The southern skies are home to one of the twelve zodiac constellations called the Libra Constellation. The name is Latin which refers to ‘the weighing scales’ which usually feature in images of the Greek goddess of justice called Dike or Astraea depicted in the Virgo constellation which neighbors Libra. The Libra constellation myth is an intriguing and significant tale that has remained relevant to this day.
A Little Bit Of History
It is the only member of the zodiac constellation that represents an object as opposed to an animal or a mythology character. It features 4 brightest stars namely Alpha, Beta Librae, Gamma, and Sigma Librae. These form a quadrangle with the first and second creating the balancing beam of the scales while the third and fourth represent the weighing pans. The constellation is Methuselah’s home. Methuselah is presently the oldest star known to mankind. The constellation also doesn’t feature any first magnitude stars and was initially catalogued by Ptolemy, the Greek astronomer in the 2nd century.
The portion of the sky playing host to the Libra constellation was known as Claws or Chelae by the Ancient Greeks. The area was regarded as being part of the Scorpio constellation and Chelae stood for the scorpion’s claws. Associating this area with the scales of Libra is something that originated with the Romans sometime during the 1st Century BC. According to the story, when Rome was founded the moon was in Libra. This is why they regarded the Libra Constellation as being favoured among all the members of the zodiac constellations. It was associated with equilibrium of days between the duration of day and night as well as balanced seasons. This relationship was also drawn by the Babylonians who referred to the relationship as ZIB.BA.AN.NA or ‘the balance of heaven’. This was way before the Romans drew similar conclusions, sometime a hundred years before Christ.
The emergence of this association with balance slowly dealt a death blow to the association with the scorpion’s claws. It might be interesting to know that Libra was itself once regarded as being part of the Scorpio constellation. The traces of this one-time association can still be identified in the name Beta Librae which is also known as Zubeneschamali in Arabic, meaning ‘the northern claw’, and Alpha Librae known as Zubenelgenubi meaning ‘the southern claw’. You can find all the myths and facts regarding the zodiac constellations online.