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In Greek mythology, Laelaps (Λαῖλαψ) was a legendary dog who never failed to catch what he was hunting. He was a gift from Zeus to Europa.


The Death of Procris, Piero di Cosimo, right side Laelaps c. 1500
Oil on panel, 65 x 183 cm
National Gallery, London


But Procris lay among the white wind-flowers,
Shot in the throat. From out the little wound
The slow blood drained, as drops in autumn showers
Drip from the leaves upon the sodden ground.
None saw her die but Lelaps, the swift hound,
That watched her dumbly with a wistful fear,
Till at the dawn, the hornèd wood-men found
And bore her gently on a sylvan bier,
To lie beside the sea,—with many an uncouth tear.
Austin Dobson: Old World Lyrics.


The hound was passed down to King Minos of Crete. Minos fell ill and called Prokris of Athens to his aid. When she cured him he gave her Laelaps and a javelin that never missed its target. Procris's husband decided to use the hound to hunt the Teumessian fox, a fox that could never be caught. This was a paradox, a dog who always caught his prey and a fox that could never be caught. The chase went on for quite a while until Zeus turned both to stone, perplexed by their contradictary fates.


Dogs in Ancient Greece


Greek Mythology


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