LEDA

ΛΗΔΑ

Leda and the Swan (detail), by François Boucher (1703-1770), French Rococo painter

Leda and the Swan (detail), by François Boucher
(1703-1770) French Rococo painter

A daughter of Thestius, whence she is called Thestias (Apollod. iii. 10. § 5; Paus. iii. 13. § 8; Eurip. Iph. Aul. 49); but others call her a daughter of Thespius, Thyestes, or Glaucus, by Laophonte, Deidamia, Leucippe, Eurythemis, or Paneidyia. (Schol. ad Apollon. Rhod. i. 146, 201 ; Serv. ad Aen. viii. 130; Hygin, Fab. 14; Apollod. i. 7. § 10.) She was the wife of Tyndareus, by whom she became the mother of Timandra, Clytaemnestra, and Philonoe. (Apollod. iii. 10. § 6; Hom. Od. xxiv. 199.) One night she was embraced both by her husband and by Zeus, and by the former she became the mother of Castor and Clytaemnestra, and by the latter of Polydeuces and Helena. (Hygin. Fab. 77.) According to Homer (Od. xi. 298, &c.) both Castor and Polydeuces were sons of Tyndareus and Leda, while Helena is described as a daughter of Zeus. (Il. iii. 426; comp. Ov. Fast. i. 706; Horat. Carm. i. 12, 25; Martial, i. 37.) Other traditions reverse the story, making Castor and Polydeuces the sons of Zeus, and Helena the daughter of Tyndareus. (Eurip. Helen. 254, 1497, 1680; Schol. ad Apollon. Rhod. ii. 808 ; Herod. ii. 112.) According to the common legend Zeus visited Leda in the disguise of a swan, and she produced two eggs, from the one of which issued Helena, and from the other Castor and Polydeuces. (Schol. ad Eurip. Orest. 453; Ov. Her. xvii. 55 ; Paus. iii. 16. § 1; Horat. Ars Poet. 147; Athen. ii. p. 57, &c., ix. p. 373; Lucian, Dial. Deor. ii. 2, xxiv. 2, xxvi.; comp. Virgil, Cir. 489; Tzetz. ad Lycoph. 88.) The visit of Zeus to Leda in the form of a swan was frequently represented by ancient artists. It should be observed that Phoebe is also mentioned as a daughter of Tyndareus and Leda (Eurip. Iph. Aul. 50), and that, according to Lactantius (i. 21.), Leda was after her death raised to the rank of a divinity, under the name of Nemesis. (Comp. TYNDAREUS.)

Leda and the Swan, by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), Flemish Baroque painter

Leda and the Swan, by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), Flemish Baroque painter