The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus

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The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus
Peter Paul Rubens - The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus.jpg
ArtistPeter Paul Rubens
Yearc. 1618
Mediumoil on canvas
Dimensions224 cm × 209 cm (88 in × 82 in)
LocationAlte Pinakothek, Munich

The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus is a 1618 painting by Peter Paul Rubens. It is currently displayed at the Alte Pinakothek in Munich.


The painting depicts the mortal Castor and the immortal Pollux abducting Phoebe and Hilaeira, daughters of Leucippus of Messenia. Castor the horse-tamer is recognisable from his armour, whilst Pollux the boxer is shown with a bare and free upper body. They are also distinguished by their horses—Castor's is well-behaved and supported by a putto, whereas Pollux's is rearing. The putto's black wing shows the twins' ultimate fate. In the painting, Phoebe and Hilaeira do not have distinguishing attributes. From the literature on Greek myths, however, we learn that Phoebe bore a son, Mnesleos, to Pollux, and Hilaeira bore a son, Anogon, to Castor. It would seem therefore, from the directions of the twins' fixed and admiring stares, that the daughter in the lower position, with her back to us, is Phoebe, and the daughter in the upper position, displaying a frontal view, is Hilaeira.


The painting was bought in Antwerp in 1716 by Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine. Initially sent to Mannheim, by 1805/06 it had reached Munich.

It is also notable for featuring in the Loriot sketch 'Eheberatung' (marriage counselling). Evelyn Hamann plays a marriage counsellor, with Loriot and Ingeborg Heydorn playing a couple coming for counselling. The counsellor asks the couple to describe the painting—the husband states, "Two men taking two women for riding lessons", while the wife describes it as, "More of a holiday, with riding and things like that". The husband replies, "The men are really helping out the ladies".


  • Alte Pinakothek-Ausgewählte Werke; [Editor: Bayerischen Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Authors: Marcus Dekiert, Nina Schleif], München; Pinakothek-DuMont, 2005, ISBN 978-3-8321-7592-4,
  • 50 Klassiker: Gemälde, H. Johannsen, Gerstenberg, 2001, ISBN 380-672-516-0.

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