Two naked mythical figures embracing on the edge of a pool of water
Original Author: Antonio Tempesta and Wilhelm Janson
Created: 1606 edition
Medium: Etching

Hermaphroditus et Salmacis unum in corpus abeunt

This image depicts Hermaphrodite and Salmacis, two characters from ancient Greek mythology, entwined in one another's arms on the edge of a pool of water. When the water nymph Salmacis first caught sight of the handsome Hermaphrodite, she fell instantly in love; however, he shunned her attentions. When he emerged from the pool, she forced herself upon him, kissed him, and he tried to escape. Driven by passion, Salmacis appealed to the gods to keep them united forever. In response, the gods fused them into a single deity, Hermaphroditos, who had both male and female genitals—thus the creation of an intersex organism. This etching was published in the illustrated The Metamorphoses of Ovid (1606), a re-publication of the long narrative poem written by the Roman poet Ovid in 8 A.D.