Altar (Ara). This constellation, some
say, was constructed by the CYCLOPES, and it marked
the place where the gods made offerings before
waging war against the TITANS. Others say,
however, that The Altar commemorates the victory
against the GIANTS, and
that it was set up by Zeus (Hyg.Ast.2.39; Man.1.421ff.).
Andromeda, the Ethiopian princess daughter of Cepheus 1, was placed as a constellation among the stars by the favor of Athena on
account of the courage of Perseus 1, who saved her (Hyg.Ast.2.11; Man.1.356, 5.538ff.).
Aquarius or Water Bearer (Aquarius). This
constellation, said to be protected by Hera, represents either Ganymedes, who is
cupbearer in Heaven, or Deucalion 1, who
survived the Flood during which much water poured from the sky, or King Cecrops 1 of Athens, who
reigned before wine was discovered (Hyg.Ast.2.29; Man.2.433ff.).
Aquarius or Water Bearer (Aquarius)
Archer (Sagittarius). This constellation,
which is protected by Artemis, represents
Crotus, a companion of the MUSES that was put by Zeus among the stars (Hyg.Ast.2.27; Man.2.433ff.).
Arcturus (in constellation Bootes). This particularly bright star (Alpha Bootis) is Icarius 2, the man who received from Dionysus 2 a branch of
a vine and learned from him the process of making wine. He was killed by some
shepherds who having drunk his wine imagined they were bewitched. He had a daughter Erigone 2, who hanged herself when she discovered her father's body (Apd.3.14.7; Hyg.Ast.2.4, 2.35; Hyg.Fab.224; Nonn.47.116, 47.251).
Argo (Puppis). This constellation
commemorates the "Argo", vessel of the ARGONAUTS (Ara.Phae.348; Hyg.Ast.2.37; Man.5.36). Puppis was in the 1750s subdivided into four constellations: Carina, Puppis, Pyxis and Vela (keel, poop, compass and sails).
Arrow (Sagitta). About the Arrow it has
been said that it represents either the weapon with
wich Heracles 1 killed
the eagle that devoured the liver of Prometheus 1, or the
arrow with which Apollo killed the CYCLOPES,
after the death of his son Asclepius (Apd.2.5.11; Dio.4.15.2; Hes.The.527; Hyg.Ast.2.15; Hyg.Fab.31).
Asses (Asellus Borealis and Asellus Australis
in the constellation of Cancer). The Northern
Donkey (Delta Cancri) and the Southern Donkey
(Gamma Cancri) could be either the asses who
carried Dionysus 2 and
helped him to reach a temple, or the asses who
assisted Zeus in his war
against the GIANTS (Hyg.Ast.2.23) (see also Dionysus 2 and Gigantomachy).
Balance (Libra). The constellation of
Balance was wrought by Hephaestus, who is its protector (Man.2.433ff.).
Bear-Watcher (Bootes). This constellation, also called the Herdsman, is Arcas 1, whom impious Lycaon 2 served to Zeus at a banquet as a meal. Otherwise Arcas 1, after whom Arcadia was named, is
known for being the child of Zeus and Callisto, the woman who was turned into a bear. Arcas 1 is called Arctophylax; for he guards Arctos (the Great Bear). It is said that when Arcas 1 was grown up and was hunting in the woods, he saw his mother Callisto turned into a
bear and, not recognizing her, tried to kill her.
