Allegorical Figure, majolica plate, Deruta 1510, Louvre, Paris


Though this constellation is known as Veiled Isis, and in the Zodiac as VIRGO - this is not the true name of the Virgin. She is ERIGONE.

Erigone hanged herself, and later became the Constellation VIRGO. The Hanging Goddess must be seen within the context of the VIRGO/PISCES polarity. The Hanged Man may have to be replaced and/or made parallel to an earlier form of the Hanged Woman.

"ERIGONE, a daughter of ICARUS, who hung herself when she heard that her father had been killed by some shepherds whom he had intoxicated. She was made a constellation, now known under the name of VIRGO. Bacchus deceived her by changing himself into a beautiful grape." 

Lempriere. [Ovid. Met.6,fab.4.For Erigone, see Robert Graves - `child of strife, or plentiful offspring', 79 passim; 88.10; 92.12; 98.5; 106.2;114.m,n,6;117.a,b,2.]

  Erigone = Arcanum 2

Thus Dionysus, to quote another passage of Plutarch, is worshipped "almost everywhere in Greece" as "the tree-god". In Boeotia he is called "he who lives and works in the tree."  According to Diodorus, the care of fruit, in general, is ascribed to him.  In the cult legend from Magnesia on the Maeander it is said that the likeness of Dionysus was once found in a plane tree which had been split asunder,  and the myth of Icarius, to whom Dionysus gave the vine, ends, as we know, with Icarius' daughter, Erigone, hanging herself from the tree under which her murdered father was buried.

Otto, Walter F. Dionysus, Myth and Cult, Spring Publications, Dallas, 1981.

And Otto, p. 104 where Ariadne hanging herself is also mentioned. Also: "However, Artemis, also, is called "the one who has hanged herself" in the cult of Arcadian Kondylea." Otto, p.188.

ICARUS is also the constellation BOOTES, 1st Decanate of Virgo. A few important factors emerge in the story of Erigone that confirms the Virgo-Pisces polarity.

1) Both have associations with the Vine, Wine.

2) Both show Hanged Figures. [Albeit, Erigone is buried under the sub-text.]

3) Both have the Tree, or Two Trees as a central symbol, or Two Columns.

4) Bacchus, we presume, deceived Erigone, by changing himself into a grape, which she ate and was thus impregnated. Or, she was drunk, and was impregnated that way.


Robert Graves connects these hanging goddesses to: Jocate, Mother of Oedipus, who hangs herself by her own hair. This cluster leads us to: Helen of Troy, i.e. Helen of the Olive Trees - Rachel Levy says:

"... for Helen among the Dorians was a divinity of vegetation hanged from a tree."

[Levy, Rachel, Gates of Horn, p.. 250.]

Pausanias records a legend of Helen: 

"...while Helen was washing Polyxo sent some slave women dressed like the Furies who took her and hanged her on a tree, and this is why the Rhodians have a sanctuary of Helen of the Tree." [Pausanias iii,19,10.]

Peter Levi, amplifies:

"...Helen was a Tree-goddess, just as Agamemnon was a daemonic underground power/ the symbolism of hanged Helen is obscure, its origin is surely in magical belief." [Ibid., in note 180.]

"But Helen was not a mortal woman; she was Helle, or Persephone, a goddess of death and resurrection. Hercules, Theseus, Castor and Pollux, were all depicted in her company in archaic works of art." [Robert Graves, The White Goddess, p. 257.]

Ajit Mookerjee shows us a Birth Goddess holding onto a palm tree, while giving birth. This motive repeats in the Birth of the Buddha. There is evidence that this Tree is a Palm Tree.

(See Robert Graves on the Palm Tree, for its Greek name associated with the Phoenix and redness, a possible Promethean code).

Swinging like Erigone: During the day, the virgin Athenian girls let the boys push them in swings, associating themselves with the tragic figure of Erigone. Erigone's swingingWoman seated on a swing, 530-520 B. C. memorialized the sacred love-death of the tragic Erigone who hung herself after discovering her father dead in a well.
Her father was Ikarios, the first man Dionysos showed how to make wine and whose death came at the hands of the ungrateful villagers he had first shared the nectar with as they believed he had poisoned them. Before Erigone's death she marries Dionysus and the girls would sing a song where they would touch the grape at the height of their ascent.  The Roman poet Ovid has her become the god's wife by eating a grape, but in Aristotle's time a song of Erigone was penned by a famous erotic poet. Kerényi notes this rite that has roots as far back as ancient Crete and Sumer, judging by unearthed statuettes of swinging girls. Erigone's swinging symbolizes the moment of death and love, a theme rarely explored by artists in the present.

The triangulation of eyes, grapes, and teats can be illustrated by an eighteenth-century image of Erigone (appoached by Bacchus in the form of a cluster or grapes, according to Ovid; fig. 10), or again by Hendrick Goltzius' 1593 penwork "Without Ceres or Bacchus [Venus Freezes]" (fig. 11).

5. Keats, Teats, and the Fane of Poesy  -  N. Hilton, Lexis Complexes


Virgo - From: The Myths of the Zodiac    Kalev Pehme



ASTRĆA, a name given by some to the sign Virgo, by others called Erigone, and sometimes Isis. The poets feign that Justice quitted heaven to reside on earth, in the golden age; but, growing weary of the iniquities of mankind, she left the earth, and returned to heaven, placing herself in that part of the zodiac called Virgo, where she became a constellation of stars, and from her orb still looks down on the ways of men. Ovid. Metam. lib. i. ver. 149.

Nonnus’ Dionysiaca

Erigone , the constellation Virgo. She was the daughter of Icarios, an Athenian, who was murdered by some drunken peasants. Erigonę discovered the dead body by the aid of her father’s dog Mśra, who became the star called Canis.

… that virgin, frail Erigonę,
Who by compassion got preheminence [sic].
   —Lord Brooke: Of Nobility.