Very soon the sign of Virgo takes over from Leo in the zodiac, and hints of incipient autumn make our summer pleasures keener, just as they did six hundred years ago -- for the harvesters as well as the elegant ladies and the lords in their straw hats, before the Chateau d'Estampes.
August, from Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, c.1412-16
The constellation of Virgo, according to Greek myth, was created when Astrea, virgin goddess of the Golden Age, left the sinful earth for the heavens. She is also linked with the goddess Ceres and harvest-time.
Here Virgo is portrayed by astronomer Johannes Hevelius in his Uranographia of 1690, her left hand holding its sheaf of corn.
In literature Astrea is seen to preside over a new Golden Age of Justice, symbolically representing Queen Elizabeth I in Spenser's Faerie Queene, and similarly in Dryden's poem Astrea Redux, celebrating the return of Charles II in 1660. In seventeenth century France, she was the heroine of Honore' d'Urfe's pastoral romance, L'Astree, a best seller for many decades; her lover, the shepherd Celadon, dressed in grey-green, and gave his name to this colour in Europe. The word celadon is now synonymous with Song dynasty porcelains.
Bowl with lid, Longquan ware; Song Dynasty **
* Shakespeare, Henry VI Pt.1, Act I. vi, of Joan of Arc.
** Chinese Ceramics , Dr. F. Lili, Chinese Intercontinental Press