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Old woodcarving image of Pisces

Pisces Mythology

Pisces constellation is of Babylonian origin. The Babylonians saw it as a pair of fish joined by a cord. The constellation is usually associated with the Roman myth of Venus and Cupid, who tied themselves with a rope and transformed into fish to escape the monster Typhon. The star Alpha Piscium, also known by the traditional name Alrescha (“the cord” in Arabic) marks the knot of the rope.

The constellation is associated with a similar story in Greek mythology. After the Olympian gods had defeated the Titans and the Giants; Gaia, or Mother Earth; coupled with Tartarus, the region of the Underworld where Zeus held the Titans imprisoned, and they had Typhon, the scariest monster the world had ever seen. Typhon had a hundred dragon’s heads, with fire blazing from all his eyes. Gaia sent Typhon to defeat the gods. Pan was the first to see him coming.

In this Greek myth, the monster Typhon descends on Mount Olympus, threatening all of the gods and goddesses, who flee from their home (with a couple of key exceptions). As Typhon approaches, the goddess Aphrodite and her son Eros (known as Venus and Cupid in Roman mythology) find themselves in need of escape.

Here’s where the story differs, depending on which line you want to take. According to different versions of this legend, either Aphrodite and Eros turn into fish, two fish approach them and swim them away to safety, or they turn into fish AND two other fish take them to safety. Whichever version you prefer, the two escape from Typhon thanks to two fish. These two fish were later honoured by being placed in the heavens as the constellation Pisces.

Note that the mythology of Pisces always refers to two fish, never one. Most versions of the Typhon escape legend speak of the tails of the fish being tied together to avoid losing each other. The constellation of Pisces represents two fish with their tails tied together.

A similar version of the story is told in Syrian mythology, were two fish known as the “Ikhthyes” (or “Ichthys”) were the ones who rescued Aphrodite and Eros. Later, a different Syrian myth tells of a large and mysterious egg appearing on the Euphrates river, where two fish (or possibly men with fish-tails according to some classical art) named Aphros and Bythos who brought the egg to shore and helped it hatch. Inside the egg was Aphrodite (as her Syrian counterpart Astarte).

Both stories have to do with some form of fish rescuing some form of Aphrodite via the river Euphrates. In both myths, the helpful fish were made into the Pisces constellation. It is believed that this legend is the reason why Syrians refused to eat fish.

He alerted the other gods and then transformed himself into a goat-fish and jumped into the river Euphrates to escape the monster. The goat-fish is represented by the constellation Capricornus.

The goddess Aphrodite and her son Eros called to the water nymphs for help and jumped into the river. In one version of the legend, two fishes came to the rescue and carried Aphrodite and Eros on their backs to safety. In another version, the mother and son were themselves transformed into fish.

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