ORION was a handsome giant granted the ability to walk on water by his father Poseidon. He served King Oinopion (Oenopion) of Khios (Chios) as huntsman for a time, but was blinded and exiled from the island after raping the king's daughter Merope. Orion then travelled across the sea to Lemnos to petition the god Hephaistos (Hephaestus) for help in recovering his sight. Lending him his assistant Kedalion (Cedalion), the god directed the giant to the rising place of the sun where Helios restored his vision. Upon returning to Greece, Orion sought out Oinopion to exact his revenge but the king hid himself away in an underground, bronze chamber.
The giant then retired to the island of Delos or Krete (Crete) where he became a hunting companion of the goddess Artemis. After his death he was placed amongst the stars as the constellation Orion.
There were various accounts of his death. In one version he desired to marry Artemis but her brother Apollon tricked the goddess into shooting him with an arrow as he was swimming far out at sea. In another version, Artemis slew him after he raped her handmaiden Oupis. The most common story, however, was that Orion bragged he would hunt down and kill all the beasts of the earth, so Gaia (Mother Earth) sent a Scorpion to destroy him. Orion and the Scorpion were afterwards placed amongst the stars as opposing constellations--one rises as the other sets.
The Boiotians also had their own stories about the stellar hunter. According to their version of his myth Orion was born when three gods--Zeus, Poseidon and Hermes--urinated on a bull-hide and buried it in the earth to provide King Hyrieus with a son and heir.
Orion's name is derived from the ancient Greek word oros "mountain" or from ourios "urine".
The stories surrounding Orion resemble those of several other mythical hunters of the Boiotian region. The hunter Kephalos (Cephalus), for example, was also said to have been seduced by the goddess Eos. Another, Aktaion (Actaeon), was similarly killed by Artemis while out hunting. And finally, the earth-born Boiotian giant Tityos attempted to violate the goddess Leto--just as Orion assaulted Oupis--and was destroyed by Apollon and Artemis with their arrows.
FAMILY OF ORION
[1.1] POSEIDON & EURYALE (Hesiod Astronomy Frag 4, Pherecydes Frag, Apollodorus 1.25, Hyginus Astronomica 2.34)
[1.2] POSEIDON (Valerius Flaccus 4.104)
[2.1] GAIA (Apollodorus 1.25)
[2.2] HYRIEOS (Parthenius 20, Antoninus Liberalis 25)
[2.3] Born of GAIA & an oxhide soaked with the urine of ZEUS, POSEIDON, & HERMES (Hyginus Fabulae 195 & Astr 2.34, Ovid Fasti 5.493, Servius ad Aeneid 10.763, Nonnus Dionysiaca 13.96)
[3.1] OINOPION (Servius on Virgil's Aeneid 10.763)
[1.1] 50 x sons (by the Kephisides) (Corinna Frag 655)
[2.1] THE KORONIDES (Antoninus Liberalis 25, Ovid Metamorphoses 13.685)
[3.1] DRYAS (Statius Thebaid 7.255)
ORI′ON (Oriôn), a son of Hyrieus, of Hyria, in Boeotia, a very handsome giant and hunter, and said to have been called by the Boeotians Candaon. (Hom. Od. xi. 309; Strab. ix. p. 404; Tzetz. ad Lyc. 328.) 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. (Apollod. i. 4. § 3; Parthen. Erot. 20; Theon, ad Arat. 638 ; Hygin. Poet. Astr. ii. 34.) 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 (Hom. Od. v. 121); 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. (Hygin. l. c.; Ov. Fast. v. 537.) A third account states that he harboured 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. (Serv. ad Aen. i. 539 ; Horat. Carm. ii. 4. 72; Apollod. i. 4.§ 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. (Ov. Fast. v. 539, &c.) 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 (Apollod, i. 4. § 3), and others say that he was born of the earth, or a son of Oenopion. (Serv. ad Aen. i. 539, x. 763.) He is further called a Theban, or Tanagraean, but probably because Hyria, his native place, sometimes belonged to Tanagra, and sometimes to Thebes. (Hygin. Poet. Astr. ii. 34; Paus. ix. 20 § 3; Strab. ix. p. 404.) After his death, Orion was placed among the stars (Hom. Il. xviii. 486, &c., xxii. 29, Od. v. 274), 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. (Paus. ix. 20.& 3.)
