Canis Major

The Large Dog or The Greater Dog

Canis Major Constellation

The Brighter Stars of Canis Major

The Story

The Two Dogs

Canis Major is usually seen as one of the two hunting dogs of the great hunter Orion. The other dog is of course Canis Minor, the Lesser Dog.

Speedy LaeLaps

Some say that the Dog is the fabulous canine known as Laelaps. Laelaps was known for its speed. It ran so fast that not even the fastest deer could escape it. The Great Dog

Who Owned the Dog?

Many people had owned the dog. The last owner was Procris, the daughter of King Erechtheus of Athens and wife to Cephalus, a son of Hermes. Some say that she received the dog from Artemis, the Goddess of the Hunt, but others say that she received the dog from King Minos of Crete. The dog is the same dog that Zeus presented to the maiden Europa after he had carried her off to Crete.

The Unlucky Lady, Procris

Procris also received from the king a magic spear, which always flew directly to its target and never missed. The spear was the end of Procris, because her husband Cephalus accidently killed her with it in the middle of a hunt. As a result of the tragedy, Cephalus was banished.

The Chase That Could Never End

Cephalus later found himself in the Greek city of Thebes in Boeotia - not to be confused with the city of Thebes on the Nile in Egypt. Thebes was being plagued by a fox at the time. The fox was a very special animal that ran so fast that it could never be caught. Cephalus set the Dog Laelaps on the trail of the fox, the Dog that could catch any prey running after the fox that could never be caught. The two speedy animals were caught in a race that could never end until Zeus intervened by turning the animals into stone. Then he set the Dog into the stars, but without the fox.  
 


Copyright © 1998 - 2010 by Arnold V. Lesikar,
Professor Emeritus
Dept. of Physics, Astronomy, and Engineering Science,
St. Cloud State University,St. Cloud, MN 56301-4498

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