The Legends Behind The Signs

Rachel Larsen


Aries is represented by the ram and is the first of the twelve zodiac constellations. This is derived from a Greek myth about a heroic ram with golden fleece. The legend goes that there was once a king whose second wife was very jealous of his existing children from his previous marriage, specifically one child named Phrixus. She plotted his downfall and death by bribing an oracle to make it seem like the only way to save their corn crop was to sacrifice Phrixus. When he was about to be sacrificed along with his sister, a ram with golden fleece saved them. The ram was sent by Zeus in response to the Phrixus mother's prayers. Phrixus sent thanks to Zeus by sacrificing the ram and giving the fleece to the King.


Taurus is the bull constellation, a story where a man named Theseus volunteered to offer food to the horrible beast, the Minotaur. A Minotaur is a half man, half beast creature that had been ruling over Athens. Poseidon sent him a wonderful bull to give to the creature, but Theseus thought that bull was too great to be sacrificed, so he made a substitution. Theseus arrived to give the food but instead fought the Minotaur, with the help of Ariadne. He was able to defeat the the beast and end the tribute.


The sign of the Twins comes from half-brothers Castor and Pollux. The two hatched from an egg of their mother, Leda. Pollux's father was Zeus and Castor was the son of Leda's mortal king husband. They did everything together and others called them the Discori instead of their individual names. They joined Jason on a quest for the Golden Fleece and Castor was killed during a raid. Pollux was so distraught by his death that Zeus put them together in the stars forever.


The Crab in Cancer's legend comes from Hera wanting to kill Hercules. She sent a giant crab to go hurt Hercules while he was in a fight with the Hydra. The crab clamped on Hercules foot and, reacting in pain, Hercules stomped on the crab which killed it. Hera appreciated the crab's effort so she put it in the stars as a way of honoring it.


One of Hercules first tasks was to defeat the Nemean Lion. All weapons were useless against its impermeable pelt, and Hercules had to strangle the lion to kill it. Once the lion was dead Hercules wore its pet to protect him in battle. The lion was put in the stars to commemorate the harsh fight and its use after death.


Virgo is associated with the virgin, or Demeter the goddess of the harvest. Virgo is the only constellation without a real story and instead represents virtue and seasons change. It is often depicted as a maiden carrying wheat.


The scales of Libra represent equality, and The Goddess of Justice, Themis. In this constellation all things are considered the same and everything is balanced.


The Scorpion of Scorpio is credited as the one who killed Orion. Gaia released the scorpion from her breast to sting Orion for his pridefulness. Orion was immediately sent to an early death and Gaia rose the scorpion to the stars to commemorate her victory.


Sagittarius or Chiron, son of the Titan Cronos was one of the many centaurs in Greek mythology. Chiron however differed from all of the other centaurs for for a number of reasons. Chiron was known for his kindness and gentleness. He was accidentally shot with a poisoned arrow by Hercules and being immortal, Chiron could not die but was pained by the poisoned arrow and his wound was not fixable. In order to die, Chiron made an offer to Prometheus the Titan. As he gave up his immortality to release Prometheus from his chains, Zeus king of the gods saw the kindness of Chiron and immortalized him in the stars.


When Zeus was born his mother took him to Crete to be raised there in fear that he would be eaten by his father Cronus. He was taken in by a local golden goat nymph who raised him until he could fend for himself. When he became 'father to all Gods' he thanked his goat mother by putting her in the stars.


Zeus saw all the human behaving savagely, and so he had plans to bring a huge storm and flood/drown everyone. He saw Deucalion and his wife living in a hut, and they boarded him and showed him kindness despite not knowing who he was. Zeus spared them from the flood, and Deucalion helped Zeus build a greater race of man.


The monster Typhon was born from Gaia in revenge because Zeus had killed her giant children. Typhon was a horrible creature that was coiled snakes from the thigh down and had arms miles long. Aphrodite and her son Heros were among those being pursued by the monster and they turned into fish to escape. They tied their tails together so they would not lose one another.