Hermaphroditus's story is first mentioned by the philosopher Theophrastus in the 3rd century BCE, who wrote about Hermaphroditus as a brief character sketch, only including his physical features and attitude. Nothing more is mentioned about Hermaphroditus until 1st century BCE, when Diodorus Siculus includes Hermaphroditus in his history of early Greece, also including his parentage. Ovid is the only author who fully narrates Hermaphroditus's life.
In Ovid's Metamorphoses, Hermaphroditus's story is told by Alcithoe, daughter of Minyas, the king of Greek kingdom, making her a Greek princess.
It is the day of Bacchus, yet she and her sisters believe that Bacchus is no real god. Thus, she is telling the story of Hermaphroditus to tell her friends about "real" gods (such as Faunas, Venus, and Mercury).
In this portion, Alcithoe has just finished explaining Hermaphroditus's childhood: his parents are Venus and Mercury and Hermaphroditus was raised upon Mt. Ida until he was 15. He has just now come down off the mountain to see the world.
In addition, we have just learned from Alcithoe about Salamacis, a water nymph who does not participate in Diana's hunts, nor runs with other nymphs, but instead just brushes her hair all day.
At the beginning of the story, Salmacis starts off with a love poem that ends with her asking Hermaphroditus if they can have sex. Hermaphroditus, unsure of how he should respond, orders her to go away. He then bathes himself in the pool as Salmacis watches from afar. However, Hermphroditus' naked body fills her with such a desire that she jumps into the pool and tries to rape him. He struggles to escape as she looses a prayer to the gods that they should never be separated. Unfortunately for Hermaphroditus, the prayer is heard and they morph into one body. Hermaphroditus, humiliated and angry, asks his parents to inflict the same magic upon any man who wanders into that pool.
After this story, Bacchus comes down during sunset and turns these ungrateful, impious princesses into bats as a punishment.
last edit: 4/7/15