Classical Texts Library >> Hyginus, Astronomica >> Fables 2.18-43




2.1 Great Bear
2.2 Lesser Bear
2.3 Serpent
2.4 Bear-Watcher
2.5 Crown
2.6 The Kneeler
2.7 Lyre
2.8 Swan
2.9 Cepheus
2.10 Cassiepia
2.11 Andromeda
2.12 Perseus
2.13 Charioteer
2.14 Serpent-Holder
2.15 Arrow
2.16 Eagle
2.17 Dolphin


2.18 Horse
2.19 Triangle
2.20 Ram
2.21 Bull
2.22 Twins
2.23 Crab
2.24 Lion
2.25 Virgin
2.26 Scorpion
2.27 Archer
2.28 Capricorn or Sea-Goat
2.29 Aquarius or Water-Bearer
2.30 Fishes
2.31 Sea-Monster or Whale
2.32 Eridanus or River
2.33 Hare
2.34 Orion
2.35 Dog
2.36 Procyon
2.37 Argo
2.38 Centaur
2.39 Altar
2.40 Water Snake
2.41 Fish
2.42 Planets
2.43 Milky Way

FABLES 1 - 49

FABLES 50 - 99

FABLES 100 - 149

FABLES 150 - 199

FABLES 200 - 277



This sign Aratus and many others have called Pegasus, offspring of Neptune and the Gorgon Medusa, who on Helicon, a mountain of Boeotia, opened up a spring by striking the rock with his hoof. From him the spring is called Hippocrene. Others say that at the time Bellerophon came to visit Proetus, son of Abas and king of the Argives, Antia, the king’s wife, smitten with love for the guest, begged to visit him, promising him her husband’s kingdom. When she couldn’t obtain this request, out of fear that he would accuse her to the king, she anticipated him by telling Proetus that he had offered violence to her. Proetus, who had been fond of Bellerophon, was reluctant to inflict punishment himself, but knowing that he had the horse Pegasus, sent him to the father of Antia (some call her Sthenoboea), for him to defend his daughter’s chastity and send the youth against the Chimera, which at that time was laying waste with flames the country of the Lycians.
Bellerophon was victor, and escaped, but after the creation of the spring, as he was attempting to fly to heaven, and had almost reached it, he became terrified looking down at the earth, and fell off and was killed. But the horse is said to have flown up and to have been put among the constellations by Jove.
Others have said that Bellerophon fled from Argos not because of Antia’s accusations, but so as not to hear any more proposals which were distasteful to him, or to be distressed by her entreaties.

Euripides in his Melanippe, says that Melanippe, daughter of Chiron the Centaur, was once called Thetis. Brought up on Mount Helicon, a girl especially fond of hunting, she was wooed by Aeolus, son of Hellen, and grandson of Jove, and conceived a child be him. When her time drew near, she fled into the forest, so that her father, who supposed her a virgin, might not see that she had given birth to a grandchild. And so when her father was looking for her, she is said to have begged the power of the gods not to let her father see her in childbirth. After the child was born, by the will of the gods she was changed into a mare which was placed among the stars.
Some say that she was a prophetess, and because she used to reveal the plans of the gods to men, she was changed into a mare. Callimachus says that because she ceased hunting and worshipping Diana, Diana changed her into the shape we have mentioned. For the reason above, too, she is said to be out of sight of the Centaur, who come say is Chiron, and to show only half her body, since she didn’t want her sex to be known.


This constellation, which has three angles like the Greek letter Delta, is so named for that reason.

Mercury is thought to have placed it above the head of Aries, so that the dimness of Aries might be marked by its brightness, wherever it should be, and that it should form the first letter in the name of Jove (in Greek, Dis).

Some have said that it pictures the position of Egypt; others, that of Aethiopa and Egypt where the Nile marks their boundaries. Still others think that Sicily is pictured there.

Others, say that three angles were put there because the gods divided the universe into three parts.


