Saturday, August 27, 2022

Happily Ever After: The Myth of Iphis & Ianthe, Lactantius Placidus, Narr. IX. fab.10

 CONTENT WARNING:  discussion of infanticide 

Hic [In insula Creta] Ligdus generosae stirpis ac praestantis fidei cum petisset a Telethusa coniuge, ut, si puellam pareret, necaret, si puerum autem, sobolem patriae servaret, et uterque pro casu futuro lacrimas dedissent, mater nequiens adferre manus filiae Isidem in malis habuit auxilio; cuius pollicitis illa infantem pro puero, decepto patre filii opinione, nutrivit. itaque cum aetas matura ex Theleste genitam despondit. qui inter se cum gravi amore praemerentur, maxime Iphis (hoc enim pater nomine avi cum vocari voluerat), trepidante ergo matre, ne Iphis diu adversus virum cum infamia reperiretur, eadem dea fuit in auxlilio. nam ut totis nuptiis iugari possint, Iphin in puerum transfiguravit.

--Lactantius Placidus, Qui dicitur Narrationes Fabularum Ovidianarum Liber IX.fab.10

 Ligdus, a man of noble birth and upstanding character, asked his [pregnant] wife Telethusa to kill their child if she gave birth to a girl, but to keep it if she gave birth to a boy. Unable to kill her daughter, Telethusa begged the goddess Isis to help her in her troubles. Isis gave her reassurance, and so she told her husband she had a son and raised the child as a boy. When Iphis grew up, he was betrothed to the daughter of Thelestis [Ianthe]. They both fell madly in love with each other. Telethusa was terrified that Iphis would be outed, and Iphis was even more so, so he once again asked the goddess Isis for help. Isis transformed Iphis into a boy so they could get married.



Name:  Lactantius Placidus

Date:  5th or 6th century CE

Works:  Abridgement of Ovids’ Metamorphoses

Commentary on Statius’ Thebaid



Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans



 Little is known about this Christian author, but he is known for his commentary on Statius’ Thebaid and an abridgement of Ovid’s Metamorphoses.


Early Roman Lit: through 2nd c BCE: Republican Rome: through 1st c. BCE; Golden Age: 70 BCE to 18 CE; Silver Age: 18 CE to 150 CE; Age of Conflict: 150 CE - 410 CE; Byzantine and Late Latin: after 410 CE

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