Constellation Orion

The Mythology of Orion

The ancient Greeks saw in the nighttime sky the figure of the great hunter, Orion, from the Greek myth, which bears his name. There are several different stories about the birth of Orion. According to one version of the myth, Orion was the son of a poor shepherd called Hyrieus. Once, Zeus, Hermes, and Poseidon stopped by Hyrieus’ house. Hyrieus was so generous with his guests that he killed the only animal he had - an ox.

Hyrieus was not aware that his guests were gods. The gods wanted to reward Hyrieus’ generosity by granting him a wish. Hyrieus’ biggest desire was to have a child. The gods told him to bury the hide of the bull he had sacrificed to them and to pee on it. After nine months, a boy was born in that place. The child became a very handsome and strong man.

He was such a good hunter that he was hired by the king Oenopion to kill the ferocious beasts that were terrifying the habitants of the island Chios. Happy for his success, Orion said he would kill all the wild animals on the earth. But, the earth goddess Gaia, who was the mother of all animals, was not pleased with Orion’s intention.

Then, Gaia set an enormous scorpion on Orion. Orion soon realized that his strength and sword were useless against that mighty beast. He tried to escape, but the scorpion stung him to death. Gaia placed the scorpion in the sky as a constellation to as a reminder to be kind to animals and to respect the environment. She also placed Orion in the stars in front of the scorpion, so that he is being chased forever for not respecting the animals and the environment.

Practice finding Orion or review the Magnitude Charts for Orion.