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Metamorphoses
Ovid

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Bk IX:666-713 The birth of Iphis.

Perhaps, the story of this new marvel would have filled Crete's hundred cities, if Crete had not recently known a miracle nearer home, in the metamorphosis of Iphis. In the Phaestos region, near royal Cnossos, there once lived a man named Ligdus, undistinguished, a native of the place, his wealth no greater than his fame, but living a blameless and honourable life. When his pregnant wife, Telethusa, was near to her time, he spoke these words of warning in her ear: "There are two things I wish for: that you are delivered with the least pain, and that you produce a male child. A girl is a heavier burden, and misfortune denies them strength. So, though I hate this, if, by chance, you give birth to a female infant, reluctantly, I orderlet my impiety be forgiven! – that it be put to death." He spoke, and tears flooded their cheeks, he who commanded, and she to whom the command was given. Nevertheless, Telethusa, urged her husband, with vain prayers, not to confine hope itself. Ligdus remained fixed in his determination.
        
Now, her pregnant belly could scarcely bear to carry her fully-grown burden, when Io, the daughter of Inachus, at midnight, in sleep's imagining, stood, or seemed to stand, by her bed: Isis, accompanied by her holy procession. The moon's crescent horns were on her forehead, and the shining gold of yellow ears of corn, and royal splendour belonged to her. With her were the jackal-headed Anubis, the hallowed cat-headed Bast, the dappled bull Apis, and Harpocrates, the god who holds his tongue, and urges silence, thumb in mouth. The sacred rattle, the sistrum, was there; and Osiris, for whom her search never ends; and the strange serpent she fashioned, swollen with sleep-inducing venom, that poisoned the sun-god Ra. Then, as if Telethusa had shaken off sleep, and was seeing clearly, the goddess spoke to her, saying: "O, you who belong to me, forget your heavy cares, and do not obey your husband. When Lucina has eased the birth, whatever sex the child has, do not hesitate to raise it. I am the goddess, who, when prevailed upon, brings help and strength: you will have no cause to complain, that the divinity, you worshipped, lacks gratitude." Having given her command, she left the room. Joyfully, the Cretan woman rose, and, lifting her innocent hands to the stars, she prayed, in all humility, that her dream might prove true.
        
When the pains grew, and her burden pushed its own way into the world, and a girl was born, the mother ordered it to be reared, deceitfully, as a boy, without the father realising. She had all that she needed, and no one but the nurse knew of the fraud. The father made good his vows, and gave it the name of the grandfather: he was Iphis. The mother was delighted with the name, since it was appropriate for either gender, and no one was cheated by it. From that moment, the deception, begun with a sacred lie, went undetected. The child was dressed as a boy, and its features would have been beautiful whether they were given to a girl or a boy.
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