ORION

Orion, great hunter of Boeotia
And the handsomest man alive
Was son to Poseidon and Euryale
For Merope he took the dive.

She was the daughter of Oenopion
Whose father was Dionysus
Before he would agree to the union
He must clear wild beasts from Chios.

Just this Orion set about doing
Killing wild things on the island
Bringing Merope the pelts each evening
Working toward his wedding band.

But her papa had other ideas
Wanting to keep her on the shelf
He sent out rumors of more beasts, because
He secretly loved her himself.

One night drinking up Oenopion's wine
Inflamed, he broke into her room
Declaring Now I will take what is mine!
He forced her to give up her bloom.

At dawn Oenopion invoked his pop
Dionysus to send in his satyrs
With wine they filled Orion to the top
Whereupon Oenopion put out his eyes.

He then flung him blind onto seashore
An oracle announced remedy
Explaining how his sight could be restored
To relieve himself of tragedy.

He must first travel to the east and turn
His eyesockets towards Helius
At the point where He first rises to burn
The Earth with sunlight, dawn-to-dusk.

Orion at once rowed out to sea
Chasing pings of Cyclop's hammer
Reaching Lemnos, he entered the smithy
Of Hephaestus, metal slammer.

He snatched an apprentice named Cedalion
To serve as his personal guide
They crossed land-and-sea to furthest ocean
To fulfill the prophetic ride.

There rosy-fingered, saffron-robed Eos
With Orion fell madly in love
She convinced her brother Helius
To restore his sight from Above.

From Oenopion revenge he now sought
But could find him nowhere in town
This because of what Hephaestus had wrought,
A hiding chamber underground.

From Chios he sailed on to Crete island
Where he thought Oenopion fled
Of Minos he was the grandson
Could he by his grandpere be protected?

But there he encountered the great huntress
Who sought to waylay the hunter
Rather than for this great wrong to redress
Would he but come hunting with her?

But Apollo could not forget his crime
Committed on holy Delos
Nor could he forgive Orion the time
He agreed to couch with Eos.

For this indiscretion the Dawn daily
Still blushes in memorial
Apollo, too, remembered the way he
Boasted he'd clear the Earth of beasts withal.

He feared that Artemis his twin sister
Might fall also for Orion
Taking his concerns to the Mother Earth
He arranged for a great Scorpion.

This monstrous beast would pursue the hunter
Who first attacked him with arrow
Then with sword; But could not pierce its armor
Which yielded not to mortal weapon.

Orion dived into the sea and swam
Toward safety of Delos
Not that he was going on the lam
Rather seeking safety from Eos.

Apollo alerted Artemis then
Playing his sister for the fool
Dost thou seest in yonder far ocean?
About to play a game so cruel.

That black object bobbing about asea
Far away, close to Ortygia?
That the head of a nasty villain be!

(But used his name from Boetia).

For at home they knew him as Candoon
In reference to the great hunter
Alas, not something that she was in on,
On verge of tragic blunder.

This foul villain seduced your friend Opos
You know, one of your priestesses
The Hyperborean ones you discuss
As being among the purest?

I challenge you to transfix him now
With one of your heavenly darts!

Artemis aimed and let fly an arrow
Legend says she never misses her marks.

Swimming out to retrieve her quarry, she
Discovers the bloody jest
She's shot Orion through the head at sea
At her brother's treacherous request.

In great grief she implores Apollo's son
The great healer, Asclepius
To revive the great hunter Orion
But destroys him, by thunderbolt, Zeus.

Artemis set image of Orion
In all its luminosity
Amongst stars, pursued by a scorpion
The chase lasts Eternity.

© 2004 by Michael J. Farrand

Adapted from "Heroes, Gods, and Mortals: Orion" in Robert Graves' The Greek Myths (Volume 1), first printed in 1955 by Penguin Books.

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