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The She-Goat Amaltheia and a Myth of the Constellation Capricorn

From Robert Graves's book of Greek Myths: Amaltheia nurtured Zeus and he cast her into the sky as the constellation Capricorn.

Cronus (Saturn) married his sister Rhea, to whom the oak is sacred. But it was prophesied by Mother Earth, and by his dying father Uranus, that one of his own sons would dethrone him. Every year, therefore, he swallowed the children whom Rhea bore him: first Hestia, then Demeter (Ceres) and Hera (Juno), then Hades (Pluto), then Poseidon (Neptune).

Rhea was enraged. She bore Zeus (Jupiter), her third son, at dead of night on Mount Lycaeum in Arcadia, where no creature casts a shadow and having bathed him in the River Neda, gave him to Mother Earth; by whom he was carried to Lyctos in Crete, and hidden in the cave of Dicte on the Aegean Hill. Mother Earth left him there to be nursed by the Ash-nymph Adrasteia and her sister Io, both daughters of Melisseus, and by the Goat-nymph Amaltheia.

His food was honey, and he drank Amaltheia’s milk, with Goat-Pan, his foster-brother. Zeus was grateful to these three nymphs for their kindness and, when he became Lord of the Universe, set Amaltheia’s image among the stars, as Capricorn. He also borrowed one of her horns, which resembled a cow’s, and gave it to the daughters of Melisseus; it became the famous Cornucopia, or horn of plenty, which is always filled with whatever food or drink its owner may desire.


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