Once upon a time, the Caduceus-bearing Mercury, was gliding high above on balanced wings and far below, a group of virgins was returning after giving their sacred offerings, to the chaste goddess Minerva. While circling in the clear skies, Mercury noticed that among those lovely virgins walking in Minerva’s hallowed grove, was a fair maiden Herse, who surpassed all others in loveliness. In the consecrated grove was a secluded part, where the three virgin sisters Aglauros, Pandrose and Herse lived in three different chambers.
Mercury was inflamed with love for beautiful Herse and he approached her chamber. Aglauros saw Mercury coming and stood in his way. Mercury said that he was the son of Jove, and the purpose of his visit was to consort with beautiful Herse. He asked Aglauros to help him, so that she could become the aunt of his child from Herse. Aglauros replied that she would help Mercury, only if she was promised a large sum of gold. Mercury accepted the agreement and left to come back at an agreed hour.
However, Minerva was greatly displeased with Aglauros and she commanded Envy, to infect the heart of Aglauros. Envy showed Aglauros, an imaginary vision of Mercury and Herse, where both looked extremely happy. Seeing their happiness, the heart of Aglauros was tormented with jealousy, and she painfully passed her time in anguish. When the hour arrived for the coming of Mercury, she sat on the threshold of Herse’s chamber, to intercept Mercury.
Mercury came but Aglauros intercepted and told him to leave. Mercury told her to honor their agreement, opened the door and stepped inside. Aglauros made an effort to stop him, but her knees stiffened, nails became cold, veins grew whitish, blood congealed, coldness filled her heart, breathing stopped, her body became hard and she changed to a lifeless stone statue. The venomous envy of her heart stained the statue, with freckled spots all over.
Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani