On Display – Zodiac x Etymology

The Zodiac Diagram

My original idea for this project was to look into astrology but while doing so I found it to be a huge topic. There is so much to learn about the subject. Considering the fact that I am mixing two subject I thought it would be best to simplify the subject as to not confuse some people. So instead the exhibition will be about the origins of the zodiac constellations. I felt like this would make it a little less confusing and easier to wrap my head around as I’m not a scientist.

zodiac (n.)

late 14c from Old French zodiaque, from Latin zodiacus “zodiac,” from Greek zodiakos (kyklos)“zodiac (circle),” literally “circle of little animals,” from zodiaion, diminutive of zoion “animal”

Looking into the zodiac and how it work is also very complex but I’m going to try to explain it simply. The zodiac is an area of the sky which contains the 12 well-known constellations. As the Earth orbits the sun it looks as if the sun passes the different constellations. Just like how the moon looks as if its moving across the sky, the sun drifts easterly each day. ‘It’s not that the sun is actually moving. Its motion is entirely an illusion, caused by Earth’s own motion around our star.’ Throughout the year the sun appears to be in front of the different constellations. ‘One month, the sun appears in Gemini; the next month, in Cancer. The dates listed in the newspaper’s horoscope identify when the sun appears in a particular astrological sign. For example, March 21 through April 19 are set aside for the sign Aries. But your astrological sign doesn’t necessarily tell you what constellation the sun was in on the day you were born.’ Constellations actually no longer align with their set signs but that is big topic I don’t need to go into.

The 12 constellations with their origins

Aries ‘identified as “the Ram,” late Old English, from Latin aires “ram” (related to arietare “to butt”), from a PIE root meaning “spring, jump” (source also of Lithuanian ėrytis, Old Church Slavonic jarici, Armenian oroj “lamb;” Greek eriphos, Old Irish heirp “kid”)’

Taurus (n.) ‘late Old English, from Latin taurus “bull, bullock, steer,” from PIE *tau-ro- “bull” (source also of Greek tauros, Old Church Slavonic turu “bull, steer;” Lithuanian tauras “aurochs;” Old Prussian tauris “bison”); from PIE *tauro- “bull,” from root *(s)taeu- “stout, standing, strong” (source also of Sanskrit sthura- “thick, compact,” Avestan staora-“big cattle,” Middle Persian stor “horse, draft animal,” Gothic stiur “young bull,” Old English steor); extended form of root *sta- “to stand, make or be firm.”‘ There is also a semiotic origin proposed by Klein.

Gemini (n.) ‘late Old English, from Latin gemini “twins”. Formerly also spelled gemeny, gemony, jeminy, etc. The twins are Castor and Pollux in Latin, which also are the names of the two brightest stars in the constellation. Meaning “a person born under the sign of Gemini” is recorded from 1894.’

Cancer (n.) ‘Old English cancer “spreading sore, malignant tumor” (also canceradl), from Latin cancer “a crab,” later, “malignant tumor,” from Greek karkinos, which, like the Modern English word, has three meanings: a crab, a tumor, and the zodiac constellation represented by a crab’

Leo ‘late Old English, from Latin leo “lion”. Meaning “person born under the sign of Leo” is from 1894. Leonid “meteor which appears to radiate from Leo” is from 1868; the annual shower peaks Nov. 14 and the stars fall in extreme profusion about every 33 years. The meteors are believed now to be associated with comet Tempel–Tuttle. The dim constellation Leo Minor was introduced 1690 by Hevelius.’

Virgo ‘c. 1000, from Latin constellation name Virgo “the virgin”. Meaning “person born under the sign of Virgo” is attested from 1917.’

Libra (n.) ‘represented by a pair of scales, late Old English, from Latin libra “a balance, pair of scales,” also “pound (unit of weight),” from Proto-Italic *leithra- “pound.” De Vaan compares Greek litra “name of a Sicilian coin,” which “was probably borrowed from an Italic language at the stage containing [-thr-].”‘

Scorpio (n.) ‘late 14c, from Latin scorpio (poetic scorpius) “scorpion,”. c. 1200, from Old French scorpion (12c.), from Latin scorpionem (nominative scorpio), extended form of scorpius, from Greek skorpios “a scorpion,” from PIE root *(s)ker- (1) “to cut”. The Spanish alacran “scorpion” is from Arabic al-‘aqrab. The meaning “person born under or ruled by the sign of Scorpio” is recorded from 1968. Since 1922 the official scientific designation of the constellation has been Scorpius, leaving Scorpio to astrology. ‘

Sagittarius (n.) ‘late Old English, from Latin, literally “archer,” properly “pertaining to arrows,” from sagitta “arrow,” which probably is from a pre-Latin Mediterranean language. Meaning “person born under Sagittarius” is attested from 1940.’

Capricorn ‘represented as a goat, or half-goat half-fish, late Old English, from Latin Capricornus, literally “horned like a goat,” from caper (genitive capri) “goat” + cornu “horn,” “horn; head.” A loan-translation of Greek Aigokheros, the name of the constellation. Extended 1894 to persons born under the sign.’

Aquarius ‘late Old English, from Latin aquarius, literally “water carrier,” properly an adjective, “pertaining to water”; a loan-translation of Greek Hydrokhoos“the water-pourer,” the old Greek name of this constellation.’

Pisces (n.) ‘late Old English, from Latin pisces, from plural of piscis “a fish”. Applied to persons born under this sign from 1924.’

After learning about each constellation and their meanings. I feel much more equip for this project. It’s interesting to see some words having more of a background than others. Some meaning are obvious like Scorpio and some are more complex. Now I have some knowledge on the subject I will start thumb nailing some logos and get the branding underway.


Sources Used:

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