Saturday, September 17, 2022

New Body, New Name, Same Me: The Rebirth of Hippolytus as Virbius, Lact. Plac. Narr.15.45

Hippolytus cum propter novercale odium propulsus esset patria et Troezan proficisceretur ex inproviso mari elatus taurus, sicut parens optaverat, gravissimum ei obiecit timorem. Exasperatis equis tractus interiit. Quem Aesculapus Dianae voluntate, cuius initio comes fuerat, reduxit ad superos. Hinc eiusdem deae revocatus in nemus Aricinum mortalitatem exuit. A converso itaque nomine deus Virbius est nominatus. 

--Lactantius Placidus, Qui dicitur Narrationes Fabularum Ovidiarum Liber 15 fabula 45

When Hippolytus was exiled from his homeland due to his stepmother’s hostility,* he set out for Troezen. Suddenly, a bull rose up from the sea (just as his father had prayed for**), and gave him a fright. It spooked his horses; they trampled him and he died.  Since he had been a longtime companion of Diana, the goddess saw to it that Asclepius revived him. Brought back to life by the goddess, he gave up his mortal life and remained in the Arician grove as a god with a new name: Virbius.


 * Because Hippolytus was devoted to Artemis and rejected Aphrodite (i.e., he was asexual), Aphrodite cursed him by making his stepmother Phaedra fall violently in love with him. When he rejected her advances, she took her own life, leaving behind a letter that accused Hippolytus of assaulting her.

**Believing his wife's false accusations against his son Hippolytus, Theseus prayed to his father Poseidon to cause the youth's death.



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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