Skip to main content
Select Source:

Orion

Orion

Orion was a giant hunter in Greek mythology. Some stories say he was the son of Zeus*, Poseidon*, or Hermes*. Others claim that he was born from a bull's hide that was buried after the king of Boeotia urinated on it.

Orion went to the island of Chios, where King Oenopion asked him to drive all the wild beasts from the land. In return, Oenopion promised Orion his daughter Merope in marriage. However, the king later refused to honor the agreement. Orion got drunk and raped Merope, and Oenopion blinded him. After recovering his vision, Orion went to Crete to live and hunt with the goddess Artemis*.

There are several accounts of his death. One story says that Eos, the goddess of the dawn, fell in love with Orion and that Artemis killed him out of jealousy. According to another version, Orion and Artemis were considering marriage, but she was tricked into killing him by her brother Apollo*. In still another myth, Orion pursued seven sisters known as the Pleiades. To save them from Orion's attentions, Zeus turned them into stars. Orion, too, became a constellation, which appears to chase the Pleiades through the heavens.

See also Pleiades.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Orion." Myths and Legends of the World. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Orion." Myths and Legends of the World. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 12, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/orion

"Orion." Myths and Legends of the World. . Retrieved September 12, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/orion

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Orion (in Greek mythology)

Orion (ōrī´ən), in Greek mythology, Boeotian hunter. When Oenopion delayed giving his daughter Merope to him, Orion, when drunk, violated her. Oenopion then blinded him, but his vision was restored by the rays of the sun. The story of Orion's death has many versions. Some state he offended Artemis, who killed him. Others say that he became her favorite hunting companion, but offended Apollo, who loosed a giant scorpion to chase Orion into the sea. Apollo then tricked Artemis into shooting Orion. When she discovered what she had done, she gave way to her grief and immortalized her companion and the scorpion by placing them in the heavens as constellations.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Orion (in Greek mythology)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Orion (in Greek mythology)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 12, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/orion-greek-mythology

"Orion (in Greek mythology)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved September 12, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/orion-greek-mythology

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Orion

O·ri·on / əˈrīən/ 1. Greek Mythol. a giant and hunter who was changed into a constellation at his death. 2. Astron. a conspicuous constellation (the Hunter), said to represent a hunter holding a club and shield. It lies on the celestial equator and contains many bright stars, including Rigel, Betelgeuse, and a line of three that form Orion's belt. ∎  [as genitive] (O·ri·o·nis / ˌôrēˈōnis/ ) used with a preceding letter or numeral to designate a star in this constellation: the multiple star Theta Orionis.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Orion." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Orion." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 12, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/orion-1

"Orion." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved September 12, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/orion-1

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Orion

Orion in Greek mythology, a giant and hunter who was changed into a constellation at his death. His association with the constellation is very early, being mentioned in Homer.

The constellation itself, said to represent a hunter holding a club and shield, lies on the celestial equator and contains many bright stars, including a line of three that form Orion's Belt. Orion's hound is another name for the Dog Star.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Orion." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Orion." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 12, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/orion

"Orion." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved September 12, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/orion

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Orion

OrionBrian, cyan, Gaian, Geminian, Hawaiian, ion, iron, Ixion, lion, Lyon, Mayan, Narayan, O'Brien, Orion, Paraguayan, prion, Ryan, scion, Uruguayan, Zion •andiron •gridiron, midiron •dandelion • anion • Bruneian •cation, flatiron •gowan, Palawan, rowen •anthozoan, bryozoan, Goan, hydrozoan, Minoan, protozoan, protozoon, rowan, Samoan, spermatozoon •Ohioan • Chicagoan • Virgoan •Idahoan •doyen, Illinoisan, IroquoianEwan, Labuan, McEwan, McLuhan, Siouan •Saskatchewan • Papuan • Paduan •Nicaraguan • gargantuan •carbon, chlorofluorocarbon, graben, hydrocarbon, Laban, radiocarbon •ebon • Melbourne • Theban •gibbon, ribbon •Brisbane, Lisbon •Tyburn •auburn, Bourbon •Alban • Manitoban • Cuban •stubborn •Durban, exurban, suburban, turban, urban

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Orion." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Orion." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 12, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/orion-0

