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In Greek mythology, Salmacis was a Phrygian nymph (a Limnades) who loved Hermaphroditus.

Hermaphroditus was raised by Phrygian nymphs. One of the local nymphs, Salmacis, who lived in a lake, fell in love with him; Hermaphroditus rejected her. He undressed himself by the lake, and jumped into the water to go swimming. Salmacis embraced him and he struggled while she prayed that they would never be separated. The gods granted her this and their bodies fused. Hermaphroditus begged that the lake would take the virility from anyone who bathed in it; this was also granted.

The Nymph Salmacis and Hermaphroditus

"There dwelt a Nymph, not up for hunting or archery:
unfit for footraces. She the only Naiad not in Diana’s band.
Often her sisters would say: “Pick up a javelin, or
bristling quiver, and interrupt you leisure for the chase!”
But she would not pick up a javelin or arrows,
nor trade leisure for the chase.
Instead she would bathe her beautiful limbs and tend to her hair, with her
waters as a mirror."

Ovid ’’Metamorphoses’’ IV. 306-312

Hermaphroditos and Salmacis, Bartholomeus Spranger

Musical reference

"The Fountain of Salmacis" by Genesis, on the album Nursery Cryme (1971)


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