Alcyone – Kingfisher Goddess…

alcyone-ceyx

The Greek Goddess Alcyone  is known as the Kingfisher goddess. It is said that she “nests” every winter for two weeks during the Winter Solstice, and while she does, the wild seas become calm and peaceful.

Alcyone married Ceyx, son of Eosphorus, the Morning Star.

They were very happy together in Trachis, and according to Pseudo-Apollodorus’s account, often sacrilegiously called each other “Zeus” and “Hera”. This angered Zeus, so while Ceyx was at sea (going to consult an oracle according to Ovid’s account), the god threw a thunderbolt at his ship. Soon after, Morpheus (god of dreams) disguised as Ceyx appeared to Alcyone as an apparition to tell her of his fate, and she threw herself into the sea in her grief. Out of compassion, the Kingfisher,-White-Throated---Dadri-Wetlands---2011-03-26-(_28I9668)-763093 gods changed them both into halcyon birds, named after her.

Ovid and Hyginus both also recount the metamorphosis of the pair in and after Ceyx’s loss in a terrible storm, though they both omit Ceyx and Alcyone calling each other Zeus and Hera (and Zeus’s resulting anger) as a reason for it. Ovid also adds the detail of her seeing his body washed up onshore before her attempted suicide.

Ovid and Hyginus both also make the metamorphosis the origin of the etymology for “halcyon days”, the seven days in winter when storms never occur. They state that these were originally the 14 days each year (seven days on either side of the shortest day of the year[4]) during which Alcyone (as a kingfisher) laid her eggs and made her nest on the beach and during which her father Aeolus, god of the winds, restrained the winds and calmed the waves so she could do so in safety. The phrase has since come to refer to any peaceful time. Its proper meaning, however, is that of a lucky break, or a bright interval set in the midst of adversity; just as the days of calm and mild weather are set in the height of winter for the sake of the kingfishers’ egglaying.

Their story is the basis for the opera Alcyone by the French composer Marin Marais. – Wikipedia

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s