Alcimede

Alcimede

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In Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, Alcimede was one of the matrilineal Minyan
Minyans
According to Greek mythology and legendary prehistory of the Aegean region, the Minyans were an autochthonous group inhabiting the Aegean region...

 daughters, the daughter of Clymene
Clymene
Clymene or Klymenê may refer to*104 Klymene, an asteroid*Clymene dolphin , a dolphin endemic to the Atlantic Ocean*Clymene Moth*In Greek mythology:...

, Minyas
Minyas (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Minyas was the founder of Orchomenus, Boetia. As the ancestor of the Minyans, a number of Boeotian genealogies lead back to him, according to the classicist H.J. Rose...

' daughter. She was the mother of Jason
Jason
Jason was a late ancient Greek mythological hero from the late 10th Century BC, famous as the leader of the Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece. He was the son of Aeson, the rightful king of Iolcus...

 by Aeson
Aeson
In Greek mythology, Aeson or Aison was the son of Cretheus and Tyro, who also had his brothers Pheres and Amythaon. Aeson was the father of Jason and Promachus with Polymede, the daughter of Autolycus. Other sources say the mother of his children was Alcimede or Amphinome...

, whom she met in the caves below Iolcus in Thessaly
Thessaly
Thessaly is a traditional geographical region and an administrative region of Greece, comprising most of the ancient region of the same name. Before the Greek Dark Ages, Thessaly was known as Aeolia, and appears thus in Homer's Odyssey....

, a chthonic
Chthonic
Chthonic designates, or pertains to, deities or spirits of the underworld, especially in relation to Greek religion. The Greek word khthon is one of several for "earth"; it typically refers to the interior of the soil, rather than the living surface of the land or the land as territory...

 lair where the rightful king Aeson had been imprisoned by his evil half-brother Pelias
Pelias
Pelias was king of Iolcus in Greek mythology, the son of Tyro and Poseidon. His wife is recorded as either Anaxibia, daughter of Bias, or Phylomache, daughter of Amphion. He was the father of Acastus, Pisidice, Alcestis, Pelopia, Hippothoe, Asteropia, and Antinoe.Tyro was married to Cretheus...

.

The old story of Alcimede's son Jason and the quest for the golden fleece
Golden Fleece
In Greek mythology, the Golden Fleece is the fleece of the gold-haired winged ram, which can be procured in Colchis. It figures in the tale of Jason and his band of Argonauts, who set out on a quest by order of King Pelias for the fleece in order to place Jason rightfully on the throne of Iolcus...

 is most familiar from a late version, the Argonautica of Apollonius of Rhodes
Apollonius of Rhodes
Apollonius Rhodius, also known as Apollonius of Rhodes , early 3rd century BCE – after 246 BCE, was a poet, and a librarian at the Library of Alexandria...

.

A hint of matrilineal descent in archaic times among the Boeotia
Boeotia
Boeotia, also spelled Beotia and Bœotia , is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Central Greece. It was also a region of ancient Greece. Its capital is Livadeia, the second largest city being Thebes.-Geography:...

n Minyans of Greece, is in Apollonius' aside concerning Jason's heritage:
"So many then were the helpers who assembled to join the son of Aeson. All the chiefs the dwellers thereabout called Minyae, for the most and the bravest avowed that they were sprung from the blood of the daughters of Minyas; thus Jason himself was the son of Alcimede who was born of Clymene the daughter of Minyas." (Argonautica Book iii, 11.228-233)


A further hint of archaic matrilineal descent is that Clymene's consort is offered in two versions: she was usually cast as the wife of Phylacus
Phylacus
In Greek mythology, Phylacus founded the city of Phylace, Thessaly. He was the son of Deioneus and Diomede, husband of Clymene , and the father of Iphiclus and Alcimede. His children and grandchildren are sometimes referred to by the patronymic Phylacides...

 (son of Deioneus
Deioneus
In Greek mythology, Deioneus or Deion is a name attributed to the following individuals:*Son of Aeolus, king of Phocis, and father of Cephalus, Actor, Aenetus, Phylacus, Nisus and Asterodia....

, son of Aeolus
Aeolus
Aeolus was the ruler of the winds in Greek mythology. In fact this name was shared by three mythic characters. These three personages are often difficult to tell apart, and even the ancient mythographers appear to have been perplexed about which Aeolus was which...

) or in some versions, Aeson was fathered by Cephalus
Cephalus
Cephalus is an Ancient Greek name, used both for the hero-figure in Greek mythology and carried as a theophoric name by historical persons. The word kephalos is Greek for "head", perhaps used here because Cephalus was the founding "head" of a great family that includes Odysseus...

, otherwise the consort of Procris.

Along with Aeson, Alcimede was forced by the usurping Pelias
Pelias
Pelias was king of Iolcus in Greek mythology, the son of Tyro and Poseidon. His wife is recorded as either Anaxibia, daughter of Bias, or Phylomache, daughter of Amphion. He was the father of Acastus, Pisidice, Alcestis, Pelopia, Hippothoe, Asteropia, and Antinoe.Tyro was married to Cretheus...

 to commit suicide. She hanged herself or else drank, along with her husband and the child Promachus
Promachus
Promachus is a name that refers to several different people.-Mythology:*Son of Aeson and Alcimede, killed by Pelias along with his father while his brother, Jason, searched for the Golden Fleece....

, of bull's blood and so died.

Sources

  • Valerius Flaccus
    Gaius Valerius Flaccus
    Gaius Valerius Flaccus was a Roman poet who flourished in the "Silver Age" under the emperors Vespasian and Titus and wrote a Latin Argonautica that owes a great deal to Apollonius of Rhodes' more famous epic....

     (who also wrote an Argonaut epic) 1.818 etc.
  • Argonautica 1.47, 1.228ff.
  • Hyginus
    Gaius Julius Hyginus
    Gaius Julius Hyginus was a Latin author, a pupil of the famous Cornelius Alexander Polyhistor, and a freedman of Caesar Augustus. He was by Augustus elected superintendent of the Palatine library according to Suetonius' De Grammaticis, 20...

    . Fabulae, 14.
  • Pausanias
    Pausanias (geographer)
    Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD, who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece , a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from firsthand observations, and is a crucial link between classical...

    . Description of Greece, 10.29.6.