The second work to know is that of the sleeping Hermaphrodite. The work is a Roman copy made from a Hellenistic original of the 2nd century BC and represents the sleeping son of Hermes and Aphrodite.
The story behind this sculpture, the myth of Hermaphroditus, is told by the Latin poet Ovid in book IV of Metamorphoses. A young man is the protagonist of the myth, who "as soon as he turned fifteen left the mountains of his native land" to discover the world. This boy, whose name is only discovered at the end of the story, was the son of Hermes, messenger of the gods, and Aphrodite, goddess of beauty and love. The young man is defined by Ovid as very beautiful and whose face revealed the unique features of those of his parents.
Arriving in Halicarnassus, the young man found himself near a water pond where the nymph Salmàcide lived. After seeing him, the nymph fell madly in love and, in order not to lose her love, she prayed to the gods: "May the day never come, oh gods, that he detaches from me and I from him!" and so it was that the gods satisfied her.
The bodies of the two merged into one, neither woman nor boy, who does not look like one or the other sex but has characteristics of both. And it's at this point that Ovid finally reveals the name of the new person, born from the union of the female body with the male one, Hermaphroditus.
Today, the young man rests in Room 38 of the Gallery, more commonly called the Room of the Hermaphrodite.