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The Constellation

The Constellation AriesThe Zodiacal symbol for Aries represents the Ram’s head and it’s horns. Aires is the second smallest constellation in the zodiac and it is made up of only three stars. Aires claims a history and mythology that extend far back in the annals of time!

Aries History

The constellation of Aires is seen in the sky as the head of a Ram. This animal was very sacred to the tribes of the Middle East and later to any tribes and tribesmen who tended flocks. In the 16th century BCE the Egyptians of the New Kingdom associated this group of stars also as the head of a Ram and dedicated it solely to their god, Amon Ra.

In about 1800 BCE, the shifting of the sky, due to the “precession of the equinoxes,” positioned The Sun in Aries at the vernal equinox or March 21st. This signaled the beginning of spring, and, in many civilizations the start of the new year. We know now that the vernal equinox, and the point in the sky where The Sun lies at this instant, is known as the ”first point of Aries.”

The noted astronomer, Hipparchus, performed the first mapping of the heavens and a comprehensive study of the precession and the vernal equinox in the second century BCE.

Because the precession of the equinoxes continues, today The Sun is actually in Pisces at the vernal equinox, the beginning of spring.

Aries Mythology

Zodiac Sign of AriesGreek Mythology also symbolized the constellation Aries with the head of a Ram. They believed it represented the Ram from which the Golden Fleece was taken. Purportedly, the Ram was the offspring of Neptune/Poseidon who had fallen in love with a maiden named Theophane.

To protect her from suitors, he changed Theophane into a sheep and took her to an island where he, in the form of a Ram, carried on their courtship. The result of their union was the winged golden-fleeced Ram which bore Phryxus to the Colchian shore.

The Following is one of this myth's several versions.

"King Athamas of Thessaly had a wife named Nephele who bore him two sons, Phyrxus, and Leucon, and a daughter named Helle. Athamas resenting the distain Nephele bore him, fell in love with Ino who bore him two children.

Ino manipulated events to force Athamas to sacrifice Phryxus to Zeus/Jupiter. Heracles/Hercules intervened to stop the sacrifice. Following orders from Hera or Zeus, the god Hermes provided Phryxus the winged golden Ram to carry him to a land of safety.

When the Ram appeared, Helle wanted to go with Phryxus so the children jumped on to it’s back and the Ram flew them into the sky and traveled eastward.

As they flew across the sky, Helle could not hang on any longer. Sadly, she slid off the Ram and fell into the straits between Europe and Asia. To honor her, the Greeks called it Hellespont or the "Sea of Helle." This body of water is now known as the Dardanelles.

Phrixus was carried safely by the Ram to the southeastern shore of the Black Sea. He took refuge in a town called Colchis with it’s King Æetes.

Phryxus sacrificed the Ram to Zeus and hung it in a grove with a dragon to guard and protect it day and night. The Golden Fleece remained safe in the grove until it was stolen by Jason and the Argonauts." To its honor, Zeus translated the Ram into the heavens as a constellation.

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