Web Theoi
MELANIPPE
 
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Μελανιππη Melanippê Melanippe Black-Mare
(melas, hippos)
Ωκυρροη Ôkyrrhoê Ocyrhoe Swift-Flowing
(ôkys, rhoos)

MELANIPPE or OKYRRHOE (Ocyrrhoe) was a prophetic nymph daughter of the kentauros (centaur) Kheiron (Chiron). She was transformed into a mare by Zeus for revealing the secrets of the gods and placed in the heavens as the constellation Pegasus. Her father Kheiron stood in the heavens as either the adjacent constellation Saggitarius or the distant Centaurus.

PARENTS
[1.1] KHEIRON (Hyginus Astronomica 2.18)
[1.2] KHEIRON & KHARIKLO (Ovid Metamorphoses 2.636)
OFFSPRING
[1.1] AIOLOS (by Hippotes) (Diodorus Siculus 4.67.3)
[2.1] A CHILD (by Aiolos) (Hyginus Astronomica 2.18)

ENCYCLOPEDIA

MELANIPPE (Melanippê). A daughter of Cheiron, is also called Euippe. Being with child by Aeolus, she fled to mount Pelion; but Cheiron made search after her; and in order that her condition might not become known, she prayed to be metamorphosed into a mare. Artemis granted the prayer, and in the form of a horse she was placed among the stars. (Eratosth. Catust. 18; Aristoph. Thesm. 512; Hygin. Fab. 86.) Another account describes her metamorphosis as a punishment for having despised Artemis or divulged the counsels of the gods. (Hygin. Poet. Astr. ii. 18.)

OCY′RHOE. (Ôkuroê.) A daughter of the centaur Cheiron. (Ov. Met. ii. 638; Hygin. Poet. Astr. ii. 18; Eratosth. Catast. 18.)

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.


Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 67. 3 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"The sons of Aiolos (Aeolus), who was the son of Hellen, who was the son of Deukalion (Deucalion), settled in the regions we have mentioned, but Mimas remained behind and ruled as king of Aiolis. Hippotes, who was born of Mimas, begat Aiolos by Melanippê, and Arnê, who was the daughter of Aiolos, bore Boiotos (Boeotus) by Poseidon."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Astronomica 2. 18 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Euripides [Greek playwright C5th B.C.] in his Melanippe, says that Melanippe, daughter of Chiron the Centaurus, was once called Thetis. Brought up on Mount Helicon, a girl especially fond of hunting, she was wooed by Aeolus, son of Hellen, and grandson of Jove [Zeus], and conceived a child by him. When her time drew near, she fled into the forest, so that her father, who supposed her a virgin, might not see that she had given birth to a grandchild. And so when her father was looking for her, she is said to have begged the power of the gods not to let her father see her in childbirth. After the child was born, by the will of the gods she was changed into a mare which was placed among the stars.
Some say that she was a prophetess, and because she used to reveal the plans of the gods to men, she was changed into a mare.
Callimachus [Greek poet C3rd B.C.] says that because she ceased hunting and worshipping Diana [Artemis], Diana changed her into the shape we have mentioned. For the reason above, too, she is said to be out of sight of the Centaurus, who come say is Chiron, and to show only half her body, since she didn’t want her sex to be known."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 2. 636 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"One day the Centaurus' [Kheiron's] daughter came, her auburn hair falling upon her shoulders, whom the Nympha Chariclo once had borne upon the bank beside a flowing river, and had named Ocyroe (Swift-Flowing). The girl was not content to know her father's art: she prophesied fate’s dark secrets. In the mystic mood of prophecy, when hidden in her heart the heavenly fervour glowed, she fixed her eyes upon the child [i.e. Asklepios, who was then in the care of Kheiron]. ‘Grow strong, dear boy,’ she said ‘Healer of the world. Often men shall owe health and life, and yours shall be the right to win again departed souls, and, though you dare this once in heaven's despite, Jove's [Zeus'] bolt will thwart that gift a second time. You, now divine, shall be a lifeless corpse, and from a corpse become divine again, and twice you shall renew your destiny [he was deified following his death at the intercession of Apollon]. You too, dear father [Kheiron], you, immortal now and destined by your birthright to live on through all eternity, will long to die when you are tortured by the serpent's blood [poisoned by an arrow coated with Hydra's blood], that agonizing poison in your wounds; and, saved from immortality, the gods shall put you in death's power, and the three goddesses (Deae Triplices) [i.e. the Moirai] shall unloose your threads of fate.’
More prophecies remained, but then she sighed, sighed deeply, and as tears rolled down her cheeks she cried, ‘Fate forestalls me! I'm forbidden to tell you more. My power of speech is stopped. My arts--oh! never worth so much!--have brought Heaven's wrath upon me. Would I'd never known the future! Surely now my human shape is stolen away; the food I like is grass; I feel the urge to frisk in open fields. I'm changing to a mare--a family shape--but why the whole of me? When plainly half my father's human?’
As she spoke, her last protests were almost meaningless, her words were all confused, sounds that seemed neither words nor whinnies, more like mimicking a mare. Soon she was whinnying clearly, and her arms walked on the grass, and then her fingers joined, and their five nails were bound in a light hoof of undivided horn; her mouth and neck increased in size; her trailing dress became a tail; the hair that wandered on her neck fell as a mane down on the right-hand side; and so her voice and shape alike were new, and that weird change gave her a new name too [Hippe meaning mare]. Philyreius [Kheiron], the centaur half-divine, invoked, weeping, the lord of Delphi [Apollon], but in vain. Apollo had no power to countermand great Jove's [Zeus'] decrees and, had he had the power, he was not there."


Sources:

  • Euripides, Melanippe Fragments - Greek Tragedy C5th B.C.
  • Callimachus, Fragments - Greek Poetry C3rd B.C.
  • Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History - Greek History C1st B.C.
  • Hyginus, Astronomica - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.