One tradition is, that Caunus loved his sister with more than brotherly affection, and as he could not get over this feeling, he quitted his father's home and Miletus, and settled in Lycia. Byblis, deeply grieved at the flight of her brother, went out to seek him, and having wandered about for a long time, hanged herself by means of her girdle. Out of her tears arose the well Byblis.1
According to another tradition, Byblis herself was seized with a hopeless passion for her brother, and as in her despair she was on the point of leaping from a rock into the sea, she was kept back by nymphs, who sent her into a profound sleep. In this sleep she was made an immortal hamadryad; and the little stream which came down that rock was called by the neighboring people the tears of Byblis.2
A third tradition, which likewise represented Byblis in love with her brother, made her reveal to him her passion, whereupon Caunus fled to the country of the Leleges, and Byblis hanged herself.3 Ovid4 in his description combines several features of the different legends; Byblis is in love with Caunus, and as her love grows from day to day, he escapes; but she follows him through Caria, Lycia, etc., until at last she sinks down worn out; and as she is crying perpetually, she is changed into a well.
The town of Byblus in Phoenicia is said to have derived its name from her.5
- Parthenius. Erotica Pathemata, 11; Conon. Narratives, 2.
- Antoninus Liberalis, 30.
- Parthenius, l.c.
- Metamorphoses ix, 446-665.
- Stephanus of Byzantium, s.v.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.