Cyrene (mythology)

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In Greek mythology, as recorded in Pindar's 9th Pythian ode, Cyrene /sˈrn/ or Kyrene (Ancient Greek: Κυρήνη, "sovereign queen") was the daughter of Hypseus, King of the Lapiths, although some myths state that her father was actually the river-god Peneus and she was a nymph rather than mortal.[1] She mothered by the god Apollo, Aristaeus and Idmon while with Ares, Cyrene (if indeed this is the same Cyrene) was the mother of Diomedes of Thrace.


Cyrene was a fierce huntress, called by Nonnus a "deer-chasing second Artemis, the girl lionkiller."[2] Pindar describes her in his Pythian Ode:

But she loved not the pacing tread this way and that beside the loom, nor the delights of merry feasts with her companions in the household. But the bronze-tipped javelin and the sword called her to combat and slay the wild beasts of the field; and in truth many a day she gave of peaceful quiet to her father’s cattle.[3]

When a lion attacked her father's sheep, Cyrene wrestled with the lion. Apollo, who was present, immediately fell in love with her and kidnapped her. He took her to North Africa and founded the city of Cyrene in the region Cyrenaica, both named after her. Together, she and Apollo had two sons: Aristaeus, the demigod who invented beekeeping, and Idmon, the Argonaut seer.[4] Other stories say that Cyrene was not wrestling with a lion but instead tending her sheep along the marsh-meadow of the river Pineios, and that Apollo later transformed her into a nymph to grant her a longer life.[5]

Cyrene is also mentioned in the second and third hymns of Callimachus as well as in The Poet and the Women (written by Aristophanes) whence Mnesilochus comments that he "can't see a man there at all-only Cyrene" when setting eyes upon the poet Agathon who emerges from his house to greet Euripides and himself dressed in women's clothing.


  1. ^ Hyginus Fabulae 161, Virgil Georgics 4.320
  2. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 13. 300 ff
  3. ^ Pindar, Pythian Ode 9. 6 ff
  4. ^ Greek Myth Index: Cyrene
  5. ^ Greek Mythology Link