Mythology - Alcmene in Hesiod’s Shield

by Erin on April 19, 2012

A rather long time ago, I wrote an article about the mythological character Alcmene. In case that name isn’t ringing any bells of recognition, here is a quick refresher.

Indeed, the ancient Greek poet Hesiod begins his work The Shield with an introduction to the mother of Herakles.

“There was another woman,
Alcmene,
daughter of Electryon
who was his people’s champion.

She left home and hearth
for Thebes,
this bride of warlike Amphitryon.

Unrivaled in all the land
for her beauty and stature,
she was second to no mortal woman
whose child was sired by a god,
in the sharpness of her wit.

Her face and dark eyelids
wafted the charms
of Aphrodite the golden;
she honored her husband
from the depths of her heart,
and honored him
as no other woman of equal beauty.

Seething with anger over cattle,
Amphitryon, through might and main
murdered her illustrious father
and left the land of his forefathers
to come to Thebes,
a supplicant before the shield-bearing Kadmeans.
There he lived in the palace
with his shy wife,
a stranger to the passion of her love,
unable to share the bed
of Electryon’s fair-ankled daughter,
until, for honor’s sake,
he took revenge for the murder
of his wife’s kingly brothers
and gave to fire’s consuming
the settlements of heroic warriors -
the Teleboans and Taphians;
for this was his wish,
a wish for which the gods stood
ready witnesses.”

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