There are several versions of the myth of Orion, but one of the more common iterations is that Orion proclaimed himself to be the greatest hunter in the world, much to the dismay of Hera, the wife of Zeus. She had a scorpion kill him, and Zeus put Orion into the sky as consolation. In another version, Orion is blinded for raping Merope, a granddaughter of the god Dionysis. He has to travel East to seek the sun's rays to recover his sight. While the name Orion is steeped in Greek mythology, many cultures have been influenced by the story of this constellation. Orion has also associated with the Egyptian Pharaoh of the Fifth Dynasty called Unas. In Hungary, Orion is known as (magic) Archer (Íjász), or Scyther (Kaszás). Scandinavians refer to "Orion's belt" as Frigg's Distaff. 2. Ursa Major(Big Deeper)
The god Zeus hid the nymph Callisto from his wife Hera by changing her into a bear. Her son, Actas, did not know she was now a bear and while hunting one day came across Callisto. To keep Actas from accidentally killing his mother, Zeus placed them together into the sky as the Big and Little Bear (we know them better by the names Big and Little Dipper). 3. Ursa Minor (Smaller Dipper)
Arcas was the son of Callisto, who was transformed by Juno into a bear. When Arcas was fifteen, he was out hunting in the forest when he came across a bear. The bear behaved quite strangely, looking him in the eyes. He of course could not recognize his mother in her strange shape, and was preparing to shoot her when Jupiter prevented him. Arcas was transformed into a bear like his mother, and the two were taken up into the sky. Juno was annoyed that the pair should be given such honor, and took her revenge by convincing Poseidon to forbid them from bathing in the sea. It is for this reason that Ursa Major and Ursa Minor are both circumpolar constellations, never dipping beneath the horizon when viewed from northern latitudes. Ursa Minor is better known as the Little Dipper. Polaris, the star marking the end of the dipper's handle, is located at the north celestial pole. 4. Lynx
Lynceus of Greece was said to have the ability to see in the dark of night and underground, and through trees, walls and earth (Hunter 1997). He used this ability to help his brother, Idas, and himself through many adventures, including the Calydonian Boar hunt and the Argonaut quest for the Golden Fleece. His last act was to use his sight to save the life of his brother who was about to be ambushed. The story of this ambush (told elsewhere) is one of the myths associated with Lynx. Hevelius likely capitalized on Lynx's position beside, and contrast with, Gemini, in associating Lynx with the battle and death of the Aphareides — Lynceus and Idas — and Dioskouroi — Castor and Pollux — over the Leucippides. For millenia, people ascribed to the cat, lynx, the ability to also see in the dark, and through walls. This led to the wildcat being named after Lynceus, and to a symbolic superstition that linked the lynx to the Devil in medieval times. The lynx used the dark to hide itself, like Lynx, while at the same time it used its sight, like Lynceus and Hevelius, to see features hidden in the dark. Because of this triangle of connections, Hevelius named the constellation well. 5. Sagittarius (The Archer)
The zodiacal constellation Sagittarius represents the centaur Chiron. Most of the centaurs were regarded in myth as bestial--they were, after all, half horse. However, the ancient Greeks had a great deal of respect for the horse, and so were reluctant to make the centaurs entirely bad. In fact, Chiron was renowned for his gentleness. He was an excellent archer, musician, and physician, and tutored the likes of Achilles, Jason, and Hercules. Chiron, however, was accidentally shot and wounded by Hercules. The arrow, which had been dipped in the poison of the Lernaean Hydra, inflicted great suffering on Chiron--so great, in fact, that even the talented...
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