In Greek mythology, the young and beautiful king of Elis. Captivated by his beauty, the moon goddess Selene fell in love with Endymion and placed him into an eternal sleep so that he would remain young and beautiful forever. This myth was the basis of a poem of the same name by John Keats.

The third book in the Hyperion series by Dan Simmons. Concerns Raul Endymion, who is charged with saving and protecting the 12-year old messiah, a girl named Aenea, from the Catholic church, which has grown to a powerful government of most of the old Hegemony worlds, by giving resurrection to all of its followers. The Shrike, Martin Silenus, Lenar Hoyt (as Pope Julius), A. Bettik, and the Consul's ship are some of the characters from the first two books who reappear.

Endymion was the only long poetic work John Keats ever completed. He wrote most of it in 1817, and finished up revisions the next year, and it was published by Taylor and Hessey in 1818.

The poem was criticized at the time for being overly sentimental, too loose in form, and for having a weak plot, which completely falls apart in the last book. He was twenty-one years old when he wrote Endymion, and changed a great deal over the course of 1817, which is clearly evident in the poem.

Endymion retells the ancient Greek myth, where Endymion, a mortal, loves the goddess Cynthia, and must go on a journey and overcome a series of obstacles in order to win her. However, by the time Keats was writing the last book, his own experiences were leading him in a different direction than the myth dictates. Endymion met and fell in love with an Indian maiden while on his quest for Cynthia, and is stricken with guilt for betraying his goddess. The story finally ends when Endymion abandons his quest for Cynthia, and declares his love for the Indian maid, who then reveals that she has been Cynthia in disguise all along, and was testing him. The ending feels horribly contrived, as Keats struggled to reconcile his vision of Endymion's story with the myth.

Keats himself was certainly aware of the poem's weakness. He considered rewriting the entire thing, but by that point he had moved on, and was now considering his next epic, Hyperion. So he published Endymion as it was, but with the following introduction:

A Poetical Romance

"The stretched metre of an antique song"

Inscribed to the memory of Thomas Chatterton


Knowing within myself the manner in which this Poem has been produced, it is not without a feeling of regret that I make it public.

What manner I mean, will be quite clear to the reader, who must soon perceive great inexperience, immaturity, and every error denoting a feverish attempt, rather than a deed accomplished. The two first books, and indeed the two last, I feel sensible are not of such completion as to warrant their passing the press; nor should they if I thought a year's castigation would do them any good;--it will not: the foundations are to sandy. It is just that this youngster should die away: a sad thought for me, if I had not some hope that while it is dwindling I may be plotting, and fitting myself for verses fit to live.

This may be speaking too presumptuously, and may deserve a punishment: but no feeling man will be forward to inflict it: he will leave me alone, with the conviction that there is not a fiercer hell than the failure in a great object. This is not written with the least atom of purpose to forestall criticisms of course, but from the desire I have to conciliate men who are competent to look, and who do look with a zealous eye, to the honour of English literature.

The imagination of a boy is healthy, and the mature imagination of a man is healthy; but there is a space of life between, in which the soul is in a ferment, the character undecided, the way of life uncertain, the ambition thick-sighted: thence proceeds mawkishness, and all the thousand bitters which those men I speak of must necessarily taste in going over the following pages.

I hope I have not in too late a day touched the beautiful mythology of Greece, and dulled its brightness: for I wish to try once more, before I bid it farewell.

Teignmouth, April 10, 1818

By 1820, however, critics were starting to sing a different tune. Those same papers that had lambasted Endymion in 1818 now declared it the work of genius.

But Endymion is both brilliant and flawed, as any modern reader can see. However, it retains its position of importance in spite of its flaws, as it was Keats' largest and most significant completed work.



The genealogy of Endymion varies with the authors. He is most frequently depicted as the son of Aethlius (the son of Zeus) and Calyce (Table 24), though sometimes his father is said to have been Zeus himself. He led the Aeolians from Thessaly to Elis, and ruled over them. Then he married (his wife's name also varies from one author to another) and had three sons - Paeon, Epeius, and Aetolus - and a daughter, Eurycyde. Some authors credit him with another daughter, Pisa, who gave her name to the city of Pisa in Elis.

The most famous legend about Endymion is that of his intrigue with Selene (the Moon). When Selene saw Endymion, depicted in the legend as a young shepherd of great beauty, she fell violently in love with him and seduced him. At Selene's request Zeus promised to grant Endymion one wish; he chose the gift of eternal sleep, and fell asleep, remaining young forever. Some versions claim that it was during this sleep that Selene saw him and fell in love with him. Sometimes the Peloponnese is the location of the legend, and sometimes Caria, not far from Miletus (see also HYPNUS). Endymion is said to have given his lover fifty daughters.


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