(Hyginus 2.25. After the beast was slain by Heracles, Hera placed it amongst the stars as Draco. Poseidon in wrath sent a sea-monster to devour the girl. 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. Greek mythology linked the red anemone, sometimes called the windflower, to the death of Adonis. Yet their very artistry serves as an impediment to interpretation, since the … There is also a myth of progress, associated with Prometheus, god of craftsmen, but the progress is limited, for the 19th-century concept of eternal advancement is absent from Greek thought. According to Hesiod, four primary divine beings first came into existence: the Gap (Chaos), Earth (Gaea), the Abyss (Tartarus), and Love (Eros). ), Latin : Corvus (the Crow) CROTUS A horse-legged, satyr hunter who was a companion of the Muses on Mount Helicon. At her death it was placed amongst the stars. ), DOLPHINS OF DIONYSUS When Dionysus was travelling between the islands of the Aegean, he was captured by Tyrrhenian pirates. ), PHOLUS A centaur of Mount Pholoe in Arcadia who entertained Heracles in his cave. He was forced to sacrifice his daughter to a sea monster because the boasts of his wife Cassiopea offended the gods. (Hyginus 2.29 on Eubulus. ), 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. Sumerian : SUHUR.MÁSH (the Goat-Fish), AEGIPAN 1 A goatish sea god who came to the assistance of Zeus in the War of the Titans, and filled the enemy with panic. (Hyginus 2.32. Greek : Hêniokhos (the Charioteer) ), CROWN OF DIONYSUS The crown of the god of wine. (Hyginus 2.17. As a memorial of this successful ruse he placed an eagle and swan in the sky as the constellations Cygnus and Aquila. ), RAM OF AMMON 2 An Egyptian (god) named Hammon was the first to herd flocks of sheep. Sumerian : UGA-MUSHEN (the Raven), CORONIS A Thessalian girl loved by the god Apollo. Greek : Krios (the Ram) (Hyginus 2.22. (Hyginus 2.2 on Thales of Miletus. The god won and killed the beast, but Dionysus in pity set it amongst the stars on the back of Cancer. He’s one of those fellows you’d love to have a pint and ploughman’s lunch with on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. ), 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. ), Latin : Libra (the Scales) The Greek myths are allegorical, and I bet the smart ancients knew better than to take them literally. As a memorial Zeus commemorated the deed amongst the stars of heaven. ), MYRTILUS The charioteer of King Oinomaos of Pisa, and a son of the god Hermes. (Hyginus 2.40. ), Latin : Capricorn (the Goat Horn) (Hyginus 2.7, Aratus 268. (Hyginus 2.3 on Eratosthenes. To resolve the contrary fates of the two animals, Zeus placed them amongst the stars as the constellations Canis Major and Minor to play out the chase unresolved for eternity. ), 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. He in turn gave it to Ariadne as reward for the assistance she provided him in navigating the passages of the Labyrinth. Jealousy was the motive for the slaying of Niobe’s many children, because Niobe flaunted her fecundity to the goddess Leto, who had only two offspring. 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. It tarried in the task, and as punishment was placed amongst the stars as the constellation Corvus, along with the serpent Hydra, and the water-cup Crater. Greek : Oistos (the Arrow) (Hyginus 2.6 on Hergesianax. Thus, whereas Heracles, a man of Tiryns, may originally have been a historical character, the myth of his demise on Oeta and subsequent elevation to full divinity is closely linked with a cult. No worship is offered to the deity concerned. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership, Sources of myths: literary and archaeological, Greek mythological characters and motifs in art and literature. (Hyginus 2.38. Greek : Kyôn (the Dog) Sumerian : AL.LUL (the Crab), Latin : Aselli (the Asses) As a reward for this service Poseidon set him amongst the stars as a constellation. 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. The ancient Phoenicians navigated by her stars. ), TRIOPAS A Thessalian king. (Hyginus 2.9. Greek : Ornis (the Bird) or Kygnos (the Swan), SWAN OF LEDA When Zeus wanted to seduce the goddess Nemesis he transformed himself into a swan, and bade Aphrodite in the guise of an eagle pursue him into her lap. Greek : Krêtêr (the Drinking Cup), CUP OF PHOLUS The drinking cup of the the centaur Pholos. Greek : Êridanos or Potamos (the River) ), Latin : Draco (the Dragon) (Hyginus 2.16 & 2.29. For those unfamiliar with the basic visible mechanics of constellar movement, what follows is a brief outline, including Greek beliefs regarding the behaviour of the stars. So, he imprisoned them into the hidden places of the earth, Gaea's womb. {Hyginus 2.20 on Hermippus. 