Legends of Orion the Hunter

Orion is mentioned in the oldest surviving works of Greek literature that most likely date back to the 7th or 8th century BC. In this article, you will encounter a few legends associated with Orion the hunter.


Merope was the daughter of the legendary king of Chios (Oenopion). One of the versions of the tale says that Orion walked across the Aegean to reach Chios. The king welcomed him with a banquet. Orion was fond of Merope, but her father never truly accepted him. Overcome with alcohol, Orion assaulted Merope. Oenopion sought revenge by stabbing out Orion’s eyes and throwing him off of the island.

Homer’s Description

In the Iliad, Orion is described as a constellation and the star Sirius is known as his dog. Homer also refers to Orion in the Odyssey, where Odysseus sees him hunting in the underworld. Orion has a bronze club and is known as a victorious slayer of animals. He is mentioned again as a constellation and as the lover of the goddess named Dawn.

Hesiod’s Full Account of Orion

Hesiod wrote the ‘Works and Days’ and mentions Orion as a constellation that rises and sets with the sun. This action is used to determine the year. Hesiod is mentioned as the author who tells the legend of Orion in full. He writes that Orion was the son of Poseidon (the god of the sea) and Euryale (the daughter of Minos , the King of Crete). Orion had the ability to walk on waves because of his father. This is what allowed him to reach to island of Chios, where he attacked Merope.

After Merope’s father blinds Orion, he stumbles to Lemos, where he encounters the forge of Hephaestus , the lame smith god. Hephaestus told his servant Cedalion to guide Orion to where the Sun, Helios, could heal him. After his eyes were well, Orion returned to Chios to deal with Oenopion, but the king did not receive punishment , he hid underground where Orion could not locate him.

Orion then set off on his next adventure, where he went to Crete. He hunted with the goddess Artemis and her mother Leto. During one of their hunting trips, Orion said that he would kill all beasts on Earth. Mother Earth was not pleased with this assertion and sent a giant scorpion to kill Orion. The creature was successful and after Orion died, the goddesses asked Zeus to place the hunter among the constellations. Zeus gave his consent and the hero was placed in the sky , along with the Scorpion.

Specific Stars in Orion Constellation

The different stars that make up the constellation of the hunter have their own names and characteristics, such as varying degrees of brightness. A few stars that make up Orion include:

·    Betelgeuse , Known as a large M-type red supergiant star close to the end of its life is the second brightest star in Orion. This star can be found in the ‘right shoulder’ position of the hunter. In the night sky, it is the twelfth brightest star.

·    Bellatrix , Called the ‘Amazon Star,’ Bellatrix is the twenty-second brightest star in the night sky, which makes up the left shoulder of the hunter.

·    Rigel , Also referred to as Beta Orionis, this B-type blue supergiant is the sixth brightest star in the night sky and makes the left foot of Orion.

·    Saiph , Serving as Orion’s right foot, this star is also known as Kappa Orionis.