Last night I took this picture of Orion from my back deck:
As I was looking it over, it occurred to me that Orion is almost a minor character in classical mythology, especially compared to Hercules. Yet Orion “got” the brightest constellation in the sky, while the constellation Hercules is faint and feeble. Not that the ancients would have been aware, but you can hardly even see Hercules if you live in or near a city, while if you enjoy better viewing conditions it gets lost in the surrounding stars. It doesn’t stand out at all.
By contrast, not only does Orion stand out, but it could easily be thought to represent Hercules. The sword could be a club and the shield could be the Lion of Nemea, though I realize Hercules was thought to have strangled the lion rather than clubbing it to death.
Is there an astronomical reason? When the constellations were first identified with mythological beings, did Orion not rise high enough in the Greek sky? I know that if you go back far enough in time the position of the celestial equator changes due to the precession of the equinoxes, and I believe the Greeks did know the constellations relating to Argo and the Centaur, which incidentally is also much brighter than Hercules, though I have never been far enough south to see it, myself.