The Crow or The Raven

Corvus Constellation

The Brighter Stars of Corvus

The Story

Apollo and the Crow

The Crow was the god Apollo's sacred bird. Apollo was associated with prophecy and wisdom, with music and poetry, with medicine, law, philosophy, and the arts. When the Olympian gods were set upon by the monster Typhon, the god Pan shouted a warning, and the gods changed themselves into animals to escape. Aphrodite and Eros changed themselves into fish. Pan too tried to become a fish, but ended up as only half a fish. Apollo changed himself into a Crow.

How the Crow Became Black

It is said that the Crow was originally snow-white in color, but it was the Crow who brought Apollo the awful news that his love Coronis had been unfaithful to him. Apollo took out his anger on the poor Crow turning his feathers into the mournful black color that crows have worn ever since.

The Crow Gets Distracted

One day Apollo was about to offer sacrifice to Zeus. He sent the Crow off with the Cup (Crater in Latin) to fetch water from a nearby spring. The Crow was distracted by a fig tree bearing fruit that was almost ripe. The Crow was tempted by the fruit, but he didn't want to eat the unripe figs; so he waited for two or three days for the fruit to ripen.

The Irate Apollo

Let's not forget Apollo, who was waiting for the Crow to return with the water. Eventually the god tired of waiting for the Crow to return and fetched the water himself. The Crow, having eaten his fill of the ripe figs, flew back to Apollo with his long delayed Cup of water. Apollo was furious!

The Crow Gets What's Coming to Him

The Crow offered the excuse that a watersnake had been blocking the spring, but the wise Apollo saw through the excuse and punished the Crow. Apollo changed the melodious voice of the bird into a raucous squawk. Some say that it was at this point that the white feathers of the crow were turned into black. But the worst punishment of all is that Apollo set the crow Corvus into the stars right beside the cup Crater on the back of the watersnake Hydra. The watersnake was commanded never to let the Crow get near enough to the Cup to drink.  

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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