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Little Animals in a Circle


Cancer The constellation of the Greek zodiac known as Cancer (Crab), is linked with the second labor of the mighty hero Heracles (Hercules), who was assigned by his mean-spirited cousin to kill the Lernaean Hydra, a horrible water snake with nine monstrous heads, the middle one immortal. As Hercules would cut one head off the Hydra, two more would sprout in its place.

Here's how Cancer the Crab joined the exalted
Little Animals in a Circle:

CANCER - The Crab
June 22- July 22

SYMBOL - The Crab
QUALITY - Cardinal



LUCKY DAY - Monday

Hercules vs. Hydra

Hercules vs. Hydra
fresco at Palazzo Vecchio


Cancer - The Crab

Cancer, the fourth sign of the zodiac, is all about home. Those born under this sign are 'roots' kinds of people, and take great pleasure in the comforts of home and family.

Cancers are maternal, domestic and love to nurture others. More than likely, their family will be large, too -- the more, the merrier!

Cancers will certainly be merry if their home life is serene and harmonious. Traditions are upheld with great zest in a Cancer's household, since these folks prize family history and love communal activities.

They also tend to be patriotic, waving the flag whenever possible. A Cancer's good memory is the basis for stories told around the dinner table, and don't be surprised if these folks get emotional about things.

Those born under this sign wear their heart on their sleeve, which is just fine by them. The mascot of Cancer is the Crab, and, much like this shelled little critter, Cancers are quick to retreat into their shells if it suits their mood. No wonder these folks are called crabby!

For Cancer it's not that big of a deal, though, since they consider this 'shell'  second home (and they do love home). The flip side of this hiding is that shell-bound Crabs are often quite moody.
(c) astrology.com

The Lernaean Hydra was the offspring of the horrible monsters called Typhon and Echidna, who themselves were children of Gaea (Mother Earth).

The abominable Hydra was brought up under the patronage of Hera, Queen of the Olympians, who was "grooming" her to kill the great hero Hercules, who was tasked with slaying it as his second of twelve labors.

Hera hated Hercules ever since he was born. Her husband Zeus, King of the Olympians, had a nasty habit of consorting with countless beautiful young mortal women, and Hercules was his love child from one of those extramarital affairs.

Hera in wrath had made it her life mission to eternally torment Hercules. Actually, she hated him even before he was born! Listen to this:

Hera, patroness of midwives and childbirth, had purposely delayed the birth of Hercules by four hours so that his cousin Eurystheus, whose own birth she hastened by two months, would be born first.

Hera did this by squatting cross-legged at the threshold of the birthing room, preventing Alcmene from delivering baby Hercules.

By so doing it gave the two-month premature baby Eurystheus the right to claim the royal throne - by virtue of being older - rather than the rightful heir, Hercules.

Weak and sickly Eurystheus, even though King, could never get over playing second fiddle to his famous cousin, who was fearless and built like a god. Eurystheus was small and puny, and had absolutely no nerve.

But back to the monster: The foul Hydra lived in a swamp near the well of Anymone and had completely ravaged the area of Lernaea.

Other poets place her lair at Lake Lerna in the Argolid area.

It was said that beneath the waters of this lake was an entrance to the grim Underworld, and the Hydra was forever charged with protecting the entryway so that no unauthorized being entered.

When evil-minded and weak-kneed King Eurystheus ordered Hercules to slay the beast as his second labor, both the King and Hera were certain that the hero was being sent to his death.

Gutless King Eurystheus was the exact opposite of his legendary cousin.

Hercules was so strong and fearless that he had excitedly strangled two huge venomous python snakes sent by Hera to devour him when he was just a months-old baby.

He giggled with delight as he merrily squeezed the life out of the slithery assassins, each writhing helpless and impotent in his formidable baby hands.

In comparison, his baby brother Iphicles in the adjoining crib shrieked in terror and soiled his diaper at the sight of his brother shaking his new toy rattles, the enormous snakes.

As the years passed, Hercules became even more powerful, and King Eurystheus even more cowardly, and his resentment of his larger-than-life cousin grew daily.

Hence, when Hera caused Hercules to go mad, and in his insanity he murdered his own wife and children  - it's a long story! - Eurystheus was delighted to hear that Apollo's Oracle at Delphi had pronounced that Hercules had only one option.

In order to purify himself of the heinous crime, and appease the scandalized gods, Hercules had to perform twelve impossible labors over the course of twelve years.

Why was King Eurystheus happy? Because it was determined by the Oracle that Hercules was obligated to perform twelve tasks chosen by none other than his envious cousin. And King Eurystheus was determined to make sure that Hercules would not return alive.

Both he and Hera were certain that Hercules would perish trying to slay the Lernaean Hydra. Why? Well, Lerna, a fertile and holy district, was for years terrorized by the Hydra, which had a monstrous, dog-like body and nine snaky heads.

