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The Mythology of Castor and Pollux

The Gemini Twins, Castor and Pollux

The story of Castor and Pollux dates back to antiquity and runs through many civilizations.  Inspired by the night sky, the ancients developed a rich and colorful story about the Gemini constellation.  Story turned to myth, myth turned into religion and now it has turned into reality with our epic adventure.

Astronomy

The Sun “resides” in the constellation of Gemini from May 21st to June 20th. You can find it between Taurus, to the west, and Cancer, to the east. The best time to observe Gemini is in January and February. It becomes visible soon after sunset in April and May. Gemini contains 85 stars visible to the eye without a telescope. The two brightest stars in Gemini are Pollux and Castor.

Pollux is a red giant that has finished fusing hydrogen in its core and is now fusing other lighter elements into heavier ones.   The star has a planet estimated to be 2.3 times the size of Jupiter, with an orbital period of 590 days.

Castor is the 20th brightest star in the night sky and is relatively close, at an estimated distance of 51 light-years from Earth.  A telescope actually reveals it is made up of six stars, ranging from main sequence stars to dwarfs.

Hindu Mythology

The Ashwini Kumaras are Vedic gods, twin horsemen and the sons of Saranya, a goddess of the clouds, and the sun-god Surya. They are called Nasatya and Dasra in the Rigveda, the oldest written scriptures in existence.  They were considered to be the doctors of gods and are represented as humans with head of a horse.

Greek Mythology

The Greek name for Pollux is Polydeuces. In the Greek epic poem Argonautica written by Apollonius Rhodius in the 3rd century BC, Castor and Polydeuces were heroes and Argonauts aboard the Argo during Jason’s Quest for the Golden Fleece. Polydeuces had a boxing match against King Amycus of Bebryce.  The Dioskouroi, another name for Castor and Pollux, helped Jason and Peleus destroy the city of Iolcus to punish King Pelias for his treachery.

Homer portrays them initially as ordinary mortals, treating them as dead in the Iliad, but in the Odyssey they are treated as gods.

Roman Mythology

The Romans changed the name of Ploydeuces to Pollux probably as a result of interpretation.   Many of the Roman stories are similar to the Greek mythology from which they came.  They believed that Castor and Pollux aided the Roman Legions on the battlefield at the battle of Lake Regillus in 495 BC.  Their persona as horsemen made them particularly attractive to the Roman equites and cavalry.  July 15 is the feast day of the Dioskouri in Rome.

Christianity

Acts 28:11 NCV

The people on the island gave us many honors. When we were ready to leave, three months later, they gave us the things we needed. We got on a ship from Alexandria that had stayed on the island during the winter. On the front of the ship was the sign of the twin gods.  Their names were Castor and Pollux.

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