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The story isn't long, but it does seem important. It has continued to be represented in art and in story (though there have DEFINITELY been some changes made to make it fit into the new cultures), but it was also super important in ancient Greece, where sacrifices were made in a festival in his honor. Rituals were done in his name. I will probably forget to follow up on this and read more articles about why, so if you know, you should email me!
Anyway, a short summary is made by Apollodorus (1.9.19), which I will translate myself (since I don't like Frazer's translation at all here):
"For Hylas, the child of Theiodamantos, and the lover/beloved of Herakles, having been sent off to fetch water was snatched* by the nymphs because of his beauty."This story is found slightly more fully in Book One of the
You already know what happens next, but I'll spin in out all poetic like. Hylas, dipping like a dancer, kneels and drags his pitcher through the water. And as his arm went into the water, her arm came out and wrapped around his neck, pulling him closer for a kiss. Truly, our source must have been a mouse watching from land, because the story ends there. We do not even know if she got her kiss, because when Hylas tumbled into the water, it was the last anyone ever heard of him. Sure, Herakles searched the island for a long time, but eventually, the crew of the Argo gave up and continued their quest without him.
If you are like me, you will want to know more about gender and sexual relationships now. For the meantime, I can only direct you to my own essays on the topic. Enjoy!
*It is worth noting, I believe, that the word used for "snatched" is "harpazo" - the same word that's used to form the word Harpy. Although it is more common to see things like centaurs carrying off virginal young women, it is not uncommon to imagine women with this imagery of snatching and stealing.
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