15. The girl Iphis desires the girl Ianthe

Once upon a time, Ligdus, a man of humble parentage, told his pregnant wife Telethusa that if a daughter was born, then the child would be put to death. When the time of birth approached, the weeping Telethusa saw a vision of goddess Isis, who told Telethusa to raise the child, be it a boy or a girl, and thereafter, the vision vanished. Soon, Telethusa gave birth to a baby girl, whom she dressed as a boy, and made her trusted nurse vow silence about the matter. Ligdus under the impression that the baby was a boy, named the baby as Iphis, after the baby’s grandfather.

When Iphis was thirteen years old, Ligdus found the golden-haired Ianthe, the daughter of Telestes, as a bride for Iphis. No guardian, no envious husband, and no unkind father, kept Iphis away from Ianthe. Even Ianthe herself did not deny the embraces of Iphis. With all the liberty readily available, yet, Iphis who dearly loved Ianthe, knew that the marriage could not be consummated. All the water was present to quench the thirst, yet Iphis remained thirsty, for Iphis was a girl and Ianthe, was also a girl.

Telethusa, fearing that the wedding would expose Iphis, tried her best to delay the ceremony, by pretended illnesses and pretences of omens. When all excuses were exhausted, with only one day remaining for the wedding, she took Iphis to the temple of Isis, and tearfully embraced the altar, praying for divine help. The altar moved, the doors of the temple shook, light gleamed from the crescent horns of the statue of Isis, and the sistrum rattled loudly.

Pleased with the good omens, Telethusa and Iphis left the temple. As they were walking, Telethusa noticed that Iphis took longer strides, her features became more manly, and her long hair became cropped. Iphis seemed to have more vigor than a girl, and to her joyous amazement, her dear daughter Iphis, was transformed to a boy. The next day, the boy Iphis, married the girl Ianthe. Juno along with Hymen and Venus, blessed the happy couple.

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

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