In one of the many tales regarding Orion, I just love this one, and it puts a whole new spin on Betelgeuse in my mind…
Orion had inherited a few things from his fathers Zeus, Hermes and Poseidon. He was handsome, athletic, could walk on water, and was the size of a giant. But he also inherited a few less welcoming traits … he was something of a brute, and believed he could get whatever he wanted. And what he wanted as he became a young man, was Merope – the daughter of the King of Chios – who we know better as one of the Pleiades.
In order to win her hand, Orion, with his trusty hunting dogs, hunted and killed every wild animal in the kingdom of Chios, but still the King was still not prepared to hand over his daughter. So one night, Orion, lustful after several flagons of wine, climbed up into Merope’s bedroom and raped her.
The King was furious, and called on the gods to take revenge – and one heard – the God of Darkness, Erebus, who crept up on Orion while he was sleeping and slashed his eyes – blinding him.
When Orion woke to find himself blind he was mortified – not because he realized his terrible deeds, but because he was furious at the King for having punished him, and he needed his eyes back to seek revenge.
So he sought out Hephaestus, the god of fire and masonry to help him. Hephaestus gave Orion his son, the dwarf Cedalion, to carry on his shoulder to act as his eyes, and told them to head to the highest mountain on Earth to wait for the Goddess of dawn, Aurora, who would return his sight.
I love this picture depicting Orion, his loyal sidekick, Sirius the dog, and Cedalion the dwarf on his shoulder from the 1971 book “Stories of the Stars” by Denise Vale. This story and image now make me reconsider Betelgeuse as the shoulder of Orion – what if, instead, Betelgeuse is the head of Cedalion, aloft Orion’s shoulder, bathed in the bright orange glow of dawn?