112. Galanthis deceives Lucina

Once upon a time, the fair Iole was heavy with the child of Hyllus, the son of Hercules. Alcmena, the mother of Hercules, recounted to Iole how she had labored during the birth of Hercules, who was so large that it seemed certain Jove was his father. After spending seven days and seven nights in agony, Alcmena had invoked Lucina, the goddess of birth, and the three Nixian deities, to effect a smooth childbirth.

Lucina arrived, but Juno had instructed Lucina to prolong the birth. At the altar near the door, Lucina sat with crossed legs, her right knee over the left knee, held by her joined hands with interlocked fingers, while muttering charms due to which the birth was stopped. Alcmena experienced pain so profound that she wished to die.

Among those present was the golden-haired Galanthis, a maid of the common class. Observing the strange way Lucina sat at the altar, Galanthis guessed that the crossed legs and the interwoven fingers were delaying the birth. She swiftly decided to change the posture of Lucina. The quick-witted maid Galanthis, rushed out and joyfully shouted that Alcmena had safely given birth to a healthy child. Lucina was surprised and in her surprise, she unlocked her fingers and leapt up. As Lucina’s hands separated and her knees parted, at that very moment, Alcmena delivered the babe Hercules.

Galanthis laughed merrily as she had tricked Lucina. However, the furious Lucina caught Galanthis by the hair and dragged her on the ground. Galanthis struggled to stand up, but her limbs were changed to animal legs, and she became a weasel. Her hair was not changed and she maintained her active self, but because of her deceitful mouth, she now gave birth through that same mouth.

Later, the goddess Hecate felt pity for Galanthis and adopted the weasel, as her blessed servant. Hercules, when he grew up, constructed a statue of Galanthis.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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