This is thought to be the ram which carried Phrixus and Helle thought the Hellespont. Hesiod and Pherecydes say that it had a fleece of gold; about his we shall speak at greater length elsewhere. Many have said that Helle fell into the Hellespont, was embraced by Neptune, and bore Paeon, or, as some say, Edonus. They say, too, that Phrixus, on coming safely to Aeetes, sacrificed the ram to Jove, and hung the fleece up in the temple. The image of the ram itself, put among the constellations by Nubes, marks the time of year when grain is sown, because Ino earlier sowed it parched - the chief reason for the flight. Eratosthenes says that the ram itself removed its golden fleece, and gave it Phrixus as a memorial, and then came of its own accord to the stars; for this reason it seems somewhat dim, as we said before.

Phrixus was born, some say, in the town of Orchomenus, which is in Boeotia; others say, in the district of the Salones of Thessaly. Still others make Cretheus and Athamas with many others, sons of Aeolus; some, again, say that Salmoneus, son of Athamas, was a grandson of Aeolus. Cretheus had Demodice as wife; others name her Biadice. Moved by the beauty of Phrixus, son of Athamas, she fell in love with him, and could not obtain from him favour in return; so, driven by necessity, she accused him to Cretheus, saying that he had attacked her, and many similar things that women say. Stirred by this report, Cretheus, as was fitting for one who deeply loved his wife and was a king, persuaded Athamas to put Phrixus to death. However, Nubes intervened, and rescuing Phrixus and Helle his sister, put them on the ram, and bade them flee as far as they could through the Hellespont Helle fell off and paid the debt to nature, and the Hellespont was named from her name. Phrixus came to the Colchians, and, as we have said, hung up the fleece of the slain ram in a temple. He himself was brought back to Athamas by Mercury, who proved to his father that, relying on innocence, he had fled.

Hermippus says that at the time when Liber was attacking Africa he came with his army to the place called Ammodes from the great quantities of sand. He was in great danger, since he saw he had to advance, and an added difficulty was the great scarcity of water. The army were almost at the point of exhaustion, and the men were wondering what to do, when a certain ram, wandering apart, came by chance near the soldiers. When it saw them it took safety in flight. The soldiers, however, who had seen it, though they were advancing with difficulty oppressed by the sand and heat, gave chase, as if seeking booty from the flames, and followed it to that place which was named from the temple of Jove Hammon later founded there. When they had come there, the ram which they had followed was nowhere to be seen, but what was more to be desired, they found an abundant supply of water, and, refreshed in body, reported it at once to Liber. In joy he led his army to that place, and founded a temple to Jove Hammon, fashioning a statue there with the horns of a ram. He put the ram among the constellations in such a way that when the sun should be in that sign, all growing things would be refreshed; this happens in the spring for the reason that the ram’s flight refreshed the army of Liber. He wished it, too, to be chief of the twelve signs, because the ram had been the best leader of his army.

But Leon, who wrote about Egyptian affairs, speaks of the statue of Hammon as follows. When Liber was ruling over Eygpt and the other lands, and was said to have introduced all arts to mankind, a certain Hammon came from Africa and brought to him a great flock of sheep, in order more readily to enjoy his favour and be called the first inventor of something. And so, for his kindness, Liber is thought to have given him the land opposite Egyptian Thebes. Accordingly, those who make statues of Hammon, make them with horned heads, so that men may remember that he first showed the use of flocks. Those, however, who have wished to assign the gift to Liber, as not asked for from Hammon, but brought to him voluntarily, make those horned images for Liber, and say that in commemoration the ram was placed among the constellations.


The Bull was placed among the stars because it carried Europa safely to Crete, as Euripides says.

Some say that when Io was transformed into a heifer, Jupiter, to seem to make amends, put an image among the constellations which resembled a bull in its fore parts, but was dim behind.

