Horoscopes are an amazing cultural achievement: there is perhaps no other concept that all cultures have in common at all times. For example, a great idea is that the constellation Capricorn actually represents a Babylonian demon, a goat-fish hybrid, or that the lion represents the demon Urgola. This name comes from the Sumerian language, a language that was already extinct in oral form in the Babylonian period and was transmitted only on clay tablets. Looking at the starry sky not only allows us to see the depths of space, but also connects us to the distant past. It seems as if the constellations are indeed eternal.
Constellations as cultural objects
But of course they are not, after all they are built cultural objects that are subject to historical development. This is exactly described in the beautiful book how the lion came to heaven. On the path of the towers «presented in a thoughtful and detailed way. Author Susan Hoffman is an astronomer and science historian who conducts research at the Michael Stifel Center at the University of Jena. It is clear that her extensive experience is felt when reading.
All constellations are presented in the book, classified according to their visibility throughout the year. In addition to recounting well-known Greek myths in one form or another, the most interesting part of the book is the historical development of Greek characters from mostly Babylonian archetypes. For example, the strange ribbon that ties fish together by their tails in the constellation of the same name seems to explain the misunderstanding of the Babylonian idea about the V-shaped swallowtail tail. The Greek Aquarius, who pours water or wine for unknown reasons, arose from ignorance of the myths of the land Between the two rivers. There the water originates from the shoulders of the god Enki (or Ea).
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