Opinion » Maxed Out

Greek gods let the dogs out



Legend has it Orion, the hunter in Greek and Roman mythology, was a giant of a man. Of course, during the time of Orion, anything over five-foot-two would have been considered a giant of a man, Cyclops notwithstanding. Orion would never have made the NBA cut or even gotten a scholarship to a Pac-12 school unless they had a bow-hunting team. If the ancient Greeks and Romans had known anything about the southern part of Africa they would have known the Watutsi would have called Orion a runt.

Orion never left home to go hunting without three things: his bow and arrows — yes, those are actually many things if you want to get literal about it — his dogs — ditto — and a large skin full of wine he'd nip at all day long to calm his nerves, sharpen his eyes and make him seem funnier in case he ran into some comely damsel he wanted to impress with his witty repartee.

Since the prey he often pursued were the seven daughters of Atlas, it wasn't like he never ran into comely damsels. Atlas was also a giant of a man who laboured under the illusion he supported the heavens on his broad shoulders and, being obviously crazy, gave his daughters names like Merope, Sterope, Alcyone and Electra. Because no one in ancient Greece could keep all the girls' names straight, they simply referred to them as the Pleiades, the ancient Greek word for "girls borne of a crazy man and given confusing names."

Anyway, Orion became obsessed by the Pleiades and hunted them like there was no tomorrow. Orion was probably history's first recorded stalker but such things weren't considered socially unacceptable back then.

The Pleiades really didn't enjoy being stalked by a giant of a man who was usually drunk and always had a couple of smelly dogs with him. I think they were worried he might be as crazy as their father. So they complained to Atlas who said, "Gimme a break already, I'm keeping the heavens up. Besides, you girls aren't getting any younger and I don't see a lot of other guys sniffing around."

Realizing they couldn't count on their crazy father for help, the Pleiades turned to their BFF Diana. Diana was a babe, a real looker. She was also really good with a bow and arrow and she too had a dog. Actually, if Orion hadn't been at the wineskin so much and obsessed with the Pleiades, he probably would have realized Diana was a much better prospect and put the moves on her. Of course it didn't help that she was also the goddess of virginity and possibly gay, not that there's anything wrong with that.

To make a long story column-size, Diana killed Orion, remained a virgin and was immortalized in song by Paul Anka, who is not a giant of a man but does bring this back to Canada, if only tangentially.

Orion and his dogs became constellations in the night sky as did, ironically enough, the Pleiades, who finally pissed Zeus off. Zeus, being the big kahuna of ancient Greece and having a lot to keep track of, couldn't keep the girls' names straight and got tired of them always harping at him, "No silly, I'm Sterope; she's Merope." Zeus, who was a real joker, set the girls among the stars to get them the hell out of ancient Greece and relieve their crazy father of his main terrestrial worry, letting him concentrate exclusively on holding up the heavens.

So now — and presumably forever — Orion and his dogs Canis Major and Canis Minor endlessly chase the Pleiades across the night sky of the northern hemisphere from December through March and across the southern hemisphere between November and April, taking the summer off to vacation in the Greek Isles.


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