Artemis And Orion: A Tragic Love Story In Greek Mythology | Mythology Explained (2022)

Quick Disclaimer: As with most stories of love in Greek mythology, they often end in tragedy. So, today’s article on the love story of Artemis and Orion may not be the perfect love story you were looking for.

Some of you may be thinking that a love story featuring Artemis sounds a bit odd because she doesn’t have much interaction with anyone outside of her close followers and the wildlife of her forest. Most male interaction doesn’t end too well.

We saw this with the hunter Actaeon, who was turned into a stag when he came across the goddess during a hunt, and even with Siproites, a young boy who’s given the choice of death or being turned into a girl. Granted, both stories began with them stumbling across Artemis naked when she took a bath, so perhaps, these particular stories were always destined to end poorly.

There are other stories where minor deities pursued Artemis, but these all ended in rejection, and for those who couldn’t take ‘no’ as an answer, the consequences were a tad more severe.

When Artemis had rejected the river god Alpheus, he decided to kidnap her anyway. When Artemis then found out of Alpheus’ plan, she covered her face in the mud. When Alpheus came to collect his new bride, he walked past Artemis because he didn’t recognise her. Artemis was then able to escape unharmed while still giving herself one of those fancy mud facials at the same time.

So, what does all of this have to do with the story of Artemis and Orion? It helps us paint a picture because we don’t know a lot about Orion in terms of personality. If Artemis rejected all other men’s advances but then suddenly opens up and falls in love and we get the idea that Orion was different or unique in some way.

(Video) Artemis & Orion: The Tragic Love Story - (Greek Mythology Explained)

The Birth of Orion

As for Orion’s backstory, he’s always described as an incredibly handsome giant hunter. His birth is one of the weirdest stories in Greek mythology. Some accounts state that he was the son of Poseidon and Euryale, the wife of King Minos. Some other accounts say that he was born from a patch of earth covered by a bull’s hide. Several gods would come across this particular patch of land and then urinate on the hide, from which then sprang forward Orion—like a giant man-plant which had just been watered with divine pee.

Orion’s Early Love Life

In Orion’s early life, he fell in love with the princess Merope, but her father disapproved of their union so much that he had Orion blinded. His vision would eventually be restored by the healing rays of Helios, the Sun. Now, finally getting the message that the king did not want him around, Orion would travel to the island of Crete, where he would eventually meet Artemis.

Artemis and Orion—Various Love Stories Visited

We’ve now reached the part of their encounter that I guess we can consider the crossroads that lead down the numerous paths and variations of the story.

For example, there is one story where Orion meets Artemis and just immediately forces himself upon her. Which, needless to say, resulted in him dying quite quickly. So, this path is somewhat of a dead-end in terms of a love story.

This initial encounter in Crete would have been where Orion tried to impress Artemis, and with them, both being hunters, likely, some kind of hunt or a shared interest in the wild and nature would have been where they first established a connection. How long this connection lasted again varies depending on which path we take.

(Video) Artemis and Orion: A Tragic Love Story - Greek Mythology Explained

Love Story 1: The Boastful Orion

Artemis And Orion: A Tragic Love Story In Greek Mythology | Mythology Explained (1)

There was a story where the two fell madly in love and would then hunt together, continuously trying to outdo each other. That is until Orion made the mistake of telling Artemis and her mother that he could slay anything that came from the earth.

This only served to anger Gaia, who considered all living things on earth to be her children, and so she took Orion’s boasting as a threat. As you would expect from any mother who thought her children were in danger, Gaia attempted to protect them.

She summoned a giant scorpion which Artemis and Orion would have to fight together. Orion would sadly be killed during this battle; whether it came from the scorpion’s sting or Artemis’s accidental arrow—the love story ends here.

At the request of Artemis, the fallen hunter would be placed in the sky as the constellation Orion and the Scorpion as Scorpio.

Now at this point, some of you may be thinking, ‘this isn’t much of a love story; this just sounds like the many deaths of Orion’, and I guess that in itself is a testament to the difficulties that Artemis faced in the love department.

Love Story 2: Apollo, the Jealous Brother

Artemis And Orion: A Tragic Love Story In Greek Mythology | Mythology Explained (2)

So, let’s continue to the part of the story where Artemis and Orion defeat the giant scorpion and go on to live a long, happy and peaceful life together—except that never happened. Their relationship was never really left uninterrupted.

If Orion wasn’t being killed by Artemis or a giant scorpion, then it would be Artemis’ twin brother Apollo who ensured that the two would never be together.