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. Both Asclepius and the arrow were placed amongst the stars, as Ophiochus and Sagitta respectively. ), ERIGONE An Athenian maiden, the daughter of Icarius, the man who Dionysus first instructed in the making of wine. Because Zeus was fond of both he placed the pair amongst the stars as the constellations Capra and Capricorn. Greek : Skorpios (the Scorpion) Her mother offended the gods by boasting that the girl was more beautiful than the Nereids. Astraea herself was Virgo. Heracles slew them, but Pholus examining one of the poisonous arrows let it fall on his foot and died. In Greek mythology, Narcissus (/ n ɑːr ˈ s ɪ s ə s /; Ancient Greek: Νάρκισσος Nárkissos) was a hunter from Thespiae in Boeotia who was known for his beauty. Greek : Pleiades (the Ladies of Plenty) *. The Dioscuri came to the rescue of sailors in distress. ), OTHER DOGS The dogs of Icarius and Orion were sometimes identified with Canis Minor instead of the usual Canis Major. Upon reaching Colchis the ram shed its golden fleece for Phrixus who hung it in a sacred grove, and flew up to the heavens to take a place amongst the stars as the dimly shining constellation Aries. ), MILK OF RHEA When the Titaness Rhea presented a stone wrapped in swaddling cloth to Cronus as substitute for the infant Zeus, the Titan pressed it against her breast and milk flowed forth which flowed formed the Milky Way. 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. Akkadian : Purattu (the Euphrates) ), Latin : Lyra (the Lyre) Not often identifiable in Greek art, she appeared as a modestly veiled woman. Greek : Hydra (the Water Serpent) ), DEUCALION An early Greek king who managed to survive the great Deluge that was sent by Zeus to destroy mankind. The lion was then placed by Hera amongst the stars as the constellation Leo. When Asclepius dared to extend his craft by bringing back men from the dead, Zeus struck him dead with a thunderbolt. 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. The ram carried them across the seas, but Helle lost her grip and fell. When she was chained to the rocks, the hero Perseus spied her, slew the beast, and carried her off as his wife. He was placed amongst the stars as a man bent down on one knee in supplication along with his lyre. Their match was memorialised amongst the stars as the constellation Gemini. Homer barely mentions the judgment of Paris, but he knew the far from trivial consequences for Troy of the favour of Aphrodite and the bitter enmity of Hera and Athena, which the “judgment of Paris” was composed to explain. (1) the Nemean Lion, constellation Leo; (2) the Hydra and Crab, constellations Hydra and Cancer; (3) the Stymphalian Birds, constellations Lyra and Cygnus; (4) the Cretan Bull, constellation Taurus; (5) the Hesperian Dragon, constellation Serpens; (6) Herakles wrestling Apollon, constellation Gemini; (7) Prometheus and the Caucasian Eagle, constellations Hercules and Aquilla; (8) the centaur Cheiron or Pholus, constellation Saggitarius or Centaurus; et. These myths do not suggest theriolatry. As a memorial the hero was placed amongst the stars along with the serpent which coiled around his staff. The god drove them to terror with his illusions and, when they leapt from the ship, he transformed them into dolphins. (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. Greek : The Greek name of the constellation. Akkadian : Zappu (the Bristle) (Hyginus 2.14. (Hyginus 2.38. Sumerian : MUL.MUL (the Stars), BULL OF EUROPA When the Phoenician princess Europa was playing by the sea shore, Zeus approached her in the guise of a bull and, tempting her to climb onto his back, carried her away to the island of Crete. Hesiod may have known this version; he wishes to have been born either earlier or later. ), Latin : Hydra (the Water Serpent) (This subjection of myth to history is not universal in Greece, but it is found in writers such as Hesiod, Xenophanes, Pindar, Aeschylus, and Plato.) On the other hand, events described in the Iliad probably owe far more to Homer’s creative ability than to genuine tradition. (Hyginus 2.36. (Hyginus 2.23. Hero myths included elements from tradition, folktale, and fiction. The boy and eagle were placed amongst the stars as the adjacent constellations Aquarius and Aquila. Heracles later released him from his torment, felling the eagle with an arrow. (Hyginus 2.21, Aratus 254. According to Greek cosmological concepts, the Earth was viewed as a flat disk afloat on the river of Ocean. 