Friday, 13 December 2013


One of the compensations for the long cold nights of winter is the reappearance of the constellation Orion in the skies. It's an easy pattern to recognise, and I confess that every year I'm bizarrely pleased to see him back again, like an old friend popping up after months away.

The Greek legends about Orion are muddled (they can't even agree on how he died, scorpion sting or arrow to the head), but like all good Greek heroes he was a rapey psychopath. He was definitely a huntsman though.

Orion the Hunter. There he is, we're taught, with his belt and his sword and his shield ...

Uh. Hold on. Sword and shield? Aren't they sort of weird (not to mention highly ineffective) weapons for a hunter?

And then when you start looking into the iconography of Orion, you realise how inconsistent it is. The accessories change. Sword and shield:

Club and dead lion:

Club and bow:

Club and cloak:

He isn't even always facing the same way!

But my real argument is with the dangly thing under his belt. It's clear to the naked eye - the Orion Nebula is pretty bright and there are a bunch of stars and star-clusters lined up straight - but I DON'T THINK IT'S A SWORD. I think originally it would have been seen as, quite obviously, his dick. 'Cos otherwise it's a pretty small sword...

The campaign to Bring Back Orion's Willy starts here!


No it doesn't - it looks like XKCD beat me to it!

(thanks, Ro!)


Jo said...

Orion's Willy, eh? What an interesting adventure story this will make.

Chris said...

Sign me up!