The myth of Hermaphroditus and the curse of the fountain

In Biology, hermaphrodite is an organism that has male and female genitalia.

, The myth of Hermaphroditus and the curse of the fountain

Many groups of animals (mainly invertebrates) do not have separate sexes. In these groups, hermaphroditism is a normal condition, allowing for a form of sexual reproduction in which both partners can act as ‘female’ or ‘male’. Most plants are also hermaphrodites.

The name comes from Hermaphroditus, son of Hermes and Venus (Aphrodite) from Greek mythology.

The myth

Hermaphroditus was as handsome as his mother, and as clever as his father. He was grawn up by the Nymphs and when he grew up he wanted to travel the world on his own. As he traversed Asia Minor, he found a beautiful landscape, at the fountain of Salmakida, in Caria. Hermaphroditus took off his clothes and fell into the water. There, the nymph Salmakida was hidden, from which the name of the pool was derived. Salmakida was blond, beautiful and playful. When Salmakida saw Hermaphroditus, she fell in love with him and wanted to make him her own. But the young man did not respond to her erotic calls.

, The myth of Hermaphroditus and the curse of the fountain

The nymph was disappointed and, in order not to lose her beloved, begged the gods to unite them and make them one in the literal sense. The gods did the miracle, so the bodies of the two merged until they became one. From the water eventually emerged a human that was neither male nor female, but had characteristics of both sexes.

When Hermaphroditus saw what had happened to him, prayed to Hermes and Aphrodite that anyone else who bathed in the pool would be similarly transformed, and his wish was granted. According to the legend, the curse of Hermaphroditus caught on and so in antiquity it was supposed that they avoided the specific pool to bathe.

Read also: Dolls

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