Daily mythology: Ursa Major


The Great and the Little Bear

Ursa Major/ Ursa Minor

We all know the constellations around the north pole of the sky, were Great and Little Bear are turning around the Polar Star (by the way: in Greek bear means Arktur, and we all call those regions arctic, don’t we?). But how did those constellations get their names?

Here’s their story: Kallisto (“the most beautiful”) was a nymph  in the suite of goddess Artemis. Like her idol she did a vow of chastity, but – alas! – in vain. Zeus, the master of the Olympics, fell in love with her, followed her, took the shape of Artemis to fool the girl, kissed her like you never should kiss a virgin, and got her pregnant….

For a time she managed to hide her pregnancy, but when Artemis found out what had happened she tried to kill Kallisto. Zeus though changed the nymph into a bear and later on her little son too, forgetting that Artemis was a hunter! In the last moment Zeus managed to put them into the sky, where we can see them up to today.

Some say Kallisto was a by-name of Artemis herself. But that would mean that she loved herself? Well, shouldn’t we love ourselves to a certain amount?


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