Alcmene Again


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Amphitryon and Alcmene

In later sources, she is a consort of Poseidon. In the Odyssey , in fact, Ampitrite appears simply as another name for the sea, as a personification of it.

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Hesiod explains the complicated mating that resulted in her birth: All these figures that share association with these epithets also share a common genealogy and some common attributes. Amphitrite is the daughter of an Okeanides and an important personification of the sea; and Nike is another granddaughter of Okeanos, identified therefore both with the sea and with death.

These themes of sexuality and death, intertwined with water elements not only are consistent within the Theogony but also parallel the connotations the epithets have in Homer and in the Hymns. There is only one other figure apart from this group that bears one of these epithets in the Theogony , and that is Alcmene. She first appears in the passage where Heracles saves Prometheos from the bird that is tormenting him: The two female figures share the same epithet when they appear in the same context.

There is great doubt as to the authenticity of this poem. But regardless of its authorship, the poem is probably not of much later date than the other Hesiodic works. So whether or not it shares authorship with the Theogony , its diction derives from the same times and from the same traditions. It is always a significant theme because it raises a story to a supra-human level.

And in this poem it is the single most important act because it results in the birth of Heracles. There is then a metrical similarity among the uses of the epithets in this poem. But there is a thematic consistency to their use as well, a consistency that is enlightening and that corresponds to their appearance in other works. For the epithets appear in each case in a passage about sexual union or procreation. The first appearance is in the context of the privation of sex; the second is in a passage about divine sexual intervention and the subsequent beginning of sexual relations between Alcmene and Amphitryon; and the third is in a statement of the establishment of a complete marital relationship between the two mortals.

There is a clear and artful progression in the uses of the epithets that corresponds to the themes and the structure of the poem. A barren stalemate is broken by divine intervention, and yet the human order of things endures. Heracles remains as the focus, the product of this divine sexual intervention, the semi-divine figure who incorporates the tensions between the mortal and immortal realms. It is significant that he appears in the poem alternately as the son of Amphitryon and as the son of Zeus.

So the frequency of her appearance and of her association with these epithets reflects the importance of Heracles as a hero-god figure, an importance already evidenced in the Odyssey and confirmed in the Hesiodic works. And the fact that she receives all three epithets in parallel contexts is the most convincing evidence of the thematic connection between these words. He dies and descends into Hades, but, once again, his death is contrasted with is subsequent immortal existence: The collection of Hesiodic fragments contains many interesting uses of the epithets.

The significance of their appearances is in some cases difficult to determine since the context is often ambiguous or altogether lacking. But there are several passages where the use of an epithet parallels its use elsewhere, as in the example above. There are also passages in the fragments in which these epithets describe figures not associated with these words in any other works.

The poet describes her so once in a short fragment about her unwillingness to marry: The story of Atalanta is the story of an unwilling bride overcome. It is in this respect a variant of the Persephone myth and of many other myths already described, only set in the secular context of athletic games.

And once again the threat of death overshadows the story, this time a threat not to the female figure but to the male pursuer. The text is very broken and the narrative hard to follow. But the remnants of the first two lines indicate that she was overcome by the tricks of Zeus who then seduced her and transported her across the sea.


  • Amphitryon and Alcmene?
  • 5. καλλίσφυρος, τανίσφυρος and εὔσφυρος in Hesiod.
  • Von der Weissagung (German Edition)!

In some passages she appears in her most familiar role, as the maiden who causes the Trojan war. Similarly, fragment describes the Argive heroes who went to Troy, and the same phrase appears in the midst of this list 9.

I remember seeing it on TV while flipping channels as a kid. The effects in this one were a bit lacking. I hear another Hercules movie is coming out this year. I'll probably have to see it for comparisons' sake: Amphitryon is a harsh and brutal tyrant. His wife, Alcmene, has fallen out of love with him, and eventually grows disenchanted with their son, Iphicles.

She begs that the son who inherits the throne not be the son of Amphitryon. Amphitryon is enraged; he believes Alcmene is with another lover, but is unable to find the culprit. Nine months later, Amphitryon approaches Alcmene and her new infant. He informs her that the infant will be named Alcides and he will never be the equal of Iphicles.

Alcmena - Greek Mythology Link

After Amphitryon leaves, though, Alcmene whispers to the baby that he has a true name — Hercules. Hercules and Iphicles grow up together, as rivals. They have feelings for the same princess, however, Iphicles is heir to the throne and because of this he gets what he wants. Hercules gets sent into battle. He is captured, sold into slavery, released through his bravery, captured again, released again, and ultimately reunified with the princess. Taphius in turn had a son Pterelaus, who succeeded him as king of Taphos and whom Poseidon made immortal by implanting a golden hair in his head.

Later, in historical times, the house of Alcmena and Amphitryon could still be seen, along with an inscription which read: Trophonius and Agamedes made it. When the engaged couple came to Thebes , Alcmena refused to marry Amphitryon until he avenged her brothers, who had perished in the battle against the sons of King Pterelaus of Taphos. With these forces, Amphitryon attacked all the neighboring islands that were ruled from Taphos. But while he was on his way home to Thebes , Zeus , assuming his likeness and prolonging the night threefold, made love to Alcmena, telling her about the outcome of the war.

As Amphitryon returned and lay with her wife on the same night that Zeus left, Alcmena did not seem to welcome him, for she thought that she had already been with her husband.

However, the god's wife Hera , disliking her husband's love affair with Alcmena, persuaded the goddess of childbirth Ilithyia to retard the girl's delivery, so that Eurystheus should be born first, though a seven-month child. In this way, and by chanting charms, she prevented Alcmena's deliverance. It was then that Alcmena's attendant Galanthis, who passed in and out the house, feeling assured that a spell was working against her mistress, said to Ilithyia, whom she saw holding her clinched hands upon her crossed legs: Deceived by these words, the goddess leaped up and unclinched her hands, and when her rite was interrupted, Alcmena gave birth.

5. καλλίσφυρος, τανίσφυρος and εὔσφυρος in Hesiod

When Galanthis realised that she had cheated a deity, she laughed with all her heart. But Ilithyia caught her by the hair and dragged her on the ground, keeping her there and turning her into a weasel. It is also said that the rites preventing Alcmena's deliverance were performed not by Ilithyia but by a group of witches sent by Hera , and that these left when they heard Galanthis uttering a cry of joy. Galanthis then, fearing that the birth pangs would madden her mistress, came out and informed them that Alcmena had given birth, and that their privileges had been abolished.

But later Hecate , feeling pity for Galanthis, adopted the weasel as her sacred servant. When the birth-saboteurs, whoever they were, suffered defeat in one of the ways described above, Alcmena bore two sons:

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