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Cedalion standing on the shoulders of Orion; detail from Blind Orion Searching for the Rising Sun by Nicolas Poussin, 1658, Oil on canvas; 46 7/8 x 72 in. (119.1 x 182.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art

In Greek mythology, Cedalion or Kedalion (Classical Greek Κηδαλίων) was a servant of Hephaestus in Lemnos. According to one tradition, he was Hephaestus's tutor, with whom Hera fostered her son on Naxos to teach him smithcraft.[1] Kerenyi compares him to the Cabeiri, to Chiron, and to Prometheus.[2]


The more common story of Cedalion tells of his part in the healing of Orion, who came to Lemnos after he was blinded by Oenopion. Orion took up Cedalion[3] and set the youth upon his shoulders[4] for a guide to the East.[5] There, the rays of Helios restored Orion's sight.

Sophocles wrote a satyr play Cedalion, of which a few words survive. Its plot is uncertain, whether the blinding of Orion by Oenopion and the satyrs on Chios, probably with Cedalion offstage and prophesied, or the recovery of Orion's sight on Lemnos. It has also been suggested that the subject may be Hephaestus's fostering; or the instructions given to the blinded Orion by satyrs in Cedalion's service. One of the surviving lines suggests extreme drunkenness; Burkert reads this fragment as from a chorus of Cabeiri.[6]

One traditional etymology is from kēdeuein "to take charge, to care for", and early nineteenth century scholars agreed.[7] Scholars since Wilamowitz, however, support the other traditional interpretation, as "phallos", from a different sense of the same verb: "to marry" (said of the groom).[8]

Wilamowitz speculates[9] that Cedalion is the dwarf in the Louvre relief showing Dionysius in Hephaestus' workplace.


  1. ^ Eustathius of Thessalonica, first note on Ξ, 294; Kerenyi, Gods of the Greeks, p. 156 says it is also supported by Servius on Aeneid 10.763; there are several variant texts of Servius.
  2. ^ Kerenyi, The Gods of the Greeks 1951:156, 177, 283.
  3. ^ Fragment of Hesiod's Astronomy quoted in Pseudo-Eratosthenes' Catasterismi; Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke 1.25.
  4. ^ Lucian of Samosata, de Domo 28.
  5. ^ Traditions vary whether this was an arduous journey, or whether Orion simply had to face the dawn, personified as Eos.
  6. ^ Fragments of Sophocles, ed. Pearson, (1917) II, 9; for the fostering, he cites Ahrens, for the satyrs, Wilamowitz GGN [=Nachrichten der Königlichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen Philological-historical section] 1895:237, which is "Hephaistos" in Wilamowitz's Kleine Schiften V.2 pp.5-35; but Pearson finds both doubtful. The reconstruction of the plot, including the doubt, is from Pearson. Cf. the Suda, under "Sophocles"; Walter Burkert, Greek Religion, 1985:281 "the Kabeiroi and Samothrace".
  7. ^ Robert Brown, The Great Dionysiak Myth vol. 2 (1878, reprinted 2004) p. 277, citing Eustathius' commentary upon Iliad xiv.294, and referring to Welcker and Müller.
  8. ^ Fragments of Sophocles, ed. Pearson, (1917) II, 9; citing Hesychius on "Kedalion"; Kerényi 1951:156; LSJ, under kēdeuō.
  9. ^ Wilamowitz, "Hephaistos", p. 33 KS.