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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A nineteenth-century depiction of Hylas and the Nymphs by John William Waterhouse

In Greek mythology, Hylas (Greek: Ὕλας') was the son of King Theiodamas of the Dryopians. Other sources such as Ovid state that Hylas' father was Heracles and his mother was the nymph Melite, or that his mother was the wife of Theiodamus, whose adulterous affair with Heracles caused the war between him and her husband. He gained his beauty from his divine mother and his military prowess from his demigod father.

After Heracles killed Theiodamus in battle for his son, Hylas, he took the boy on as arms bearer, and taught him to be a warrior.



Heracles took Hylas with him on the Argo, making him one of the Argonauts. Hylas was kidnapped by the nymph of the spring of Pegae, (Dryope), that fell in love with him in Mysia and vanished without a trace (Apollonius Rhodios). This upset Heracles greatly, so he along with Polyphemus (not the cyclops with the same name) searched for a long time. The ship set sail without them. They never found Hylas because he had fallen in love with the nymphs and remained "to share their power and their love." (Gaius Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica) The poet Theocritus (about 300 BC) wrote about the love between Hercules and Hylas: "We are not the first mortals to see beauty in what is beautiful. No, even Amphitryon's bronze-hearted son, who defeated the savage Nemean lion, loved a boy—charming Hylas, whose hair hung down in curls. And like a father with a dear son he taught him all the things which had made him a mighty man, and famous."[1]

Other uses

"Hylas" is also the name of one of the two characters in George Berkeley's Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous. He represents the materialist position against which Berkeley (through Philonous) argues. In this context, the name is derived from ύλη, the classical Greek term for "matter."

Hylas is mentioned in Christopher Marlowe's Edward II: "Not Hylas was more mourned for of Hercules Than thou hast been of me since thy exile" (Act I, Scene I, line 142-3).

Spoken-word myths - audio files

The Heracles and Hylas myth as told by story tellers
1. Heracles and Hylas, read by Timothy Carter
Bibliography of reconstruction: Homer, Odyssey, 12.072 (7th c. BCE); Theocritus, Idylls, 13 (350 - 310 BCE); Callimachus, Aetia (Causes), 24. Thiodamas the Dryopian, Fragments, 160. Hymn to Artemis (310 - 250? BCE); Apollonios Rhodios, Argonautika, I. 1175 - 1280 (c. 250 BCE); Apollodorus, Library and Epitome 1.9.19, 2.7.7 (140 BCE); Sextus Propertius, Elegies, i.20.17ff (50 - 15 BCE); Ovid, Ibis, 488 (8 CE - 18 CE); Gaius Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica, I.110, III.535, 560, IV.1-57 (1st c. C.E.); Hyginus, Fables, 14. Argonauts Assembled (1st c. CE); Philostratus the Elder, Images, ii.24 Thiodamas (170 - 245 CE); First Vatican Mythographer, 49. Hercules et Hylas

External links

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

by Florence Earle Coates
from Poems (1898)

   Unto the woodland spring he came
   For water welling fresh and sweet ;
   An eager purpose winged his feet
   And set his heart aflame.
   But musing on Alcmene's son—
   Reviewing, emulous, each prize
   By the godlike hero won,
   A-sudden, with surprise,
   He heard soft voices call upon his name :

       "Hylas, Hylas, stay and listen !
Though but a moment, bright dreamer, delay !
              Pleasure greets thee,
              Youth entreats thee,—
From their enchantments, ah, turn not away !
       Where the eddies dimpling glisten,
       To the love-lorn naiads listen !

   "Let not carping care destroy
   Life's jocund prime with counsels cold,—
   From happy youth the gods withhold
   The sordid gifts that they employ
              To plague the old !
   Let not fruitless toil destroy
   Days fresh as blossoms newly sprung !
   Ere sages spoke, ere poets sung,
   Youth was the gala-time of joy,—
              And thou art young !

   "Glory ?—ah, ’t is labor double !
   Wealth ?—alas, ’t is costly trouble !
   Foolish Hylas ! Wouldst thou follow
   Glistering shows and phantoms hollow,
   Vague intents and dreams ideal ?
   Here are pleasures sweet as real :
              Still delights
              Of summer nights,
   Rest—which e’en ambition misses—
              Soft repose
              On beds of rose
   In murmurous grots, and waking blisses.
   Hither comes no word of duty ;
   Life is love, and love is beauty.
   Hither comes no note of strife ;
   Life is love, and love is life.
   Raptures bubbling to the brink,
   Would not a wise man stoop and drink ?

