File:Cyparissus mg 0159.jpg

In Greek mythology, a myth set in Chios tells of Kyparissos (Greek: κυπάρισσος, "cypress") — or Cyparissus (Latin: cupressus, "cypress") — a young boy and son of Telephus. Though the mythic context and the setting is Hellenic, the subject is essentially known from Hellenizing Latin literature and Pompeiian frescoes.[1]

Apollo gave the boy a tame deer as a companion, but Cyparissus accidentally killed it with a javelin as it lay asleep in the undergrowth. The gift of a hunter's prey is an initiatory gift in the spear of the hunt, a supervised preparation for the manly arts of war and a testing ground for behavior (Koch-Harnack 1983). The tameness of the deer may be purely Ovidian. In a late reversal of the boy's traditional role, perhaps an interpretation applied by Ovid,[2] Cyparissus asks Apollo to let his tears fall forever. Apollo turns the sad boy into a cypress tree, whose sap forms droplets like tears on the trunk. Cypress was one of the trees Orpheus charmed.

According to a different tradition, Cyparissus was the son of OrchomenusTemplate:Dn, the brother of Minyas, and the mythical founder of Kyparissos in Phocis, which later was called Anticyra.[3] Servius, in commentary on Virgil's Georgics (1.20)explains Virgil's association of Silvanus with the cypress with a narrative of the god's passion for Cupressus: after Silvanus had accidentally killed the boy's pet stag, Cupressus died of grief and was turned into a cypress, a branch of which Silvanus carried. Peter Dorcey observes[4] that Servius has simply applied to Silvanus the episode of Cyparissus narrated by Ovid, noting in passing the common motif in ancient and modern folklore of a man transmuted into vegetal form.

In botanyEdit

The word Cupressus has been used to describe a genus of cypress trees; this genus was first described in the 18th century by the Swedish biologist Linnaeus. In modern times there is a taxonomic debate regarding which species should be retained in the genus Cupressus.[5]


  1. Cedric G. Boulter and Julie L. Bentz, "Fifth-Century Attic Red Figure at Corinth" Hesperia 49.4 (October 1980, pp 295-308), who present the possibility of an identification of Cyparissus on a fragment of a Corinthian pot, No. 36, p. 306. The frescoes in the Pompeiian Fourth Style are duscussed by Andreas Rumpf, "Kyparissos", JDAI 63/64 (1948-49), pp 83-90.
  2. The Cyparissus myth is related in Metamorphoses x.106ff.
  3. Stephanus of Byzantium, s.v. «Aπολλωνία» and «Κυπάρισσος». Real Enzyclopädie VIII, col. 51, s.v. «Kyparissos» [Hirschfeld].
  4. Peter F. Dorcey, The Cult of Silvanus: a study in Roman folk religion, :15.
  5. C. Michael Hogan and Michael P. Frankis. 2009


Template:Commonscatbg:Кипарис (митология) de:Kyparissos el:Κυπάρισσος (μυθολογία) es:Cipariso fr:Cyparisse ko:키파리소스 it:Ciparisso nl:Kyparissos ja:キュパリッソス pl:Kyparissos pt:Ciparisso ru:Кипарис (мифология) uk:Кипарис (міфологія)