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Who Discovered the Constellation Virgo?

Introduction

The Latin origin of the word Virgo denotes a “virgin” or young woman. Presently, the autumn equinox is within Virgo. About 400 years from now it will move to Leo. Virgo is one of the biggest constellations in the sky, and contains many galaxies. It comes after Leo in the east. You can see it in the southern part of the sky in spring in middle latitudes of the northern hemisphere.

History and Symbolism of Virgo

Who discovered the constellation Virgo? Like several other major star formations, Virgo was known to the Sumerian and Babylonian astronomers. From them the knowledge of the sign passed on to the Egyptians, Greeks and other peoples in Asia Minor and the Mediterranean.

Virgo is listed in a Babylonian astrology compendium known as the Mul Apin. These tablets are believed to be about 3,000 years old. The Mul Apin names Virgo as “absimu,”“the Furrow.” It was identified with the Babylonian and Akkadian goddess Shala. Virgo’s eastern stars including Spica were her corn ear. To the west were a bunch of date palm flowers.

Other peoples made the same correlation between Virgo and earth fertility. In the Dendera Zodiac of the Egyptians, Virgo is shown as a maiden with an ear of grain in her hand. In Greek mythology, Virgo was sometimes associated with Demeter, the corn goddess. Demeter was an important figure in Greek religion. She had the power to either bless or curse the earth. One famous story demonstrates her power and capacity for both cruelty and kindness: When the god of the dead kidnapped her daughter Persephone, the grieving deity withdrew and famine plagued the world. The gods decided to return her child to her to save starving humanity. Then Demeter blessed the earth once again with fertility.

Another Greek-Roman myth claims that Virgo is Dike. She and her sisters Peace and Order were the children of Themis, goddess of divine justice. During the Golden Age, the gods lived amongst mankind. At the close of that age, men grew more and more wicked. The gods became angry and left one by one. Dike who presided over human justice, was the last to go. The Romans believed that when Dike returns to earth, so will divine justice.

Later when Christians took over Europe and the Mediterranean, Virgo became identified with the Virgin Mary.

Virgo in Astrology

People born on or between August 23 and September 22 are said to be Virgoans. Astrologers believe that Virgos are good problem solvers. They take pride in their ability to analyze and discriminate. Virgoans are supposed to be neat and tidy, health conscious and kind. A negative Virgo is a nitpicker and hypochondriac.

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