Supplementary Appendix 257c.1

Ovid’s Account of Hermaphrodite and Salmacis

Ovid’s Metamorphoses in Fifteen Books Made English by Several Hands, vol. 1, 2nd ed. (London 1724), book 4, 108–11. Illustrations (1) from Jean Desmarets de Saint-Sorlin and Stefano Della Bella, Jeu de la Mythologie (1644); The Metropolitan Museum of Art; (2) excerpt from Ovid’s Metamorphoses etc. (London 1724), plate following p. 94.

How Salmacis, with weak enfeebling streams,
Softens the body, and unnerves the limbs;
And what the secret cause, shall here be shown;
The cause is secret, but th' effect is known.

The Naids nurs'd an infant heretofore,
That Cytherea once to Hermes bore:
From both th’illustrious authors of his race,
The child was nam'd; nor was it hard to trace
Both the bright parents thro' the infant's face.

When fifteen years, in Ida's cool retreat,
The boy had told, he left his native seat,
And sought fresh fountains in a foreign soil;
The pleasure lessen'd the attending toil.

With eager steps the Lycian fields he crost
And fields that border on the Lycian coast;
A river here he view'd, so lovely bright,
It shew'd the bottom in a fairer light,
Nor kept a sand conceal'd from human sight
The stream produc'd nor slimy ouze, nor weeds,
Nor miry rushes, nor the spiky reeds;
But dealt enriching moisture all around,
The fruitful banks with chearful verdure crown'd,
And kept the spring eternal on the ground.

A nymph presides, nor practis'd in the chace,
Nor skilful at the bow, nor at the race;
Of all the blue-ey'd daughters of the main,
The only stranger to Diana's train;

Her sisters often, as 'tis said, would cry,
Fie, Salmacis! what, always. idle! fie;
Or take thy quiver, or thy arrows seize,
And mix the toils of hunting with thy ease.

Nor quiver she, nor arrows e'er would seize;
Nor mix the toils of hunting with her ease:
But oft would bathe her in the chrystal tide;
Oft with a comb her dewy locks divide.
Now in the limpid streams she views her face,
And dress'd her image in the floating glass:
On beds of leaves she now repos'd her limbs,
Now gather'd flow'rs that grew about the streams;
And then by chance was gath'ring, as she stood
To view the boy, and long'd for what she view'd.

Fain would she meet the youth with hasty feet;
She fain would meet him, but refus'd to meet
Before her looks were set with nicest care,
And well deserv'd to be reputed fair

Bright youth, she cries, whom all thy features prove
A God, and, if a God, a God of love;
But if a mortal, bless'd thy nurse's breast;
Bless’d are thy parents, and thy sisters blest.
But oh, how bless'd! how more than bless'd thy bride,
Ally'd in bliss, if any yet ally'd!
If so, let mine the stoll'n enjoyments be;
If not, behold a willing bride in me,

The boy knew nought of love, and touch'd with shame,
He strove, and blush'd, but still the blush became:
In rising blushes still fresh beauties rose;
The sunny side of fruit such blushes shows,
And such the moon, when all her silver white
Turns in eclipses to a ruddy light.

The nymph still begs, if not a nobler bliss,
A cold salute at least, a sister's kiss;
And now prepares to take the lovely boy
Between her arms. He, innocently coy,
Replies, or leave me to my self alone,
You rude uncivil nymph, or I'll be gone.


Fair stranger then, says she, it shall be so;
And. for she fear'd his threats, she feign'd to go;
But hid within a covert's neighb’ring green,
She kept him still in sight, herself unseen.

The boy now fancies all the danger o'er,
And innocently sports about the shore;
Playful and wanton to the stream he trips,
And dips his foot, and shivers as he dips

The coolness pleas'd him, and with eager haste
His airy garments on the banks he cast;
His God-like features, and his heav'nly hue,
And all his beauties were expos'd to view.

His naked limbs the nymph with rapture spies,
While hotter passions in her bosom rise,
Flush in her cheeks, and sparkle in her eyes
She longs, she burns to clasp him in her arms,
And looks, and sighs, and kindles at his charms.

Now all undress’d upon the banks he stood,
And clapp'd his sides, and leap'd into the flood;
His lovely limbs the silver waves divide,
His limbs appear more lovely thro' the tide;
As lillies shut within a chrystal case,
Receive a glossy lustre from the glass.
He's mine, he's all my own the Naid cries,
And flings off all, and after him she flies.
And now she fastens on him as he swims,
And holds him close, and wraps about his limbs
The more the boy resisted, and was coy,
The more she clipt, and kiss'd the struggling boy,
So when the wriggling snake is snatch'd on high
In Eagle's claws, and hisses in the sky,
Around the foe his twirling tail he flings,
And twists her legs, and wriths about her wings.

The restless boy still obstinately strove
To free himself, and still refus'd her love.

Amidst his limbs she kept her limbs entwin'd,
And why, coy youth, she cries, why thus unkind?
Oh! may the Gods thus keep us ever join'd!
Oh! may we never, never part again!

So pray'd the nymph, nor did she pray in vain;
For now she finds him, as his limbs she prest,
Grow nearer still, and nearer to her breast;
'Till, piercing each the other's flesh, they run
Together, and incorporate in one:


Last in a common face their faces join,
As when the stock and grafted sprigs combine,
They grow the same, and wear a common rind:
Both bodies in a single body mix,
A single body with a double sex.

The boy, thus lost in woman, now survey'd
The river's guilty stream, and thus he pray'd:
(He pray'd, but wonder'd at his softer tone
Surpriz'd to hear a voice but half his own)

You parent-Gods, whose heav'nly names I bear,
Hear your Hermaphrodite, and grant my pray'r;
Oh! grant, that whomsoe'er these streams contain,
If man he enter'd, he may rise again
Supple, unsinew'd, and but half a man.

The heav'nly parents answer'd from 'on high,
Their two shap'd son, the double votary;
And gave a a secret tincture to the flood
To weaken it, and make his wishes good.