"Orion." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved September 12, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/orion-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Orion

Orion Prominent constellation, representing a hunter. Four young stars form a conspicuous quadrilateral containing a row of three other stars representing his belt.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Orion." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Orion." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 12, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/orion

"Orion." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved September 12, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/orion

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Orion

Orion

Nationality/Culture

Greek/Roman

Pronunciation

oh-RYE-uhn

Alternate Names

None

Appears In

Ovid's Fasti, Hyginus's Astronomica, Homer's Odyssey

Lineage

Son of Poseidon

Character Overview

Orion was a giant in Greek mythology who was famed as a hunter and companion of Artemis (pronounced AHR-tuh-miss). Some stories say he was the son of Poseidon (pronounced poh-SYE-dun), god of the sea, and could therefore walk on water. In other tales, he is born from three fathers—Zeus (pronounced ZOOS), Poseidon, and Hermes (pronounced HUR-meez)—as an heir for the king of Boeotia (pronounced bee-OH-shuh).

Orion went to the island of Chios (pronounced KY-ohs), where King Oenopion (pronounced ee-NOH-pee-on) asked him to drive all the wild beasts from the land. In return, Oenopion promised Orion his daughter Merope (pronounced MEHR-oh-pee) in marriage. However, the king later refused to honor the agreement. Orion got drunk and raped Merope, and Oenopion blinded him. After recovering his vision, Orion went to Crete to live and hunt with the goddess Artemis.

There are several accounts of his death. One story says that Eos, the goddess of the dawn, fell in love with Orion and that Artemis killed him out of jealousy. According to another version, Orion and Artemis were considering marriage, but she was tricked into killing him by her brother Apollo (pronounced uh-POL-oh). In still another myth, Orion pursued seven sisters known as the Pleiades (pronounced PLEE-uh-deez). To save them from Orion's attentions, Zeus, the leader of the gods, turned them into stars. Orion, too, became a constellation, which appears to chase the Pleiades through the heavens.

Orion in Context

Even in ancient times, Orion was best known as a constellation, or group of stars visible in the night sky. The constellation known as Orion earned its name because ancient observers saw the image of a hunter in the arrangement of its stars. Although Orion the mythological character was most likely recognized before Orion the constellation, his link to the constellation undoubtedly led to new tales about him. For example, the myth of Orion and the Pleiades seems likely to have developed after observers noticed the movements of the two groups of stars in the sky. Likewise, in one myth Orion is said to have fought a giant scorpion—a story that may have its origin in the presence of a constellation, near to Orion in the sky, known as Scorpius.

Key Themes and Symbols

Trickery and betrayal runs through the myth of Orion. First, Orion is betrayed by Oenopion, who backs out of his agreement to let Orion marry his daughter Merope. Later, Orion is betrayed by his love, Artemis, who kills him when she is tricked by her brother. The search for love is also a common theme in the tales of Orion, though none of his searches ends happily. Orion is closely associated with hunting, and a club and animal hide are often used to represent him. His dog Sirius (pronounced SEER-ee-uhs) is a constant companion, and represents loyalty.

Orion in Art, Literature, and Everyday Life

Orion's name is easily recognized in modern society, even though existing myths about him are fairly sparse. His appearance in art and literature since the ancient Greek era has also been rather infrequent. He was the subject of a painting by Nicolas Poussin in 1658, and of two operas during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. John Keats mentions Orion in his poem Endymion (1818), and Richard Henry Home wrote a successful epic based on Orion in 1843. More recendy, science fiction author Ben Bova wrote a series of futuristic novels between 1984 and 1995 centered on Orion. Orion is still probably best known to most people by the constellation that bears his name.

Read, Write, Think, Discuss

Using your library, the Internet, or other available resources, find the constellations of Orion, Scorpius, and the Pleiades on a map of the stars. Where are they in relation to each other? Do they resemble the figures they are meant to represent? Do some further reading about the importance of astrology in ancient Greek and Roman societies. How was astrology regarded by the ancients, compared to what many modern scientists think about it?

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Orion." U*X*L Encyclopedia of World Mythology. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Orion." U*X*L Encyclopedia of World Mythology. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 12, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/orion

"Orion." U*X*L Encyclopedia of World Mythology. . Retrieved September 12, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/orion

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.