   "Though Heracles sit in his tent
   And boast to warlike Telamon
   Of monsters tamed and labors done ;
   Though he recount in lofty strain
   How dread Nemea's plague was slain,
   And loudly vaunt, grown eloquent,
   The rattling heaven-descended spell,
   And Cerberus upborne from Hell,—
   Yet, even while he tells the story
   Of proud and world-renownèd glory,
   Telamon applauding—then,
   Ay, even then, let him recall
   Shy Megara's face—he'd give it all,
   All, Hylas, to be young again !"

   The wondering boy beheld the gleam
   Of tresses mirrored in the spring :
   Naught else ; yet soft as in a dream,
   Those voices sweetly ravishing
   Fell on his ear.
   He bent more near,
   Trembling, amazed,
   And wistful gazed—
   Grown eager more to hear—
   Far down below the cool reflection
   And wavy sheen of auburn hair.
   But, Eros blest !—what marvel rare,
   What more than mortal beauty there,
   What coy, what wooing-sweet perfection
   Entrancèd held him, bound as in a snare ?

   No need to urge him now to stay !
   Alas ! he could not turn away,
   But on the Naiad's nearing charms
   Gazed amorous :—on locks of brown,
   On melting eyes, and rubied lips,
   Slim throats and dewy finger-tips.
   He stooped ; they caught him in their arms,
   And held him fast, and drew him down.

       Down, down, down, down,
   Through the liquid deeps of the soundless well :
       Down, down, down, down,—
   How many fathom, ah ! who can tell ?
   Away from the day and the starlit hours,
   Away from the shadows, the birds, and the
          flowers ;
   Away from the fell and the spicy dell,
   From the fountain's smile and the mountain's
          frown ;
       Down, down, down, down !
   He tried to ascend, but the lithe arms enwound
          him ;
   He sought to escape, but the wily weeds bound
   By pleasure's softening touches thrill'd—
   The dainty wonders at his side—
   He missed not tasks left unfulfill'd,
   Nor heard despised honor chide ;
   And sinking slowly to the watery goal,
   His visage shrank to match his ebbing soul.

. . . . . . . .

   Late in the purple twilight of the day
   Alcides came with heavy tread that way,
   Crushing the fragile reeds and shrinking ferns,
   Searching now here, now there—by doubtful
   And calling loudly on the boy,
              His dear annoy.
   Long, long he stayed, still hoping to rejoice,
   While babbling Echo, with her far-off voice,
   Railed at his care. Then, sad and slow, he
   Reluctant to resign the quest at last,
   Nor dreamed, beholding a poor frog emerge
   From that enchanted fountain's plashy verge,
   That Hylas, once so ready to aspire,
   There harshly croaked, contented in the mire !

PD-icon.svg This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1927, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

HYLAS, in Greek legend, son of Theiodamas, king of the Dryopians in Thessaly, the favourite of Heracles and his companion on the Argonautic expedition. Having gone ashore at Kios in Mysia to fetch water, he was carried off by the nymphs of the spring in which he dipped his pitcher. Heracles sought him in vain, and the answer of Hylas to his thrice-repeated cry was lost in the depths of the water. Ever afterwards, in memory of the threat of Heracles to ravage the land if Hylas were not found, the inhabitants of Kios every year on a stated day roamed the mountains, shouting aloud for Hylas (Apollonius Rhodius i. 1207; Theocritus xiii.; Strabo xii. 564; Propertius i. 20; Virgil, Ed. vi. 43). But, although the legend is first told in Alexandrian times, the "cry of Hylas" occurs long before as the "Mysian cry" in Aeschylus (Persae, 1054), and in Aristophanes (Plutus, 1127) "to cry Hylas" is used proverbially of seeking something in vain. Hylas, like Adonis and Hyacinthus, represents the fresh vegetation of spring, or the water of a fountain, which dries up under the heat of summer. It is suggested that Hylas was a harvest deity and that the ceremony gone through by the Kians was a harvest festival, at which the figure of a boy was thrown into the water, signifying the dying vegetation-spirit of the year.

See G. Turk in Breslauer Philologische Abhandlungen, vii. (1895); W. Mannhardt, Mythologische Forschungen (1884).

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