Eco al maschile. Paesaggi sonori nel mito di Ila

Doralice Fabiano


This paper focuses on the myth of Hylas, kidnapped by nymphs in Mysia, during the voyage of the ship Argos. More precisely, I explore Antoninus' Liberalis version of this story (Met. 26), in which the water goddesses transform the young boy into an echo out of fear of Herakles, Hylas' lover. This transformation is particularly interesting because it implies a change in the gendered perception of the echo, which was normally conceived by Ancients as a feminine voice, that of the Arcadian nymph Echo. The aim of this paper is to explain the reasons for such an inversion of a well-established tradition. In order to answer this question, I will analyze both the texts concerning the myth of Hylas (Apollonius Rhodius, Theocritus) and those recording the rites performed in his honor (Strabo, Suda), paying particular attention to the "construction" of the voice of Hylas in all these sources. While in the rite Hylas does not seem to reply to the cries of his companions, in the literary accounts of his abduction he has a different voice each time: feminine in Apollonius, childish in Theocritus, and then disembodied in Antoninus. On this basis, I argue that the version of Antoninus Liberalis is the end of a long literary and cultural discourse, which represents in sonic terms the annihilating effects of the encounter of a young man with the aggressive femininity of the nymphs. Relegated to a position of complete passivity in front of the water goddesses, the young Hylas looses his body, becoming a pure voice.

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