It faces towards the East, and the stars which outline the face are called Hyades. These, Pherecydes the Athenian says, are the nurses of Liber, seven in number, who earlier were nymphae called Dodonidae. Their names are as follows: Ambrosia, Eudora, Pedile, Coronis, Polyxo, Phyto, and Thyone. They are said to have been put to flight by Lycurgus and all except Ambrosia took refuge with Theits, as Asclepiades says. But according to Pherecydes, they brought Liber to Thebes and delivered him to Ino, and for this reason Jove expressed his thanks to them by putting them among the constellations.

The Pleiades were so named, according to Musaeaus, because fifteen daughters were born to Atlas and Aethra, daughter of Ocean. Five of them are called Hyades, he shows, because their brother was Hyas, a youth dearly beloved by his sisters. When he was killed in a lion hunt, the five we have mentioned, given over to continual lamentation, are said to have perished. Because they grieved exceedingly at his death, they are called Hyades. The remaining ten brooded over the death of their sisters, and brought death on themselves; because so may experienced the same grief, they were called Pleiades. Alexander says they were called Hyades because they were daughters of Hyas and Boeotia, Pleiades, because born of Pleio, daughter of Ocean, and Atlas.

The Pleiades are called seven in number, but only six can be seen. This reason has been advanced, that of the seven, six mated with immortals (three with Jove, two with Neptune, and one with Mars); the seventh was said to have been the wife of Sisyphus. From Electra and Jove, Dardanus was born; from Maia and Jove, Mercury; from Taygete and Jove, Ladedaemon; from Alcyone and Neptune, Hyrieus; from Celaeno and Neptune, Lycus and Nycteus. Mars by Sterope begat Oenomaus, but others call her the wife of Oenomaus. Merope, wed to Sisyphus, bore Glaucus, who, as many say, was the father of Bellerophon. On account of her other sisters she was placed among the constellations, but because she married a mortal, her star is dim. Others say Electra does not appear because the Pleiades are thought to lead the circling dance for the stars, but after Troy was captured and her descendants through Dardanus overthrown, moved by grief she left them and took her place in the circle called Arctic. From this she appears, in grief for such a long time, with her hair unbound, that, because of this, she is called a comet.

But ancient astronomers placed these Pleiades, daughters of Pleione and Atlas, as we have said, apart from the Bull. When Pleione once was travelling through Boeotia with her daughters, Orion, who was accompanying her, tried to attack her. She escaped, but Orion sought her for seven years and couldn’t find her. Jove, pitying the girls, appointed a way to the stars, and later, by some astronomers, they were called the Bull’s tail. And so up to this time Orion seems to be following them as they flee towards the west. Our writers call these stars Vergiliae, because they rise after spring. They have still greater honour than the others, too, because their rising is a sign of summer, their setting of winter - a thing is not true of the other constellations.


These stars many astronomers have called Castor and Pollux. They say that of all brothers they were the most affectionate, not striving in rivalry for the leadership, nor acting without previous consultation. As a reward for their services of friendship, Jupiter is thought to have put them in the sky as well-known stars. Neptune, with like intention, has rewarded them for he gave them horses to ride, and power to aid shipwrecked men.

Others have called them Hercules and Apolo; some, even Triptolemus, whom we mentioned before, and Iasion, beloved of Ceres - both carried to the stars.

Those who speak of Castor and Pollux add this information, that Castor was slain in the town of Aphidnae, at the time when the Lacedaemonians were fighting the Athenians. Others say that when Lynceus and Idas were attacking Sparta, he perished there. Homer states that Pollux granted to his brother one half of his life, so that they shine on alternate days.


The Crab is said to have been put among the stars by the favour of Juno, because, when Hercules had stood firm against the Lernaean Hydra, it had snapped at his foot from the swamp. Hercules, enraged at this, had killed it, and Juno put it among the constellations to be one of the twelve signs which are bound together by the circuit of the sun.

