Apollo found Cyrene wrestling alone with a lion and carried her off to that part of Libya where in later times he founded a city and named it, after her, Cyrene.
8010: Cyrene. Marble. Probably about AD 120-150. British Museum, London.
The extraordinarily beautiful Cyrene was reared near Mount Pelion in Thessaly. Her father (according to some) was Hypseus 1, probably the first king of the LAPITHS. One of her
sisters, Astyaguia, became grandmother of Ixion. Her other sister, Themisto 2, married Athamas 1. Others say that she was daughter of the river god Peneus, who is called father of Hypseus 1.
Cyrene did not care for
back and forth at the loom ..." (Pindar, Pythian Odes 9.19).
nor for any such kind of occupation. Instead she
went around brandishing javelins and swords and
hunting wild beasts, thus protecting her father's
cattle. And during this time, she enjoyed the
company but of one single bed-fellow: Sleep. But the god who works from afar, that is, Apollo (for he is like
the sun and shoots his arrows from the distance)
once observed her wrestling alone and without
spears with a lion. Apollo was marvelled at
the spirit and strength of the woman. So he went to
the wise centaur Chiron to ask him who her father was, and whether it was lawful for him to love her. Now, some may wonder why the god of prophecy, who knows most things, must come to the halls of a centaur, however wise, to learn from him what he could have known by himself. But the "knowing" of the immortals differs from that of mortals; for it embraces many aspects disregarded by men, and excludes otherssuch as falsehoodthat usually pollute the knowledge of men. The matter of knowledge being then a subtler
issue among the immortals, Chiron was not so
surprised; and he knew that the god knew and yet
had to ask.
"You ask me
from what race the girl comes, lord Apollo? You who know the appointed end of
all things, and all the paths that lead to them?
And how many leaves the earth puts forth in spring,
and how many grains of sand in the sea and in
rivers are dashed by the waves and the gusting
winds; and that which will be, and from where it
will come, all this you clearly see." (Chiron to Apollo. Pindar, Pythian Odes 9.44).
And so, talking of what they both knew well, Chiron recited for the
god what was about to take place:
Apollo carries her off
That Apollo would love
her, that he would take her to Libya where the god
would make her the ruler of a city. That she would
bear a child Aristaeus, whom the HORAE would admire, dropping nectar and ambrosia on his lips and making him immortal. Everything was done without delay, for as they
"Accomplishment is swift when the
gods are already hurrying ..." (Pindar, Pythian Odes 9.67).
and that very day the god snatched the girl from
Mt. Pelion, and carried her in his golden chariot
to Libya, a land rich in flocks and fruits, where
he loved her. And he made her mistress of the land,
to live and flourish in it.
In later times, some say, Apollo founded a city in
that land and called Cyrene after the brave girl
from Mount Pelion. It is also told that their son
Aristaeus was given to NYMPHS, who taught him
how to curdle milk, to make bee-hives, and to
cultivate olive-trees. And since Aristaeus
instructed many others, becoming a benefactor, he
received honours similar to those offered to the
gods. For as men had honoured Dionysus 2 for the
vine, they honoured Aristaeus for the honey and
other things they received from him. Others have said that Apollo carried Cyrene
off, not when she was wrestling with a lion but
while she was tending her sheep along the
marsh-meadow of the river Peneus (which flows from
the foot of Mt. Pindus in Thessaly). He then placed
her among the NYMPHS who dwelt near the Myrtosian height in Libya (also called Myrtussa = "Myrtle-hill"). When Aristaeus was born, the god took him to
Hellas to be nurtured in the cave of the wise
centaur Chiron, and made
Cyrene a nymph and a huntress. For the NYMPHS live a very long
It is told that when the ARGONAUTS came to
Libya they were driven into the Syrtis, quicksands
in Libya, carrying their ship overland to Lake
Tritonis. There was no return for ships, once they
had come far within Syrtis:
"For on every
hand are shoals, on every hand masses of seaweed
from the depths; and over them the light foam of
the wave washes without noise." (Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.1235).
Since there is no outlet from Lake Tritonis to
the sea, they could do nothing. Then the ARGONAUTS propitiated the gods with a golden tripod on the shore, and Triton appeared to them in the form of a youth. Triton showed them the way out, and presented the Argonaut Euphemus 1 with a clod of earth. Later Euphemus 1 had a dream. It seemed to him that the clod of earth was being suckled by milk, and that from it a little woman grew. And this woman Euphemus 1 desired and embraced in love, although he pitied her as though she were a maiden whom he fed with his own milk. But then she comforted him, saying that she was daughter of Triton and Libya, and exhorting him to restore her to the sea near Anaphe (one of the Cyclades, north of Crete and east of
Thera). She then promised him to return, and
prepare a home for his descendants.
So after consulting with Jason, the admiral of the ARGONAUTS, Euphemus 1 cast the clod into the sea. From it rose the island Calliste (later called Thera, and today called Santorini) where the descendants of Euphemus 1 (and of the crew of the "Argo," that is, the so called Minyan clan) came after
being expelled from Lemnos by the Tyrrhenians
or by the Pelasgians. But first they sailed away
from Lemnos to Sparta in Lacedaemon
where they appeared as suppliants, camping at
Taygetum. The Lacedaemonians received them because
the DIOSCURI had been in the ship's company of the "Argo," and so the Minyans were allowed to
mingle with the Lacedaemonians, receiving land and
being distributed among the Lacedaemonian tribes.
The Minyans married
Lacedaemonian women, and gave in marriage to others
the women they had brought from Lemnos.
This seems nice, but as time went by the
Lacedaemonians found the Minyans insolent, who
demanded equal right to the kingship. So they
seized them and cast them into prison, having in
mind to kill them. But the Spartan wives of the Minyans asked permission
to enter the prison and visit their husbands; and
when permission was granted, they gave their
husbands their own garments, and themselves put on
the men's clothing. Thus the Minyans, disguised as
women, got out of prison and camped at Taygetum
It was then that Theras interceded, promising to
lead the Minyans out of the country to the island of Calliste. Eurysthenes 1 and Procles 2 (kings and founders of the Spartan royal houses, counted among the HERACLIDES), in spite
of their mutual enmity, combined to help Theras,
who was their mother's brother and their guardian
as well, to found a colony in Calliste. This is how
the Minyans (or some of
them since others migrated to other territories)
left Lacedaemon with thirty-oared ships.
Now, in Calliste lived the descendants of
Membliarus since Cadmus left Membliarus in the island. But when Theras
landed, they gave up the kingship to him of their
own accord as they considered that the family of
Theras went back to Cadmus himself. Theras (son of Autesion 1, son of Tisamenus 1, son of Thersander 1, son of Polynices, son of Oedipus, son of Laius 1, son of Labdacus 1, son of Polydorus 2, son of Cadmus) renamed the
island and called it Thera after himself.
The actual colonization of Cyrene proceeded from
Thera following several oracles issued at Delphi. The last of them was directly delivered to Battus 2, leader of the colonization and descendant of Euphemus 1. Battus 2 came to Delphi to inquire
about his voice (he stammered); and the pythian
have come for a voice; but Lord Phoebus Apollo
Sends you to found a city in Libya ..." (Herodotus, History 4.155.3).
It is told that Battus 2, after founding the city was cured of his stammering when he saw a lion and could not help crying out in a clear and loud voice. He was son of Polymnestus and Phronime, and had son Arcesilaus 2, who became king of Cyrene