A son of Hyrieus, of Hyria, in Boeotia, a very handsome giant and hunter, and said to have been called by the Boeotians Candaon.1 Once he came to Chios (Ophiusa), and fell in love with Aero, or Merope, the daughter of Oenopion, by the nymph Helice. He cleared the island from wild beasts, and brought the spoils of the chase as presents to his beloved; but as Oenopion constantly deferred the marriage, Orion one day being intoxicated forced his way into the chamber of the maiden. Oenopion now implored the assistance of Dionysus, who caused Orion to be thrown into a deep sleep by satyrs, in which Oenopion blinded him. Being informed by an oracle that he should recover his sight, if he would go towards the east and expose his eye-balls to the rays of the rising sun, Orion following the sound of a Cyclops' hammer, went to Lemnos, where Hephaestus gave to him Cedalion as his guide. When afterwards he had recovered his sight, Orion returned to Chios to take vengeance, but as Oenopion had been concealed by his friends, Orion was unable to find him, and then proceeded to Crete, where he lived as a hunter with Artemis.2
The cause of his death, which took place either in Crete or Chios, is differently stated. According to some Eos, who loved Orion for his beauty, carried him off, but as the gods were angry at this, Artemis killed him with an arrow in Ortygia;3 according to others he was beloved by Artemis, and Apollo, indignant at his sister's affection for him, asserted that she was unable to hit with her bow a distant point which he showed to her in the sea. She thereupon took aim, and hit it, but the point was the head of Orion, who had been swimming in the sea.4 A third account states that he harbored an improper love for Artemis, that he challenged her to a game of discus, or that he violated Upis, on which account Artemis shot him, or sent a monstrous scorpion which killed him.5 A fourth account, lastly, states that he boasted he would conquer every animal, and would clear the earth from all wild beasts; but the earth sent forth a scorpion by which he was killed.6 Asclepius wanted to recall him to life, but was slain by Zeus with a flash of lighting.
The accounts of his parentage and birth-place are varying in the different writers, for some call him a son of Poseidon and Euryale,7 and others say that he was born of the earth, or a son of Oenopion.8 He is further called a Theban, or Tanagraean, but probably because Hyria, his native place, sometimes belonged to Tanagra, and sometimes to Thebes.9
After his death, Orion was placed amniong the stars,10 where he appears as a giant with a girdle, sword, a lion's skin and a club. As the rising and setting of the constellation of Orion was believed to be accompanied by storms and rain, he is often called imbrifer, nimbosus, or aquosus.
His tomb was shown at Tanagra.11
- Homer. Odyssey xii, 309; Strabo. Geography ix, p. 404; Tzetzes on Lycophron, 328.
- Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library i, 4.3; Parthenius of Nicaea. Of the Sorrows of Love, 20; Theon, on Aratus' Phaenomena, 638; Hyginus. Poetical Astronomy ii, 34.
- Homer. Odyssey v, 121.
- Hyginus, l.c.; Ovid. Fasti v, 537.
- Servius on Virgil's Aeneid i, 539; Horace. Odes, ii, 4. 72; Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library i, 4.5.
- Ovid. Fasti v, 539 ff.
- Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library i, 4.3.
- Servius on Virgil's Aeneid i, 539; x, 763.
- Hyginus. Poetical Astronomy ii, 34; Pausanias. Description of Greece ix, 20.3; Strabo. Geography ix, p. 404.
- Homer. Iliad xviii, 486 ff.; xxii, 29, Odyssey v, 274.
- Pausanias. Description of Greece ix, 20.3.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.