Greek and Roman Mythology > Dryope


Dryope and Iole were sisters. The former was the wife of
Andraemon, beloved by her husband, and happy in the birth of her
first child. One day the sisters strolled to the bank of a
stream that sloped gradually down to the water's edge, while the
upland was overgrown with myrtles. They were intending to gather
flowers for forming garlands for the altars of the nymphs, and
Dryope carried her child at her bosom, a precious burden, and
nursed him as she walked. Near the water grew a lotus plant,
full of purple flowers. Dryope gathered some and offered them to
the baby, and Iole was about to do the same, when she perceived
blood dropping from the places where her sister had broken them
off the stem. The plant was no other than the Nymph Lotis, who,
running from a base pursuer, had been changed into this form.
This they learned from the country people when it was too late.

Dryope, horror-struck when she perceived what she had done, would
gladly have hastened from the spot, but found her feet rooted to
the ground. She tried to pull them away, but moved nothing but
her arms. The woodiness crept upward, and by degrees invested
her body. In anguish she attempted to tear her hair, but found
her hands filled with leaves. The infant felt his mother's bosom
begin to harden, and the milk cease to flow. Iole looked on at
the sad fate of her sister, and could render no assistance. She
embraced the growing trunk, as if she would hold back the
advancing wood, and would gladly have been enveloped in the same
bark. At this moment Andraemon, the husband of Dryope, with her
father, approached; and when they asked for Dryope, Iole pointed
them to the new-formed lotus. They embraced the trunk of the yet
warm tree, and showered their kisses on its leaves.

Now there was nothing left of Dryope but her face. Her tears
still flowed and fell on her leaves, and while she could she
spoke. "I am not guilty. I deserve not this fate. I have
injured no one. If I speak falsely, may my foliage perish with
drought and my trunk be cut down and burned. Take this infant
and give him to a nurse. Let him often be brought and nursed
under my branches, and play in my shade; and when he is old
enough to talk, let him be taught to call me mother, and to say
with sadness, 'My mother lies hid under this bark' But bid him be
careful of river banks, and beware how he plucks flowers,
remembering that every bush he sees may be a goddess in disguise.
Farewell, dear husband, and sister, and father. If you retain
any love for me, let not the axe wound me, nor the flocks bite
and tear my branches. Since I cannot stoop to you, climb up
hither and kiss me; and while my lips continue to feel, lift up
my child that I may kiss him. I can speak no more, for already
the bark advances up my neck, and will soon shoot over me. You
need not close my eyes; the bark will close them without your
aid." Then the lips ceased to move, and life was extinct; but
the branches retained, for some time longer the vital heat.

Keats, in Endymion, alludes to Dryope thus:

"She took a lute from which there pulsing came
A lively prelude, fashioning the way
In which her voice should wander. 'Twas a lay
More subtle-cadenced, more forest-wild
Than Dryope's lone lulling of her child."

Myth Collection

Achelous and HerculesAcis and GalateaAdmetus and Alcestis
Agamemnon, Orestes, and ElectraAmphionAmphitrite
AntigoneApollo and DaphneApollo and Hyacinthus
Aurora and TithonusBacchusBaucis and Philemon
CadmusCastor and PolluxCephalus and Procris
Ceyx and HalcyoneClytieCupid and Psyche
DaedalusDiana and ActaeonDryope
Echo and NarcissusEndymionErisichthon
Glaucus and ScyllaHebe and GanymedeHercules
IbycusIo and CallistoLeucothea dnd Palaemon
LinusMarsyasMedea and Aeson
MelampusMenelaus and HelenMidas
Minerva and ArachneMonstersMusaeus
NeptuneNereus and DorisNiobe
Nisus and ScyllaOrionOrpheus and Eurydice
Pegasus and the ChimaeraPenelopePerseus and Medusa
PhaetonPluto and ProsperinePrometheus and Pandora
PygmalionPyramus and ThisbePython
ThamyrisThe Calydonian HuntThe Camenae
The CentaursThe Golden FleeceThe Graeae and Gorgons
The Griffin, or GryphonThe IliadThe Myrmidons
The PygmiesThe Rural DeitiesThe Sphinx
The Trojan WarThe Water DeitiesThe Winds
TheseusThetisVenus and Adonis
Vertumnus and Pomona

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