Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Alkyonides

The Alkyonides are Greek nymphs of fair weather. They were the daughters of Alkyoneus, King of the Giants, who was killed by Herakles after he had killed a number of the latter’s men. In their grief, they threw themselves into the sea, where they were transformed by Amphitrite, Goddess of the sea, into kingfishers. The Alkyonides became associated with a period of time at the end of December and beginning of January that traditionally has had good weather in Greece, with calm seas and fair sailing. While some ancient authors said that there were as many as eleven Alkyonides, seven have been clearly identified. Their names are Alkippa (also seen as Alcippa; means “strong horse”), Anthe (means “bloom”), Asterie (also seen as Asteria; means “starry”), Drimo (means “piercing”), Methone (means “of Methone,” a town in Thrace), Pallene (means “brandishing”), and Phosthonia (means “light”). The name Alkyonides itself, which is also seen as Alcyonides, means “of Alkyoneus,” and the seven sisters were also known as the Alkyonis or Alcyonis, which means “kingfishers.”

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