Comix from Crete: Leukippos and Galateia

Leukippos and Galateia.

Galateia, wife of Lampros of Phaistos, was told by her husband that he wouldn’t accept her unborn child unless it was born male. Fearing the death of her child (which was not unusual in Ancient Greek custom), upon its birth she named it with a male name, Leukippos, and started to raise it as a boy. Somehow, Lampros didn’t find out. Inevitably, the young Leukippos, known to all as a boy, edged towards puberty. Still fearing her husband’s reaction to having a daughter, Galateia took her child to the sanctuary of Leto, Titan mother of Apollo and Artemis. She prayed her daughter would indeed become her son. A miracle was performed, and Leukippos indeed became, physically, a boy. And I guess they all lived happily ever after…?

Several customs emerged from this myth:

  • Leto gained the epithet ‘Phytia’, meaning the grower/grafter, as she had ‘grown’ the male physical attributes onto Leukippos
  • The Phaistans gave Leto a festival called ‘Ekdysia’, meaning ‘the removing of clothes’ (also a biological term meaning ‘shedding/moulting’), as Leukippos has ‘removed’ her female clothing (although, living as a boy, you’d expect she never wore one in the first place)
  • Women about to be married had to sleep beside the statue of Leukippos in the shrine the night before their marriage.

Leukippos’ is not the only sex-transformation in Greek myth and culture: also read about Caenis/CaeneusTeiresias, Hypermnestra/Mnestra of Thessaly, Sypretes, the Scythians who pillaged the temple of Venus, and the Phrygian priests of the God, Attis, consort of Cybelle the Earth Mother.

Picture taken at ancient Phaistos, Crete.

Comix drawn in transit.