Orion is the name of a legendary giant hunter in Greek mythology, the son of Poseidon and Euryale, the daughter of King Minos of Crete, and features in Homer‘s Odyssey in which Odysseus sees his shade in the underworld. Because of his father, Orion had the ability to walk on water. There are several stories regarding Orion and his adventures.
Orion was a guest of King Oenopion of Chios, the son of Dionysos and Ariadne. Orion got drunk and raped (or attempted to rape) Oenopion‘s daughter Merope and in revenge Oenopion blinded him. Orion traveled to another island, Lemnos, to ask for the god Hephaesteus‘s help. Hephaestus allows his servant Cedalion to guide Orion (who rode on Orion’s shoulder) to the east where the sun god Helios restored his vision. Afterward, Orion tries to get his revenge on Oenopion but the king had hidden himself away in an underground chamber. Orion left and later became a hunting companion of the goddess Artemis on the island of Crete.
There are are various versions of Orion’s death: the first is that he was killed by Artemis by accident. Orion had fallen in love with Artemis and she seemed to be fond of him, however her brother Apollo seemed jealous of their closeness. One day, when Orion was swimming in the sea, Apollo challenged his sister to an archery contest and she picked a bobbing object in the water, too far away to make it out; another version of his death states that he was killed by Artemis when he attempted to rape her maiden Oupis.
Another version of his death is that one day Orion boasted he would kill every animal in the world. This upset the goddess Gaia and she sent a giant scorpion to kill him; afterwards, Zeus turned Orion and the scorpion into a constellation.
Interestingly, the Boeotians had another version of Orion’s birth. Zeus, Poseidon, and Hermes visited the court of King Hyrieus of Hyria in Boeotia, Hyrieus being the son of Poisedon and the nymph Alcyone. After being satisfied with the gracious welcome they were given, the gods decided to grant Hyrieus whatever his greatest desire was, which was to have a son. The gods took a bullhide, urinated on it, and buried it in the earth. When Hyrieus dug it up on the date he was supposed to he found the baby Orion already born.
The origin of Orion’s name is unknown though it’s been linked to Akkadian Uru-anna meaning “heaven’s light” or “light of the heavens”, made up of Akkadian urru (light) and anu (sky). Other possible meanings attached to it are Ancient Greek óros (mount, mountain), ório (limit, boundary), or oûron (urine).
Origin: uncertain, possibly Akkadian or from PIE