Melanippe (page 734)

Chapter 18: Other Myths

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Asios fr 2 PEG – Poetae Epici Graeci 1, p. 128, ed. A. Bernabé. Leipzig 1987.

Euripides, Melanippe Sophe (Melanippe the Wise) 14 GLP – Fragments of more recent Greek literary papyri cited according to D.L. Page, Select Papyri III, pp. 116-19. London 1941.

Greek Text and English Translation

Pseudo-Eratosthenes, Katasterismoi 18 – Mythographi Graeci vol. 3.1, pp. 22-23, ed. A. Olivieri. Leipzig 1897.

Greek Text

Hyginus, De Astronomia 2.18.2

2.18.4  Euripides in his Melanippe, says that Melanippe, daughter of Chiron the Centaur, was once called Thetis. Brought up on Mount Helicon, a girl especially fond of hunting, she was wooed by Aeolus, son of Hellen, and grandson of Jove, and conceived a child be him. When her time drew near, she fled into the forest, so that her father, who supposed her a virgin, might not see that she had given birth to a grandchild. And so when her father was looking for her, she is said to have begged the power of the gods not to let her father see her in childbirth. After the child was born, by the will of the gods she was changed into a mare which was placed among the stars.  Latin Text

Germanicus Scholia 18 – Eratosthenis Catesterismorum Reliquiae, pp. 120-2, ed. C. Robert Berlin 1878.

Latin Text

Euripides, Melanippe Desmotis (Melanippe Captive) 13 GLP – Fragments of more recent Greek literary papyri cited according to D.L. Page, Select Papyri III, pp. 188-17. London 1941.

Greek Text and English Translation

Hyginus, De Astronomia 2.18.3

2.18.5  Some say that she was a prophetess, and because she used to reveal the plans of the gods to men, she was changed into a mare. Callimachus says that because she ceased hunting and worshipping Diana, Diana changed her into the shape we have mentioned. For the reason above, too, she is said to be out of sight of the Centaur, who come say is Chiron, and to show only half her body, since she didn’t want her sex to be known.  Latin Text

Kallimachos fr 569 Pf – Callimachus, vol. 1, p. 500, ed. R. Pfeiffer. Oxford 1949.

Ovid, Metamorphoses 2.635-79

Behold, his lovely daughter, who was born
beside the margin of a rapid stream,
came forward, with her yellow hair as gold
adown her shoulders.—She was known by name
Ocyroe. The hidden things that Fate
conceals, she had the power to tell; for not
content was she to learn her father’s arts,
but rather pondered on mysterious things.

So, when the god of Frenzy warmed her breast,
gazing on Aesculapius,—the child
of Phoebus and Coronis, while her soul
was gifted, with prophetic voice she said;
“O thou who wilt bestow on all the world
the blessed boon of health, increase in strength!
To thee shall mortals often owe their lives:
to thee is given the power to raise the dead.
But when against the power of Deities
thou shalt presume to dare thy mortal skill,
the bolts of Jove will shatter thy great might,
and health no more be thine from thence to grant.
And from a god thou shalt return to dust,
and once again from dust become a God;
and thou shalt thus renew thy destiny.—
“And thou, dear father Chiron, brought to birth
with pledge of an immortal life, informed
with ever-during strength, when biting flames
of torment from the baneful serpent’s blood
are coursing in thy veins, thou shalt implore
a welcome death; and thy immortal life
the Gods shall suffer to the power of death.—
and the three Destinies shall cut thy thread.”

She would continue these prophetic words
but tears unbidden trickled down her face;
and, as it seemed her sighs would break her heart,
she thus bewailed; “The Fates constrain my speech
and I can say no more; my power has gone.
Alas, my art, although of little force
and doubtful worth, has brought upon my head
the wrath of Heaven.
“Oh wherefore did I know
to cast the future? Now my human form
puts on another shape, and the long grass
affords me needed nourishment. I want
to range the boundless plains and have become,
in image of my father’s kind, a mare:
but gaining this, why lose my human shape?
My father’s form is one of twain combined.”

And as she wailed the words became confused
and scarcely understood; and soon her speech
was only as the whinny of a mare.
Down to the meadow’s green her arms were stretched;
her fingers joined together, and smooth hoofs

made of five nails a single piece of horn.
Her face and neck were lengthened, and her hair
swept downward as a tail; the scattered locks
that clung around her neck were made a mane,
tossed over to the right. Her voice and shape
were altogether changed, and since that day
the change has given her a different name.

In vain her hero father, Chiron, prayed
the glorious God, Apollo, her to aid.
He could not thwart the will of mighty Jove;
and if the power were his, far from the spot,
from thence afar his footsteps trod the fields
of Elis and Messenia, far from thence.  Latin Text

Pollux 4.141 – Pollucis Onomasticon: e codicibus ab ipso collatis denuo edidit et adnotavit Ericus Bethe. Lexicographi Graeci, Vol. 9, p. 243, ed. E. Bethe. Leipzig 1900.

Greek Text

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Edited by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, March 2022.

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