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Poems 1773, Edited by Lisa Vargo and Allison Muri
The nightingale. Philomela and Procne were daughters of Pandion, king of Athens. Procne married Tereus, king of Thrace, who fell in love with Philomela, raped her and then cut out her tongue so she could not say who had raped her. Philomela wove a tapestry picturing her sufferings and sent it to Procne, who stabbed her son Itys and served his flesh to Tereus. When Tereus was presented with the head of Itys, he attemped to kill the sisters, but was changed into a hoopoe. Because she had no tongue, Philomela was changed into a swallow, a bird that can only chatter, and Procne became a nightingale. In Latin versions Philomela is a nightingale and Procne a swallow, and it is to this tradition that the nightingale is associated with Philomela.

Published @ RC

April 2000