Elean King


Selene and Endymion by Sebastiano Ricci

Selene and Endymion by Sebastiano Ricci (1713)

Chiswick House, LondonPublic Domain


Endymion was a handsome mortal of Greek mythology. In what seems to have been the earliest account, he was the son of Aethlius and Calyce and eventually became the king of Elis. However, other accounts made him a hunter or shepherd from Mount Latmus in the Anatolian region of Caria.

The myth of Endymion took a few different forms, including one in which he was thrown into Hades for trying to rape Hera. But in the most famous tradition, Selene, the goddess of the moon, fell in love with Endymion because of his beauty. In the end, Zeus allowed Endymion to choose his own fate, and Endymion asked to sleep forever so that he might remain forever young.

The myth of Endymion was popular in both ancient and post-classical art. The sleeping Endymion featured on many sarcophagi of the Imperial period (ca. 27 BCE–476 CE), and he later inspired paintings by Titian, Poussin, Rubens, and others. The myth of Endymion was also allegorized in John Keats’ poem Endymion.[1]