| Gods and Heroes|
|by Robert Edward Francillon|
|One of the best introductions to Greek mythology for children. Includes the stories of all the prominent gods and heroes, woven together into a continuous narrative, ending with a full treatment of the twelve labors of Hercules. Ages 8-12 |
DIANA; AND THE STORY OF ORION
OU know that the fixed stars are divided into
groups, called constellations. A name has been
given to every constellation; and each is supposed to
be like the shape of some creature or thing—such as
the Great Bear, the Swan, the Cup, the Eagle, the
Dragon, and so on. Most of their names were given
by the Greeks, who fancied they could see in them
the shapes after which they were named. We have
kept the old names, and still paint the supposed figure
of each constellation on the celestial globe, which is
the image or map of the sky.
Now the grandest, brightest, and largest of all the
constellations is named Orīon. It is supposed to represent
a giant, with a girdle and a sword, and is rather
more like what is fancied than most of the constellations
are. You are now going to read the story of
Orion, and how he came to be placed among the stars.
You may notice, by the way, that the planets, the sun,
and the moon are named after gods and goddesses; the
fixed stars after mortals who were raised to the skies.
 There was once a man named Hyrĭēus,
died, and he loved her so much, and was so overcome
with grief that he vowed never to marry again. But
she left him no children. And when, in course of
time, he grew old, he sadly felt the want of sons
and daughters to make his old age less hard and
One day it happened that Jupiter, Neptune, and
Mercury (who was one of the gods, and Jupiter's chief
minister and messenger) were on a visit to earth. The
night fell, and they grew tired and hungry. So they
wandered on to find rest and food; and, as luck would
have it, they came to the cottage of Hyrieus, and asked
for shelter. Hyrieus thought they were only three
poor benighted travelers who had lost their way. But
he was very good and charitable, so he asked them in
and gave them the best fare he had—bread, roots,
and wine—he himself waiting upon them, and trying
to make them comfortable. He poured out a cup of
wine, and offered it first to Neptune. But Neptune,
instead of drinking it, rose from his seat and gave the
cup to Jupiter, like a subject to a king who should be
first served. You may not think there was much to
notice in this; but Hyrieus noticed it, and then, looking
intently upon the stranger to whom Neptune had
given the cup, he was struck by a sudden religious
awe that told him he was in the presence of the king
 and father of gods and men. He straightway fell on
his knees and said: —
"I am poor and humble; but I have in my stall one
ox to plough my field. I will gladly offer him up as a
sacrifice for joy that Jupiter has thought me worthy
to give him bread and wine."
"You are a good and pious man," said Jupiter.
"Ask of us any gift you please, and it shall be yours."
"My wife is dead," said Hyrieus, "and I have
vowed never to marry again. But let me have a
"Take the ox." said Jupiter, "and sacrifice him."
So Hyrieus, being full of faith, sacrificed his ox, and,
at the bidding of Jupiter, buried the skin. And from
that skin, and out of the ground, there grew a child,
who was named Orion.
Orion grew and grew till he became a giant, of
wonderful strength and splendid beauty. He took
the most loving care of Hyrieus, and was the best of
sons to him. But when the old man died, Orion went
out into the world to seek his fortune. And the first
service he found was that of Diana, the sister of
Apollo, and queen and goddess of the Moon.
Diana, however, had a great deal to do besides looking
after the moon. She was three goddesses in one—a
goddess of the sky, a goddess of earth, and a
god-  dess of Hades besides. In heaven she was called
Luna, whose duty is to light the world when Apollo is
off duty. In Hades she was called Hĕcătē, who, with
her scepter, rules the ghosts of dead souls. And on
earth her name is Diana, the queen of forests and
mountains, of wild animals and hunters. She wears a
crescent on her forehead and a quiver at her back; her
limbs are bare, and she holds a bow, with which she
shoots as well as her brother Apollo. Just as he is
called Phœbus, so she is often called Phœbe. She
goes hunting all night among the hills and woods,
attended by the Nymphs and Oreads, of whom she is
queen. There are not so many stories about her as
about the other gods and goddesses, and yet she is
really the most interesting of them all, as you will see
This great strange goddess had sworn never to love
or marry—had sworn it by Styx, I suppose. But
Orion was so beautiful and so strong and so great a
hunter that she went as near to loving him as she ever
did to loving any one. She had him always with her,
and could never bear him to leave her. But Orion
never thought of becoming the husband of a goddess,
and he fell in love with a mortal princess, the daughter
of Œnopion, King of Chios, an island in the Ægean Sea.
When, however, he asked the king for his daughter,
Œnopion was terribly frightened at the idea of having
 a giant for his son-in-law. But he dared not say "No."
He answered him:—
"My kingdom is overrun with terrible wild beasts.
I will give my daughter to the man who kills them
all." He said this, feeling sure that any man who
tried to kill all the wild beasts in Chios would himself
But Orion went out, and killed all the wild beasts
in no time, with his club and his sword. Then
Œnopion was still more afraid of him and said:—
"You have won my daughter. But before you
marry her, let us drink together, in honor of this joyful day."
Orion, thinking no harm, went with Œnopion to
the sea-shore, where they sat down and drank together.
But Œnopion (whose name means "The
Wine-Drinker") knew a great deal more about what
wine will do, and how to keep sober, than Orion. So
before long Orion fell asleep with the strong Chian
wine, which the King had invented; and when Orion
was sound asleep, Œnopion put out both his eyes.
The giant awoke to find himself blind, and did not
know what to do or which way to go. But at last, in
the midst of his despair, he heard the sound of a blacksmith's
forge. Guided by the clang, he reached the
place, and prayed the blacksmith to climb up on his
shoulders, and so lend him his eyes to guide him.
 The blacksmith consented, and seated himself on the
giant's shoulder. Then said Orion:—
"Guide me to the place where I can see the first
sunbeam that rises at daybreak in the east over the sea."
Orion strode out, and the blacksmith guided him,
and at last they came to the place where the earliest
sunbeam first strikes upon human eyes. It struck upon
Orion's, and it gave him back his sight again. Then,
thanking the blacksmith, he plunged into the sea to
swim back to Diana.
Now Apollo had long noticed his sister's affection
for Orion, and was very much afraid for fear she should
break her vow against love and marriage. To break
an oath would be a horrible thing for a goddess to do.
While Orion was away, making love and killing wild
beasts in Chios, there was no fear; but now he was
coming back, there was no knowing what might happen.
So he thought of a trick to get rid of Orion, and he
"My sister, some people say that you can shoot as
well as I can. Now, of course, that is absurd."
"Why absurd?" asked Diana. "I can shoot quite
as well as you."
"We will soon see that," said Apollo. "Do you
see that little dark speck out there, in the sea? I
wager that you won't hit it, and that I can."
 "We will see," said Diana. So she drew her bow
and shot her arrow at the little dark speck, that seemed
dancing on the waves miles and miles away. To hit it
seemed impossible. But Diana's arrow went true. The
speck was hit—it sank, and rose no more.
It was the head of Orion, who was swimming back
to Diana. She had been tricked into killing him with
an arrow from her own bow. All she could do was to
place him among the stars.
So her vow was kept; and from that time she never
allowed herself to be seen by a man. Women may
see her; but if men see her, they go mad or die.
There is a terrible story of a hunter named Actæon,
who once happened to catch a glimpse of her as she
was bathing in a pool. She instantly turned him into
a stag, so that his own dogs fell upon him and killed
him. And another time, when she saw a shepherd
named Endymion on Mount Latmos, and could not
help wishing to kiss him for his beauty, she covered
herself with clouds as she stooped, and threw him into
a deep sleep, so that he might not see her face, or
know that he had been kissed by the moon. Only
from that hour he became a poet and a prophet, full
of strange fancies; and it is said that every man becomes
a madman or a poet who goes to sleep in the
moonlight on the top of a hill. Diana comes and kisses
him in his dreams.
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