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Philomela

by James Hunter
Philomela and Procne were the daughters of King Pandion of Athens. Procne was married to King Tereus of Thrace (one of the sons of Ares), and had a son by him, Itys. Tereus conceived an illicit passion for Philomela and contrived to get her sent to Thrace; he raped her, and then cut her tongue out and imprisoned her so that she could tell no one of his crime. However, Philomela wove a tapestry which revealed the facts of the matter to Procne. In order to get revenge, Procne killed Itys and cooked him, so that Tereus ate his own son for dinner. When Tereus discovered the ghastly trick, he pursued the two women, trying to kill them. Before the chase could end, all three were turned into birds--Tereus into a hoopoe, Procne into a swallow, and Philomela into a nightingale. (Hence the nightingale is often called a "Philomel" in poetry.)

Article details:

  • Pronunciation:
    fil-oh-mee'-luh

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