It's been a while since we have tackled a constellation, so let's look at the next one today: Sagittarius, the archer. It was named 'Toxotes' (Τοξότης) in Greek, and is one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy and remains one of the 88 modern constellations. It lies between Scorpius and Ophiuchus to the west and Capricornus to the east.

In Hellenic mythology, Sagittarius is usually identified as a centaur: half human, half horse. Who, exactly, Sagittarius is, exactly, is unclear. Kheiron (Chiron, Χείρων), the wise and educated Centaur who taught heroes like Achilles, Theseus, Iásōn, and Hēraklēs, is a very good candidate, mostly because he died a very tragic death.

Hēraklēs' fourth labour is to capture the Erymanthian Boar, which got his name from the mountainside and swamp it roamed on. It is a difficult task; a boar is a ferocious animal, and even modern day hunters take care when hunting boar. This labour became even harder to complete for Hēraklēs when he met the centaurs on his way to the boar. Our hero went the long way to visit Phontus, a kéntaur who dwelt in a cave on Mount Pholoe, who was the son of Seilenus and the nymph Melia.

Having heard of Hēraklēs, Phontus entertained him in his cave, and provided him with food. Hēraklēs, thirsty from the savory meat dish, asked for wine, but Phontus said he only had the wine that was communal to all the kéntauroi, and he did not dare touch it. Hēraklēs convinced him to do so, regardless, and the kéntauroi came galloping to the cave. Hēraklēs fought them, and many died. Phontus, inspecting one of Hēraklēs' arrows dipped in hydra poison, which the hero had used to kill one of the kéntauros, dropped it onto his foot and he died of the poison as well. Hēraklēs, grieving for the death of Phontus, buried him near his cave. Hyginus, in his 'Astronomica' writes:

"He is said to be Chiron, son of Saturn and Philyra, who surpassed not only the other Centauris but also men in justice, and is thought to have reared Aesculapius and Achilles. By his conscientiousness and diligence, therefore, he won inclusion among the stars. When Hercules was once visiting Chiron, and while sitting with him was examining his arrows, one of them is said to have fallen on the foot of Chiron, and thus brought about his death. Others say that when the Centaur wondered at his being able to kill such huge creatures as Centauri with such slight arrows, he himself tried to draw the bow, and the arrow, slipping from his hand, fell on his foot. For this reason Jupiter, pitying him, put him among the constellations with a victim which he seems to hold above the altar for sacrifice. Others have said that he is Pholus the Centaurus, who was more skilled in augury that the rest. Consequently, by the will of Jove, he was represented coming to the altar with a victim." [II.38]

It is important to note, though, that this could also relate to the constellation Centaurus--Hyginus seems to think so, although he also wonders if it's a Centaur at all...

"Many have called this sign the Centaurus; others deny the name, for the reason that no Centaurus makes use of arrows. The question is raised, too why he is formed with horse flanks but a Satyr’s tail." [II.27]

A competing mythological tradition, as espoused by Eratosthenes, identified the Archer not as a centaur but as the satyr Krotos (Κροτος), son of Pan, who the ancient Hellenes credited with the invention of archery. According to myth, Krotos often went hunting on horseback and lived among the Muses, who requested that Zeus place him in the sky, where he is seen demonstrating archery. Hyginus again, in his 'Fabulae' on mortals who were made immortal mentions Krotos:

"Crotos, son of Pan and Eupheme, foster-brother of the Muses, put into the constellation Sagittarius" [224]

The arrow of this constellation points towards the star Antares, the 'heart of the scorpion', and Sagittarius stands poised to attack should Scorpius ever attack the nearby Hēraklēs, or to avenge Scorpius' slaying of Orion. The constellation Sagittarius is visible at latitudes between +55° and −90°, and best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of August.