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
Homer, Iliad 18. 43 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"[Hephaistos (Hephaestus) decorates the shield of Akhilleus (Achilles) with an image of the cosmos :] He made the earth upon it, and the sky, and the sea's water, and the tireless sun, and the moon waxing into her fullness, and on it all the constellations that festoon the heavens, the Pleiades and the Hyades and the strength of Orion and the Bear, whom men give also the name of the Wagon, who turns about in a fixed place and looks at Orion and she alone is never plunged in the wash of Okeanos (Oceanus)."
Homer, Iliad 22. 26 ff :
"That star [Seirios (Sirius) the dog-star] which comes on in the autumn and whose conspicuous brightness far outshines the stars that are numbered in the night's darkening, the star they give the name of Orion's Dog (kynos Orionos), which is brightest among the stars, and yet is wrought as a sign of evil and brings on the great fever for unfortunate mortals."
Homer, Odyssey 5. 121 ff (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"[Kalypso (Calypso), abandoned by Odysseus, laments :] ‘You are merciless, you gods, resentful beyond all other beings; you are jealous if without disguise a goddess makes a man her bedfellow, her beloved husband. So it was when Eos (Dawn) of the rosy-fingers chose out Orion; you gods who live in such ease yourselves were jealous of her until chaste Artemis in her cloth-of-gold visited him with her gentle shafts and slew him in Ortygia.’"
Homer, Odyssey 11. 312 ff :
"Otos the peer of gods and far-famed Ephialtes; these were the tallest men [i.e. giants], and the handsomest, that ever the fertile earth has fostered, save only incomparable Orion." [N.B. The giants Otos and Ephialtes were known as the Aloadai.]
Homer, Odyssey 11. 572 :
"[Odysseus recalls the shades of the dead he saw in the Underworld :] Next I discerned huge Orion, driving wild beasts together over the field of asphodel, the very ones that he once had killed on lonely mountains, he grasped in his hands a mace of bronze, never to be broken."
Hesiod, Astronomy Fragment 4 (from Pseudo-Eratosthenes Catasterismi Frag 32) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"Orion--Hesiod says that he was the son of Euryale, the daughter of Minos, and of Poseidon, and that there was given him as a gift the power of walking upon the waves as though upon land. When he was come to Khios (Chios), he outraged Merope, the daughter of Oinopion (Oenopion), being drunken; but Oinopion when he learned of it was greatly vexed at the outrage and blinded him and cast him out of the country.
Then he came to Lemnos as a beggar and there met Hephaistos who took pity on him and gave him Kedalion (Cedalion) his own servant to guide him. So Orion took Kedalion upon his shoulders and used to carry him about while he pointed out the roads. Then he came to the east and appears to have met Helios (the Sun) and to have been healed, and so returned back again to Oinopion to punish him; but Oinopion was hidden away by his people underground. Being disappointed, then, in his search for the king, Orion went away to Krete and spent his time hunting in company with Artemis and Leto. It seems that he threatened to kill every beast there was on earth; whereupon, in her anger, Ge (Gaea, the Earth) sent up against him a Scorpion of very great size by which he was stung and so perished. After this Zeus, at the prayer of Artemis and Leto, put him among the stars, because of his manliness, and the Scorpion also as a memorial of him and of what had occurred."
Hesiod, Astronomy Fragment 5 (from Diodorus 4. 85) ::
"Some say that great earthquakes occurred, which broke through the neck of land and formed the straits [of Messina], the sea parting the mainland [Italy] from the island [Sicily]. But Hesiod, the poet, says just the opposite: that the sea was open, but Orion piled up the promontory by Peloris, and founded the close of Poseidon which is especially esteemed by the people thereabouts. When he had finished this, he went away to Euboia (Euboea) and settled there, and because of his renown was taken into the number of the stars in heaven, and won undying remembrance."
Hesiod, Works and Days 618 ff :
"But when the Pleiades and Hyades and strong Oarion (Orion) begin to set [i.e. at the end of October], then remember to plough in season. But if desire for uncomfortable sea-faring seize you; when the Pleiades plunge into the misty sea [i.e. again towards the end of October] to escape Oarion's rude strength, then truly gales of all kinds rage."
