Leda and the swan - Pillar 4, south side


Leda, the queen of Sparta, and Zeus were joined when he fell in love with her and transformed himself into a swan to attract her. She embraced the swan to protect him from an eagle which was hunting him. From her unions on the same night with the swan-Zeus and her mortal husband Tyndareus, she bore two eggs. From them were born two sets of twins, the Beautiful Helen (of Troy) and Polydeuces, believed to be the children of Zeus, and Castor and Clytemnestra, the children of Tyndareus.

In this group their erotic embrace is pictured, with Leda half-naked and tenderly holding the swan in her arm, while with the other hand she lifts her himation to cover and protect him.

PhotoDrawing by N. Stuart