Libra Constellation Myth

The zodiac sign of Libra is invariably associated with the human qualities of justice and equality. Read how these two lineaments built up the lores around the Libra constellation myths.
UniverSavvy Staff
Last Updated: Jan 30, 2018
The 7th zodiac sign, belonging to the trigon influenced by the element of air and primarily cardinal in nature, Libra is known to exude charm, justice and equality in every aspect of life. This astrological sign is symbolically depicted by a balancing scale, making it the only sign portrayed with the help of a non-living thing. Amazingly, even the myths that have grown up around the constellation of Libra are those related to justice and equality. It is from here that we embark upon our journey to find out all about the Libra constellation mythology, versions from each and every great civilization that has ever walked the surface of the Earth.
Libra Constellation Mythology
Our story begins from determining the exact Libra constellation location. In soothe, ancient Sumero-Babylonians used the word "zibanitu", meaning scales, in their astrological treatises, written in Akkadian, to indicate the presence of the constellation Libra in the sky. Even Arabic documentations of the time indicated the existence of the same constellation by terming it "zubānā". Both these words meant and implicated a weighing scale shaped libra constellation, but the confusion originated from the later translations of these pieces because of the fact that in both Akkadian and Arabic "zibanitu" and "zubānā" also happens to mean a 'scorpion'. Because the immediate successor of Libra in the sky happens to be Scorpio, academicians naturally deduced that those few faintly visible stars form the claws of the scorpion or Chelae Scorpionis in the Scorpius constellation. What strengthened their deduction was the fact that in the ancient Grecian land between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, Mesopotamia, scales had a particular way of being limned. Two pans hung from the terminal points, with the help of strings, of a single horizontal rod, which in turn had another draw string attached to its central point. This central draw string was used by people to hold up the pair of scales. The absence of the middle stand, which modern metallic scales have to lift the scales up, made those archaic scales resemblant of a scorpion held vertically, with its clasps hanging downwards. The hanging pans thus became the claws of the next constellation.

It was only later, that the Libra constellation was identified and the claws of the Scorpius was literally hacked off. So now, the stars α (alpha) Librae and the γ (gamma) Librae mark the two termini of the horizontal bar, from which hangs the right plate, marked by the σ (sigma) Librae, and the left plate, marked by the υ (upsilon) Librae and τ (tau) Librae. Finally, the β (beta) Librae, the brightest of all the stars, signifies the central focal point of the balancing scale on top. So, where is Libra located in the sky? It is placed between the Serpens Cauda in the north, the Virgo constellation in its east, Scorpius and Ophiuchus in its west and in the south, the Lupus and Hydra constellations. If you want the clearest view of this constellation, then being anywhere between latitudes +65° and −90° at about 9 p.m. in the month of June might give you a good eyeshot of it.

