The ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, Persians and Greeks all called this group of stars the Ram. Greek mythology states that the King of Thessaly had two children who, abused by their stepmother were rescued by a ram with a golden fleece sent by the god Hermes.
For over 5,000 years this constellation has been associated with a bull. Bulls have been worshipped since ancient times as symbols of strength and fertility. The ancient Egyptians worshipped Apis, the bull of Memphis, a real bull that was thought to be the incarnation of Osiris. The Israelites worshipped the Golden Calf. In classical times, the Greeks saw the constellation as Zeus disguised as a bull. The legend states that Zeus fell in love with the beautiful Europa, daughter of Agenor, King of Phoenicia. One day while playing at the waters edge, Europa's attention was caught by the majestic white bull, Zeus in animal form. The bull knelt before her as she approached it. She climbed upon its back, wreathing flowers around its horns. Springing to its feet, the bull took off into the sea and swam to Crete, where Zeus made Europa his mistress. It was their third son, Minos who later became king of Crete.
The twins were only half brothers, Castor and Pollux who hatched from the egg of their mother Leda, following her seduction by Zeus. The twins became Argonauts sailing with Jason in the quest for the golden fleece. Castor was killed by Idas in one of the Argonauts raiding trips. Pollux was so upset by his brothers death that Zeus placed them side by side in the heavens.
The Latin for Cancer means Crab, and in Greek mythology the crab was sent to distract Hercules when he was fighting with the monster Hydra. Hercules crushed the crab under his foot, and as a reward for its sacrifice, Hera (wife of Zeus), placed it among the stars.
The first on the list of Hercules' labors was the task of killing the Nemean Lion. A giant beast that roamed the hills of the Peloponnesian villages causing havoc. Hercules' arrows bounced harmlessly off of the lion's body, his sword bent in two and his wooden club smashed to pieces. Hercules had to wrestle the beast finally choking it to death. Hercules then wrapped the pelt of the lion around his body to protect himself from his second labor, killing the poisonous sea serpent Hydra. The lion found its way to the heavens to commemorate the great battle with Hercules.
Virgo is the only female figure among the constellations of the Zodiac. The Maiden has been attributed to many female deities over history. Among others, she has been identified with the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, the Roman goddess of justice, Astraea and the Greek goddess of the harvest, Demeter. As such, Virgo is usually depicted either holding an ear of wheat or carrying the scales of Libra the adjoining constellation.
Looking like a high flying kite, Libra is easy to find by extending a line westward from Antares. Libra is one of the constellations of the zodiac associated with Themis, the Greek goddess of justice whose attribute was a pair of scales. Originally these stars were thought to be part of the constellation of Scorpius. Our understanding is that Libra became a separate constellation during the times of the Romans.
In Greek mythology, it was Scorpius, the scorpion who finally killed Orion. As such the two constellations are set at opposite sides of the sky. The tail of this mighty scorpion lies next to Sagittarius with the pincers towards Libra. The northern end of this constellation is the home of the red super giant star, Antares. The Romans called this star 'Cor Scorpionis', the heart of the scorpion.
Sagittarius is located on the Milky Way. It is one of the twelve constellations to make the Zodiac, the most distinctive aspect of Sagittarius is the group of stars within it, which look like a teapot, complete with spout and handle. Sagittarius is often thought to represent a centaur, half man, half horse, and is usually considered to be Chiron, identified with the constellation of Centaurus. However, Sagittarius holds a drawn bow, not in character with Chiron who was known for his kindness and wisdom. Some say that Chiron was created to guide Jason and the Argonauts as they sailed on the Argo.
Carpricornus (or Capricorn) is usually translated as the 'The Sea Goat' or the 'Goat Fish'. This symbolism might relate to the story about the god Pan, who when fleeing the monster Typhon, leapt into the Nile. The part of him that was submerged turned into a fish tail, while his top half remained that of a goat.
In Greek mythology, Aquarius was 'cup-bearer to the Gods' (Ganymede). Ganymede was the son of Tros, king of Troy (according to Lucian, he was also son of Dardanus). While tending his father's flocks on Mount Ida, Ganymede was spotted by Jupiter. The king of gods became enamored of the boy and flew down to the mountain in the form of a large bird, whisking Ganymede away to the heavens. Ever since, the boy has served as cupbearer to the gods.This constellation is placed in the sky near other watery constellations including a dolphin (Delphinus), the sea monster (Cetus) and a fish (Pisces).
For thousands of years, this faint zodiacal constellation has been seen either as one or two fish. In Greco-Roman mythology, Aphrodite and her son Heros were being pursued by the monster Typhon. In order to escape him, they turned themselves into fish, swimming to safety. The pair tied their tails together to insure that they wouldn't be parted during their escape. Pisces lies between Aries and Aquarius in the northern skies.