In one part of its figure there are certain stars called Asses, pictured on the shell of the Crab by Liber with two stars only. For Liber, when madness was sent upon him by Juno, is said to have fled wildly through Thesprotia intending to reach the oracle of Dodonaean Jove to ask how he might recover his former sanity. When he came to a certain large swamp which he couldn’t cross, it is said two asses met him. He caught one of them and in this way was carried across, not touching the water at all. So when he came to the temple of Dodonaean Jove, freed at once from his madness, he acknowledged his tanks to the asses and placed them among the constellations.

Some say he gave a human voice to the ass which had carried him. This ass later had a contest with Priapus on a matter of physique, but was defeated and killed by him. Pitying him because of this, Liber numbered him among the stars, and so that it should be known that he did this as a god, not as a timid man fleeing from Juno, he placed him above the Crab which had been added to the stars by her kindness.

According to Eratosthenes, another story is told about the Asses. After Jupiter had declared war on the Giants, he summoned all the gods to combat them, and Father Liber, Vulcan, the Satyrs, and the Sileni came riding on asses. Since they were not far from the enemy, the asses were terrified, and individually let out a braying such as the Giants had never heard. At the noise the enemy took hastily to flight, and thus were defeated.

There is a story similar to this about the shell of Triton. He, too, when he had hollowed out the trumpet he had invented, took it with him against the Giants, and there blew strange sounds through the shell. The Giants, fearing that some wild beast had been brought by their adversaries, took to flight, and thus were overcome and came into their enemies’ power.


He is said to have been put among the stars because he is considered the king of beasts. Some writers add that Hercules’ first Labor was with him and that he killed him, unarmed. Pisandrus and many others have written about this.

Above his likeness in the sky nearest the Virgin are seven other stars near his tail, arranged in a triangle, which Conon, the mathematician, and Callimachus call the Lock of Berenice. When Ptolemy had married his sister Berenice, daughter of Ptolemy and Arsinoe, and after a few days had set out to attack Asia, Berenice vowed that if Ptolemy returned as victor she would clip off her hair. She placed the lock, consecrated by this vow, in the temple of Venus Arsinoe Zephyritis, but on the following day it couldn’t be seen there. When the king was distressed by this, Conon the mathematician, whom we mentioned above, desiring to win the favor of the king, said that he had seen the lock among the constellations, and pointed out seven stars without definite configuration which he imagined were the lock.
Some authors along with Callimachus have said that this Berenice raised horses, and used to send them to Olympia. Others add that once Ptolemy, Berenice’s father, in panic at the number of the enemy, had sought safety in flight, but his daughter, an accomplished horse woman, leaped on a horse, organized the remaining troops, killed many of the enemy, and put the rest to flight. For this even Callimachus calls her high-souled. Eratosthenes says that she ordered returned to the girls of Lesbos the dowry left to them by their parents, which on one had released, and she established among them right to bring action of recovery.


Hesiod calls her the daughter of Jove and Themis. Aratus says that she is thought to be daughter of Astraeus and Aurora, who lived at the time of the Golden Age of men and was their leader. On account of her carefulness and fairness she was called Justice, and at that time no foreign nations were attacked in war, nor did anyone sail over the seas, but they were wont to live their lives caring for their fields. But those born after their death began to be less observant of duty and more greedy, so that Justice associated more rarely with men. Finally the disease became so extreme that it was said the Brazen Race was born; then she could not endure more, and flew away to the stars.

Others call her Fortune - others, Ceres, and they dispute the more about her because her head is dimly seen.

Some have called her Erigone, daughter of Icarus, whom we have spoken of before.

Others call her a daughter of Apollo by Chrysothemis, an infant, named Parthenos. Because she died young she was put by Apollo among the constellations.


This sign is divided into two parts on account of the great spread of the claws. One part of it our writers have called the Balance.

