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Mythology of the constellation Aquarius

This is the eleventh zodiacal sign and one which has always been connected with water. To the Babylonians it represented an overflowing urn, and they associated this with the heavy rains which fell in their eleventh month, whilst the Egyptians saw the constellation as Hapi, the god of the Nile.

Greek legend, however, tells of Ganymede, an exceptionally handsome, young prince of Troy. He was spotted by Zeus, who immediately decided that he would make a perfect cup-bearer. The story then differs - one version telling how Zeus sent his pet eagle, Aquila, to carry Ganymede to Olympus, another that it was Zeus, himself, disguised as an eagle, who swept up the youth and carried him to the home of the gods. In either case, once Ganymede arrived, he had to contend with the wrath of Hera, wife of Zeus. She was annoyed on two counts - firstly, that her husband should have such strong feelings for a mere boy and, secondly, that Ganymede was to occupy the favoured position previously held by her own daughter Hebe, goddess of youth. But Zeus was not to be thwarted and Ganymede, often riding on Aquila and always carrying the golden cup, accompanied the great god on his travels, impressing him with his kindness. This was made manifest when, realising how in need of water the people on earth were, he pleaded with Zeus to be allowed to help them and was given permission to send down rain. Eventually he was glorified as Aquarius, god of rain, and placed amongst the stars.

 

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