Friday, June 14, 2013

Folklore: Scorpious & Orion

The night skies are filled with folktales. The stars we see on a clear night are reminders of past myths and legends that have been told for centuries. From Orion’s Belt to the Big Dipper folklore is alive in the sky.  Many different cultures tell stories about the stars.  In Greek folklore, the legend of Orion and Scorpious is portrayed through the nightscape.

The Greek constellation Scorpious is shaped like a scorpion by the stars. The bright star Antares starts the scorpion’s tail, the scorpion's deadliest spot on his body. Scorpious is located in the night sky right behind the constellation Orion. Orion is most easily spotted by looking for his belt.  Orion’s Belt is made up of three stars - Alnitak, Alnilam, Mintaka -  lined up in a straight line.  Greek mythology says that the earth goddess, Gaia, placed the scorpion in the night sky as a reward for killing Orion.

Orion was the son of a poor shepherd called Hyrieus. Hyrieus' one desire was to have a son.  When the Greek gods came to call upon Hyrieus, he was kind, feeding them his last remaining cow.  Because of his kindness, the gods gave him a son. Orion became the best hunter in the land and was hired by the king to kill the deadly beasts that threatened his kingdom. Gaia was not pleased with this notion so she sent Scorpious to kill Orion. The gods placed Orion in the sky to honor his gallant efforts. Gaia was so pleased with Scorpious that she also placed him in the stars to forever chase Orion.
Folklore celebrates what we believe about the world and its mysteries, which include the heavens.  

Here are a few more star-related folktales:
-Iroquois legend of the BigDipper
-The legend of the Pegasus constellation

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