Course overview

Ever looked up at the night sky, or the signs of the zodiac, and wondered how the constellations got their names? Why anyone would think those random dots were “obviously” a picture of some strange creature? Or what the stories are behind them? This one-session course picks out some of them that are appropriate to the time of year, and shows why they were important, what their myths are, and how the stories fit together. Today’s stories cover two of the Labours of Hercules: his argument with a Lion, and his fight against the Hydra (with interruptions from a Crab). We will also look at an alternative story about that Hydra, and how it was blamed for the actions of Corvus the raven. Finally, there’s Virgo, and how she’s responsible for Spring.

Course description

This single-session course will explore the myths that lie behind some of our constellations. We will look primarily at the Greek mythology versions of these stories, including all the multiple versions, but also at the ones they are based on (Sumerian, quite often) and those from other parts of the world where they’re good stories. The Roman versions of Greek names will also be given where they’re more familiar.

While we will take a quick look at how to find those constellations in the sky, and what the “random dots” look like, this is primarily about mythology, not astronomy.

Today’s constellations start with Leo the Lion (a sign of the Zodiac, and also one of Hercules’ opponents). That will include some backstory about why he was doing Labours in the first place, and what long-term results he got from this one. Then we move on to another opponent, the Hydra, and the links between that story and Cancer the Crab. There’s an alternative story about the Hydra that links it to Corvus (a much less well-known constellation!) And finally, we look at the constellation of Virgo, and how in one of her possible identities she’s responsible for Spring.

What financial support is available?

We don't want anything to stand in your way when it comes to bringing Adult learning within reach so if you need anything to support you to achieve your goals then speak to one of our education experts during your enrolment journey. Most of our courses are government funded but if you don't qualify or need alternative financial help to access them then let us know.

What other support is available?

All of our digital content, teaching and learning activities and assessments are designed to be accessible so if you need any additional support you can discuss this with the education experts during your enrolment journey and we will do all we can to make sure you have optimal access.

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