The Milky Way

For anyone interested in Greek and Roman mythology, this one is for you. We came across this story recently and were blown away by it, so naturally we had to share! 

Ever wonder how the Milky Way galaxy is believed to have gotten its name? 

 
 DEN-BELITSKY/ISTOCKPHOTO

DEN-BELITSKY/ISTOCKPHOTO

According to a book written in the 10th century, 'Geoponica,' the Greek god Zeus / Roman god Jupiter had an affair with a mortal woman who gave birth to his son Hercules. Since Hercules was half god / half mortal, his father believed the milk from a goddess would immortalize him and so one night, he secretly put Hercules to the breast of his wife (for the Greeks this was Hera and the Romans this way Juno). Now in this version (1), when she awoke surprised by the suckling infant, she unlatched him and just as many breastfeeding mothers have experienced during a letdown, her breast was spraying milk and this milk that jetted into the sky forming the Milky Way. The story goes on to say the milk from the other breast fell to the earth creating lily flowers. 

While astronomers are uncertain where the true origin of the galaxy's name comes from, this folklore story is pretty awesome don't you think?

And check out this incredible painting by Jacopo Tintoretto inspired by this Greco-Roman story.

 
 Original painting by Jacopo Tintoretto around 1575. Image retrieved from  Wikipedia

Original painting by Jacopo Tintoretto around 1575. Image retrieved from Wikipedia

 

References

(1) The National Gallery. (n.d.). The Origin of the Milky Way. Retrieved from http://www.nationalgalleryimages.co.uk/Imagedetails.aspx?mode=Themes&q=Mythological&num=128&start=113&ng=NG1313&title=An+Allegory+with+Venus+and+Cupid&artist=BRONZINO&view=sm&q2=NG5467&frm=1