Friday, April 25, 2014

Artemis & Orion

In Greek mythology, Artemis was the goddess of the moon, the hunt, virginity, etc. She herself had sworn to remain a virgin and to never marry; however, this was not to say that she didn’t fall in love from time to time. This is one telling of a love story that centered around Artemis and a well-known constellation in our sky today - Orion.

Orion was a famously talented hunter and very good looking young man. Artemis was an extremely gifted huntress as well and when she saw Orion, she fell madly in love with him. They hunted together, dined together, but never slept together as she continued to hold her virginity in high esteem. Her twin brother, Apollo, looked upon their relationship with foreboding and disapproval though. He believed Artemis should stick to her oath of never marrying and remaining a virgin, but it appeared to him as if that oath stood in danger of being broken and there would be nuptials in the not-too-distant future.

Apollo was the god of the sun and would ride his chariot across the sky during the day to give light to the world. From this vantage point, he could see nearly everything happening below on Earth. One day as he was driving through the heavens, he looked down and saw Orion swimming in the ocean with just his head visible above the water. Near the shore he spotted his sister lying down. A plan formed in his mind then so he alighted from his chariot to speak with her.
After the usual greeting and pleasantries, Apollo brought up Artemis’ skill with the bow… or lack thereof. Now, it was widely known that, although Apollo was the most skilled fighter with a bow and arrow, Artemis was his twin there as well and had proven herself time and again. But now he raised the claim that, although she was quite good, she couldn’t hit everything she aimed at like he could. Naturally indignant and upset, she rose to his challenge and told him to merely name a target and she would hit it.

He pointed out a small dark speck on the ocean’s water far out in the distance and repeated his claim that she couldn’t hit it. Scoffing, Artemis strung her bow, not knowing the target was her lover, took quick aim at the tiny object and shot. The arrow flew with deadly accuracy and, of course, hit Orion. Acknowledging her success and her skill with the bow, Apollo then returned to his chariot, pleased with his own success in keeping his sister’s honor in tact.

Later that day Orion’s dead body washed ashore. When Artemis saw her arrow sticking out of his head, she realized what she had done and wept with grief. In order to make amends, she had him placed in the night’s sky where he might forever be seen and where she might forever see him when she took her nightly flight across the sky in her own chariot.

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