Hermaphroditus, the two-sexed child of Aphrodite and Hermes (Venus and Mercury) had long been a symbol of androgyny or effeminacy, and was portrayed in Greco-Roman art as a female figure with male genitals.
Theophrastus's account also suggests a link between Hermaphroditus and the institution of marriage.
Hermaphroditus is not mentioned in the original Petronius novel Satyricon, on which Fellini's film is loosely based.
According to one source, the film episode "may be based on a Pseudo-Petronian poem sometimes printed along with the Satyricon".
Some say that this Hermaphroditus is a god and appears at certain times among men, and that he is born with a physical body which is a combination of that of a man and that of a woman, in that he has a body which is beautiful and delicate like that of a woman, but has the masculine quality and vigour of a man.
But there are some who declare that such creatures of two sexes are monstrosities, and coming rarely into the world as they do they have the quality of presaging the future, sometimes for evil and sometimes for good.
He compared the myth of the beautiful ephebe with Narcissus and Hyacinthus, who had an archaic hero-cult, and Hymenaios.
Diodorus Siculus in his work Library of History mention, that some say that Hermaphroditus is a god and appears at certain times among men, but there are some who declare that such creatures of two sexes are monstrosities, and coming rarely into the world as they do have the quality of presaging the future, sometimes for evil and sometimes for good. cit.) further identified this divinity, at whose sacrifices men and women exchanged garments, with the Moon.
Hermaphroditus, as he has been called, who was born of Hermes and Aphrodite and received a name which is a combination of those of both his parents.Salmacis sprang out from behind a tree and jumped into the pool.She wrapped herself around the boy, forcibly kissing him and touching his breast.Hermaphroditus prayed to Hermes and Aphrodite that anyone else who bathed in the pool would be similarly transformed, and his wish was granted."In this form the story was certainly not ancient," Károly Kerényi noted.
After its introduction at Athens (probably in the 5th century BC), the importance of this deity seems to have declined.