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20 21 the constellatIon draco The Greek word Drakon comes from a verb meaning to see or to watch and Dragons have great reputations as guardians of wisdom and treasure. In Greek Mythology the Dragon Ladon guarded the apples on the Tree of the Hesperides for the Goddess Hera. Ladon, who was the parthenogenous virginborn son of Mother Earth, had a hundred heads and, with two hundred keen eyes, was the obvious choice for a guardian. However, even with these advantages, he was no match for the hero Heracles who shot him with an arrow and stole the apples. To commemorate this feat Heracles bore the likeness of a Dragon on his shield, described by Homer as A scaly horror of a Dragon, coiled full in the central field, unspeakable, with eyes oblique, retorted, that askant shot gleaming fire. The Goddess Hera wept bitterly at the death of Ladon and set his image among the stars as the constellation of the serpent Draco. Draco, also known as the Red Dragon, is a large constellation of stars which winds around the celestial and the ecliptic north poles and can be seen in the northern sky positioned close to Heracles. Another Greek myth tells a different storyof the time that Zeus and his followers battled with the gods of an earlier mythological order high on Mount Olympus. In the struggle that ensued the new gods drove out the old ones and Draco, who as a Lord of Chaos was counted among the elder gods, was cast into the sky by the Goddess Athene. She sent his body spinning into a knotted circle where he remains to this day, inextricably tangled with the north pole, and daily turning with it on the slowly drifting axis of the northern sky. In fact, the star Thuban Draconis, third from the tip of Dracos tail, was the pole star, centre of the heavens, in 2,700 BC, the age of Stonehenge and ancient Egypt. Draco, from a 12th century Sufi book of constellations, and a circular representation of some of the circumpolar stars showing Heracles brandishing his club while standing on the head of Draco. 21
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