Pindar, Nemean Ode 2. 10 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"For near the Pleiades, those mountain maids, needs must Orion follow close behind [i.e. amongst the constellations]."
Corinna, Fragment 655 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric IV) (C6th B.C.) :
"Women of Tanagra . . . often I adorned [with songs] our ancestor Kephisos with my words, often great Orion and the fifty sons of high strength whom he fathered by intercourse with the fair Nymphai (Nymphs) [i.e. daughters of the river Kephisos (Cephisus)]."
Aesop, Fables 123 (from Babruis 124) (trans. Gibbs) (Greek fable C6th B.C.) :
"Orion with his golden bow is on watch during the night."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 25 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Artemis slew Orion on Delos. He was said to be a Gigas (Giant) of massive proportions born of Ge (Gaea, the Earth), but Pherekydes (Pherecydes) [C6th B.C. poet] says that his parents were Poseidon and Euryale. From Poseidon he was given the power of walking across the sea. His first wife was Side, who for vying with Hera in shapeliness was thrown by her into Haides' realm. After that Orion went to Khios (Chios) where he courted Oinopion's (Oenopion's) daughter Merope. Oinopion, however, got him drunk, and, as he slept, blinded him and tossed him out on the beach. He made his way to the bronze workshop of Hephaistos (Hephaestus), where he seized a boy [Kedalion (Cedalion)], set him on his shoulders, and ordered him to guide him toward the east. Once there, he looked up and was completely healed by the rays of Helios (the Sun). Immediately he started back to confront Oinopion. But Poseidon had provided Oinopion with a house beneath the earth, built by Hephaistos. Meanwhile, Eos (the Dawn), whom Aphrodite taunted with constant passion as punishment for sleeping with Ares, fell in love with Orion and took him off with her to Delos. There he was killed, according to some, for challenging Artemis to a discus match. Others say that Artemis shot him as he was forcing his attention on Oupis (Opis), a virgin who had come from the Hyperboreans."
Callimachus, Hymn 3 to Artemis 265 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"Neither let any woo the Maiden [Artemis]; for not Otos, nor Oarion (Orion) wooed her to their own good."
Aratus, Phaenomena 634 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek astronomical poem C3rd B.C.) :
"The winding [constellation] River will straightway sink in fair flowing ocean at the coming of Scorpios [constellation Scorpio], whose rising puts to flight even the mighty Orion. Thy pardon, Artemis, we crave! There is a tale told by the men of old, who said that stout Orion laid hands upon her robe, what time in Khios (Chios) he was smiting with his strong club all manner of beasts, as a service of the hunt to that King Oinopion (Oenopion). But she forthwith rent in twain the surrounding hills of the island and roused up against him another kind of beast--even the Scorpion, who proving mightier wounded him, mighty though he was, and slew him, for that he had vexed Artemis. Wherefore, too, men say that at the rising of the Scorpion in the East Orion flees at the Western verge."
Parthenius, Love Romances 20 (trans.Gaselee) (Greek poet C1st B.C.) :
"Aëro, so the story runs, was the daughter of Oinopion (Oenopion) and the nymph Helike (Helice). Orion, the son of Hyrieos (Hyrieus), fell in love with her, and asked her father for her hand; for her sake he rendered the island where they lived habitable--it was formerly full of wild beasts--, and he also gathered together much booty from the folk who lived there and brought it as a bridal-gift for her. Oinopion however constantly kept putting off the time of the wedding, for he hated the idea of having such a man as his daughter's husband. Then Orion, maddened by strong drink, broke in the doors of the chamber where the girl was lying asleep, and as he was offering violence to her Oinopion attacked him and put out his eyes with a burning brand."
Strabo, Geography 9. 2. 13 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Hyria is the scene of the myth of Hyrieos (Hyrieus), and of the birth of Orion, of which Pindar speaks in his dithyrambs; it is situated near Aulis."
Strabo, Geography 10. 1. 4 :
"Oreios [in Euboia (Euboea)] is situated at the foot of the mountain Telethrios in the Drymos . . . perhaps, it was because the Ellopians who formerly inhabited it were mountaineers that the name Oreios (Of the Mountain) was assigned to the city. It is also thought that Orion was so named because he was reared there."