He then chased her into the temple of Zeus Lycaeus, where the
penalty for entering is death, according to
Arcadian law. Since both would have to die, Zeus, they say, snatched them up and made them immortal putting them among the stars. This is why Arcas 1 is seen in the sky following the Bear, that is, his mother Callisto. Others have said that Bootes represents Icarius 2 (see also Arcturus above), who was called Bootes because he put his full wineskins on a wagon (the Bear looking as a wagon), after receiving the wine, the vine and the
grape from Dionysus 2, so that he could teach men how to plant and how to use what was produced.When Icarius 2, they say, had planted the vine and had made it flourish, a goat broke into the vineyard nibbling the tenderest leaves. So Icarius 2 killed the goat, made a sack from the skin and, blowing it up, cast it among his friends, instructing them to dance around it. Others have said that when Icarius 2 showed his wagon full of wine to some
shepherds, they, having drunk the wine in large quantities,
were intoxicated. Other shepherds then, witnessing
the unseemly behavior that the excess of wine caused in their comrades, thought that Icarius 2 had given them poison. Because of this suspicion they killed him and threw his body into a well, although some say that they buried near a certain tree. However when the drunken party woke up, they said that they never had rested better and asked for Icarius 2, wishing to offer him a reward; but the murderers, having understood their mistake, at once took to flight. Later, when Icarius 2's daughter Erigone 2 was longing for her father, the dog of Icarius 2, called Maera 2, having come to her with howls and lamentations, took hold of her dress with its teeth and led her to her father's body. Having thus discovered what had happened to her father, Erigone 2, overcome with loneliness and poverty, hanged herself from the tree beneath which her father was buried. And after her even the dog left this life, casting itself into a well. They say that Zeus or Dionysus 2, moved by their fates, put them all among the stars: Icarius 2 in Bootes, Erigone 2 in the Virgin, and the dog in Procyon (Hyg.Ast.2.4).
Bowl (Crater). This constellation, also
called The Cup, shows, some say, the Bowl in which
Mastusius mixed with wine the blood of the daughters of Demophon 3. The latter, who was King of Elaeusa near Troy, had to sacrifice one girl every year because of a plague which had fallen over the country. That was the remedy recommended by an oracle. However he would always pass over his own daughters, choosing by lot, on every occasion, one of the daughters of the nobles. This unfair scheme offended Mastusius, a man of the highest rank, who said that he would not allow his daughter to participate in the drawing unless the king's daughters were included. Some rulers, however, deeply disliking to be called unjust, find such occasions adequate to give lessons and warnings to others on the subject of authority. This is why he decided to kill Mastusius' daughter without drawing lots at all. At first Mastusius pretended not to resent the outrage, seeming to believe that his daughter might have perished anyway if the lots had been taken. And as it is easy to induce him, who has committed a evil deed, to forget it, the king, seeing that Mastusius was in friendly terms with him, left the whole story behind. One day Mastusius invited Demophon 3 and his daughters for a celebration at his house, and as the king was busy with a state affair, he sent his daughters ahead, saying that he would come later. When the king's daughters arrived Mastusius killed them and, mixing their blood with wine in a bowl, bade it be given as a drink to the king on his arrival. When Demophon 3 learned what had happened, he ordered Mastusius and the bowl to be thrown into the sea, but ancient Astronomers pictured it in stars, so that men might bear in mind that no one can profit from an evil deed with impunity, nor can hostilities be easy forgotten. Others say that this is the Bowl that a certain
crow had to fill with water at Apollo's request and,
instead of performing his task, he stayed away
eating figs. It is told that when Apollo was preparing a celebration, he sent a crow with a bowl in his hooked claws to fetch water from running springs. The crow, however, found first a fig-tree loaded with fruit, but as the figs were still unripe he perched under the tree, waiting for them to sweeten. When at last the crow had eaten his fill, he snatched a water-snake and, returning to his master, he told him that the creeping beast, having kept the spring from flowing, was the cause of his delay. This is how the crow attempted to cheat the god of prophecy, and this is the reason why, some say, the three constellations (the Crow, the Serpent and the Bowl) are seen together (Hyg.Ast.2.40; Ov.Fast.2.243ff.).
Bull (Taurus). This constellation,
protected by Aphrodite, represents
the Bull who carried off Europa (Hyg.Ast.2.21; Man.2.433ff.; Nonn.33.287, 38.394).
Canopus (star Alpha Carinae). This star, located in the constellation Carina, is said to be Canopus, an island in the Nile. Because of this some have said that the river Eridanus represents the Nile (Hyg.Ast.2.32).
Goat in Charioteer (Capella in Auriga; Alpha
Aurigae). This star is the goat Amalthea, who
gave her breast to Zeus (see Zeus) (Ara.Phae.162).
