39. Phoebus and Koronis

Once upon a time, Phoebus consorted with Koronis, the daughter of Phlegyas. However, Koronis made little of Phoebus and disrespectfully, while bearing the pure seed of the sun-god, she lay with a stranger Ischys, son of Elatus, who had come from Arcadia. Koronis loved what was far away, dishonored what was at home, and sought to fill fantasies with uncontrolled desires that being bereft of values, filled only with hopeless emptiness. With this shameful act, Koronis devalued, discarded, and disgraced the love of Phoebus.

But Phoebus cannot be deceived by god or man, in deeds or thoughts. Refusing falsehood, Phoebus perceived the lawless deceit of Koronis. In anger, he sent his chaste sister Artemis to slay Koronis, who lived at Lacereia, by the banks of Lake Boebias. As fire leaping from a spark, not only burns the tree but also burns the neighbouring trees; similarly, the golden arrows of Artemis not only killed Koronis, but also killed the neighbors of Koronis.

The kinsmen of Koronis placed her slain body on a pyre. As the flames swept up, Phoebus grieved for his unborn son Asklepios, who was still alive in the womb of the lifeless body of Koronis, but would soon die mingled with her ashes. Thus, Phoebus approached the pyre, whose fire separated their flames for the god, and he extracted Asklepios from the corpse. Phoebus took the babe Asklepios away with him and gave him, to the care of the Magnesian Centaur Chiron, who taught Asklepios the healing arts of medicine and surgery.

Asklepios grew very skilled in his arts, but the love of gain enthralled his skill. Hence, for a huge price, Asklepios brought a dead man back to life. For this act, which was against the natural order, Zeus hurled his thunderbolt, which pierced through both Asklepios and the dead man made alive, and they both died instantly. Phoebus grieved but the natural order had to be restored.

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

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