Greek God


Salmacis and Hermaphroditus by Francesco Albani

Salmacis and Hermaphroditus by Francesco Albani (between 1615 and 1620)

Louvre Museum, Paris / Marie-Lan NguyenPublic Domain


Hermaphroditus (as the name suggests) was a hermaphroditic deity, half-male and half-female. In myth, he was said to have been born to the gods Hermes and Aphrodite; indeed, his name is a portmanteau of his parents’ names.

According to the best-known origin myth, Hermaphroditus was originally a handsome young man from Anatolia. The nymph Salmacis fell desperately in love with him and prayed that she and her beloved might become one. This request was granted, and Hermaphroditus merged with Salmacis, assuming the traits of both sexes.

Representations of Hermaphroditus—and of androgynous or hermaphroditic figures in general—were quite popular in ancient art, especially during the Hellenistic period (323–30 BCE).[1] There is also evidence that Hermaphroditus was worshipped in a few parts of Greece, including Athens.