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Franz Anton Maulbertsch, Jupiter and Antiope (c. 1780), Österreichisches Barockmuseum, Austria

In Greek mythology, Antiope was the name of the daughter of the Boeotian river-god Asopus, according to Homer (Od. xi. 260); in later poems she is called the daughter of King Nycteus of Thebes or Lycurgus. Her beauty attracted Zeus, who, assuming the form of a satyr, took her by force (Apollodorus iii. 5). After this she was carried off by Epopeus, king of Sicyon, who would not give her up till compelled by her uncle Lycus. On the way home she gave birth, in the neighbourhood of Eleutherae on Mount Cithaeron, to the twins Amphion and Zethus, of whom Amphion was the son of the god, and Zethus the son of Epopeus. Both were left to be brought up by herdsmen. At Thebes Antiope now suffered from the persecution of Dirce, the wife of Lycus, but at last escaped towards Eleutherae, and there found shelter, unknowingly, in the house where her two sons were living as herdsmen.

Here she was discovered by Dirce, who ordered the two young men to tie her to the horns of a wild bull. They were about to obey, when the old herdsman, who had brought them up, revealed his secret, and they carried out the punishment on Dirce instead, for cruel treatment of Antiope, their mother, who was treated as a slave. (Hyginus, Fab. 8).

Zethus, Antiope and Amphion

For this, it is said, Dionysus, to whose worship Dirce had been devoted, visited Antiope with madness, which caused her to wander restlessly all over Greece till she was cured, and married by Phocus of Tithorca, on Mount Parnassus, where both were buried in one grave (Pausanias ix. 17, x. 32).

Amphion became a great singer and musician after Hermes taught him to play and gave him a golden lyre, Zethus a hunter and herdsman. They built and fortified Thebes, huge blocks of stone forming themselves into walls at the sound of Amphion's lyre. Amphion married Niobe, and killed himself after the loss of his wife and children. Zethus married Aedon, or sometimes Thebe. The brothers were buried in one grave.

Farnese Bull

Jupiter and Antiope, Jean-Baptiste Marie Pierre

Jupiter and Antiope, Sir Anthony Van Dyck

Antiope sleeping, Jacob Jordaens


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