"Daughter of the King of Assyria, who lies in the Inferno with only her insanity left. She disguised herself to seduce her own father."
In Greek mythology, Myrrha (Smyrna) was the daughter of King Cinyras of Cyprus, though alternate versions of the story depicted her as the daughter of the King of Assyria. According to Ovid, after Myrrha's proud mother boasted that her daughter's beauty surpassed that of the goddess Aphrodite, the princess was cursed by Aphrodite with an incurable lust for her own father. Myrrha initially contemplated suicide as an alternate for her taboo feelings, but her sympathetic nurse counseled her into tricking Cinyras, disguising the girl as a prostitute. While Myrrha's mother was away for a religious obligation, the princess and her father engaged in incest for twelve nights, with Myrrha requesting that they should copulate in darkness to further hide her identity.
However, Cinyras became curious about the young woman that he was sleeping with and lit a lamp to see who she was. When he realized that it was his own daughter, in a fit of rage he tried to kill Myrrha. The princess fled from her father, but Aphrodite, avenged at last, finally showed the girl mercy and changed her into a myrrh tree before the king could harm her. In response, the disgraced Cinyras killed himself.
The tree eventually split open to birth Myrrha and Cinyras's son, Adonis, who became one of Aphrodite's lovers due to his magnificent beauty, though he too died tragically.
"Mortal, my feelings ran unchecked..."
"The gods planted this seed of lust..."
"Father! I had no-" *Slain by Dante*
- In The Inferno, Dante and Virgil behold the shade of Myrrha in the final ditch of the Malebolge, damned for her act of falsifying. All of the falsifiers are cursed with diseases, as they themselves were a "disease" on a healthy society. In Myrrha's case, she is cursed with incurable insanity, since her forbidden love for her father would be deemed an act of madness to other people.
- The substance myrrh gets its name from her; the myrrh tree's sap is said to be the princess's tears of grief. Myrrh was used for perfume, incense, holy oil, antiseptic, analgesics and preparing bodies for burial. It is famous in Christianity as one of the three gifts given to the infant Jesus by the Magi.
- Although the phenomenon of a daughter lusting for her father and replacing her mother is officially known as the Electra complex, this psychological condition is better reflected in Myrrha's behavior. Electra indeed killed her own mother, Queen Clytemnestra, but not out of sexual desire for her father. She and her brother Orestes sought to avenge his wrongful death at the queen's hands. Electra's soul is found in Limbo, as another of the Damned.