It was so venomous that its very breath, or even the smell of its tracks, could kill.

The Hydra, besides being stinky and enormous, had a scary tendency to grow two heads whenever one of its nine heads was cut off or smashed.

That's not even to mention that its middle head was immortal! Every previous hero that had tried to slay the horrible monster had been promptly dispatched to the Underworld by the beast.

That was the daunting task facing Hercules. Needless to say, the hero reveled at the challenge! He was born for this!

Now, it must be mentioned that the great Olympian gods Athena, Hephaestus and Hermes helped Hercules all along, somewhat counterbalancing Hera's harm. Heracles had consulted wise Athena on the best way to dispose of the Hydra, and he promptly set her plan in motion.

The intolerable stench let him know early on that he was approaching the lair of the Hydra. Arriving at the entrance guarded by the malodorous monster, he showered the Hydra with flaming arrows, waking up the enraged beast and forcing it to emerge from its lair.

Its presence was literally breath-taking. Doing his best to keep from hurling his lunch from the stench, Hercules grabbed hold of the monster.

In turn, the Hydra wrapped itself around him, twining tightly around his feet in an attempt to trip him. Hercules rained down blows on its head with his awesome club, but for naught. No sooner was one head crushed, than two more grew in its place!

Never was the cliché "two heads are better than one" more trite than in this particular instance. Just when it appeared that things couldn't get much worse, they did.

Hearing the furious sounds of battle, an enormous crab raced over from the swamp to aid the Hydra, doing its best to make lunch of the foot of Hercules. The crab bit down hard on the hero's ankle, and did it ever hurt!

The crab was huge! Sent by Hera to make the fight even more one-sided, this obnoxious creature completed an admirable one-two tag team with the Hydra, inequitably ganging up on the Greek hero.

While Hercules would furiously batter and shatter the Hydra's venomous heads, the crab would lock its claws around the hero in an effort to chomp off his foot and leg. As he would swivel to pummel the crab's pincers, the Hydra would attempt to decapitate and strangle him, wrapping around Hercules in a crushing vice.

And did she ever reek! That was the worst part!

And so it went, beleaguered Hercules twisting and turning, trying to inflict maximum damage to his duo of attackers, while trying to  prevent himself from suffering major harm.

The entire time Hercules was trying to keep from passing out from the noxious fumes emanating from the Hydra.

Well, Hercules finally had enough! Turning his attention completely to Hera's crab, Hercules probably visualized her face as he crushed its shell with a succession of thunderous blows.

"Take that, Hera! And that!" Hercules laid the heavy wood on the crustacean. "You're worse than damn Cancer!"

Poor crab had no chance. 'Why is he calling me Hera?' it wondered, in the throes of dying...

Hercules had brought along the son of his brother, called Iolaus, to be his assistant, weapon bearer and charioteer. Upon smashing the crab to smithereens, he shouted out to Iolaus that it was barbecue time.

His nephew set a corner of the grove on fire and handed Heracles a burning branch. To prevent the Hydra from sprouting new heads, Hercules cleverly seared their roots with the blazing wood, burning them and thus stopping the flow of blood, and any new growth.

Eight times he did this, and each time the deafening screams of the Hydra sounded to the heavens. This was something completely new to the monster, usually she was the one inflicting horrific pain.

Hercules saved the best for last. The ninth head of the Hydra was allegedly deathless, and had to be treated differently.

Using a golden sword given him by the master craftsman god Hephaestus, Heracles severed the immortal head and immediately buried it, still hissing, under an unliftable rock.

Did I mention how strong he was?

Next he cut the rancid Hydra carcass into pieces, just to be safe, and dipped all of his arrows in the reeking gall and bile.

From that point on, a mere nick from these poisoned arrows was fatal. Hercules had found himself some fine ammunition for his future labors! The arrows came in handy for him on more than one occasion during the rest of his labors, courtesy of the Larnaean Hydra.

Hera as always had to have the last word when it came to Hercules, win or lose. She rewarded the crab for its faithful loyalty, even though her pet was savagely brutalized by Hercules.

Hera honored the Crab by  setting its image among the stars, as the constellation Cancer, making it one of the twelve signs of the Zodiac, and joining the honored and exalted Little Animals in a Circle.

And to add injury to insult, that puny punk King Eurystheus refused to count the successfully completed Labor as one of the required twelve, calling it unlawful.

"Your nephew Iolaus supplied the fire-brands, Hercules. I'm afraid I can't count this one, you had help!" he shouted out from inside his subterranean jar, where he would hide whenever Hercules returned triumphantly.

Eurystheus was such a jackass!

But Hercules didn't really care. He was too busy melting butter to go with the huge, heavily-battered King Crab legs he was serving for dinner.

Aries Taurus Gemini Cancer Leo Virgo
Libra Scorpio Sagittarius Capricorn Aquarius Pisces


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