Capricornus – The Celestial Sea Goat
CAPRICORNUS – its correct astronomical title, is a very faint constellation also known as the zodiac sign Capricorn by astrologers. It shares a part of the night sky with fishes, whales, rivers, and water carriers. Despite being depicted as a sea goat it bears closer resemblance to a triangle or if you’re a Halloween fan, witches pointed hat.
Originating with the ancient Sumerians and Babylonians, the constellation Capricornus was known as SUHUR-MASH-HA, THE GOAT FISH.
Pan The God Of The Countryside
The Greeks, however called it AEGOCEROS (GOAT-HORNED). The name of the well-known Italian island – “CAPRI” means “THE ISLAND OF GOATS” but the star atlas’s of old indicate that ancient Greeks associated the constellation Capricornus with the god of the countryside known as Pan. Pan was said to have had the head, horns and forelegs of a goat and a fish’s tail.
Pan, A Playful And Mischievous God
PAN was a very mischievous and naughty god who spent as much time as he possibly could chasing goddesses and female sea nymphs. These activities were punctuated with periods of sleep and relaxation aiming to aid a speedy recovery from his exertions and to renew his strength for his next session of very naughty behaviour.
Syrinx The Nymph
Not all his seductive godly ways turned out as planned – THE NYMPH “SYRINX” was so un-entranced by his godly charms that she transformed herself into a bunch of reeds to avoid his attentions. Ever hopeful, Pan grabbed hold of them and was surprised when they created an un-expectedly beautiful musical sound as the wind blew gently through them.
Inspired and greatly pleased by this discovery Pan waxed together several of varying lengths so forming today’s PAN PIPES (SYRINX)
So it comes as no great surprise that Pan, on being fortunate enough to come across a wild and wicked field party hosted by naughty sea nymphs and goddesses was only too happy to gate crash it and indulge in all kinds of untold fun and mischief.
Typhon The Terrible
Pan’s indulgences were however rudely interrupted by the approach of the huge and ferocious Typhon – a monster sent by Gaia – Mother Earth to attack the gods. After booming a deafening warning to the gods (being something of a loud mouth) Pan’s suggested each god transformed themselves into a different kind of animal and fled to a place of safety in order to escape the terrible Typhon.
To the amusement of the passing god ZEUS THE GOD OF THUNDER, Pan in great alarm, (hence the term panic) dived into the nearest river intending to transform fully into goat-form. Things did not go quite to plan and the lower part of his body changed into that of a fish!
The Mighty Battle of Zeus
Zeus fought a mighty battle with Typhon eventually overcoming him with thunderbolts, after which SICILY’S MOUNT ETNA became the monster’s final resting place. Refusing to rest even in death Typon’s breath was said to be responsible for the fiery, volcanic eruptions produced by Mt Etna.
During this battle Zeus was badly injured and was left unable to run or fight. Pan with the help of Hermes repaired the damage done to him and he was able to continue with the battle and onto victory.
By way of thanks Zeus placed an image of Pan – the sea goat Capricornus, in the night sky.