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 85. 1 ff (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"The story runs like this : Orion, far surpassing in size and strength of body all the heroes of whom we have record, was a lover of the chase and the builder of mighty works by reason of his great strength and love of glory.
In Sikelia (Sicily), for instance, for Zanklos (Zanclus), who was king at that time of the city . . . Zankle (Zancle), but now Messene, he built certain works and mong them he formed the harbour by throwing up a mole and made the Akte (Promontory), as it is called . . . Some say that great earthquakes occurred, which broke through the neck of land and formed the straits [of Messina between Sicily and Italy], the sea parting the mainland from the island. But Hesiodos (Hesiod), the poet, says just the opposite: that when the sea extended itself between [i.e. between Sicily and the Italian mainland], Orion built out the headland which lies at Peloris and also erected the sanctuary of Poseidon which is held in special honour by the natives; after he had finished these works he removed to Euboia (Euboea) and made his home there; and then, because of his fame, he was numbered among the stars of heaven and thus won for himself immortal remembrance.
And he is also mentioned by the poet in his Nekyia [a book of Homer's Odyssey] when he says : ‘And after him I marked Orion huge, driving wild beasts together over the mead of asphodel [in the underworld], the beasts that he himself had slain on lonely hills; and in his hands he held a mace, ever unbroken, all of bronze.’
Likewise, to show forth also his great size, whereas he had spoken before of the Aloidai (Aloadae), that at nine years of age they were nine cubits in breadth and an equal number of fathoms in height, he adds: ‘These were the tallest men that ever earth, giver of grain, did rear, and goodliest by far, save for Orion, famed abroad.’"
Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 25 (trans. Celoria) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"In Boiotia Orion, son of Hyrieos (Hyrieus) , had as daughters Metiokhe (Metioche) and Menippe [the Koronides (Coronides)]. After Artemis had taken him away from the sight of mankind, they were brought up by their mother [and were later transformed into comets by Persephone]."
Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 5. 367 (trans. Way) (Greek epic C4th A.D.) :
"The Pleiades [a constellation of seven Nymphs], fleeing adread from glorious Orion, plunge beneath the stream of tireless Okeanos (Oceanus)."
Philostratus the Younger, Imagines 10 (trans. Fairbanks) (Greek rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :
"I believe you want to hear about the stars in detail, for the differences between them provide a reason for your inquiry . . . You see Orion also, but the story about him and the reason why he is one of the stars we must defer to another occasion, my boy, that we may not divert you from the object of your present desire. The stars next to Orion are the Bear, or the Wain if you prefer that name. Men say that this constellation alone does not sink into Okeanos (Oceanus), but revolves about itself as a guard over Orion."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 195 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Jove [Zeus], Neptunus [Poseidon], and Mercurius [Hermes] came as guests to King Hyrieus in Thrace. Since they were received hospitably by him, they promised him whatever he should ask for. He asked for children. Mercurius [Hermes] brought out the hide of the bull which Hyrieus had sacrificed to them; they urinated in it, and buried it in the earth, and from it Orion was born. When he tried to violate Diana [Artemis], she killed him. Later he was placed by Jove [Zeus] among the stars, and called Orion."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 21
"When Pleione once was travelling through Boeotia with her daughters [the Pleiades], Orion, who was accompanying her, tried to attack her. She escaped, but Orion sought her for seven years and couldn't find her. Jove [Zeus], pitying the girls, appointed a way to the stars, and later, by some astronomers, they were called the Bull's tail. And so up to this time Orion seems to be following them as they flee towards the west."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 26 :
"The constellation [Scorpio] was put in the sky, its is said, for the following reason : Orion, since he used to hunt, and felt confident that he was most skilled of all in that pursuit, said even to Diana [Artemis] and Latona [Leto] that he was able to kill anything the earth produced. Tellus (Earth) [Gaia], angered at this, sent the Scorpion which is said to have killed him. Jove [Zeus], however, admiring the courage of both, put the Scorpion among the stars, as a lesson to men not to be too self-confident. Diana [Artemis], then, because of her affection for Orion, asked Jove to show to her request the same favour he had given of his own accord to Tellus [Gaia]. And so the constellation was established in such a way that when Scorpion rises, Orion sets."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 33 :
"The hare [constellation Lepus] is said to be fleeing the dog of the hunter Orion, for when, as was proper, they represented Orion as a hunter, they wanted to indicate what he was hunting, and so they put the fleeing hare at his feet . . . Those who disagree with this reason say that so noble and great a hunter as Orion--we spoke about him in the discussion of Scorpio--shouldn't be represented hunting hares. Callimachus [Greek poet C3rd B.C.], too, is blamed, because, when he was singing the praises of Diana [Artemis], he said she delighted in the flesh of hares and hunted them. So they have represented Orion fighting the Bull."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 34 :
"[The Constellation Orion :] Hesiod [poet C8th or 7th B.C.] calls him the son of Neptunus [Poseidon] by Euryale, daughter of Minos. He had the ability of running over the waves as if on land, just as it is said that Iphiclus could run over standing grain and not bruise it.
