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Alcyone (Pleiad)

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The Pleiades

Alcyone (/ælˈs.ən/; Ancient Greek: Ἀλκυόνη, romanizedAlkyóne), in Greek mythology, was the name of one of the Pleiades, daughters of Atlas and Pleione or, more rarely, Aethra.[1] She attracted the attention of the god Poseidon and bore him several children, variously named in the sources: Hyrieus, Hyperenor, and Aethusa;[2] Hyperes and Anthas;[3] and Epopeus.[4][5] By a mortal, Anthedon, Alcyone became the mother of the fisherman Glaucus, who was later transformed into a marine god.[6]


Alkyóne comes from alkyón (ἀλκυών), which refers to a sea-bird with a mournful song[7] or to a kingfisher bird in particular.[8] The meaning(s) of the words is uncertain because alkyón is considered to be of pre-Greek, non-Indo-european origin.[9] However, folk etymology related them to the háls (ἅλς, "brine, sea, salt") and kyéo (κυέω, "I conceive"). Alkyóne originally is written with a smooth breathing mark, but this false origin beginning with a rough breathing mark (transliterated as the letter H) led to the common misspellings halkyón (ἁλκυών) and Halkyóne (Ἁλκυόνη),[10] and thus the name of one of the kingfisher bird genus' in English Halcyon. It is also speculated that Alkyóne is derived from alké (ἀλκή, "prowess, battle, guard") and onéo (ὀνέω, from ὀνίνεμι, onínemi,[11] "to help, to please").[12]

Comparative table of Alcyone's family
Relation Names Sources
Apollodorus Ovid Hyginus Pausanias Athenaeus Clement
Parentage Atlas and Pleione
Atlas and Aethra
Consort Poseidon
Children Aethusa


  1. ^ Schmitz, Leonhard (1867). "Alcyone (1)". In William Smith (ed.). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. Vol. 1. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. p. 108. Archived from the original on 2008-06-04.
  2. ^ Apollodorus, 3.10.1
  3. ^ Pausanias, 2.30.7
  4. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae Preface, p. 11, ed. Staveren
  5. ^ Ovid, Heroides 19.133
  6. ^ Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 7
  7. ^ "ἀλκυών". Academic Dictionaries and Encyclopedias. Retrieved 29 July 2023.
  8. ^ Woodhouse, Sidney Chawner (1910). English–Greek Dictionary: A Vocabulary of the Attic Language. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Limited. p. 470. ISBN 9780710023247.
  9. ^ Beekes, Robert Stephen Paul; van Beek, Lucien (2010). Etymological Dictionary of Greek. Vol. 1. Leiden: Brill. p. 71. ISBN 978-90-04-17420-7.
  10. ^ Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert. "A Greek-English Lexicon, ἀλκυών". Perseus Digital Library. Tufts University. Retrieved 29 July 2023.
  11. ^ "ὀνέω - Ancient Greek (LSJ)". Liddell, Scott, Jones Ancient Greek Lexicon. Retrieved 29 July 2023.
  12. ^ "ALCYONE (Alkyone) - Boeotian Pleiad Nymph of Greek Mythology". Theoi Project. Retrieved 29 July 2023.