Phryxus and Helle. A.M .2620

WAG 7672


This is part of a group of drawings by British artist and book illustrator Edward Francis Burney, depicting scenes from Greek and Roman history and mythology. Phryxus and Helle were the twin son and daughter of King Athamus of Boeotia and the goddes Nephele. Ino, their stepmother, was jealous of them and tried to kill the twins by having all the crop seeds in the area roasted and made infertile so they would not grow. Messengers sent to the Oracle at Delphi to find out what to do about this were bribed by Ino to say the Oracle had commanded that the twins be sacrificed to address the problem with the seeds. However, their mother, Nephele, saved them by sending a flying golden ram on which they escaped. During the flight, however, Helle looked down at the earth below, lost her balance and fell into the sea. The sea in which she drowned, depicted here, is called the Hellespont. For more about Ino see WAG 7659.