Corona Australis

The Southern Crown

Corona Australis Constellation

The Story


The Southern Crown is probably associated with the Wine God Dionysius, the Twice-Born.


The god Dionysius was the sired by Zeus in one of his many seductions of mortal women. Dionysius's mother was Semele, who like many of Zeus' paramours, suffered as the result of the jealousy of Zeus' spouse Hera.

The Southern Crown

Hera's Plot

While Semele was pregnant with Dionysius, Hera approached her in the form of an old woman, the very nursemaid who had brought up Semele herself. She offered Semele advice and concern, but she pretended that she disbelieved that the child Semele carried was really the offspring of Zeus himself. She advised Semele to beg of her lover that he appear to her in his true divine form, the very same form in which he embraced his divine spouse Hera.

'Just a Hunk of Burnin' Love'

The next time that Zeus approached, Semele asked that he embrace her in his divine form. Zeus was unable to resist her request, but he knew what would happen. And indeed, when the god embraced poor Semele she was burned to a crisp by his glory.

Zeus Plays Mother

The child Dionysius was ripped from Semele's womb and sewn into Zeus' thigh, where he grew to term. Because the child was first born from Semele's womb and then again from Zeus' thigh, he became known as The Twice-Born. After the birth of Dionysius, Zeus gave the boy to Semele's sister Ino to raise.

A Crown for Semele

Later Dionysius journeyed to the Underworld to retrieve his mother from the Realm of the Dead. He left a gift of myrtle there in exchange for Semele, and then set the Southern Crown among the stars in honor of this woman who had borne him.  

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

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