The Eagle

Andromeda Constellation

The Brighter Stars of Aquila

The Story

The Eagle and Zeus

The Eagle is the bird of Zeus, the chief god of the Olympian pantheon. It was sometimes called the thunderbird, because it was the Eagle that carried the thunderbolts of Zeus and retrieved them after they were thrown.

The Torture of Prometheus

It was the Eagle who carried out the punishment of the Titan Prometheus, who had stolen a ray of sunlight, wrapped it in a reed, and presented it to humankind as the gift of fire. Zeus was furious at this deed, which gave human beings some of the power that had belonged to the gods alone. So Zeus had the Titan chained to a rock in the Caucasus Mountains, and arranged that each day the Eagle came to gnaw at Prometheus' liver. As a Titan, Prometheus could not die. Each night his liver would grow back, for the Eagle to gnaw on the next day. Aquila, The Eagle

The Abduction of Ganymede

The constellation of the Eagle is connected with the constellation of Aquarius, the Water Carrier. Aquarius represents Ganymede, the son of King Tros of Troy. Ganymede was a youth of great beauty. Zeus was quite taken with the boy and sent the Eagle to Troy to abduct the boy and carry him away to Mount Olympus in its claws. On Mount Olympus, the boy served as the cup bearer to the gods.

Hercules Saves Prometheus

The constellation of Sagitta, according to one story, represents the arrow that slew the Eagle. It was Hercules who killed the Eagle with a poisoned arrow in order to release Prometheus from his suffering. Hercules used arrows poisoned with the blood of the Hydra which he had slain as his Second Labor. Zeus set the Eagle among the stars as a reward for its faithful service.  

Copyright © 1998 - 2010 by Arnold V. Lesikar,
Professor Emeritus
Dept. of Physics, Astronomy, and Engineering Science,
St. Cloud State University,St. Cloud, MN 56301-4498

Feedback to: editor AT