Fragment 510218



Phyllis, queen of Thrace;

Original French:  Phyllis royne des Thraces:

Modern French:  Phyllis royne des Thraces:


Phyllis and Demophon

Phyllis and Demophon
Early 16th century woodcut of Phyllis and Demophon
Date: 1552 (but actually from an earlier 16th century edition)
Source:Heroides, published by Bartolomeo Caesano, Venice, Italy


Au retour du siège de Troie, Démophon ou Démophoon, fis de Thésée, ayant abordé chez les Dauliens, peuple de la Thrace, Phyllis, fille de Sithon, roi de ce pays, en devint éprise. Mais Démophon partitr bientôt pour aller prendre possession du royaume d’Athènes, en promettant à Phyllis de revenir. Le jour qu’elle l’attendoit étant arrivé, elle courut neuf fois au rivage où il devoit aborder, et n’en apprenant aucune nouvelle, elle se pendit de désespoir.

François Rabelais [ca. 1483–1553]
Œuvres de Rabelais (Edition Variorum). Tome Cinquième
p. 274
Charles Esmangart [1736-1793], editor
Paris: Chez Dalibon, 1823
Google Books


Voy. Ovide, Epist. ii.

François Rabelais [ca. 1483–1553]
Œuvres de F. Rabelais. Nouvelle edition augmentée de plusieurs extraits des chroniques admirables du puissant roi Gargantua… et accompagnée de notes explicatives…
p. 308
L. Jacob (pseud. of Paul Lacroix) [1806–1884], editor
Paris: Charpentier, 1840


Ov. Her. ii 141

François Rabelais [ca. 1483–1553]
The Five Books and Minor Writings. Volume 1: Books I-III
William Francis Smith [1842–1919], translator
London: Alexader P. Watt, 1893


D’après Ovide, Héroïdes, II, 141.

François Rabelais [ca. 1483–1553]
Oeuvres. Tome Cinquieme: Tiers Livre. Édition critique
p. 361
Abel Lefranc [1863-1952], editor
Paris: Librairie Ancienne Honoré Champion, 1931

Phyllis royne des Thraces

D’après Ovide, Heroïdes, II, v. 141.

François Rabelais [ca. 1483–1553]
Œuvres complètes
p. 506, n. 10
Mireille Huchon, editor
Paris: Gallimard, 1994


Phyllis (Greek: Φυλλίς) is a character in Greek mythology, daughter of a Thracian king (according to some, of Sithon;[1][2] most other accounts do not give her father’s name at all, but one informs that he was named either Philander, Ciasus, or Thelus[3]). She married Demophon, King of Athens and son of Theseus, while he stopped in Thrace on his journey home from the Trojan War.[4]
Demophon, duty bound to Greece, returns home to help his father, leaving Phyllis behind. She sends him away with a coffin with the sacrament of Rhea, asking him to open it only when he has given up hope of returning to her. From here, the story diverges. In one version, Phyllis realizes that he will not return and commits suicide by hanging herself from a tree. Where she is buried, an almond tree grows, which blossoms when Demophon returns to her.[1] In a second version of the story, Demophon opens the caskets and, horrified by what he saw in there, rides off like wild, but his horse stumbles and he accidentally falls on his own sword.[5]
There is also some confusion regarding which nut tree she became, as hazelnuts were long called nux Phyllidos, and are still sometimes called “filberts” today.[6] In English, this version goes back at least to Gower, who writes in Confessio Amantis (ca. 1390):
That Phyllis in the same throwe
Was schape into a notetre,
That alle men it mihte se,
And after Phyllis philliberd
This tre was cleped in the yerd,
And yit for Demephon to schame
Into this dai it berth the name.
— Book 4, Lines 866–72
This story most notably appears in the second poem of Ovid’s Heroides,[7] a book of epistolary poems from mythological women to their respective men, and it also appears in the Aitia of Callimachus.
1 Servius on Virgil’s Eclogue 5. 10
2 Ovid in Remedia Amoris, 605 addresses her by the patronymic Sithonis – if indeed it is a patronymic and not an indication of her belonging to the tribe Sithones
3 Scholia on Aeschines, On the False Embassy, 31
4 Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca Epitome of Book 4, 6. 16
5 Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, Epitome of Book 4, 6. 17
6 Friedlander, Barbara (1976). The Vegetable, Fruit & Nut Book: secrets of the seed. Grosset & Dunlap. p. 159.
7 Ovid, Heroides 2.59–60.



Thracian. [formed on Latin Thra¯cius, Thra¯cus, adopted from Greek qra´kioj, formed on qra´kh Thrace.]

A native or inhabitant of Thrace, in antiquity a region to the N.E. of Macedonia, and now comprising European Turkey, southern Bulgaria, and the region of Thrace in N.E. Greece.

1569 T. Stocker tr. Diodorus Siculus’ Hist. Successors Alexander 105 Aboute two thousand Mercenarie Grekes, and so many Thracians.

1618 E. Bolton tr. Lucius Julius Florus’ Roman Hist. (1636) 176 The Sordiscans were of all the Thracians the most savage.

Of or pertaining to Thrace.

1588 Shakespeare Titus Andronicus. i. i. 138 The selfe same Gods that arm’d the Queene of Troy With opportunitie of sharpe reuenge Vpon the Thracian Tyrant in his Tent.

1667 Milton Paradise Lost vii. 34 The Race Of that wilde Rout that tore the Thracian Bard In Rhodope.

1697 Dryden Æneis vi. 877 The Thracian bard.. There stands conspicuous in his flowing vest.



Posted 27 January 2013. Modified 11 February 2017.

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