Thursday, September 20, 2012

Constellation Aquarius: the water carrier

Welcome to part two of the constellation series. As you can see, I'm trying for an alphabetical order in these but I might sneak one in if I forget one of them. Which I will. Anyway, the second sign we'll be looking at is Aquarius.


Aquarius is the eleventh sign of of the zodiac and is therefor pretty well know. In fact, it is amongst the oldest known constellations. The constellation is said to represent a number of people; for one, it can be Zeus himself, pouring down water onto the Earth. It could also be Ganymēdēs (Γανυμήδης), the beautiful male from Troy, who caught Zeus' eye and served as cup bearer to the Gods. The third explanation would be that the constellation represents Deukalion, son of Prometheus.

The latter two deserve a bit more explanation. Before her marriage to Hēraklēs, Hebe, daughter of Zeus and Hera, acted as cup bearer to the Gods. When she wedded, Zeus cast his eyes about and took a shining to a young boy from Troy: Ganymēdēs. There are various versions of the myth. In one, Zeus transforms himself into an eagle and swoops up the boy, carrying him off to Olympus. In another, he pays Ganymēdēs' father Tros with 'horses beautiful and strong enough to carry the Gods themselves'. In all versions, Ganymēdēs is made immortal and his father is comforted by that knowledge. All Gods were overjoyed to have the young man serve them, except for Hera, who saw a rival for her husband's affection in the boy. It was Zeus who later put Ganymēdēs into the sky as the constellation Aquarius.

The other option is that the constellation represents Deukalion. He and his wife Pyrrha, daughter of Pandôra, recreated humanity by tossing stones behind them as they walked, after Zeus flooded the Earth and killed humanity for its hubris. You can read the full story here, as I have blogged about it before. According to myth, Zeus put Deukalion into the sky to honor his contribution to humanity. Sadly, Pyrrha was not awarded this honor.

Whomever the constellation is supposed to represent, the constellation is very old and--as it's there in every horoscope, ever--very powerful. The Aquarius constellation is visible at latitudes between +65° and −90°. It is best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of October.

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