According to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Salmacis was the Naiad-nymph of spring, who passionately loved to swim in the spring, comb her hair carefully, decorate her head with flowers and look at her reflection in the water of the spring. She always liked to be busy with herself and absorbed in her own beauty, unmindful and uninterested about the outer world.
However, the meaning of her life changed suddenly, when one day she noticed a handsome young man, as he was preparing himself to take a bath in the spring. He was Hermaphrodite, the son of Hermes and Aphrodite, who was nursed by the naiads in the caves of Mount Ida. While travelling to the cities of Lycia and Caria, he was glad to find the spring in the woods of Caria and decided to take a bath, as he was feeling tired.
For Salmacis, it was love at first sight, as she noticed the handsome young man from behind a tree. She was very much attracted by his physical beauty and was overtaken by the burning desire to have sex with him. As she could not control her passion, she tried to seduce him, but somehow Hermaphrodite was not interested and he rejected her advances immediately.
Salmacis left the place, as his rejection broke her heart, but she did not shun her hope and kept looking at the boy from behind a tree. She was waiting eagerly for a suitable opportunity to fulfill her desire to have the young man in her arms.
As Hermaphroditus undressed and entered the pool to take a dip, Salmacis immediately came out in open, jumped into the pool and wrapped her body tightly around the boy while kissing him breathlessly. While Hermaphroditus struggled to make himself free from her embrace, Salmacis kept on praying to the gods to unite them forever in only one body. The gods granted her prayer and made them one, combined with both sexes with female breasts, legs, and facial features, along with the genitalia of a man.
Born in Monaco 250 years ago, on 19 March 1768, the internationally renowned sculptor Giuseppe-Francesco Bosio, better known as François-Joseph Bosio, created the statue of the Nymph Salmacis in 1826. The sculpture, displayed at the Louvre Museum in Paris, depicts the beautiful, half nude, young nymph in her self-absorbed attitude, watching intently at the little finger of her right foot. However, the plaster model of the statue was exhibited much earlier, in 1819 and 1824 at the Salon. A reduced replica was also used as the top award at the Festival de Television de Monte-Carlo.