Capricorn or Sea Goat (Capricornus). This
constellation protected by Hestia, represents either Aegipan 1 who was nourished together with Zeus, or Pan, who was transformed in Egypt during Typhon's attack. To Aegipan 1, son of Pan and Aex, and not to Pan, some attribute the kind
of fear that is called "panic", which he cast into
the TITANS during the
Titanomachy. They add that the lower part of his
body looks like a fish, because he also hurled
shellfish against the TITANS, instead of
stones. Concerning Pan they
say that he, in order to escape Typhon, cast
himself into the river, making the lower part of
his body a fish, and the rest a goat, and that Zeus, admiring his shrewdness, put this shape among the constellations (Hyg.Ast.2.28; Man.2.433ff.).
Cassiopeia (Cassiopeia). This is Cassiopea 2, who boasted that she excelled the NEREIDS in beauty. Also
her daughter Andromeda, and the
latter's husband Perseus 1, and Andromeda's father Cepheus 1, are among the stars (Hyg.Ast.2.10).
Centaur (Centaurus). This constellation
shows either the wise Centaur Chiron, or the Centaur Pholus 1. Chiron is believed to have gained this honour because of his conscientiousness and diligence, and Pholus 1 because he was considered to be more skilled in prophecy than the rest of the CENTAURS. Both of them are seen coming to the altar with a victim for sacrifice (Hyg.Ast.2.38; Ov.Fast.5.379).
Cepheus (Cepheus). Cepheus 1 was placed by the gods among the stars to commemorate the whole family on account of the saving of Andromeda by Perseus 1 (see also these and Cassiopea 2) (Hyg.Ast.2.9).
Charioteer (Auriga). Some say that this constellation shows King Erichthonius 2 of Athens, said to be the first to use the four-horse chariot (quadriga). Others say it represents Orsilochus 6, the man from Argos who invented the four-horse chariot. Still others say that this constellation is Myrtilus, placed by his father Hermes in the sky after
being murdered by Pelops 1 (see this name) (Hyg.Ast.2.13; Nonn.33.293).
Crab (Cancer). This constellation,
protected by Hermes and
put among the stars by Hera, represents the crab
that was killed by Heracles 1 while he was fighting the Hydra (Hyg.Ast.2.23; Man.2.33, 2.433ff.).
Crow (Corvus). This constellation shows either Crow 1, which is the crow that reported to Apollo about the love between Coronis 2 and Ischys, or Crow 3, the crow that had to fetch water and bring it to Apollo, but returned without it and with a lying tale about a Serpent that had prevented his filling the Bowl with water (see also Bowl). Coronis 2 was killed by Apollo, and as she was burning, he snatched his son Asclepius from the pyre. (Hyg.Ast.2.40. b)Ov.Fast.2.243ff.).
Crown (Corona Borealis). This
constellation of the Northern Crown, some say, is Dionysus 2's wedding
gift to Ariadne, or
perhaps the wedding gift she received from Aphrodite and the HORAE, or else Aphrodite's gift to Dionysus 2. It has
also been said that Thetis gave this crown to Theseus and that it had
been originally given to her as a wedding gift by Aphrodite. Others have
said that this was Amphitrite's gift to Theseus which he gave to Ariadne when he married
her. Still others say that the crown that Aphrodite gave to Ariadne, was given to
the goddess by her husband Hephaestus (Ara.Phae.71; Hyg.Ast.2.5; Man.1.323., 5.21; Nonn.1.202; Ov.Fast.3.514).
Dog (Canis Major). The constellation of the Greater Dog is, according to some, the extraordinary dog Laelaps 2, which was given by Zeus as a guardian for Europa, and later
acquired by King Minos 2 of Crete, who gave it to Procris 2 as a bribe so that she would lie in his bed beside him. It was fated that no beast could ever escape Laelaps 2; however he met his end chasing the Cadmean Fox, which was fated to outrun all dogs (see Amphitryon). Zeus solved this impossible
equation by turning both into stone. Others have
said that this constellation is one of Orion's dogs, and still others call it Maera 2, which is the dog of Icarius 2, who was murdered by shepherds (see above) (Hyg.Ast.2.35; Ov.Fast.4.939).
