Published July 23, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

As with a lot of the other myths I’ve been re-telling, it’s turned out that the version everyone knows is actually a very late version. So I’m trying to focus on the earlier versions here.



Early one morning, just as the moon set from the sky, a beautiful young woman was seen entering a cave near the city of Elis. An old crone already stood in the cave, staring desirously at a handsome young man who lay on the floor of the cave, his eyes open, but not seeming to see anything.

“Who is this youth?” the young woman asked.

“You didn’t come here to see him?” the crone replied, cackling. “What else could bring a young lady to this cave in the middle of nowhere? You must know all about him, surely!”

“Who is he?”

“And to have come on a rare day when his eyes are open? You must know all about him,” the crone continued, nodding her gray head.

“Tell me about him, if you know,” the young woman insisted.

The old crone sighed. “His name’s Endymion. When I was a girl, he was the king of Elis, and a favorite of the gods themselves. For his handsome looks, or for his virtues, I don’t know which, but he was welcomed to Olympos itself, they say, and Zeus granted him immortality, ageless and deathless, just like a god.” The old woman shook her head. “But he didn’t prove grateful for that gift.”

“What did he do?”

“Some say he tried to seduce Hera,” the crone answered, “but it’s hard to believe Zeus would care about that, the way he’s always sleeping around with everyone but her.”

The young woman laughed. “No matter how many other women they have, no man wants to share his own wife. The gods are no different in that matter.”

“I wouldn’t think the gods would be as petty as mortals are,” the crone said, scowling.

“Much more so,” the young woman assured her. “Why didn’t Zeus kill Endymion for his treachery?”

“Couldn’t, could he? After he’d given his word to make him immortal, he couldn’t go and turn around kill him! So all he could do was put him to sleep forever! And that’s what he did!” The old crone laughed so hard that se soon lapsed into a coughing fit, and the young woman had to pat her on the back until it passed.

“Why are his eyes open, though?”

“Oh, that? Rumor has it that Hypnos himself was so charmed by the fellow’s good looks that he wanted to see him with his eyes open, and put a spell on him to let him open them in his sleep from time to time,” the crone replied, with a lecherous gleam in her own eyes. “They say that when his eyes are open, he can be aroused like any other man.”

“Shame on you for having such thoughts at your age, mother!” the young woman exclaimed, rebuking the old woman.

“I may be old, but I’m not dead yet!” the crone retorted. “Besides, I’m younger than this fellow, no matter how he may look!”

“And what would your children say if they saw you here?”

“They’re all dead, dearie, and no grandchildren to distress, neither.”

“Just get along home, old woman. This is no place for you,” the young woman told her, with a strangely firm tone to her voice that convinced the old woman despite herself. Soon the crone was hobbling back to town again.

Turning towards Endymion, Selene at last dropped her mortal disguise, and knelt to embrace the handsome mortal. “Let’s see if she’s telling the truth that you can still be aroused like any other man,” she whispered in his unresponsive ear…

The old crone was, indeed, telling the truth.

Over the years, Selene bore Endymion fifty sons.

Well. That was…uh…different. Not exactly what I really wanted to do when I started out to tell this story. Nothing’s technically wrong with it, per se, though. It’s just sort of…untraditional.

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