Scorned, she wanders in the woods and hides her face in shame among the leaves, and from that time on lives in lonely caves. But still her love endures, increased by the sadness of rejection. Her sleepless thoughts waste her sad form, and her body’s strength vanishes into the air. Only her bones and the sound of her voice are left. Her voice remains, her bones, they say, were changed to shapes of stone. She hides in the woods, no longer to be seen on the hills, but to be heard by everyone. It is sound that lives in her.
Echo and Narcissus
— Pyramus and Thisbe, Ovid (via everydayslikeanopendoor)
The Fall of Phaeton (ca.1767-68, National Gallery of Scotland)
In ancient myth Phaeton was the handsome child of the sun god Phoebus and Clymene who, growing vain, claimed from his father the right to drive his chariot for a day. Losing control of the vehicle, he plunged to earth spectacularly. Runciman probably took the subject from the ancient author Ovid’s Metamorphoses, an important source of subject matter for artists.
Cycnus, the son of Sthenelus witnessed this marvel, who though he was kin to you Phaethon, through his mother, was closer still in love. Now, though he had ruled the people and great cities of Liguria, he left his kingdom, and filled Eridanus’s green banks and streams, and the woods the sisters had become part of, with his grief. As he did so his voice vanished and white feathers hid his hair, his long neck stretched out from his body, his reddened fingers became webbed, wings covered his sides, and a rounded beak his mouth. So Cycnus became a new kind of bird, the swan. But he had no faith in Jupiter and the heavens, remembering the lightning bolt the god in his severity had hurled. He looked for standing water, and open lakes hating fire, choosing to live in floods rather than flames.
From Book II of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Cycnus (mourning the death of Phaeton)