Dolphin (Delphinus). This constellation
is the Dolphin which persuaded Amphitrite to marry Poseidon, say some. For
she, they say, wishing to remain a virgin and
refusing to marry, fled to Mount Atlas. But the
Dolphin, carrying the messages of Poseidon, found her
and, having persuaded her to marry the god, himself
took charge of the wedding. It is for this
invaluable service that Poseidon put the Dolphin among the constellations. Others have said that the Tyrrhenian SAILORS or
pirates that tried to delude Dionysus 2 were charmed by the god and, casting themselves into the sea, became dolphins; the god then put the image of one of them among the stars. Still others say that this is the Dolphin which
bore Arion 2, the
citharist, from the Sicilian Sea to Taenarum. Arion 2 was a citharist
or lyre-player from Methymna who landed in Taenarum
during the reign of Pyranthus of Corinth. He was betrayed by his servants, but by singing attracted the dolphins that saved him (this story at Corinth) (Hyg.Ast.2.17; Ov.Fast.2.79ff.).
Eagle (Aquila). This constellation, which
some believe to be the eagle that brings back the
thunderbolts which Zeus has
flung, represents, according to some, the Eagle who
Others think that this is the eagle which Zeus saw as an omen for
attacking the TITANS.
Still others believe that the constellation
commemorates in fact Zeus himself who took the form of an eagle in order to
approach Aegina, mother of Aeacus. Yet it has also been said that this is the Eagle
which took Aphrodite's
sandal to Hermes. For Hermes fell in love with
the goddess, and being rejected by her, was pitied
by Zeus, who, when Aphrodite was bathing
in the river Achelous, sent an eagle to take her
sandal and give it to Hermes. This is how Aphrodite, seeking for
her sandal, had to come to him who loved her, and Hermes, having thus
attained his desire, put the eagle in the sky; for
those who make happy hours possible should never be
forgotten.Some, too, have said that the eagle could be Merops 3, who ruled the island of Cos, called after his daughter, and the inhabitants Meropians after himself. His wife Ethemea, one of the NYMPHS, was struck with
the arrows of Artemis for having ceased worshipping her and taken alive by Persephone to the Underworld. When Merops 3, grieving his wife, was about to commit suicide, Hera, pitying him, changed him into an eagle and put him among the constellations. She did not put him in the sky, they say, in human form, since he then would have a man's memory and would still be moved with longing for his wife (Hyg.Ast.2.16; Man.5.486; Nonn.33.297).
Eosphorus. Eosphorus has also been called Hesperus 1 and Phosphorus and Lucifer. But in fact this is the morning and the evening "star", which in reality is the planet calle Venus. In any case Eosphorus is the son of Eos (Dawn) either by Cephalus 2 or by Astraeus 1. He was husband of Philonis and was father by her of Ceyx. According to Conon, Philonis was daughter of Eosphorus (rather than her mate) (Apd.1.7.4; Con.7; Hes.The.378ff.; Hyg.Ast.2.42; Hyg.Fab.65, 161; Nonn.6.18; Ov.Met.11.271, 11.295; QS.5.132).
Eridanus or River (Eridanus). The
constellation of Eridanus is the Nile, say some,
the Ocean, say others, the Po say still others.
Eridanus is the river in which Phaethon 3, the son of Helius, fell after his attempt to drive his father's chariot (Dio.5.23.3; Hyg.Ast.2.32).
Fish (Piscis Austrinus). The Southern
Fish, which seems to take water in his mouth from
the sign of Aquarius, is believed to have once
saved Isis when she was in labor, and as a reward
she placed it among the stars. Yet others say that
the Fish commemorates the day when Aphrodite and her son Eros escaped Typhon turning into fishes (Hyg.Ast.2.41; Ov.Fast.2.458ff.).
Fishes (Pisces). This constellation,
protected by Poseidon,
commemorates Aphrodite and her son Eros, who escaped Typhon transforming into fishes (but see Fish above) (Hyg.Ast.2.30; Man.2.33, 2.433ff.).
Great Bear (Ursa Major). This is Callisto, who was
changed into a bear by Artemis and placed among
the stars by Zeus (Hyg.Ast.2.1; Man.2.29).
Hare (Lepus). This hare is said to be
fleeing the Dog of Orion (Ara.Phae.338; Hyg.Ast.2.33).
