THE KORONIDES (Coronides) were two nymph daughters of the giant Orion. When the land of Boiotia (Boeotia) was struck by drought they voluntarily offered themselves up as a sacrifice to the gods, bashing out their own brains with shuttles. Persephone in pity then turned them into a pair of comets.
The name Koronides was associated with the Greek words korônis, "curving one" or "comet" and also korônê "the shuttle" and "crow."
FAMILY OF THE CORONIDES
ORION (Antoninus Liberalis 25, Ovid Metamorphoses 13.685)
MENIPPE, METIOKHE (Antoninus Liberalis 25)
THE KORONOI x2 (Ovid Metamorphoses 13.685)
MENIPPE (Menippê). A daughter of Orion and sister of Metioche. After Orion was killed by Artemis, Menippe and Metioche were brought up by their mother, and Athena taught them the art of weaving, and Aphrodite gave them beauty. Once the whole of Aonia was visited by a plague, and the oracle of Apollo Gortynius, when consulted, ordered the inhabitants to propitiate the two Erinnyes by the sacrifice of two maidens, who were to offer themselves to death of their own accord. Menippe and Metioche offered themselves; they thrice invoked the infernal gods, and killed themselves with their shuttles. Persephone and Hades metamorphosed them into comets. The Aonians erected to them a sanctuary near Orchomenos, where a propitiatory sacrifice was offered to them every year by youths and maidens. The Aeolians called these maidens Coronides. (Ov. Met. xiii. 685; Anton. Lib. 25; Schol. ad Hom. Il. xviii. 486.)
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 25 (trans. Celoria) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"In Boiotia (Boeotia) Orion, son of Hyrieos (Hyrieus), had as daughters Metiokhe (Metioche) and Menippe. After Artemis had taken him away from the sight of mankind, they were brought up by their mother. Athena taught them to weave the loom and Aphrodite gave them beauty.
When plague seized Aonia [Boiotia (Boeotia)] and many died, there were sent officers to consult Apollon's oracle at Gortyne. The god replied that they should make an appeal to the two gods of the underworld [i.e. Haides and Persephone]. He said that they would cease from their anger if two willing maidens were sacrificed to the two.
Of course not one of the maidens in the city complied with the oracle until a servant-woman reported the answer to the daughters of Orion. They were at work at their loom and, as soon as they heard about this, they willingly accepted death on behalf of their fellow citizens before the plague epidemic had smitten them too. They cries out three times to the gods of the underworld saying that they were willing sacrifices. They thrust their bodkins into themselves at their shoulders and gashed open their throats.
And they both fell down into the earth. Persephone and Hades took pity on the maidens and made their bodies disappear, sending them instead up out of the earth as heavenly bodies. When they appeared, they were borne up into the sky. And men called them comets. All the Aonians set up at Orkhomenos (Orchomenus) in Boiotia a notable temple to these two maidens. Every year young men and young women bring propitiary offerings to them. To this day the people of Aiolia (Aeolia) call them the Parthenoi Koronides (Maidens of the Curving Tail)."
Ovid, Metamorphoses 13. 687 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[Depicted on a wine bowl :] There was a city [Thebes]; one could point and count Seven gates; these served to name it and explain what place it was. Before the city, scenes of grief, with funerals and flaming pyres and tombs, and matrons with dishevelled hair and naked breasts; and Nymphae (Nymphs) in tears were seen mourning their drought-dried springs. A tree stood bare and leafless, goats were gnawing round parched rocks. Lo, he has fashioned in the heart of Thebae (Thebes) Orion's daughters [the Koronides (Coronides)], one cutting her throat--no woman's wound--one with her shuttle’s point stabbing herself, brave injury, as both die for their country’s sake, and through the city are borne in funeral pomp to the great square and there are burnt. Then, lest their line should die, from those two virgins' embers twin youths rise whom fame calls the Coronae, and they lead the files that lay their natal ash to rest."
NAMES OF THE CORONIDES
Best Counsel (mêtis)
Mighty Horse (menos, hippos)
- Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
Other references not currently quoted here: Scholiast on Homer's Iliad 18.486.
A complete bibliography of the translations quoted on this page.