Leo is one of the twelve constellations of the zodiac. It comes after Cancer and before Virgo. Leo’s symbol is a lion’s tail. It is ruled by the sun. People born between July 24 and August 23 are said by tropical astrologers to be Leos. Due to the precession of the equinoxes, sidereal astrology places Leo from August 16 to September 15.
Discovery and History of the Constellation Leo
Man discovered the Leo constellation early. It was known to the Sumerians and Egyptians who may have passed on their knowledge to the Romans, Greeks and Persians. In 1799, Napoleon’s army discovered a medallion called the Dandera Zodiac in the temple of Isis, in Dandera. This medallion dates from 100 BC and shows the constellations and asterisms known to the Egyptians at the time. Leo was listed in the catalogue.
Pliny claimed that the Egyptians worshipped Leo because the Nile River rose when the Sun was in that sign. Leo was certainly important in Egyptian astronomy, culture and religion. V€arious inscriptions refer to it. According to one theory backed by computer simulations, the Sphinx would have faced a rising Leo in about 10,500 BC. This date approximates the Golden Age of the ancients, the Age of Leo. Other computations suggest that the sun would’ve been in Leo during the Summer Solstice about 5,000 years ago. However the Lion known to the Egyptians had fewer of the stars in the modern constellation.
In 3000 BC, the Persian astronomers identified four stars in the sky as “royal stars” or watchers. These stars marked the solstices and equinoxes. One of them was Cor Leonis, the “royal star” of Leo. When Cor Leonis appeared in the astrological birth chart, it was said to indicate royalty and power. Copernicus gave it its modern name: Regulus. The other stars were in Aquarius, Scorpio and Taurus.
Most other peoples classified the constellation as a Lion too. The Jews, Hindus, Turks, Syrians and Babylonians called it various names. But all meant ‘lion” in their native languages.
Several astronomers named Leo in their catalogues: Eudoxus of Cnidus, Aratus and Claudius Ptolemy. All three men lived between 410 BC and 168 AD.
Leo in Mythology
Leo is identified with the Nemean Lion. The Nemean Lion was said to be the offspring of either Zeus and the Moon goddess, or Typhon and Echidna. In any case, this lion terrorized the city of Corinth. The Greek hero Hercules killed it as the first of his Twelve Labors. He kept the pelt for himself while the lion was placed among the stars as Leo.