Hippolytos's Chariot Crash from Ovid's Metamorphoses
Roman writer Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso, 43 B.C.–A.D. 17) retells the myth of Hippolytos and Phraidra in his epic poem Metamorphoses, an adaptation of ancient myths about human transformations brought about by the gods. In this passage from book 15, lines 497–534, Ovid tells the story of the chariot crash in Hippolytos's own words. The "son of Apollo" refers to Asclepius, god of medicine and healing, who in this retelling brings the young hero back to life using potent herbs.
Banished, I was driving in my chariot along the shore, when the sea surged with a huge cloud of water, swelled to a crest—it seemed the size of a mountain. Then a bull with horns burst from the waves…torrents of water streamed from his nostrils, he vomited ocean from his mouth! My horses bucked and quaked with fear at his monstrous form. I tried in vain to rein them in. My horses' rabid strength would not have surpassed my own, but the hub of my wheel struck a stump and snapped off the axle. I was thrown from the car, my limbs still tangled in the reins, my living flesh dragged along, my sinews and tendons impaled on the shaft, and my bones broke with a deep, snapping sound. As I gasped out the last of my soul, no part of my body could you recognize…I saw the kingdom where there is no light,…and there would I still be had not the son of Apollo with his potent potions brought me back to life.