But the whole of the constellation was put in the sky, it is said, for the following reason: Orion since he used to hunt, and felt confident that he was most skilled of all in that pursuit, said even to Diana and Latona that he was able to kill anything the produced. Earth, angered at this, sent the scorpion which is said to have killed him. Jove, however, admiring the courage of both, put the scorpion among the stars, as a lesson to men not to be too self-confident. Diana, then, because of her affection for Orion, asked Jove to show to her request the same favour he had given of his own accord to Earth. And so the constellation was established in such a way that when Scorpion rises, Orion sets.


Many have called this sign the Centaurus; others deny the name, for the reason that no Centaurus makes use of arrows. The question is raised, too why he is formed with horse flanks but a Satyr’s tail.

Some say that he is Crotus, son of Eupheme, nurse of the Muses. As Sositheus, writer of tragedies, says, he had his home on Mount Helicon and took his pleasure in the company of the Muses, sometimes even following the pursuit of hunting. He attained great fame for his diligence, for he was very swift in the woods, and clever in the arts. As a reward for his zeal the Muses asked Jove to represent him in some star group, and Jove did so. Since he wished to display all his skills in one body, he gave him horse flanks because he rode a great deal. He added arrows, since these would show both his keenness and his swiftness, and he gave him a Satyr’s tail because the Muses took no less pleasure in Crotus than Liber did in the Satyrs. Before his feet are a few stars arranged in a circle, which some said were a wreath, thrown off as by one at play.


This sign resembles Aegipan, whom Jupiter wished to be put among the constellations because he was nourished with him, just as he put the goat nurse we have mentioned before. He, first, as Eratosthenes says, when Jupiter attacked the Titans, is said to have cast into the enemy the fear that is called panikos. The lower part of his body has fish formation, because he hurled shellfish against the enemy, too, instead of stones.
Egyptian priests and some poets say that once when many gods had assembled in Egypt, suddenly Typhon, an exceedingly fierce monster and deadly enemy of the gods, came to that place. Terrified by him, they changed their shapes into other forms: Mercury became an ibis, Apollo, the bird that is called Thracian, Diana, a cat. For this reason they say the Egyptians do not permit these creatures to be injured, because they are called representations of gods. At this same time, they say, Pan cast himself into the river, making the lower part of his body a fish, and the rest a goat, and thus escaped from Typhon. Jove, admiring his shrewdness, put his likeness among the constellations.


Aquarius or Water Bearer. Many have said he is Ganymede, whom Jupiter is said to have made cupbearer of the gods, snatching him up from his parents because of his beauty. So he is shown as if pouring water from an urn.

Hegesianax, however, says he is Deucalion, because during his reign such quantities of water poured from the sky that the great Flood resulted.

Eubulus, again, points out that he is Cecrops, commemorating the antiquity of the race, and showing that men used water in the sacrificed of the gods before wine was given to them, and that Cecrops ruled before wine was discovered.


Diognetus Erythraeus says that once Venus and her son Cupid came in Syria to the river Euphrates. There Typhon, of whom we have already spoken, suddenly appeared. Venus and her son threw themselves into the river and there changed their forms to fishes, and by so doing this escaped danger. So afterwards the Syrians, who are adjacent to these regions, stopped eating fish, fearing to catch them lest with like reason they seem either to oppose the protection of the gods, or to entrap the gods themselves.


Whale. With regard to the Sea-Monster, they say that it was sent by Neptune to kill Andromeda, about whom we have already spoken. But because it was killed by Perseus, on account of its huge size and his valour it was placed amongst the constellations.


Some call this the Nile, though many call it Ocean. Those who advocate the Nile point out that it is correctly so called on account of the great length and usefulness of that River, and especially because below the sign is a certain star, shining more brightly than the rest, called Canopus. Canopus is an island washed by the river Nile.


The hare is said to be fleeing the dog of the hunter Orion, for when, as was proper, they represented Orion as a hunter, they wanted to indicate what he was hunting, and so they put the fleeing hare at his feet.