So, what did the ancient civilizations, with astonishingly sound knowledge of the universe beyond, make of the origins of the Libra constellation? Let us travel a little further back in time, to find the answer to this.
The Egyptian Myths
In Egyptian Mythology, the weighing scales has dominantly been associated with Anpu or Anubis who was the ancient Egyptian god of the dead, the tombs and the monarch of the underworld, usually portrayed as a man with the head of a jackal. Anubis was known to librate all the good and bad that a mortal had indulged in, during his lifetime and based on that he would send a pure soul to the utopian, heavenly domain of Osiris and condemn a corrupt spirit to the hellish Netherworld. He guarded one path of the way to the underworld while his sibling Apu-at was vigilant in the other. Anubis used a mighty weighing scale for his purpose of libration and so the scales became majorly representative of the ultimate and optimal judgment, meted out at the end of one's earthly journey. So, the Libra constellation was associated with Anubis, he who was the incarnate of justice.
Egyptian Goddess Ma'at
Egyptian Goddess Ma'at
Another myth is colligated with the Egyptian goddess of ultimate balance and daughter of the Sun god Ra, Ma'at. The one who was the savior and destroyer both, Ma'at was the all-seeing Eye of the Universe who ensured the reign of justice in order to reinstate cosmic balance at every instance of its disruption. In fact, the very name of the goddess denoted 'truth'. Married to Thoth, the god of wisdom and arts, Ma'at has always been depicted as a woman carrying a steel and donning a headdress of a single ostrich plume which was emblematic of justness and verity. She ascertained the fate of the souls who had shed their earthly human garb and passed on to the domain of the dead, in the 'Halls of Ma'ati'. Here she or Thoth would take the weight of a dead person's heart on a scale. The ostrich feather would be used as the counter balance of the person's heart. If it weighed more than the plume, it meant that the person had led a corrupt and blemished life and thus would be condemned to infernal torture. But if the feather's weight equaled that of the heart, the spirit would be allowed salvation by being allowed passage to the afterlife. The Libra constellation was therefore considered to be the all-beholding Eye of the goddess Ma'at.
Resembling Ma'at very closely, in her fairness and her ways of making the sunrise and set, the approach and departure of seasons and literally making the world go around, is the Greek goddess called Themis who too happen to adorn the pages of Greek mythology in her relation to the Libra constellation.
The Grecian Myth
The Grecian Myth
One Grecian legend tells of the Libra constellation to be the Golden Chariot of the God of the Underworld, Hades, surmounted on which he emerged from his world of the dead and indulged in fornication with nymphs. He had abducted Zeus and Demeter's daughter, Persephone in the same chariot, smitten by her pristine beauty. But the preponderant lores of Grecian mythology considers that it was Themis, the classical Goddess of Justice and Law, to be symbolically depicted by balancing scales celestially. Since Libra is associated with justice and equality, this symbolic representation corresponds with that of the goddess who was propagator of the fact that natural order alone could result in a peaceful social order. Themis was the second spouse of Zeus and one of the classical Titanesses. An offspring of Gaea, goddess of the Earth and Ouranos, god of the Heavens, herself, she procreated Horae or Hōrai (the Hours or seasons), Eirene (peace), Eunomia (holy order), Dike (justice) and the three Moirai (the Fates) called Clotho (the Weaver), Lachesis (the Lot-caster), and Atropos (the Inevitable), who had utmost control over all human kismets. Artistically depicted as a sworded woman (for she incarnated harmonious co-independence and coexistence) with veneered eyes (for she could foretell the future), holding up a balancing scale.
However, the Romans attribute the scales to Themis' daughter Dike or the Roman goddess Astraea.
The Roman Myth
Astraea, the daughter of Themis, was like her mother a prosopopoeia of justice. Legend has it that she was one of the last titans who cohabited with mortals during the Bronze Age, as etched out by Hesiod and Ovid. It is believed that men of the bronze age had become conceited, but impiety was yet to canker their souls. It was during this age that Astraea roamed the Earth and upon her grandiloquent aureate scales librated the degree of good that remained and evil that had permeated the hearts of humans. Depending on that she assigned the fortunes of men.

But when the Bronze Age slowly gave way to the next Age of Iron, the corruption of impiousness of men's hearts increased and Astraea, the ethereal virgin, enraged and suffocated by the evils all around her, left the Earth and flew for her celestial abode. While she remained in the skies as the Virgo constellation, her scales fell nearby and became the constellation of Libra.
This narration would remain incomplete without the final astrological account which states that approximately four thousand annums agone, the sun had crossed the constellation of Libra exactly on the 21st of September, on the day that the Earth experienced equal periods of day and nighttime during the autumnal equinox. It was then that this particular configuration of stars as seen from the Earth was christened after the balance Libra. Even today, tropical astrology assigns the sun's passage of the Libra constellation within the period of 23rd September and 23rd October.
So, all these lores together make up the conglomeration of Libra constellation myths. Cosmic ways are still unknown to mankind. Who knows whether these myths could have been very much within the realm of reality in the very distant past.