Lore of the Constellations: Orion

With every myth there’s a degree of variation in how the stories are told.  With Orion the Hunter, there is no exception. 

In one myth, Orion fell in love with the Pleiades, or the Seven Sisters—the daughters of Atlas.  Orion started to pursue them and Zeus scooped them up and placed them in the sky.  Today we can find the Pleiades as a star cluster on the back of Taurus the Bull and Orion the Hunter can be seen chasing them even to this day.   From Earth, the Pleiades appears to be 7 stars—hence the 7 daughters of Atlas—but upon closer inspection, the Pleiades is a star cluster containing thousands of stars.

In another story, Orion fell in love with Merope, just one of the Seven Sisters—and, as it turns out, the faintest star of the seven stars of the Pleiades. 

Well, one night, Orion had too much to drink and forced himself on Merope which enraged the king.   The king put out Orion’s eyes and banished him from his land. 

Hephaestus felt sorry for the blind, wandering Orion and offered one of his assistants to guide the hunter and act as his eyes.  Orion eventually encountered an oracle who told him if he traveled east toward the sunrise, his sight would be restored.  Orion did so, and his eyes miraculously healed.

There is yet another myth for Orion, one involving how he actually got placed in the sky. 

Artemis, the goddess of hunting, fell in love with the Orion.  Apollo, the brother of Artemis, grew concerned about this and that his sister might give up her vows of chastity for Orion.  One day, Apollo challenged Artemis to hit a small target in the distance with her bow and arrow.  Not knowing that the target was Orion, who was enjoying a nice swim, she hit her target, killing Orion.  Devastated by his death, Artemis placed Orion among the stars.

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