Different Origins Of The Orion Constellation

A review of the two different myths about the origin of the Orion constellation from Greek mythology.

In ancient times, during the eras of the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, scholars identified the stars and the skies by drawing pictures of images in their minds, and down through the ages, people have used these images to guide them around the world. The most familiar images became ingrained into our lives, and are recognizable by people everywhere. One of the best known images is the constellation of Orion, the Hunter.

The story of the hunter, however, is only one of the stories associated with Orion. In the constellation, he is depicted as a hunter, with a sword at his belt and a club in his hand, preparing to strike. This is the more well-known of two myths regarding Orion.

The story behind this myth involved the Greek gods, and their relationships with mortals and each other. In the Greek pantheon, two of the main gods were Apollo and Artemis, the twin children of Zeus, king of the gods. Apollo was the male god of healing, and was associated with the sun. His sister Artemis was the goddess of the Hunt, and was associated with the moon. Artemis was also a virgin goddess, keeping chaste and untouched throughout the eras, and all of her priestesses were virgins as well.

Orion was a demi-god, son of a mortal woman and the god Poseidon, god of the seas. Upon seeing him for the first time, the goddess Artemis fell in love with him, and desired to be with him. As a virgin goddess, this was extremely inappropriate, and her brother Apollo knew that if she gave her love to Orion, she would lose her power and image as a great goddess, and Apollo determined to keep his sister from her love.

And so, one day when Artemis was busy elsewhere in the world, Apollo sent a giant scorpion to attack Orion, intending to kill the demi-god to keep him away from the goddess. Orion fought the scorpion bravely, but wasn't able to win the fight, so he attempted to flee. Being the son of the sea-god, Orion attempted to flee the scorpion by running into, and on top of, the ocean. However, as Orion turned to enter the water, the scorpion succeeded in pinching his ankle, and poison from the wound killed Orion.

When Artemis learned what happened, she was very upset with her brother, and together they put Orion's body into the skies so that she could always remember him. Afterwards, however, Apollo also put the scorpion into the skies as well, calling it Scorpio, so that the creature could forever chase the demi-god across the heavens. So, in the Greek sky, whenever Scorpio started to rise during the change of seasons, you could see Orion going down on the other horizon.

The lesser known story is the story of Orion the bard, a storyteller who sailed the Greek islands. His stories were well-known, and everyone who saw him coming cheered and smiled, for his songs were the best in the land. One day, however, after performing, he set sail towards his home, and was set upon by pirates. These pirates demanded all of his money, his possessions, and his ship, and threw him into the water.

Before drowning, however, a dolphin swam up to Orion, and told him how much he enjoyed the bard's music, and asked if the bard would sing for him in exchange for carrying the bard to land. The bard agreed, and the bard and dolphin swam all through the night, singing songs and enjoying the evening.

By the time the night ended, both the bard and the dolphin had had a wonderful time, and they decided that they didn't wish for it to end, so the two of them continued swimming into the heavens, so they could enjoy the night forever.

The second version of the story is simpler, involves no gods, and isn't nearly as well-known as the first story, but both stories have come down through thousands of years of legend. Also, the version including the dolphin has been used as bedtime stories and songs for many years. The most well-known song of the story is by Jimmy Buffett, who sang about a bard in the Caribbean Islands, called Jolly Mon, who sailed following the light of Orion's belt.

The stories are as old as many civilizations, yet they remain a part of our lives, and will probably continue to do so until the constellations themselves fall from the skies. As long as people look to the skies, they'll remember the stories of Orion the hunter, or Orion the bard, along with every other constellation and every story that was written about the stars.

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