Aristomachus says that there lived a certain Hyrieus at Thebes--Pindar [lyric poet C5th B.C.] puts him on the island of Chios--who asked from Jove [Zeus] and Mercurius [Hermes] when they visited him that he might have a child. To gain his request more readily he sacrificed an ox and put it before them for a feast. When he had done this, Jove and Mercurius asked him to remove the hide from the ox; then they urinated in it, and bade him bury the hide in the ground. From this, later on, a child was born whom Hyrieus called Urion (Urine) from the happening, though on account of his charm and affability he came to be called Orion.
He is said to have come from Thebes to Chios, and when his passions were excited by wine, he attacked Merope, the daughter of Oenopion. For this he was blinded by Oenopion and cast out of the island. But he came to Lemnos and Vulcanus [Hephaistos], and received from him a guide named Cedalion. Carrying him on his shoulders, he came to Sol [Helios], and when Sol healed him returned to Chios to take vengeance on Oenopion. The citizens however, guarded Oenopion underground. Desparing of finding Oenopion, Orion came to Crete, and there began to hunt with Diana [Artemis]. He made the boast to her we have mentioned before, and thus came to the stars. Some say that Orion lived with Oenopion in too close intimacy, and wanting to prove to him his zeal in hunting, boasted to Diana [Artemis], too, what we spoke of above, and so was killed. Others, along with Callimachus, say that when he wished to offer violence to Diana [Artemis], he was transfixed by her arrows and fashioned for the stars because of their similar zeal in hunting.
Istrus, however, says that Diana [Artemis] loved Orion and came near marrying him. Apollo took this hard, and when scolding her brought no results, on seeing the head of Orion who was swimming a long way off, he wagered her that she couldn't hit with her arrows the black object in the sea. Since she wished to be called an expert in that skill, she shot an arrow and pierced the head of Orion. The waves brought his slain body to the shore, and Diana [Artemis], grieving greatly that she had struck him, and mourning his death with many tears, put him among the constellations. But what Diana did after his death, we shall tell in the stories about her."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 35 :
"Some have said that this [the constellation Canis Major] is the dog of Orion, and because Orion was devoted to hunting, the dog was put with him among the stars."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 36 :
"[The constellation] Procyon seems to rise before the greater Dog; for this reason it is called the Fore-dog. By some it is thought to be Orion's dog, and it is put in all the same tales in which the greater Dog [Canis Major] is numbered."
Ovid, Fasti 5. 493 (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[The constellation] Boeotian Orion. I should sing the cause of this constellation. Jupiter [Zeus] and his brother who rules the broad sea [Poseidon] were travelling the road with Mercurius [Hermes]. It was the time when yokes bring back the upturned plough and stooping lams milk their bursting ewes. By chance an old farmer of a narrow plot, Hyrieus, spots them, as he stood by his little hut. He said : ‘The way is long, but not the time left, and my doorway is open to strangers.’
His look, too, strengthened his words, and he asked again. They take his offer and hide their godhead. They pass under the old man's smoke-blacked, filthy roof; a small fire glowed from yesterday's log . . . [he offers the gods food and wine]. Jupiter's [Zeus'] words were : ‘Wish whatever you desire; you shall have it all.’
The kind man's words were : ‘I had a dear wife, whom I knew in first youth's flower. Where is she now, you ask? Sealed in an urn. I gave her an oath, with you as my witness. "You alone," I declared, "shall be my wife." I've kept my word, but my desire has changed. I want to be, not a husband, but a father.’
