display | more...


A very handsome young man from the island of Chios who belonged to an affluent though not noble family. One year he went to the festivals in Delos, where he saw a girl accompanied by her nurse who had also come to worship the gods of Delos. She was so lovely that Acontius instantly fell in love with her. Her name was Cydippe and she was the daughter of a distinguished man who was at the time passing through Delos. Acontius followed Cydippe right to the temple of Artemis, where she sat down while the sacrifice was taking place. Then Acontius picked a quince and on it scratched with the point of a knife 'I swear by the temple of Artemis that I will marry Acontius'. Then he adroitly threw the quince towards the girl. The nurse picked it up and handed it to Cydippe who innocently read the writing on it out loud. On realizing the meaning of the words she was uttering, she blushed and quickly threw it a long way from her, but she had, though quite unintentionally, uttered a form of words which bound her to Acontius. Moreover, the goddess Artemis was a witness of the oath.

Acontius returned to his native Chios, consumed by love for the girl whom he regarded as his betrothed. Cydippe's father, however, was preparing for her engagement to a husband of his choice. When the celebrations began Cydippe fell so suddenly and seriously ill that the engagement had to be postponed till later. The girl immediately recovered, but three times, at each attempt to arrange the betrothal, her mysterious illness returned. News of these happenings reached Acontius, who hurried to Athens (Cydippe was an Athenian) and hourly and daily asked about the health of his loved one, to the point where he became the talk of the town. People began to think that he had bewitched the girl. Her father went to consult the oracle at Delphi and the god disclosed to him the Cydippe was bound by an oath and that she was punished by the anger of Artemis each time she was on the point of committing perjury. When her father learned the truth in this way he made enquiries about the family of Acontius which seemed to him to be entirely suitable to be united with his own, and soon a happy marriage rewarded the young man's trick. (See also HERMOCHARES).


Table of Sources:
- Ovid, Her. 20 and 21; Trist. 3, 10, 73ff.
- Antoninus Liberalis Met. 1
- Plutarch, Quaest. Gr. 27, 297
- Callim. Aet. fragments 67-75, with Pfeiffer's notes.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.