116. Cyparissus becomes the cypress tree

Once upon a time, the cone-shaped cypress tree was a beautiful youth named Cyparissus, who dearly loved a mighty stag. The antlers of the stag were wide, shone with gold, and a gem-studded necklace hung down his smooth neck. From his ears hung pendants of shining pearls that adorned his temples. The nymphs of the Carthaean fields held the stag as sacred. Without knowing any fear, the stag frequently visited Cyparissus, the fairest lad in all of Cea.

Sometimes, Cyparissus led his pet stag to the freshest green pasture, while sometimes, he showed the path to the sparkling waters of the clearest spring. Sometimes, he wove bright flowers in colorful garlands, to adorn the golden antlers, while sometimes, he rode the stag like a horse, guiding with purple reins.

Cyparissus loved the stag dearly and the stag also loved Cyparissus exceedingly.
On a hot summer day, when the fiery rays of the noon sun thrashed down mercilessly, the stag found relief under the cool shade of a leafy tree, and reclined sleepily on the grassy earth. Cyparissus was hunting wild animals in that same forest. Mistaking the stag for some other animal, Cyparissus firmed his grip on his javelin and with unwavering aim, threw the speedy shaft, whose blood-thirsty sharp tip pierced its target.

Cyparissus approached his prey and immensely regretted the unfortunate accidental event. He fondly lay the head of his beloved stag on his lap, as the fatally wounded stag breathed out its life away. The moaning Cyparissus, lamented his sorrow and unable to bear the grief, he resolved to die. Phoebus, the god of the curving bow and the tuneful lyre, tried to console Cyparissus, for he dearly loved the fair lad. But the unconsolable Cyparissus, prayed to the answering Gods that may he grieve forever. The body of Cyparissus changed to a stiff conical tree, with a thin top pointing to the starry sky. From that day, the cypress tree stood forever in grief.

~0~
Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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