Horse (Pegasus). The Winged Horse is
Pegasus, whom Bellerophon rode when he killed Chimera. Others have said that this horse represents Melanippe 1, who was changed into a mare by Artemis. Melanippe 1, daughter of the Centaur Chiron, was brought up on
Mount Helicon as a huntress. She was loved by Aeolus 1 and conceived a
child by him. When she was about to give birth she
fled into the forest, praying to the gods not to
let her father, who supposed her a virgin, see her
in childbirth so that her father might not see that
she had given birth to a grandchild. And so when
her father was looking for her she was changed into
a mare and placed among the stars. Others have said
that, being a prophetess, she used to reveal the
plans of the gods to men, and for that reason she
was changed into a mare. Still others said that her
transformation occurred when she ceased hunting and
worshipping Artemis, and that it was this goddess who changed her into a mare (Hyg.Ast.2.18; Man.5.633).
HYADES (in Taurus). These stars are
either the sisters of Hyas, whose death they
grieved so much, or the NYMPHS LAMUSIDES who took
care of Dionysus 2.
But the HYADES 1,
sisters of Hyas (or else his daughters), are also
said to have been the nurses of Dionysus 2 being
sometimes called NYMPHS DODONIDES. When Hyas was
killed while hunting, the HYADES 1, given over to continual lamentation, are said to have perished, but having turned into stars, they are immortal. The NYMPHS LAMUSIDES (because they are daughters of Lamus 3, son of Zeus) are
the Naiads who took care of the child Dionysus 2; but having
been maddened by Hera would
have chopped up the baby had not Hermes come and stolen it (Hyg.Ast.2.21; Nonn.14.147).
Kneeler (Hercules). The Kneeler shows Heracles 1 trying to kill Ladon 4, the dragon of the HESPERIDES, or perhaps fighting the Ligurians, an Italian people. Or Theseus,
lifting the stone at Troezen (his father Aegeus 1 had put a
sword under it, and warned Theseus' mother not
to send him to Athens until he could lift the stone by his own
strength). Or Ceteus 1, son of impious Lycaon 2, lamenting
that Megisto was changed into a bear. Or Thamyris 1, blinded by the MUSES, kneeling as a
suppliant. Or Orpheus,
killed by the Thracian women. Or Ixion with his
arms bound, because he tried to attack Hera. Or Prometheus 1 bound (Hyg.Ast.2.6).
Lesser Bear (Ursa Minor). This
constellation shows Cynosura, an Idaean nymph and
nurse of Zeus, who was among the CURETES (see also CORYBANTES). She could also be Helice 1, nurse of Zeus and daughter of Olenus 1, son of Hephaestus (Hyg.Ast.2.2; Man.2.30).
Lion (Leo). This constellation, protected
by Zeus and Rhea 1, shows the Nemean
Lion, the first Labour of Heracles 1 (Hyg.Ast.2.24; Man.2.433ff., 5.206).
Lyre (Lyra). This constellation, put in
the sky by the MUSES,
represents the lyre made by Hermes and given to Orpheus by either Hermes or Apollo after the latter
had invented the cithara. Others say this is the
lyre of Theseus (Ara.Phae.269; Hyg.Ast.2.6, 2.7; Man.1.325).
Milky Way (Via Lactea). The band of stars
stretching across the sky, which build the galaxy,
was formed by the milk of Hera, which flowed when she
realized that she had been giving milk to Hermes (or Heracles 1) and thrust
him away. Others have said that Hera intended with her milk
to anoint and feed Dionysus 2 in order to heal his madness. Others say that it was the milk of Rhea 1, which flowed at
the time when she presented the stone to Cronos. The Milky Way, others believe, was created when
the heavens were set afire, when Phaethon 3 drove his
father Helius' chariot. It is also told that the Milky Way is formed by the souls of heroes, who freed from the body dwell in Heaven (Dio.5.23.3; Hyg.Ast.2.43; Man.1.736, 1.753, 1.758; Nonn.35.298ff.).
This is the hunter, who was put among the stars by Artemis, who mourned his death (but see Orion) (Hyg.Ast.2.34).
Perseus (Perseus). This constellation
commemorates the deliverance of Andromeda by Perseus 1. He was placed among the stars because of his nobility (Hyg.Ast.2.12; Man.2.28).
PLEIADES (Pleiades). This star cluster in the
constellation of Taurus commemorate the PLEIADES, daughters of Atlas and Pleione (Hyg.Ast.2.21; Man.5.710).
