The Fountain of Salmacis
From a dense forest of tall, dark pinewood,
Mount Ida rises like an island.
Within a hidden cave, nymphs had kept a child;
Hermaphroditus, son of gods, so afraid of their love.
Genesis - Nursery Cryme, 1971
The final track on what is, for many fans, the first "classic" Genesis album; "The Fountain of Salmacis" is a melodramatic exploration of the Greek mythology surrounding the fate of Hermaphroditus, the son of Hermes and Aphrodite.
Hermaphroditus was raised by nymphs in the caves of Mount Ida, who grew to be a young man and set forth to explore the world around him. During his journey, he came across Salmacis, a beautiful nymph, protecting a spring of water and its pool near Halicarnassus and his life changed forever.
As a naiad, Salmacis was the spirit and guardian of the water spring. She spent most of her time pondering her reflection in the pool's clear waters and marvelling at her beauty. It was upon returning from one of her rare forays away from the water that she heard a splash as Hermaphroditus plunged into the water, keen to wash off the dust from his travels and refresh himself.
Overcoming her initial anger at the impudence of this intruder, Salmacis was quickly captivated bythe God-like beauty of Hermaphroditus: she had met finally met someone whose beauty was equal to her own and had to capture him for her own. As Hermaphroditus made to leave, Salmacis leapt upon him and, struggling, they fell into the water. As they wrestled in the water, Hermaphroditus became inflamed with Salmacis' beauty and their struggle soon turned to love-making. Salmacis was so excited that she implored the Gods never to let the two of them be seperated and her wish was granted. The figure that emerged from the water was part Hermaphroditus and part Salmacis: part man and part woman.
Hermaphroditus, realising that he was now both man and woman, cried out in anguish to his father and asked him to curse the pool such that any person bathing in the pool would emerge as he had: a hermaphrodite.