14. Byblis desires her brother Caunus

Once upon a time, Miletus, the son of Apollo, coupled with the exquisitely beautiful nymph Cyane, who gave birth to twins, the lovely Byblis and the handsome Caunus.

As Byblis grew up, she fell in love with her own brother Caunus, and burned inwardly with a flaming perverted passion. She knew it was forbidden, yet she reasoned that even Gods married their sisters, like Saturn married Ops, Oceanus married Tethys, and Jove married Juno. But mortal customs are not built on the actions of immortals, and Byblis vainly tried to cast away her impure feelings.

With great difficulty, during the day, her love was restrained by careful modesty, but at night, she dreamt of unrestrained love with a burning fervor. As shame had sealed her lips, she thought of letting Caunus know of her secret flame, by writing a letter, which she finally wrote on a wax tablet. Thereafter, she summoned her trusted servant, gave the tablet to her, but while she gave the tablet, it suddenly slipped from her hand and fell. Disregarding this evil omen, she told the servant to give it to Caunus.

When Caunus read, but only a few lines, he threw the tablet in rage, and the terrified servant fled away. However, Byblis tried all her arts to win the love of her brother Caunus, who constantly repulsed her, until in despair, he fled from her to another land, where he founded a city.

With Caunus gone, Byblis in extreme grief, lost her reason, tore her tunic, beat her chest, and publicly started to proclaim her lawless love. Like a crazed woman, she left her home in search of her brother, roamed through Caria and Lycia, when at a forest, she fell down exhausted and silently with her unending tears, watered the green grass. The Nymphae Lelegeides tried to comfort her, but Byblis wept bitterly, went on crying endlessly, and wasted herself in incessant tears. Byblis dissolved herself in her own tears and slowly changed to a fountain, which sorrowfully issued underneath a tall, dark oak-tree.

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

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