Ancient Greek
Star Lore

Thanks to writers like Aratus and Hyginus, Greek mythology is the best documented star lore.

Jordanna Max Brodsky gives a summary of Greek star lore:

"The ancient Greeks called constellations katasterismoi, meaning "placings of the stars" placed by the gods. The Greeks believed the Olympians put those people, animals and objects in the heavens for a reason: to serve as unmistakable lessons on proper behavior. Often, entire stories play out across the sky, traced from one constellation to the next.

Much of the zodiac (a word coined from the Greek zodiakos kuklos, or "circle of little animals") represents beasts defeated by the great hero Heracles as part of his labors, such as Leo, the Nemean Lion, Cancer, the Crab, and Taurus the Cretan Bull.

Other tales are even more bloody and brutish, reminding humanity of the punishments that await mortals who refuse to pay homage to the gods. ...

... Today, we know that humans arbitrarily codified the constellations - there is no scientific reason to group the stars. Yet civilizations throughout history have identified constellations, and even now we still call them by their old Greek or Roman names for a reason: The myths make the stars seem a little less distant , the universe a little less vast. Call that anthropocentric hubris if you like, but it's a universal impulse nonetheless."

Sources: Jordanna Max Brodsky: The Immortals Behind the Stars, theoi.com, Wikipedia
The Pleiades
Dorling Kindersley

Herakles slaying the Hydra, ca. 375-340 BC
Source: Wikipedia

Due to the huge volume of Greek star lore, this section has been split into eight parts, sorted alphabetically by the Latin alphabet.

This is still a work in progress. So far only 20 of the 48 Ptolemaic Constellations have been covered. More will be added soon.

Click on any section icon or any constellation name, or click here, to start with part one.



Part 1: A-B



Part 2: Ca



Part 3: Ce-Cy



Part 4: D-G

Andromeda

Aquarius

Aquila

Ara

Argo Navis

Aries

Cancer

Canis Major

Canis Minor

Capricornus

Centaurus

Crux

Delphinus

Eridanus

Gemini



Part 5: H-N



Part 6: O-P



Part 7: S



Part 8: T-V

Hydra

Leo

Libra

Lyra

Milky Way

Orion

Pisces

Pleiades


Scorpius

Sagittarius

Taurus

Ursa Major

Ursa Minor

Virgo

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