“Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” ~ Isaiah 43:18-19
Our next ancient Snow White is Chione of Greece. Chione literally means “Snowgirl,” which has clear connections name-wise with our story. True to Greek fashion, the myth of Chione has at least five variants; I’ll only cover two.
In the first variant, Chione’s beauty attracts the attention of both Hermes and Apollo – which is never a good thing. Hermes puts Chione to sleep, and satisfies his lust. Apollo disguises himself as an old woman, and then does the same (it doesn’t say weather Chione is awake or not). Chione gives birth to twin boys – a son by each god. In a strange turn of events, she deems herself more beautiful than the goddess Artemis – who promptly shoots her through the tongue with an arrow, killing her instantly.
This myth has many of the characteristics of a modern Snow White. There is a “Snowgirl” who is one of the most beautiful women on earth, she is put into a death-like sleep, and she is tricked by someone who was transformed into an “old woman.” It is also common for Snow Whites to have children and then meet more trials, as you’ll see in the tales to come.
However, unlike our modern Snow White, Chione herself succumbs to vanity, and is killed by the “queen of the hunt.” It’s interesting that Artemis shoots her through the tongue, as many older versions of Snow White have the villain asking for her tongue as proof that she is dead.
The second Chione is daughter of the Nile. The majority of her myth has been lost, but it seems she was “maltreated on earth,” raped, and then taken “into the Clouds to give her name to snow.” Interestingly, the Nile is associated with dwarves, who are said to be children of the river. Thus, we have a “Snowgirl” who endures persecution (this time unwarranted), has dwarf companions, and has a happy ending after trials.
God’s Lesson through Chione
People cling to strange things when haunted by their pasts. Sometimes they are terrified, certain they will be hurt again; other times they are brash, daring others to try and hurt them. But there is a third choice: to move forward, undefined by the past.
The first Chione is certainly brash. Rather than shrink in fear, she hardened her heart and clung to the one reason she could think of that caused her sorrows: her beauty. She had to be beautiful – why else would this happen to her? If she was the most beautiful – more beautiful than Artemis even – then maybe it was all worth it. Maybe then she would have worth.
It’s twisted thinking, to be sure, and certainly there are other issues at work here. Her vanity didn’t happen overnight, but came little by little, giving her a sense of warped strength.
It was her undoing, just as it could be ours.
The second Chione had a different fate. She suffered, and then was lifted-up to “heaven.” We do not know the entirety of the tale – but I shall take some artistic license and say that she did not let past events define her. Rather, she saw “rivers in the desert.”
The choice of Chione is also our choice. We can “remember the past events” and allow the desert places of our soul to overtake us. If we do, we will certainly die.
Or, we can expectantly wait and see the “rivers in the desert” created on our behalf.
And we have an assurance neither Chione had: when we’ve suffered, we KNOW that God will restore what was lost. Like the second Chione, we will be lifted up if we choose Christ as our source of strength.
 Ovid, translated by Mary M. Innes. Metamorphoses (New York, NY: Penguin Books Ltd.) 1983, 244-255.
 The fact that Apollos’ “old woman” episode mirrors the Snow White tale was brought to my attention by Graham Anderson’s book Fairytale in the Ancient World (New York: Routledge, 2000), 46.