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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

ancient Greek colony in Libya; the name is of unknown origin. Cyrenaic referred to the philosophy ("practical hedonism") of Aristippus of Cyrene (c.435-c.356 B.C.E.).

Cyrene (mythology)

In Greek mythology, as recorded in Pindar's 9th Pythian ode, Cyrene or Kyrene (, "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.

Cyrene was a fierce huntress, called by Nonnus a "deer-chasing second Artemis, the girl lionkiller." 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.

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 her name. The region, Cyrenaica, is also named for her. Together, she and Apollo had two sons: Aristaeus, the demigod who invented beekeeping, and Idmon, the Argonaut seer. 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.

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.

With Ares, Cyrene (if indeed this is the same Cyrene) was the mother of Diomedes of Thrace.


Cyrene may refer to:

  • Cyrene (mythology), an ancient Greek mythological figure
  • Cyrene, Libya, an ancient Greek colony in North Africa (modern Libya)
    • Cyrenaica, the region around the city
    • Cyrenaics, an ancient Greek school of philosophy
  • USS Cyrene (AGP-13), a motor torpedo boat tender
  • 133 Cyrene, an asteroid
  • Cyrene (Xena), a fictional character in the Xena TV series
  • Cyrene (steamboat), a steamboat that ran on Puget Sound and Lake Washington from 1891 to about 1912
  • Cyrene (Creative Kingdom), a setting in the online game Entropia Universe
Cyrene (Xena: Warrior Princess)

Cyrene is a fictional character in the television series Xena: Warrior Princess. She was portrayed by the actress Darien Takle.

Usage examples of "cyrene".

Clutching his long hair, he was forced to sail on to Apollonia, the port serving Cyrene city, the capital of Cyrenaica.

  Humanity is shocked at the recital of the horrid cruelties which they committed in the cities of Egypt, of Cyprus, and of Cyrene, where they dwelt in treacherous friendship with the unsuspecting natives.