OF THE BABY NAME ORION
L’Orione is an opera by Italian composer Francesco Cavalli first performed in Milan, Italy in 1653. The opera’s plot centers on Orion. The goddess Diana (Greek equivalent: Artemis) and her nymphs are preparing for the Festival of Apollo on the island of Delos. They are horrified to see two men, Orion and Filotero, swimming ashore, but divert them away to another section of the island. Orion needs the god Apollo's help to restore his eyesight; however, Cupid is able to do this himself. Having a strong dislike for her brother-god Apollo, Venus (Greek equivalent: Aphrodite) wants to disrupt the festivities and so devises a plan to make Diana fall in love with Orion. As Orion and Filotero sleep to restore their strength before leaving, Cupid fires an arrow at Diana putting Venus’s plan into effect. Although Diana feels guilty about her love for the mortal Orion, Orion is all for it! Apollo, however, is furious that his sister should love a mortal, and he tricks her into killing Orion with her bow as he is swimming in the sea. This rouses the sea god Neptune's (Greek equivalent: Poseidon) anger and he raises a storm to destroy the island and the gods as punishment for killing his son, Orion. Jove (Greek equivalent: Zeus) finally restores peace by placing Orion in the heavens and turning him into a constellation.
As mentioned above, Greek Mythology is a set of narratives passed down orally for centuries before being written down. Also, legends varied geographically and were enhanced by the mythologies of other close-dwelling cultures. As such, there are often several mythological stories for one character. In the opening paragraph above, we gave you once such legend. Herein, we will give you more. In all cases, however, Orion is depicted as a giant, mighty hunter. In one account, he falls in love with Merope, the daughter of Oenopion who ruled the island of Chios. When Oenopion refused his daughter’s hand in marriage, Orion got drunk and violated the girl nonetheless. In angry retaliation, Oenopion blinded Orion and expelled him from the island. This forced the sightless Orion east in search of a cure where he encountered the goddess of the dawn (Eos) who promptly fell in love with the handsome hunter. After having his sight restored, Orion returned to Chios to take vengeance on Oenopion. Unable to find his former nemesis, Orion then joined Artemis and her followers of the hunt. This is where the legends diverge. In one account, Apollo (jealous of his sister’s attention to Orion) asks Gaia (Earth goddess) to send the Scorpion. In another account, Apollo tricks his sister Artemis into killing Orion with her bow by challenging her to hit a distant target (which, unbeknownst to her, was Orion swimming in the seas). Still other versions say Orion chased the Pleiades (known as the Seven Sisters) and that they were all placed as constellations in the sky by the sea god Poseidon along with Sirius, Orion's hunting dog. Finally, in one narrative, Orion is the son of Hyrieus who himself was the son of Poseidon and one of the Pleiads. Hyrieus was visited by the gods Zeus, Poseidon and Hermes and in exchange for his hospitality was granted a wish from the gods. He asked for a son. The gods responded by urinating on a sacrificial bull’s hide and then buried it in the earth. Nine months later, out sprung Orion. As a result of this legend, some etymologists believe the Greek name “Ourion” (of ouron) means ‘urine’ (from a root word meaning ‘to rain, drip’). We hope you have a sense of humor because we’re not making this up. What’s interesting is that most animals urinate to mark and define their territorial boundaries. A similar Greek word “horion” means ‘boundaries, limits’.