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Greg Marcus

More Battle of Scorpius and Orion...

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I did mention in the last post how many different versions of the story of the Battle of Scorpius and Orion there are.. While trying to stay under the character limit on my last post, I inadvertently deleted the story I liked the best, compared to the imagery from the manuscript of Virgil's Aeneid. You'll see at the beginning it's mentioning Jupiter, Neptune, and Mercury, who are the subjects of some of the nicest pictures:

Another version of the Orion myth states that he had no mother but was a gift to a pious peasant from Jupiter, Neptune, and Mercury. "Orion supposedly was able to walk on water and had greater strength and stature than any other mortal. A skilled blacksmith, he fabricated a subterranean palace for Vulcan. He also walled in the coasts of Sicily against the encroaching sea and built a temple to the gods there" (Magee, 48). Orion fell in love with Merope, daughter of Oenopion and princess of Chios. Her father the king, however, would not consent to give Orion his daughter's hand in marriage--even after the hunter rid their island of wild beasts. In anger, Orion attempted to gain possession of the maiden by violence. Her father, incensed at this conduct, having made Orion drunk, deprived him of his sight and cast him out on the seashore. The blinded hero followed the sound of a Cyclops' hammer till he reached Lemnos, and came to the forge of Vulcan, who, taking pity on him, gave him Kedalion, one of his men, to be his guide to the abode of the sun. Placing Kedalion on his shoulders, Orion proceeded to the east, and there meeting the sungod, was restored to sight by his beam.

After this he dwelt as a hunter with Diana, with whom he was a favourite, and it is even said she was about to marry him. Her brother [Apollo] was highly displeased and chid her [she was, after all, a virgin huntress], but to no purpose. One day, observing Orion wading through the ocean with his head just above the water, Apollo pointed it out to his sister and maintained that she could not hit that black thing on the sea. The archer-goddess discharged a shaft with fatal aim. The waves rolled the body of Orion to the land, and bewailing her fatal error with many tears, Diana placed him among the stars (Bulfinch's Mythology, 191-192).

It is also stated in some versions that Apollo, worried for Diana's chastity, sent a scorpion to kill Orion

And you'll see with this slightly different version, there are different details.. Diana was ignoring her luna duties, she flings the scorpion into the sky, etc:

Zeus, king of the gods on Mount Olympus, sent a giant scorpion to kill the mighty hunter Orion to end a torrid love affair between Orion and Diana, daughter of Zeus and goddess of the moon. Orion hunted by night and slept by day, and while he was on his nocturnal hunting adventures, he was noticed and admired by Diana. As the affair continued, Diana would join Orion on his hunting jaunts, ignoring her lunar duties.

When Zeus learned of his daughter’s negligence, he sent a giant scorpion to sting and kill Orion during his daytime slumber. When the fateful clay arrived and the giant scorpion approached Orion, the hunter awoke before the beast could strike. Orion put up a good fight, but the scorpion still stung him, and the hunter died instantly.

That night, Diana discovered Orion’s body and was filled with tremendous grief. She lifted her lover’s body to the sky and transformed it into the constellation we see during the winter evening.

As she looked back to Earth, she saw the giant scorpion not far from where she found Orion. She dived at the scorpion, grabbed it and flung it in the opposite direction from where she had placed Orion.

That’s why Orion and Scorpius are never seen in the sky at the same time.

I found this on the web in a variety of different places.. What was a little harder to find was any information that actually CITED SOURCES. I did find one that included some information from "Classical literature":

"Hesiod says that . . . Orion went away to Krete (Crete) 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, The Astronomy Fragment 4 (from Pseudo-Eratosthenes Catasterismi 32) (trans. Evelyn-White)

"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."
-Aratus, Phaenomena 634 ff (trans. Mair)

"Scorpio. This sign is divided into two parts on account of the great spread of the claws. One part of it our writers have called the Balance (Libra). But the whole 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. 26 (trans. Grant)

"Delia [Artemis] made him [Orion] 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.’"
-Ovid, Fasti 5. 493 ff (trans.Boyle)

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  1. Dragon's Tail's Avatar
    Dragon's Tail -
    I read a different bit of prose on the subject, where Apollo's jealousy brought him to summon the scorpion whilst Orion fled to the sea, eventually being killed. Interesting note: The scorpion king glyphs from Egypt depict a scorpion in the sun (Apollo). I believe this story is one of the ancient methods of preserving the recipe for the stone.