Cyparissus

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{god, call, give}
{specie, animal, plant}
{woman, child, man}

In Greek mythology, a myth set in Chios tells of Kyparissos (Greek: κυπάρισσος, "cypress") — or Cyparissus (Latin: cupressus, "cypress") — a young boy and son of Telephus. Though the mythic context and the setting is Hellenic, the subject is essentially known from Hellenizing Latin literature and Pompeiian frescoes.[1]

Apollo gave the boy a tame deer as a companion, but Cyparissus accidentally killed it with a javelin as it lay asleep in the undergrowth. The gift of a hunter's prey is an initiatory gift in the spear of the hunt, a supervised preparation for the manly arts of war and a testing ground for behavior (Koch-Harnack 1983). The tameness of the deer may be purely Ovidian. In a late reversal of the boy's traditional role, perhaps an interpretation applied by Ovid,[2] Cyparissus asks Apollo to let his tears fall forever. Apollo turns the sad boy into a cypress tree, whose sap forms droplets like tears on the trunk. Cypress was one of the trees Orpheus charmed.

According to a different tradition, Cyparissus was the son of Orchomenus[disambiguation needed], the brother of Minyas, and the mythical founder of Kyparissos in Phocis, which later was called Anticyra.[3] Servius, in commentary on Virgil's Georgics (1.20)explains Virgil's association of Silvanus with the cypress with a narrative of the god's passion for Cupressus: after Silvanus had accidentally killed the boy's pet stag, Cupressus died of grief and was turned into a cypress, a branch of which Silvanus carried. Peter Dorcey observes[4] that Servius has simply applied to Silvanus the episode of Cyparissus narrated by Ovid, noting in passing the common motif in ancient and modern folklore of a man transmuted into vegetal form.

In botany

The word Cupressus has been used to describe a genus of cypress trees; this genus was first described in the 18th century by the Swedish biologist Linnaeus. In modern times there is a taxonomic debate regarding which species should be retained in the genus Cupressus.[5]


Notes

References

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