The Scorpion

Scorpius Constellation

The Brighter Stars of Scorpius

The Story

Opposite Orion

Scorpius is almost exactly halfway around the Zodiac from the constellation of Orion, so that Scorpius rises around the time Orion sets and vice versa.

Introducing Orion

Orion was the son of the God of the Sea, Poseidon (Neptune to the Romans) by a mortal woman. Orion was a giant and a powerful hunter, but he was mortal, and he met his end - at least temporarily - because he had offended Artemis (Diana to the Romans), the Goddess of the Hunt.

The Anger of Artemis

In one version of the story, Orion got into trouble because he forcefully hit on Artemis. Certainly it is unwise for a mortal man to attempt to force his affections on a goddess!

Don't Kill All the Game!

In another version of the story, it was Orion's pride in his power as a hunter that got him into trouble. He offended Artemis with his boast that he could kill any wild beast. In yet another version of the story, it was Orion's boast that he would kill all the wild animals on the earth that was the offense. And some say that it was the Earth Goddess Gaia that was offended rather than Artemis. The Scorpion

The Fatal Scorpion

In any case, the goddess (whichever it was) sent the Scorpion to sting Orion as a punishment for his behavior. Orion died, so that forever in the sky Orion is seen setting into the underworld as the Scorpion rises.

The Resurrection of Orion

Orion, however, did not remain dead. He was resurrected by Ophiuchus, Serpent Wrestler, who represents the God of Healing, Asclepius. Ophiuchus treated Orion with a special medicine that acted as an antidote to the Scorpion's poison. In the sky, Ophiuchus is seen as crushing the Scorpion beneath his heel.

As Orion Rises, the Scorpion Sets

The ministrations of Ophiuchus restored Orion to life, so that we see Orion rising again into the world, as the Scorpion sinks into the west beneath the heel of Ophiuchus.

An Ancient Constellation

The constellation of Scorpius is very old. According to Ridpath, these stars were seen as a scorpion by the earliest mesopotamian civilization 5000 years ago.  

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

Feedback to: editor AT