Mythological and Historical Rape in Early Modern Art and Literature

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Mythological and Historical Rape in Early Modern Art and Literature
(with an index of classical rapes)

Robert Baldwin

Associate Professor of Art History

Connecticut College

New London, CT 06320
(This essay was written in 2003 and revised slightly in 2006 and 2008)



Aesacus and Hesperia [Ovid, Metamorphoses, XI]

Alpheus and Arethusa [Ovid, Metamorphoses, V] – river god tries to rape a nymph after she bathes in his waters

Apollo tries to rape Daphne

Apollo and Cyrene (daughter of a king himself descended from the gods by rape) [Pindar, Pythian Odes 9] [added May 2006]

Apollo and the nymph Clymene (Phaeton)

Apollo and the nymph Dryope (Amphissus)

Apollo and Hyacinth

Apollo and Cyparissus

Bacchus rapes the nymph, Nicaia (Nonnos, Dionsiaca, XVI)

Bacchus rapes the nymph, Aura (Nonnos, Dionsiaca, XLVIII.563-665)

Bacchus rapes Erigone

Boreas rapes Oreithyia: Calais and Zetes (heroes who joined the Argonauts) [Ovid, Met. VI]

Centaurs and Lapiths [Ovid, Metamorphoses, XII.210-535]

Faunus tries to rape Omphale [Ovid, Fasti]

Janus and ???

Jupiter rapes Aegina: Aeacus

Jupiter rapes Alcmene: Hercules

Jupiter rapes Leda: Helen and Castor (or his half brother, Pollux). Helen was married to King Menelaus and abducted by the Trojan prince Paris, setting off the Trojan War. Castor and Pollux were heroes who raped Phoebe and Hilaira, the daughters of King Leucippus.

Jupiter rapes Europa (daughter of King Agenor): Minos, Sarpedon, Rhadamanthys [Ovid, Achilles Tatius, Lucian]

Jupiter rapes Danae: Perseus (hero, slays Medusa)

Jupiter rapes Io: Amphion

Jupiter rapes Semele: Bacchus [Nonnos, Dionysiaca, VII.166-367; Ovid, Met. IV]

Jupiter rapes Callisto: Arcas [Ovid, Metamorphoses, II]

Jupiter and Antiope

Jupiter and Proserpina [Nonnos, Dionysiaca, V.600-621]

Mars rapes Silvia: Romulus and Remus [Ovid, Fasti, III.1-40]

Mercury Rapes Herse

Mercury and Penelope (Pan) (the mother sometimes said to be the unnamed daughter of Dryops)

Neptune rapes Aethra, daughter of King Pittheus: Theseus (also said to be fathered by Aegeus, King of Athens)

Neptune rapes Amphitrite

Neptune rapes Amymone

Neptune rapes Demeter: Despoina. (Demeter tried to escape by turning herself into a mare but Poseidon turned himself into a horse and mounted her.)

Neptune rapes Medusa: Pegasus, the winged horse, tamed by Bellepheron (another rape child of Poseidon) and Chrysaor, a monster who fathered another monster, Geryon, slain by Hercules [Ovid, Met. IV]

Neptune rapes Eurynome, wife of Glaucus, king of Corinth: Bellepheron, tamer of Pegasus, born of Poseidon's rape of Medusa

Neptune rapes the earth goddess, Ge: Antaeus, the Libyan giant killed by Hercules

Neptune rapes the Nereid, Thoosa: Polyphemus (the cyclops who courted Galatea and was later blinded by Odysseus)

Neptune rapes Europa (daughter of Tityus): Euphemus (fleet-footed Argonaut and hero, founded Greek colony in North Africa (Cyrene)

Neptune rapes Lysianassa, daughter of Epaphus: Busiris, a brutal Egyptian king later killed by Hercules [Apollodorus 2.5.11; Hyginus, Fabulae, 31, 51]

Neptune rapes Calyce, daughter of Hecato: Cycnus, king of Colonae. Poseidon made Cycnus invulnerable to weapons. He fought undefeated with the Trojans until Achilles strangled him with his helmet thongs.

Neptune rapes Euryale: Orion, the hunter giant (according to some sources)

Neptune Rapes Doris

Neptune’s less famous rapes include nine other women

Neptune rapes the young Pelops, later king of Pisa

Nessus tries to rape Deijanaira

Pan tries to rape the nymph, Syrinx, who is turned into a stream, and escapes

Pluto rapes Persephone [Ovid, Met.; Claudian]

Priapus tries to rape the sleeping nymph Lotis, [Ovid, Fasti, I.390-440]

Saturn and Philyra

Satyrs and nymphs [Sanazzaro, Arcadia, ch. 3-4; Ronsard, ]

Tityus and Latona, mother of Apollo. This giant, son of Elare raped by Zeus, was killed by Apollo and Artemis after he tried to rape Latona. Punished in Hades where his heart or liver was devoured by snakes or vultures every lunar cycle. [Homer, Odyssey, 7.321-324; 11.576-581; Pindar, Pythian Odes, 4.46; Apollodorus 1.4.1; Ovid, Met, 4.457-8; Hyginus, Fables, 55; Pausanias 10.4.5-6]

Vulcan rapes Ceres

Vulcan (Hephaestus) tries to rape Minerva (Athena). His semen spilled on the acropolis and produced Erichtonius, progenitor of the Athenian kings. [Ovid, Met. 2:553-563]

Zephyr rapes Chloris [Ovid, Fasti]


Eos and Kephalos

Eos and Tithonos

Achilles and Deidamia [Statius, Achilleid]

Ajax and Cassandra (virgin daughter of King Priam) [texts in Reeder, Pandora, p. 89, notes 71-72]

Castor and Pollux rape Phoebe and Hilaira [Ovid, Fasti]

Peleus and Thetis: Achilles (a nuptial rape; Achilles then rapes Deidamia and cites his own origin.) [Ovid, Met. XI.235-287]

Paris and Helen [Ovid, Heroides; Ovid, Met. XV; Dio]

Romulus / Romans Rape the Sabine Maidens [Livy, History of Rome; Plutarch, Life of Romulus; Ovid, Art of Love, I.89-134]

Theseus and Antiope

Theseus and Helen[Plutarch, Theseus]

Theseus and Persephone, Queen of Hades (a failed rape attempt)

Homosexual Rapes (already listed above)

Apollo and Hyacinth

Apollo and Cyparissus

Hercules and Hylas (and a half dozen other youths)

Jupiter and Ganymede

Neptune rapes the young Pelops, later king of Pisa

Bridal Rapes (already listed above)

Pluto and Persephone

Zephyr and Chloris

Boreas and Oreithyia

Peleus and Thetis

Paris and Helen

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