(Video) Artemis Orion The Tragic Love Story Greek Mythology Explained

It’s not easy to pinpoint the exact reason for Apollo’s actions, but jealousy and a dislike for giants may have something to do with it. Apollo could have been jealous for numerous reasons. One of them being the fact that he and his twin sister were very close. They grew up shunned and isolated by the rest of the gods, and together they battled and earned respect and the position they believed they deserved.

There’s no doubt that they were much more potent and a force to be reckoned with when they were together. Apollo would have been shoved to one side with Orion now in the picture, and their time together would have been limited, arguably making Apollo weaker. He also may not have liked the fact that Artemis was willing to give up the vows that she had taken, especially for a giant.

It’s no secret that Zeus and several other deities weren’t a massive fan of the Giants, and Apollo sharing his father’s despise quite possible.

There is also, of course, the idea that Apollo wanted a romantic relationship with Artemis, and that is why he devised the plan to remove Orion from the equation.

One day, Apollo came across Orion when he was bathing in a lake. When standing, the giant was submerged to the point where only his head was visible. Apollo approached Artemis and challenged her to a competition to determine who was superior with the bow. When she asked her brother what exactly she would be aiming at, he pointed across the lake at what seemed like a rock. She accepted her brother’s challenge, pulling back her bow, firing and hitting the target.

Artemis And Orion: A Tragic Love Story In Greek Mythology | Mythology Explained (3)

Apollo was then overcome with joy, which was quite weird for someone who had just lost. Artemis drew closer to see exactly what she had hit; she realised that it was Orion in the lake. It was Orion’s head that she had hit, and it was her lover Orion who was now dead. Orion would once again become a constellation along with his pack of hunting hounds.

In one story, Apollo instead pointed to Orion’s head which bubbled in the lake and told Artemis it was the man responsible for attacking one of her followers. So Artemis wanting vengeance did not examine the situation; she just aimed and fired.

(Video) The Story of Orion and Artemis

There is a variant of this story where Artemis enlists the healer god Asclepius, who brings Orion back from their dead. Unfortunately, shortly after, he was struck down by Zeus, who then reminds Asclepius that he must be careful who he brings back from the dead because it blurs the lines between the dead and the living.

The story of Artemis and Orion is rather odd. Not in terms of the story itself but in how many variations there are, which all end with the same outcome.

Regardless of what story you read, there are none where Artemis and Orion just live a happy life together. They all end with the death of Orion.

Conclusion

The only variables that change in this story are how we get to Orion’s death and responsible. There are, however, some meanings or lessons that we can take from this story—one of those being the importance of remaining level-headed and making rational, informed decisions.

We see this with Orion when he makes the bold claim that he can kill everything on the earth, which at the time may have sounded like a way to impress Artemis and her mother, but it also angered Gaia and set in motion a series of events that would lead to him being killed.

This can also be applied to Artemis when she fired the arrow that killed Orion. Whether it was the pride of being better than her brother or the need for revenge, she could have approached a situation in a far more rational and systematic manner, examining her surroundings and making sure she knew what or, in this case, whom she was firing at.

With that being said, emotions such as love do make it difficult for us to remain rational. One idea that always stood out to me in terms of this particular story is that sometimes some things in life are just not meant to be, and given the numerous versions of this story, all end in heartbreak or tragedy. I get the feeling that Artemis and Orion are just one of those many things.

(Video) Orion: The Deadliest HUNTER - Eyes of the SUN GOD - Greek Mythology Explained

I don’t know where this story may rank for you in terms of Greek mythology’s best love stories because it’s kind of a love story that comes to an end before it began.

Featured image source: MET Museum

FAQs

What happened between Artemis and Orion? ›

Artemis instantly knew what had happened. She grabbed the scorpion and flung it into the sky, where it was transformed into the constellation Scorpius. Then, Artemis lovingly placed the body of Orion in the opposite side of the sky, where it, too, became a constellation.

Why did Artemis killed Orion? ›

Accounts of his death vary widely: some legends have him killed by Artemis for trying to rape her, others of Apollo's jealousy over Artemis' love of Orion; still other legends have him killed by a monstrous scorpion.

What is the most tragic love story in Greek mythology? ›

The legend about the fateful love of Orpheus, son of the god Apollo and the Muse Calliope, for Eurydice, a wood nymph, is one of the most beautiful and sad in Greek mythology, where lack of faith caused Orpheus to lose Eurydice forever.

Who did Artemis fall in love with? ›

Some people believe that some of the nymphs, mortals, priests, priestess, demigods, demigoddesses, hunters and huntresses who follow the hunting goddess were some of her lovers, but Artemis only had one lover, the great hunter Orion.