Some say that it was put there by Mercury, and that it had been given the faculty, beyond other kinds of quadrapeds, of being pregnant with new offspring when giving birth to others.

Those who disagree with this reason say that so noble and great a hunter as Orion (we spoke about him in the discussion of Scorpio) shouldn’t be represented hunting hares. Callimachus, too, is blamed, because, when he was singing the praises of Diana, he said she delighted in the flesh of hares and hunted them. So they have represented Orion fighting the Bull.

The following story of the hare has been recorded. There were no hares on the island of Leros, and a certain young man of the state, led by a liking for the breed, brought in from another country a pregnant female, and watched over her very carefully as she bore her young. When she had borne them, many of the citizens developed an interest, and by acquiring some for money, some as gifts, they all began to raise hares. In no long time such a multitude of hares was produced that the whole island was swarming with them. When men gave them nothing to eat, they made inroads on the grain fields and devoured everything. The inhabitants, faced with disaster because of this, since they were reduced to hunger, by co-operation of the whole state were said at length to have driven them from the island, through with difficulty. So afterwards they put the image of a hare in the stars, that men should remember that there was nothing so desirable in life but that later they might experience more grief than pleasure from it.


Hesiod calls him the son of Neptune by Euryale, daughter of Minos. He had the ability of running over the waves as if on land, just as it is said that Iphiclus could run over standing grain and not bruise it.
Aristomachus says that there lived a certain Hyrieus at Thebes - Pindar puts him on the island of Chios - who asked from Jove and Mercury when they visited him that he might have a child. To gain his request more readily he sacrificed an ox and put it before them for a feast. When he had done this, Jove and Mercury asked him to remove the hide from the ox; then they urinated in it, and bade him bury the hide in the ground. From this, later on, a child was born whom Hyrieus called Urion from the happening, though on account of his charm and affability he came to be called Orion.

He is said to have come from Thebes to Chios, and when his passions were excited by wine, he attacked Merope, the daughter of Oenopion. For this he was blinded by Oenopion and cast out of the island. But he came to Lemnos and Vulcan, and received from him a guide named Cedalion. Carrying him on his shoulders, he came to Sol, and when Sol healed him returned to Chios to take vengeance on Oenopion. The citizens however, guarded Oenopion underground. Desparing of finding Oenopion, Orion came to Crete, and there began to hunt with Diana. He made the boast to her we have mentioned before, and thus came to the stars. Some say that Orion lived with Oenopion in too close intimacy, and wanting to prove to him his zeal in hunting, boasted to Diana, too, what we spoke of above, and so was killed. Others, along with Callimachus, say that when he wished to offer violence to Diana, he was transfixed by her arrows and fashioned for the stars because of their similar zeal in hunting.

Istrus, however, says that Diana loved Orion and came near marrying him. Apollo took this hard, and when scolding her brought no results, on seeing the head of Orion who was swimming a long way off, he wagered her that she couldn’t hit with her arrows the black object in the sea. Since she wished to be called an expert in that skill, she shot an arrow and pierced the head of Orion. The waves brought his slain body to the shore, and Diana, grieving greatly that she had struck him, and mourning his death with many tears, put him among the constellations. But what Diana did after his death, we shall tell in the stories about her.


He is said to have been given by Jove as a guardian for Europa, and later to have come to Minos. When Minos was ill, Procris, wife of Cephalus, is said to have cured him, and received the dog as a reward for her services, as she was very fond of hunting and the dog was so swift that no beast could escape. After her death the dog came to Cephalus her husband, who brought it to Thebes with him when he came. There was a fox there which was said to be so swift that it could outrun all dogs. So when the two animals met, Jupiter, in a dilemma, as Istrus says, changed them both to stone.

Some have said that this is the dog of Orion, and because Orion was devoted to hunting, the dog was put with him among the stars.

Others have called it the dog of Icarus.

These many suggestions have their own advocates.

