Mythology of the constellation Orion
Orion was a powerful figure - strong, handsome and possessing great prowess as a hunter.
Whilst visiting the isle of Chios, he fell in love with Merope, a granddaughter of the
god Dionysis. Her father, Oenopion, agreed to their marriage on condition that Orion first
rid the island of all dangerous beasts. This he did, but Oenopion made further excuses as
to why the marriage should not take place. An exasperated Orion drank a great deal of
potent wine and, under its influence, forced himself on Merope. Oenopion was furious
at this attack on his daughter and, whilst Orion was still drunk and helpless, blinded him.
Orion sought the assistance of an oracle and was told that he had to travel to the East to
seek the Sun's morning rays in order to recover his sight. After many adventures,
including a meeting with Vulcan, blacksmith to the gods, on the island of Lemnos, he
finally met the Sun god Helios and was given back his sight.
Now all his thoughts were of revenge, but on his way to seek out Oenopion, he landed
in Crete, where he met the beautiful Artemis, his feminine counterpart where hunting
was concerned. Here the story varies considerably. One version goes that, noting
how frequently the pair hunted together, and fearing that Artemis may become yet
another conquest of Orion, her brother Apollo challenged her to hit a speck in the sea,
a speck which in reality was Orion swimming. He was killed with a single arrow shot
from her bow. Another variant of the story has Orion boasting of his ability to kill
all animals, no matter how dangerous they were. The gods, rightly fearing for the
world's ecology should he decide to put his boast to the test, produced a gigantic
scorpion, whose body was so heavily encased that Orion was unable to pierce through the
armour, and was himself stung to death. In both cases, so the story goes, Artemis was
greatly saddened and arranged for Orion to be immortalised among the stars.
The Scorpion responsible for Orion's
death is also immortalised in the Heavens, but is placed in the opposite quadrant
to that of Orion.