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The immortal forgotten other gang: Dwarf Cedalion, Lame Hephaestus, and Blind Orion

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDisability Studies and the Classical Body
Subtitle of host publicationThe Forgotten Other
PublisherTaylor and Francis Inc.
Pages215-236
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781000381337
ISBN (Print)9780367221959
Published14 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright: © 2021 selection and editorial matter, Ellen Adams; individual chapters, the contributors. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

King's Authors

Abstract

This article explores an ancient mythological narrative in which three disabled immortals unite in a quest. Lucian's On the Hall (28-29) describes a painting in which Orion, who has been blinded, carries the dwarf Cedalion on his shoulders. Cedalion directs him towards the sunlight that will restore his sight. Hephaestus, who is lame, watches them from his home island of Lemnos. This description inspired one of Nicolas Poussin's most famous classical landscapes, Blind Orion Searching for the Rising Sun. The myth of the three supernatural friends, disabled in different ways but mutually supporting one another, might reflect some aspect of the reality of the lives of disabled individuals in antiquity, or of medical procedures associated with Lemnos, or both. Although not claiming that the mythical narrative encapsulated in Lucian's ecphrasis has ever been previously interpreted, either in antiquity or more recently, as providing a positive representation of mutual self-help among disabled communities, my own interpretation springs from the premise that classical material needs to be open to new readings. If it can be reinterpreted from feminist, anti-racist, postcolonial, pro-youth, and anti-classist perspectives, why not from the perspective of 'the forgotten other'?.

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