All nodded; all stood by the hide of the ox. I am ashamed to speak any further [the three gods urinated on the hide]. Then they blanketed the sodden spot with soil. It was now ten months, and a boy was born. Hyrieus calls him Urion from his mode of birth; then the first letter lost its ancient sound.
He grew huge. Delia [Artemis] made him her companion; he guarded the goddess and he served her. Imprudent words incite the anger of gods: ‘There is no beast,’ he said, ‘I cannot beat.’ Tellus (Earth) [Gaia] unleashed a scorpion. Its urge was to stab the goddess of twins with its hooked stingers. Orion blocked it. Latona [Leto] joined him to the bright stars, and said, ‘Receive your reward for service.’"
Virgil, Aeneid 10. 763 (trans. Day-Lewis) (Roman epic C1st B.C.) :
"As great Orion moves forward, cleaving his way, with his feet treading the floor of the deepest mid-ocean, his shoulders overtopping the waves; or, when he's carrying back from the hills some venerable ash tree, waling upon the ground he buries his head in the cloud-base."
Servius, On Vergil's Aeneid 10. 763 (trans. Atsma) (Roman scholia C4th A.D.) :
[Servius in his commentary on Virgil's Aeneid, describes the plot of an old Satyr-play dealing with the story of Orion. It may be Sophocles' lost play the Cedalion, or a similar unknown work by Euripides or Aeschylus.]
"‘As great Orion moves forward, cleaving his way, with his feet treading the floor of the deepest mid-ocean.’ [quoting the Aeneid 10. 763.] In addition to what we have said previously, Orion was the son of King Oenopion. At the same time, he was conceded to Jove [Zeus], Mercurius [Hermes] and Neptunus [Poseidon], for the hospitable reception [they had received from the king]. He was a hunter with an immense body, who on numerous occasions undertook tasks for King Oenopion. But on one occassion he violated his daughter, as a result of which the enraged king invoked the power of Father Liber [Dionysos] who was his father. The god then sent the Satyrs, who poured sleep upon Orion and in this manner bound him and handed him over to Oenopion for his judgement and retribution. So Oenopion took out his eyes while he slept. Afterwards the blinded Orion asked how he might recover his eyes. They [the Satyrs] replied that to restore his sight, he must travel across the sea towards the dawn, and in this place receive light (his sight) from the rays of the sun.
Orion was able to accomplish this in the following manner: he boldly ventured toward the din of the Cyclopes fabricating the lightnings of Jove [Zeus], following the noise. He spoke to these for their command, and one [of their companions] climbed up between his shoulders and guided him to satisfy the command of an oracle. Also he was not unsuitably formed to march straight across the middle of the sea, just like a son brought forth by Neptune [Poseidon]. Moreover the substance (i.e. the sea) reached only up to the height of his body. They say that this Orion was of such a great size that the sea's depth was not able to slow his advance to that place where the stars are kept back."
Seneca, Hercules Furens 4 ff (trans. Miller) (Roman tragedy C1st A.D.) :
"[Hera complains about the infidelities of Zeus :] ‘I must dwell on earth, for harlots hold the sky [in the form of constellations] . . . [and] here Orion with threatening sword terrifies the gods, and golden Perseus has his stars; the bright constellation of the twin Tyndaridae [i.e. the Dioskouroi, constellation Gemini] shines yonder.’" [N.B. Orion, like Perseus and the Dioskouroi is here regarded as a bastard son of Zeus.]
Pliny the Elder, Natural History 7. 73 (trans. Rackham) (Roman encyclopedia C1st A.D.) :
"When a mountain in Crete was cleft by an earthquake a body 69 feet in height was found, which some people thought must be that of Orion and others of Otus."
Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 1. 646 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"[Poseidon speaks :] ‘Neither my son [the constellation] Orion nor the Bull fierce with his train of Peliades is the cause of this [storm].’" [N.B. The setting of these constellations in late autumn marked beginning of the stormy season.]
Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 2. 507 :
"Orion when grasping his father's [Poseidon's] reins he heaves the sea with the snorting of his two-hooved horses [Hippokampoi (Hippocamps)]."
Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 4. 104 :
"He [Poseidon] sighed and poured from his heart such plaints as these : ‘. . . So utterly then does a sad fate await my offspring, from whomsoever born? Ere now have I known thee so to act, O Jupiter [Zeus], when hapless Orion fell by the cruel virgin's [Artemis'] shaft and now fills Chaos [i.e. the Air where Orion was placed as a constellation].’"
Statius, Thebaid 7. 255 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"Dryas, look! Lead forth a thousand archers from cold Tanagra's hill [to the war of the Seven against Thebes] . . . the son of exalted Orion : heaven forfend the ill omen of his sire, and chaste Diana's [Artemis'] ancient grudge."
Statius, Thebaid 9. 843 :
"Dryas, who had turbulent Orion as the author of his blood, and an inherited hatred of Diana's [Artemis'] followers."
Statius, Silvae 1. 1. 44 (trans. Mozley) (Roman poetry C1st A.D.) :
"So vast a blade does threatening Orion wield on winter nights and terrify the stars."
Statius, Silvae 3. 2. 1 :
"But when they spied vessels, the billows swelled with rage, and the hurricane arose against man. Then the Pleiades and the Olenian Goat [i.e. the star Capella whose rising denoted the beginning of stormy weather] grew dark with storm, and Orion was more wrathful than his wont."
Oppian, Cynegetica 2. 28 (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd A.D.) :
"Snaring [of animals] by night, the guileful hunting of the dark, crafty Orion first discovered."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 4. 192 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"[The goddess Harmonia laments her marriage to a mortal man :] ‘I will proclaim how Orion loved Erigeneia [Eos the Dawn], and I will recall the match of Kephalos (Cephalus); if I go to the misty sunset, my comfort is Selene herself who felt the same for Endymion upon Latmos.’"
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 13. 96 ff :
"Hyria, that hospitable land which entertained the gods, named after hospitable Hyrieus; where that huge giant born of no marriage-bed, threefather Orion, sprang up from his mother earth, after a shower of piss from three gods grew in generative fruitfulness to the selfmade shape of a child, having impregnated a wrinkled of fruitful oxhide. Then a hollow of the earth was made midwife to earth's unbegotten son."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 20. 35 :
"You are not like a son of Zeus . . . You did not kill that unhappy lover bold Orion."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 48. 395 :
"[Nemesis the goddess of retribution addresses Artemis :] ‘What impious son of Earth persecutes you? . . . What Orion is using force against you once more? The wretch that touched your dress still lies in his mother's flanks, a lifeless corpse; if any man has clutched your garments with lustful hands, grow another scorpion to avenge your girdle.’"
- Homer, The Iliad - Greek Epic C8th B.C.
- Homer, The Odyssey - Greek Epic C8th B.C.
- Hesiod, Works and Days - Greek Epic C8th - 7th B.C.
- Hesiod, Astronomy Fragments - Greek Epic C8th - 7th B.C.
- Aesop, Fables - Greek Fables C6th B.C.
- Pindar, Odes - Greek Lyric C5th B.C.
- Greek Lyric IV Corinna, Fragments - Greek Lyric C5th B.C.
- Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Callimachus, Hymns - Greek Poetry C3rd B.C.
- Aratus, Phaenomena - Greek Astronomy C3rd B.C.
- Parthenius, Love Romances - Greek Mythography C1st B.C.
- Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History - Greek History C1st B.C.
- Strabo, Geography - Greek Geography C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
- Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Philostratus the Younger, Imagines - Greek Rhetoric C3rd A.D.
- Oppian, Cynegetica - Greek Poetry C3rd A.D.
- Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy - Greek Epic C4th A.D.
- Nonnus, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th A.D.
- Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Hyginus, Astronomica - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Ovid, Fasti - Latin Poetry C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
- Virgil, Aeneid - Latin Epic C1st B.C.
- Pliny the Elder, Natural History - Latin Encyclopedia C1st A.D.
- Seneca, Hercules Furens - Latin Tragedy C1st A.D.
- Valerius Flaccus, The Argonautica - Latin Epic C1st A.D.
- Statius, Thebaid - Latin Epic C1st A.D.
- Statius, Silvae - Latin Poetry C1st A.D.
- Servius, Ad Virgil's Aeneid - Latin Scholiast C5th A.D.
A complete bibliography of the translations quoted on this page.