The Dog has one star on his tongue which itself is called Dog, and on its head another which Isis is thought to have put there under her own name, and to have called it Sirius on account of the brilliance of the flame because it seems to shine more than the rest. So, in order for men to recognize it more easily, she called it Sirius.


Procyon seems to rise before the greater Dog; for this reason it is called the Fore-dog. By some it is thought to be Orion’s dog, and it is put in all the same tales in which the greater Dog is numbered.


Some have said this ship was called Argo in Greek on account of her speed, others because Argus was her inventor. Many have said she was the first ship on the sea, and for this reason especially was pictured in the stars. Pindar says she was built in the town of Magnesia called Demetrias – Callimachus in that district near the temple of Actian Apllo which the Argonauts are thought to have founded on their departure. The place is called Pagasae, in Greek pagasai, because the Argo was first fitted together there. Homer says that this same place was in the district of Thessaly. Aeschylus and some others say that in the same place a speaking beam was added by Minerva. The entire form of the ship does not appear in the stars; it is divided from stern to mast, signifying that men should not be in despair when their ships are wrecked.


He is said to be Chiron, son of Saturn and Philyra, who surpassed not only the other Centauris but also men in justice, and is thought to have reared Aesculapius and Achilles. By his conscientiousness and diligence, therefore, he won inclusion among the stars.
When Hercules was once visiting Chiron, and while sitting with him was examining his arrows, one of them is said to have fallen on the foot of Chiron, and thus brought about his death. Others say that when the Centaur wondered at his being able to kill such huge creatures as Centauri with such slight arrows, he himself tried to draw the bow, and the arrow, slipping from his hand, fell on his foot. For this reason Jupiter, pitying him, put him among the constellations with a victim which he seems to hold above the altar for sacrifice.

Others have said that he is Pholus the Centaurus, who was more skilled in augury that the rest. Consequently, by the will of Jove, he was represented coming to the altar with a victim.


On this altar the gods are thought to have first made offerings and formed an alliance when they were about to oppose the Titans. The Cyclopes made it. From this observance men established the custom that when they plan to do something, they make sacrifices before beginning the undertaking.


This is the sign on which the Crow sits and over which the Bowl is placed. The following reason has been handed down: When Apollo was sacrificing, the crow, who was under his guardianship, was sent to a spring to get some pure water. Seeing several trees with their figs not yet ripe, he perched on one of them waiting for them to ripen. After some days when the figs had ripened and the crow had eaten some, Apollo, who was waiting, saw him come flying in haste with the bowl full of water. For this fault of tardiness Apollo, who had had to use other water because of the crow’s delay, punished him in this way. As long as the figs are ripening, the crow cannot drink, because on those days he has a sore [?] throat,. So when the god wished to illustrate the thirst of the crow, he put the bowl among the constellations, and placed the water-snake underneath to delay the thirsty crow. For the crow seems to peck at the end of its tail to be allowed to go over to the bowl.

Istrus and several others have said that the Crow was Coronis, daughter of Phlegyas. She bore Aesculapius to Apollo, but after Ischys, son of Elatus, had lain with her, the crow, which had noted it, reported it to Apollo. For his unpleasant news Apollo changed him to black instead of his former white color, and transfixed Ischys with his arrows.