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. ), AEX OF PAN The goatish wife of the god Pan. ), HELICE A nymph who nursed the infant god Zeus on Mount Ida in Crete. Greek : Toxeutês (the Archer) They were regarded as semi-divine spirits--living, conscious entities which strode across the heavens. In memorial the god placed it amongst the stars as the constellation Ara. Akkadian : Gamlu (the Crook) There she was said to continue to hide from her father, setting just as her father's own constellation was on the rise. Sumerian : LÚ.HUN.GÁ (the Hired Man), CHRYSOMALLUS A flying, golden-fleeced ram. 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. Mythos – The Greek Myths retold by Stephen Fry is a delight. ), PROMETHEUS As punishment for his defiance of Zeus, the Titan Prometheus was chained to Mount Caucasus where an eagle set to feed on his ever-regenerating liver. The adventures of Heracles can be paired with the following constellations : (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 2.26. (Hyginus 2.32. (Hyginus 2.6. ), SERPENT OF APOLLO A water-serpent was placed amongst the stars by the god Apollo in the form of the constellation Hydra, to guard the heavenly bowl Crater, preventing the crow Corvus from drinking. Greek Mythology >> Star Myths (Constellations) STAR MYTHS. ), THAMYRIS A bard who was blinded by the Muses as punishment for daring to challenge them to a musical contest. (Hyginus 2.2 on Aglaosthenes, Aratus 25. (Hyginus 2.20 on Hesiod & Pherecydes & Eratosthenes. (the Goat Horn) By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. ), ORPHEUS A Thracian bard who was torn to pieces by the Bacchantes when they caught him spying on their secret rites. (Hyginus 2.40 on Istrus. (Hyginus 2.22. ), Latin : Scorpio (the Scorpion) Some say Orpheus was himself represented nearby in the form of the constellation "Hercules," the Kneeling Man. (Aratus 137. As thanks for his help the god set him amongst the stars as the goat-fish constellation Capricorn. When Zeus sought to overthrow these same Titans he was told by an oracle to make a goat-skin cape, and so he slew Aex and crafted the aegis. Greek : Stephanos (the Crown) She was later placed amongst the stars as the constellation Ursa Major, along with her son Arcas, who became Bootes. (Hyginus 2.38. His oxen and plough were set alongside him as the Wain, i.e., the constellations Ursa Major and Minor. ), Latin : Aries (the Ram) The creative process began with the forcible separation of Gaea from her doting consort Heaven (Uranus) in order to allow her progeny to be born. (Hyginus 2.13. ), ALTAR OF PHOLUS The kindly centaur Pholus was set amongst the stars by Zeus for his skill in augury. No doubt the “fundamentalists” would have disagreed, just as benighted Christians do today. According to Greek Mythology, Persephone, the queen of the underworld, was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, the goddess of harvest and fertility. Poseidon took the shape of a stallion to beget the wonder horses Arion and Pegasus. The most important of the heliacal risings were those of the twelve constellations of the zodiac. (Hyginus 2.13 on Parmeniscus, Aratus 161. Others say he became Saggitarius. ), Latin : Ursa Major (the Great Bear) Thus, the loves of Apollo, virtually ignored by Homer and Hesiod, explained why the bay (or laurel) became Apollo’s sacred tree and how he came to father Asclepius, a healing god. (Hyginus 2.29 on Hegesianax. ), Latin : Lepus (the Hare) He was placed amongst the stars by Apollo and the Muses as a kneeling man with a lyre. Hera was still furious and forbade Callisto's stars ever set into the river Oceanus. (Hyginus 2.19. After her death it was set amongst the stars as the constellation Corona. The constellations revolve round a central point in the northern sky known as the pole star, or heavenly axis (Greek polos). Summerian : MUSH (the Snake), LERNAEAN HYDRA A monstrous nine-headed serpent which haunted the springs of Lerna. He hated his children and didn’t want to allow them to see the light of day. Sumerian : (the Stag? Greek : Ôriôn (the Mountain Man?) ), Latin : Delphinus (the Dolphin) (Hyginus 2.6. Akkadian : Suhurmashû (the Goat-Fish) Welcome to the Theoi Project, a site exploring Greek mythology and the gods in classical literature and art. Greek : Protrugêtêr (the Vintager), ASTRAEA The maiden goddess of justice, who departed from the earth at the start of the Brazen Age of Man. 