Κυρήνη

In classical Greek mythology, Cyrene (Greek kyrene, "sovereign queen") was the extraordinarily beautiful but tomboyish daughter of Hypseus, the king of the Lapiths. Raised in the shadow of Mount Pelion in Thessaly, from a young age she disdained feminine pursuits, preferring more traditionally masculine sports such as hurling javelins and hunting wild beasts.

One day when Cyrene was standing watch over her father's herd of sheep, a lion attacked. The sun god Apollo happened to be hunting in the forest nearby, and observed the unarmed Cyrene wrestling and subduing the lion. Smitten by her physical prowess and spunkiness, Apollo seized her and carried her off to Libya in his golden chariot where he made love to her and then set her up as queen of a major city, which thenceforth bore her name. Nine months later, Cyrene bore a son, Aristaeus, who would go on to become a well-known figure in Greek mythology, particularly noted for his skills as a beekeeper.

{E2 DICTIONARY OF CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY}

Source:
- Pindar, Pythian Odes 9


City of Cyrene

In actual history, Cyrene was a major city on the northern coast of what is now Libya and known today as the town of "Shahhât." Cyrene was established by Greek colonists from the island of Thera in the year 631 BC. It was first a kingdom under founder Battus I and his descendants before becoming a republic around 450 BC. Cyrene grew to become a major trade center and boasted its own school of philosophers, the Cyrenean school, and its own style of Cyrenean sculpture.

In later years the city fell under the rule, successively, of Alexander the Great, the Egyptian Ptolemaic Empire, and finally the Romans, under whom it retained importance as the seat of the government of the eponymous province of Cyrenaica.

Today the town is of much less importance than it once was, but many Greek and Roman ruins remain to testify to its former glory.

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