On June 22, 2011, Canada Post began issuing another stamp in the Signs of the Zodiac series. This month’s entry is Cancer, the Crab. Of all the celestial constellations, this one is the most difficult to view in the night sky since it is very small and its stars glow faintly. Its star points are said to trace out the crab’s claws.
In Greek mythology, Cancer has a sad little story. Hera, the wife of Zeus, was very jealous of Hercules, Zeus’ illegitimate son; she was constantly trying to kill him. One day, in a battle with the water monster Hydra, Hercules was also attacked by the giant crab Cancer, sent by Hera to kill him. Cancer kept biting at Hercules’ toes.
Here, the myth takes two directions. One says that Hercules was so annoyed that he kicked Cancer hard, shuttling him into the sky. Another says that he stepped on Cancer, effectively killing him. To honor the crab, Hera placed him in the sky as a constellation, but as a punishment, his stars would shine faintly since he had failed at his task. Poor guy! Can’t a crab catch a break?!