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. ), HARE OF HERMES A hare was placed amongst the stars by the god Hermes in honour of the species' bountiful fertility. Greek mythology - Greek mythology - Types of myths in Greek culture: Myths of origin represent an attempt to render the universe comprehensible in human terms. He received it as a gift from Aphrodite and after his return from the underworld with his mother Semele he set it amongst the stars in memorial of the event. It was tamed by the hero Bellerophon who rode it into battle against the three-headed monster Chimera. Greek : Karkinos (the Crab) As a reward for his zeal he was placed amongst the stars as the constellation Saggitarius. In this way he accomplished his seduction and in memorial placed an eagle and swan amongst the stars. Greek : Drakôn (the Dragon), HESPERIAN DRAGON The huge serpent which guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides. Thus, though the aim of Hesiod’s Theogony is to describe the ascendancy of Zeus (and, incidentally, the rise of the other gods), the inclusion of such familiar themes as the hostility between the generations, the enigma of woman (Pandora), the exploits of the friendly trickster (Prometheus), and the struggles against powerful beings or monsters like the Titans (and, in later tradition, the Giants) enhances the interest of an epic account. Those of the Golden Age never grew old, were free from toil, and passed their time in jollity and feasting. As a memorial the whole family--Cepheus, Cassiopea, Andromeda and Perseus--were placed amongst the stars. ), LYRE OF ORPHEUS The lyre of the great bard Orpheus, who could charm animals, trees and rocks with his music. The lyre was represented by the adjacent constellation Lyra. ), Latin : Cygnus (the Swan) Sumerian : GU.LA (the Great), GANYMEDES A handsome Trojan prince. ), MELANIPPE A daughter of the centaur Chiron. As a memorial the god set the creature amongst the stars as the constellation Aries, first of the twelve signs of the zodiac. (Hyginus 2.21 on Euripides. ), Latin : Leo (the Lion) Her son by Apollo was Asclepius, the constellation Ophiochus. (Hyginus 2.43. Her father and was placed beside her in the form of the Kneeler ("Hercules") apparently lamenting her fate. Like sea deities, sileni possessed secret knowledge that they would reveal only under duress. Yet their very artistry serves as an impediment to interpretation, since the Greeks embellished the myths with folktale and fiction told for its own sake. She was also called Kore, which means "maiden" and grew up to be a lovely girl attracting the attention of many gods. (Hyginus 2.5. Sumerian : Á.MUSHEN (the Eagle), EAGLE OF APHRODITE When Zeus wished to seduce the goddess Nemesis, he transformed himself into a swan, and bade Aphrodite pursue him into her lap in the guise of an eagle. Greek : Kêtos (the Sea Monster or Whale), ETHIOPIAN CETUS A sea monster which was sent by Poseidon to ravage the land of Ethiopia to punish Queen Cassiopea for her prideful boasts comparing her daughter Andromeda to the Nereids. ), ASS OF SILENUS The donkey mount of the old rustic god Silenus. (Hyginus 2.16. The gods placed him amongst the stars as the constellation Centaurus, along with his drinking cup Crater. Greek : Delphin (the Dolphin) As a memorial of her trials, Io was set amongst the stars as the constellation "Taurus." (Hyginus 2.35. Water nymphs (Naiads) were reputed to drown those with whom they fell in love, such as Hylas, a companion of Heracles. ), CEPHEUS A King of Aethiopia and father of the lovely Andromeda. ), IO THE HEIFER The Argive princess Io was loved by Zeus, who transformed her into a cow to hide her from the jealous gaze of his wife Hera. Stephen Fry, for those of you who know him, is an irrepressibly talented raconteur, comedian, writer, TV host (QI), actor