About the Bowl Phylarchus writes this tale: In the Cheronnese near Troy where many have said the tomb of Protesilaus is located, there is a city, Elaeusa by name. When a certain Demophon was ruling there, a sudden plague fell on the land with a strange death-rate among the citizens. Demophon, greatly disturbed by this, sent to the oracle of Apollo seeking a remedy, and was told that every year one girl of noble rank should be sacrificed to their household gods. Demophon, passing over his own daughters, would choose by lot one of the daughters of the nobles, and kept doing this until his scheme offended a certain man of highest rank. He said he wouldn’t allow his daughter to be entered in the drawing unless the daughters of the king were included. The king, angered by this, killed the noble’s daughter without drawing of lots. This deed Mastusius, father of the girl, for a time out of patriotism pretended he did not resent, for the girl might have perished if the lots had been taken. Little by little, time led the king to forget. When the girl’s father had shown himself to be on most friendly terms with the king, he said he was going to make a solemn sacrifice and invited the king and his daughters to join the celebration. The king, suspecting nothing, sent his daughters ahead; since he was busy with a state affair, he would come later. When this happened as Mastusius wished, he killed the king’s daughters, and mixing their blood with wine in a bowl, bade it be given as a drink to the king on his arrival. The king asked for his daughters, and when he learned what had happened, he ordered Mastusius and the bowl to be thrown into the sea. The where he was thrown, to memorialize him is called Mastusian; the harbour still is called the Bowl. Astronomers of old pictured it in the stars, so that men might remember that no one can profit from an evil deed with impunity, nor can hostilities often be forgotten.

Some, with Eratosthenes, say that it is the bowl Icarus used when he showed wine to men; others the jar into which Mars was thrown by Otus and Ephialtes.


This is the Fish that is called Southern. He seems to take water in his mouth from the sign of Aquarius. Once, when Isis was in labor, he is thought to have saved her, and as a reward for this kindness she placed the fish and its young, about whom we have spoken before, among the stars. As a result the Syrians generally do not eat fish, and worship their gilded likenesses as household gods. Ctesias, too, writes about this.


It remains for us to speak of the five stars which many have called “wandering,” and which the Greeks called planets. One of them is the star of Jove, Phaenon by name, a youth whom Prometheus made excelling all others in beauty, when he was making man, as Heraclides Ponticus says. When he intended to keep him back, without presenting him to Jove as he did the others, Cupid reported this to Jove, whereupon Mercury was sent to Phaenon and persuaded him to come to Jove and become immortal. Therefore he is placed among the stars.

The second star is that of Sol; others say of Saturn. Eratosthenes claims that it is called Phaethon, from the son of Sol. Many have written about him – how he foolishly drove his father’s chariot and set fire to the earth. Because of this he was struck with a thunderbolt by Jove, and fell into the river Eridanus, and was conveyed by Sol to the constellations.

The third star is that of Mars, though others say it belongs to Hercules. The star of Mars follows that of Venus, as Eratosthenes says, for the following reason: When Vulcan had married Venus, and on account of his careful watch, Mars had no opportunity to see her, Mars obtained nothing from Venus except that his star should follow hers. Since she inflamed him violently with love, she called the star Pyroeis, indicating this fact.

The fourth start is that of Venus, Lucifer by name. Some say it is Juno’s. In many tales it is recorded that it is Hesperus, too. It seems to be the largest of all stars. Some have said it represents the son of Aurora and Cephalus, who surpassed many in beauty, so that he even vied with Venus, and, as Eratosthenes says, for this reason it is called the star of Venus. It is visible both at dawn and sunset, and so properly has been called both Lucifer and Hesperus.

The fifth star is Mercury’s, named Stilbon. It is small and bright. It is attributed to Mercury because he first established the months and perceived the courses of the constellations. Euhemerus says that Venus first established the constellations and taught Mercury.


There is a certain circular figure among the constellations, white in color, which some have called the Milky Way. Eratosthenes says that Juno, without realizing it, gave milk to the infant Mercury, but when she learned that he was the son of Maia, she thrust him away, and the whiteness of the flowing milk appears among the constellations.

Others have said that Hercules was given to Juno to nurse when she slept. When she awoke, it happened as described above. Others, again, say that Hercules was so greedy that he couldn’t hold in his mouth all the milk he had sucked, and the Milky Way spilled over from his mouth.

Still others say that at the time Ops brought to Saturn the stone, pretending it was a child, he bade her offer milk to it; when she pressed her breast, the milk that was caused to flow formed the circle which we mentioned above.