113. Dryope changes to a tree

Once upon a time, Iole, the daughter of Eurytus’ second wife, tearfully related to Alcmena, the mother of Hercules, how her step-sister Dryope was changed to a tree and she helplessly watched it happen.

Iole recounted that when Dryope along with other nymphs was on Mount Oeta, the god Apollo saw Dryope and desired to couple with her. Apollo changed his form to a tortoise and the nymphs played with him. As Dryope playfully placed the tortoise on her lap, Apollo changed his form again, and the tortoise became a serpent. In fright, the nymphs ran away leaving Dryope alone. Then, Apollo regained his godly form and ravished Dryope. In fear, Dryope remained silent about the incident. Soon, she married Andraemon, son of Oxylus. In due time, Dryope gave birth to Amphissus, son of Apollo.

When Amphissus was not even a year old and still fed on Dryope’s milk, the two sisters Dryope and Iole, went to a beautiful lake to gather flowers. They joyfully plucked lotuses and playfully sprinkled few drops on the babe, who raised his little arms in merriment. As Iole plucked another lotus, she was startled, as few drops of blood fell from the plucked lotus, which trembled in her hand. The lotus was a part of the nymph Lotis, who had changed to a tree, while fleeing from the lust of Priapus. Unaware of the story of nymph Lotis and being alarmed, they hurriedly started to leave the lake. But while Dryope stood, both her feet got entangled by a root. While she struggled to free herself, from that root grew live bark, which slowly covered her body. Dryope gave little Amphissus to Iole, imploring to find a nurse for her darling son. Iole along with the babe Amphissus, rushed to the palace to fetch help. Iole hastened back with Andraemon and Eurytus. Sorrowfully, they found Dryope changing to a tree.

Dryope bid them farewell, asking them to remember that every shrub, contained the body of a nymph or a goddess.

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

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