Does Orion was in love with Artemis? ›

A different version of Orion's death has it that he fell in love with Artemis; the goddess was also very much in fond of him. However, her twin brother Apollo was quite against this love affair, though, and devised a plan.

Why is Artemis enemies with Orion? ›

According to one myth Orion was killed by Artemis for trying to rape her, while another myth will have us believe he was killed by a giant scorpion. Anyway, he died and became immortalized as the Orion, which isn't bad for a demigod.

What was Orion punished for? ›

Some are thought to be derived from earlier stories from more ancient cultures. One myth says that Orion was banished to the sky for boasting about how many animals he would kill (to impress Eos). He and his hunting dogs, Canis Major and Minor, chase the constellations representing animals, but can never catch them.

What is the story of Orion? ›

According to Greek myth, Orion, led a tragic life that ended when he stepped on a scorpion, known as Scorpius. The gods felt sorry for him so they put him and his faithful dogs, Canis Major and Canis Minor, into the sky as constellations.

Who kills Artemis? ›

Artemis, Apollo and her mother Leto sided with Troy during the Trojan war. Artemis fought against Hera but the queen of the gods defeated Artemis by knocking her bow, arrows and quiver on the ground. Then Hera took Artemis own weapons and boxed the hunting goddess' ears with them.

What is the most tragic love story in history? ›

Romeo & Juliet is the quintessential tragic love story, as evidenced by its countless stagings and numerous film adaptations.

Who has the most beautiful love story in Greek mythology? ›

1. Alcyone and Ceyx. One of the greatest Greek mythical love stories is the tale of Ceyx and Alcyone – the king and queen of Trachis. Their love was so deep that both gods and mortals idolized their relationship.

Which god fell in love with a human? ›

But god Eros got hurt by his own arrows and fell in love for a mortal girl, Psyche.

Who did Artemis turn into a girl? ›

The story of Sipriotes, a young boy who saw the goddess bathing; Artemis turned him into a girl (Atsma). "Being associated with chastity, Artemis at an early age (in one legend she was three years old) asked her father, the great god Zeus, to grant her eternal virginity.

Was Orion and Artemis friends? ›

Soon, Artemis and Orion became fast friends. They spent time exploring the forest and hunting together, challenging each other to relays and archery competitions. At nighttime, they entertained each other by telling stories while sitting by a fire, and the forests were filled with their laughter.

Who did Artemis marry? ›

Answer and Explanation: In Greek mythology, Artemis is the virgin goddess, so named because she has never had carnal relations with anyone and has never had a husband.

What is Artemis's story? ›

Artemis was the oldest twin born to Zeus and Leto. The ancients believed that as soon as she was born, she assisted her mother in bringing her brother, Apollo, into the world. This story gave her a position as a goddess of childbirth. Yet, Artemis' most prominent characterization was as a virginal goddess.

Why is Orion so important? ›

Why is Orion so Important? Orion is one of the most fascinating and important constellations in the night sky. One reason that astronomers find it so compelling, is that it contains one of the nearest and most active stellar nurseries in the Milky Way Galaxy (the Orion Nebula).

What is Artemis weakness? ›

Artemis' Weaknesses

She does, however, have a few. Her primary weaknesses are her lack of mercy and her pride. There are several versions of the death of her friend, Orion, but all seem to lead back to Artemis being his killer, either directly or indirectly.

Who was Artemis best friend? ›

APOLLON Artemis' twin brother was one of her closest companions. The pair are usually depicted together in scenes of the gods. ATHENA The goddess Athena was raised alongside Artemis, Persephone, and the maiden Okeanides.

What is Orion a God of? ›

Orion was a giant huntsman and a demigod son of Poseidon. After his death, he was placed among the stars. He was later brought back from the Underworld and became the god of hunting.

Why was Apollo jealous of Orion? ›

Apollo grew jealous of Artemis's affection to Orion and some stories say that sent a scorpion that stung Orion in the heel. Others tell that Apollo bet that Artemis could not shoot a speck in the distance and when she did, she learned that the speck was actually Orion.

What powers did Orion have? ›

As a New God, he possesses the standard superhuman attributes of strength, speed, stamina and durability on par with his father Darkseid as well as with Superman; being virtually indestructible, able to run at supersonic speeds up to orbital speed, and lift weights exceeding 100 tons.

Did Orion have children? ›

Orion was one of the great Greek lovers, too, said to have fathered 50 sons from sleeping with 50 nymphs.

Who did Orion love? ›

In another story, it is Merope, the stunning daughter of King Oenopion that Orion falls in love with and can't have. One night, after a bit too much to drink, Orion tries to steal her away, but is caught by Merope's father. King Oenopion orders Orion be blinded and cast out of his lands.

