Saturday, December 31, 2022

W/W: Beloved by the Nymphs: Dryope, Antoninus Liberalis Met. 32

Content Warning: rape

Unlike similar stories involving Artemis /Diana (including Callisto, Aura, Atalanta, etc.), this rape myth does not include any victim blaming or shaming. The hamadryads do not punish or shame Dryope for being attacked, but instead wait until her child is grown before transforming her into a nymph, allowing her to raise her child and experience motherhood.

Dryops Sperchii fluvii Filius ex Polydora, una Danai filiarum, regnum obtinuit in Oeta: unicamque habuit filiam Dryopen, quae patris greges pascebat. Sed cum eam summo opere amarent Hamadryades nymphae, suorumque locorum sociam adscivisset, docuissentque carminibus deos celebrare, et choros ducere: Apollo ea visa, concubitus cum ea ardor ipsum incessit. Itaque primum se in testudinem convertis: quam cum, ut rem ludicram, Dryope Nymphaeque tractarent, Dryope eam etiam in sinum conderet, de testudine Apollo in anguem transiit: itaque eam Nymphae territae desuerunt, Apollo cum Dryopa rem habet. Ea autem metus plena in domum patris confugit, nihilque parentibus ea de re indicavit. Post cum eam Andraemon Oxyli filius duxisset, puerum ex Apolline conceptum parit, Amphissum. Hic cum virilem aetatem attigisset, omnibus praevaluit. urbemque ad Oetam condidit, monti isti cognominem, ibique regnavit. Posuit eta Apollini in Dryopide regione templum: in quod cum se contulisset Dryope, Hamadryades benevolentia impulsae ea rapuerunt, et in silva occultarunt, loco eius alno excitata, ac pone alnum fonte. At Dryope, naturae mutatione de mortali facta est nympha. Amphissus, pro meritis Nympharum in matrem, templum ipsis condidit, primusque cursus certamen confecit: quod incolae hoc quoque nostro tempore curant. Mulierem eo accedere nefas est, quod Dryopen a Nymphis sublatam duae virgines incolis indicarunt: quas indignatione motae Nymphae, in abietes mutarunt.

 --Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 32, translated by Xylander 1832 (Greek text forthcoming) 

Dryops (the son of the river god Sperchius and the Danaid Polydora) became ruler in Oeta. He had one daughter named Dryope, who took care of her father’s flocks.

The hamadryad nymphs loved her greatly. They made her their companion wherever they went, and taught her how to sing hymns to the gods, as well as lead the sacred dances.  

When Apollo spotted her, he burned for desire to sleep with her. He transformed himself into a turtle. Dryope picked it up and kept it as a pet. When she had put him in her lap, Apollo transformed from a turtle into a snake. This terrified the nymphs, and they fled, leaving Dryope to her fate. Apollo attacked her.

Terrified of what her father would think, Dryope fled home, but told him nothing about the attack. Later on, she was married to Andraemon (the son of Oxylus), but she had already conceived a child with Apollo. Her son, Amphissus, grew up a well-rounded young man. He established the city Oeta (named after the mountain) and ruled there. He created a temple to Apollo in Dryopis there.

When Dyrope went to the temple, the hamadryad nymphs took her with them, moved by their kind feelings for her.  They hid her in the forest, leaving a poplar tree in her place. In this way Dryope was transformed into a nymph.

Out of respect for the nymphs’ treatment of his mother, Amphissus created a temple for them, and established an annual footrace dedicated to them; these races occur even today. Women are banned from this place, since two maidens told the villagers of Dryope’s whereabouts. This angered the nymphs, and they transformed these maidens into pine trees.




Name: Antoninus Liberalis  

Date:  2nd – 3rd c. CE

Works:  Metamorphoses*





 Little is known about the life of the Greek author Antoninus Liberalis. His work, Metamorphoses, is similar to the works of Hyginus in that they provide brief summaries of Greek and Roman myths.







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