and atheist. Akkadian : Alluttu (the Crab) Gods sometimes assumed the form of beasts in order to deceive goddesses or women. Sumerian : UR.GU.LA (the Lion), NEMEAN LION A lion whose hide was impervious to weapons which terrorized the countryside of Nemea. Similarly, the exploits of the Dioscuri are those of typical heroes: fighting, carrying off women, and cattle rustling. ), Latin : Ophiuchus In the story of his death, Orion was either killed by Artemis or by a scorpion sent by Gaea to punish him for boasting that he would slay all the creatures of the earth. (Hyginus 2.21 on Pherecydes. ), Latin : Pisces (the Fishes) Daedalus and Icarus, antique bas-relief; in the Villa Albani, Rome. In memory of the event a pair of fish were set amongst the stars as the constellation Pisces. The saga of the Argonauts, for example, is highly complex and includes elements from folktale and fiction. She was rescued by Perseus, who slew the beast. 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 : Thytêrios (the Altar), ALTAR OF ZEUS When Zeus had gathered allies for the Titan War, they made sacrifices on an atlar constructed by the Cyclopes to pledge their alliegance. He leads it in the chase of the hare (Lepus) or the fox (Canis Minor). Consequently, Zeus hid them in the Earth, where they became spirits among the dead. (Hyginus 2.33. Many myths are treated as trivial and lighthearted, but this judgment rests on the suppressed premise that any divine behaviour that seems inappropriate for a major religion must have seemed absurd and fictitious to the Greeks. Heracles slew it as one of his twelve labours, along with its ally the crab. But she proved unfaithful and Artemis slew her with her arrows. Only those few closest to the pole--namely, Ursa Major and Minor (the Bears), and Draco (the Dragon)--appear to travel at night in an eternal circle around the pole. Triptolemus was a hero who first instructed mankind in the art of agriculture, while Iasion was her lover on the island of Samothrace, lying with her in a thrice-plowed field. ), PLEIADES Seven nymphs whose stars form the "tail of the Bull" Taurus. Akkadian : Sisû (the Horse) Greek : Hyades (the Rainy Ones), Latin : Vergiliae (Hyginus 2.3. (Hyginus 2.26, Aratus 634. As a reward for his gift to mankind Athena placed him amongst the stars as the constellation Auriga. ), ORSILOCHUS An Argive man who in local legend was the inventor of the chariot. When she boasted that her daughter was more beautiful than the Nereids, Poseidon sent a sea monster to devour the girl. Certain heroes—Heracles, the Dioscuri (the twins Castor and Pollux), Amphiaraus (one of the Argonauts), and Hyacinthus (a youth whom Apollo loved and accidentally killed)—may be regarded as partly legend and partly religious myth. As memorial the kindly animal was placed amongst the stars. ), CROW OF APOLLO A crow which was sent by Apollo to fetch water for libations. (Hyginus 2.31. 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. (Hyginus 2.18 on Euripides. ), Latin : Cetus (the Sea Monster or Whale) (Hyginus 2.1 & 2.6 on Araethus of Tegea. 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. When she became pregnant by the hero Aeolus, she hid herself away in a forest in shame, and prayed that her father might not find her. In time, Heracles’ popularity was responsible for connecting his story with the Argonauts, an earlier attack on Troy, and with Theban myth. They were said to rule the heavens for the period in which their position on the eastern horizon prior to dawn was replaced by the rising sun. (Hyginus 2.39. ), NILE The great river of Egypt was placed amongst the stars as the constellations Eridanus and Delta. As the months progress it is seen to rise earlier and earlier in the night, and gradually assumes a higher position in the heavens prior to dawn, until one evening, it has reached the western horizon, before dissappearing completely from view (which is known as the constellation's astronomical setting). (Hyginus 2.13 on Eratosthenes. (Hyginus 2.10 on Euripides & Sophocles. Greek : Leon (the Lion) Greek : Hippos (the Horse) or Pegasos After their voyage in search of the Golden Fleece, the ship was placed amongst the stars in memorial as the constellation Argo. Most of the Greek deities were adopted by the Romans, although in many cases there was a change of name. 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