Polaris (Polaris in Ursa Minor or Alpha Ursae
Minoris). This star in the constellation Ursa Minor is Cynosura (see above) (Hyg.Ast.2.2).
Procyon (Canis Minor). The star Alpha Canis Minoris is called Procyon because it rises before the greater Dog. It may be one of the dogs of the hunter Orion (Hyg.Ast.2.4, 2.36).
Ram (Aries). This constellation,
protected by Athena, is
the Ram whose Golden Fleece had to be fetched by
the ARGONAUTS. Some
said, too, that the Ram was placed in the sky by Dionysus 2 to
commemorate another Ram, which led Dionysus 2's soldiers, when he was attacking Africa, to the place where there was an abundant supply of water (Hyg.Ast.2.20; Man.2.433ff., 4.516; Ov.Fast.4.903).
Scorpion (Scorpius). This constellation,
protected by Ares, shows
the Scorpion who killed Orion, having been sent
against him either by Gaia or by Artemis (Ara.Phae.634ff.; Hyg.Ast.2.26; Man.2.32, 2.433ff.).
Sea-Monster or Whale (Cetus). The
constellation of the Whale pictures the sea-monster
sent by Poseidon to
kill Andromeda (Hyg.Ast.2.31; Man.1.433, 5.656).
Serpent (Serpens). This constellation pictures Ladon 4, guardian-dragon of the golden apples of the HESPERIDES. Or the
Dragon thrown against Athena by the GIANTS, which the goddess snatched, threw, and fixed at the pole of heaven. Others say this is the serpent that a certain Crow (see Crow above) brought to Apollo, lying that it was the cause of his delay in fetching water in a Bowl at his master's request (see also Bowl above) (Hyg.Ast.2.3; Ov.Fast.2.243ff.).
Serpent-Holder (Ophiuchus). The
Serpent-Holder is King Carnabon of the Getae in
Thrace, who was placed among the stars by Demeter for having
killed one of the Dragons of Triptolemus' chariot
whom she had sent to distribute grain. Others say
that the constellation pictures Heracles 1, killing a
serpent in Lydia. It is also told that this is the
serpent, sent by Demeter to plague Triopas 2, for having torn down her temple. Still others say that Phorbas 2, the man who killed a great number of snakes in Rhodes, is commemorated
by this constellation. And yet others say that The
Serpent-Holder is Asclepius, put among
the stars by Zeus for the
sake of Apollo (Hyg.Ast.2.14).
Sirius (Sirius in Canis Major). The star
Alpha Canis Majoris was, some say, put in the sky
by Isis. Some call it the Dog of Orion; others call it Maera 2, the dog of Icarius 2 (see above) (Hom.Il.22.25; Hyg.Ast.2.35; Nonn.16.200; Ov.5.723).
Swan (Cygnus). Zeus visited Nemesis or Leda in the form of a swan which he afterwards placed among the stars as a constellation (Hyg.Ast.2.8; Man.1.337).
Triangle (Triangulum). This constellation
was placed in the sky by Hermes, so that Aries might be enhanced. It has been called Deltoton after the triangular Greek letter Delta, and it has been believed to picture Egypt, Ethiopia or Sicily (Hyg.Ast.2.19).
Twins (Gemini). The constellation of The
Twins, protected by Apollo, represent the brothers Castor 1 and Polydeuces (Pollux), called the DIOSCURI. Or Heracles 1 and Apollo. Or Triptolemus and Iasion (see Demeter). (Hyg.Ast.2.22; Man.2.433ff.).
Virgin (Virgo). This constellation,
protected by Demeter, is Dike, also called Astraea, the last of the immortals to leave earth. Some say the constellation pictures Erigone 2, placed among the stars for her filial affection. Others have said Tyche,
still others Demeter,
and yet others Parthenos, whom Apollo put among the stars because she died young. Parthenos was daughter of Chrysothemis 2, either by Apollo or by Staphylus 1, son of Ariadne (Ara.Phae.97; Hyg.Ast.2.25; Man.2.32, 2.433ff.).
Water-Snake (Hydra). This constellation,
the largest in the sky, commemorates the Hydra of Lerna, one of the Labours of Heracles 1 (Hyg.Ast.2.40) (see also BESTIARY).