This great act of heroism was commemorated by Zeus, when he placed the picture of the defeated lion (Leo) in the night sky Orion The Great Hunter With his great skill as a hunter, Orion provided meat each day for the gods meals. One day, Artemis, the hunting goddess asked if she could accompany Orion on his daily hunt. The next day, they saw a deer. Orion shot and the deer died instantly, which pleased Artemis greatly. At dinner that evening, Artemis told everyone, even Zeus, of Orions great ability with the bow. Arising at dawn, Orion proceeded again to the forest where he shot every animal he found. He then made a large pile of these animals near the door to
Artemis house. Upon seeing the great pile of dead animals, Artemis was horrified! Artemis was also the protector of animals and punished those who killed more than they could eat. In her anger, she stomped her foot on the ground and out of the dust came a great scorpion which stung Orion on the heel causing him to die in great pain. But in honor of his great service to the gods, Zeus placed his constellation in the sky. Pegasus The Flying Horse Pegasus sprang from the spilled blood of the Medusa, which dripped into the ocean after she was slain by Perseus. Pegasus then flew off into the sky. Pegasus was given to Bellerophon to aid him in conquering the monster Chimera. Bellerophon was successful in destroying the monster. He then attempted to fly, riding Pegasus, up to Mount Olympus to live with the gods. Zeus,
angered by the presumption of Bellerophon, made an insect sting Pegasus causing him to buck Bellerophon off, who fell to his death. Pegasus continued his flight up to Mount Olympus and was used in several missions to defeat evil aggressors. In honor of his great service, Zeus placed his constellation among the stars. The Pleiades Seven Sisters Of all the constellations in the sky, no group of stars has been known longer nor had more different stories, legends, or myths told about it than the Pleiades. There are at least 43 different stories or names for them. The Pleiades, were the seven daughters of Pleione and Atlas, the giant who bears the world upon his shoulders. These seven maidens, along with their were transformed into stars because of their amiable virtues and mutual affection and because of their great sorrow at the burden imposed upon their father, Atlas.
The second myth concerning the Pleiades tells how they were so beautiful that Orion was constantly chasing them, which caused them a great amount of discomfort. They appealed to Zeus for help and in pity for them he changed them into doves. As doves they then flew up into the sky and found a hiding place among the stars. Taurus The Bull Taurus is the bull that carried the beautiful Europa over the seas to the region of the world that now bears her name. Europa was so beautiful that Zeus fell madly in love with her. So Zeus changed himself into a snow-white bull. Europa was charmed by the beauty of this great white bull and she began to stroke its neck and pat its shoulders. Finally, she climbed onto its broad back. Zeus had successfully kidnapped Europa. To commemorate his feat, he placed the picture of Taurus among the constellations, and on earth a
continent was named for Europa. Ursa Major and Ursa Minor Ursa Major is one of the oldest known constellations and has more named stars in it than any other constellation. One day, as Zeus was walking through the forest with Callisto, he saw his wife Hera coming. Unable to hide Callisto in time, he turned her into a large brown bear. When Hera arrived, she saw only Zeus walking by himself through the forest. She looked around, searching for someone with Zeus, but saw only an old brown bear. She still did not trust Zeus and insisted that he return to Mount Olympus. Zeus did not want to go because he wanted to change his girlfriend Callisto back into her human form before leaving. But Hera insisted. So Zeus went with Hera, leaving Callisto as a large brown bear. Unknown to Zeus, Arcas, Callistos son who was a great hunter, was out in the woods hunting that day. As chance would have it, he saw this great big brown bear. He put an arrow to his bow, took careful aim, and shot that great bear through the heart. Right before his startled eyes, Arcas watched the bear
as it died change back into the form of his mother Callisto with an arrow through her heart. Arcas began to cry loudly for his mother and what he had done to her. When he realized that it was Zeus that had changed her into the bear, he grew even angrier. Zeus, fearing that Hera might hear the cries, went down to earth to try to appease Arcas. In order to hide what he had done, Zeus changed Callisto back into a bear and placed her form, as a constellation, into the northern sky as the Big Dipper. He then changed Arcas into the small bear (the Little Dipper). As Arcas was being placed into the sky, he turned to look at his mother Callisto (now the Big Dipper). That is why the Little Dipper is curved toward the Big Dipper, so that Arcas can watch over his mother Callisto for all eternity.
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