What did Orion look like? ›

Orion's seven brightest stars form a distinctive hourglass-shaped asterism, or pattern, in the night sky. Four stars—Rigel, Betelgeuse, Bellatrix, and Saiph—form a large roughly rectangular shape, at the center of which lies the three stars of Orion's Belt—Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka.

What did Orion look like Greek mythology? ›

According to myth, Orion was the son of Poseidon the sea god and Euryale, daughter of King Minos of Crete. Poseidon gave Orion the power to walk on water. Homer in the Odyssey describes Orion as a giant hunter, armed with an unbreakable club of solid bronze.

Can Artemis have a child? ›

She was represented in art and literature with her bow and her hunting dogs, and often with her short dress that made hunting easier. One of Artemis' other major attributes was her virginity. Unlike most Greek women, Artemis remained unmarried and never had children.

Who saw Artemis bathing? ›

According to Ovid's Metamorphoses, Actaeon accidentally saw Artemis (goddess of wild animals, vegetation, and childbirth) while she was bathing on Mount Cithaeron; for this reason he was changed by her into a stag and was pursued and killed by his own 50 hounds.

Who has Artemis punished? ›

KHIONE (Chione) A princess of Phokis (central Greece) who was struck down by Artemis with an arrow as punishment for claiming to be fairer than the goddess. (Khione perhaps believed that her two divine lovers, Hermes and Apollon, could protect her from the goddess' wrath).

Who did Orion love? ›

In another story, it is Merope, the stunning daughter of King Oenopion that Orion falls in love with and can't have. One night, after a bit too much to drink, Orion tries to steal her away, but is caught by Merope's father. King Oenopion orders Orion be blinded and cast out of his lands.

How did Artemis and Orion meet? ›

He had hidden in a bronze chamber underground to escape the giant. Orion next went to Crete where, some people said, his mother lived. There he met Artemis and joined her hunting party. As a skilled hunter, Orion was welcomed into the goddess's retinue.

Who did Artemis marry? ›

Answer and Explanation: In Greek mythology, Artemis is the virgin goddess, so named because she has never had carnal relations with anyone and has never had a husband.

What does the goddess Artemis fear? ›

The shadow virgin, resists her sexuality due to fear and revolution of sex and the loss of innocence it symbolises. This Goddess is a prime example of this chaste Archetype as she asked her father, Zeus to grant her eternal virginity. All her companions were also virgins and she was extremely protective of her purity.

What's the story of Orion? ›

According to Greek myth, Orion, led a tragic life that ended when he stepped on a scorpion, known as Scorpius. The gods felt sorry for him so they put him and his faithful dogs, Canis Major and Canis Minor, into the sky as constellations.

How was Orion killed? ›

There are two versions where Artemis killed Orion, either with her arrows or by producing the Scorpion. In the second variant, Orion died of the Scorpion's sting as he does in Hesiod. Although Orion does not defeat the Scorpion in any version, several variants have it die from its wounds.

What was Orion punished for? ›

Some are thought to be derived from earlier stories from more ancient cultures. One myth says that Orion was banished to the sky for boasting about how many animals he would kill (to impress Eos). He and his hunting dogs, Canis Major and Minor, chase the constellations representing animals, but can never catch them.

Why is Orion so important? ›

Why is Orion so Important? Orion is one of the most fascinating and important constellations in the night sky. One reason that astronomers find it so compelling, is that it contains one of the nearest and most active stellar nurseries in the Milky Way Galaxy (the Orion Nebula).

What is special about Orion? ›

The constellation is named after the hunter in Greek mythology is one of the most obvious and recognizable constellations in the sky. Two of the ten brightest stars in the sky are located in Orion — Rigel (Beta Orionis) and Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis), according to a stargazing website Astronomy Trek (opens in new tab).

Who did Artemis turn into a girl? ›

The story of Sipriotes, a young boy who saw the goddess bathing; Artemis turned him into a girl (Atsma). "Being associated with chastity, Artemis at an early age (in one legend she was three years old) asked her father, the great god Zeus, to grant her eternal virginity.

Can Artemis have a child? ›

She was represented in art and literature with her bow and her hunting dogs, and often with her short dress that made hunting easier. One of Artemis' other major attributes was her virginity. Unlike most Greek women, Artemis remained unmarried and never had children.

What is Orion the god of? ›

Orion was a giant huntsman and a demigod son of Poseidon. After his death, he was placed among the stars. He was later brought back from the Underworld and became the god of hunting.

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