19. Myrrha deceives her father

Once upon a time, Myrrha, the daughter of King Cinyras of Cyprus, burned with a guilty passion to consort with her own father, and her old nurse out of love for Myrrha, crafted a plot to this wicked end.

During the yearly festival of goddess Ceres, all matrons celebrated nine nights by offering garlands of wheat to Ceres, and by completely avoiding their husbands. At one such night, when the royal bed was lacking the queen and Cinyras had too much of drink, the scheming old nurse entered Cinyras’ chamber. She aroused his lust by informing him of a young girl, who desired to consort with him. Cinyras asked the nurse to fetch the young girl.

The old nurse quickly went to Myrrha and told her to present herself to Cinyras. The stunned mind of Myrrha was filled with evil forebodings, but her joyful heart was excited. Myrrha, led by the nurse, proceeded towards her father’s chamber, wrongly thinking that the darkness of the night lessened her shame. Thrice did Myrrha stumble and thrice did the funeral owl screech, yet disregarding the evil omens, Myrrah entered her father’s chamber.

Myrrha’s knees trembled and sank beneath the weight of her guilty heart. Blood from her face retreated. Her own unrighteous courage, fled in fear of her own unrighteous exertion. While she was hesitating, the wicked old nurse delivered her to the royal bed, and left the pair to commit an abhorrent crime, where the father pollutes his own daughter, on the very same bed where he had conceived her. When the evil deed was committed, Myrrha staggered back to her chamber, with the secret crime of her father secretly hidden deep in her womb.

Myrrha repeatedly deceived her father, until Cinyras, eager to see his mistress, once fetched a light. In horror, Cinyras saw his daughter and in speechless angry shame, unsheathed his gleaming sword to kill Myrrha. But Myrrha escaped death by running away in the shadowy night.

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

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