On the steps of her throne slept her messenger, Iris, always half-awake, and ready to dart down like a bird, to the earth, to the Underworld, or to any other place where Hera might send her.
Iris was the granddaughter of Old Ocean. Her sisters were the Dark Clouds; her bridge was the rainbow, which joined heaven to earth. She had golden wings, and her draperies were as many-colored as her bridge, which was made of the most beautiful flower-tints ever seen.
One of Hera's most faithful worshippers was Halcyone, the wife of King Ceyx of Thessaly. It happened that King Ceyx was obliged to take a distant journey, far away over the seas. One night during his absence a very heavy storm came up, and the winds blew a gale.
Halcyone, being the daughter of the wind-god, Aeolus, knew well what her brothers, the Winds, could do, and passed the night in great terror. The next day she walked back and forth all day on the shore, longing for tidings of her husband's ship, yet fearing to know what might have happened. She was almost beside herself, and did not know what to do. At last, toward night, she carried wreaths to Hera's temple, and implored help from the goddess.
Hera knew all that had happened during the storm - how the king's ship had been broken to pieces upon the rocks, and how poor King Ceyx was already floating with the seaweed.
But the gods could do wonderful things. At a word from Hera, Iris set her beautiful rainbow bridge in the sky, while her sisters, the Dark Clouds, gathered together behind it. She came swiftly down the bridge to the earth, then flew toward the cave of Somnus, the god of sleep and dreams. She flew low over great fields of scarlet poppies - the poppies that bring sleep - and heard the trickling water of the river Lethe, which had its source within the cave of Somnus. Soon she reached the dark, cool, silent cave, and there lay Somnus, sleeping very soundly, on a great bed heaped high with black feathers. Around the god were dreams of every kind - good dreams and bad ones, beautiful and ugly, true and false. As Iris entered, her coming lighted up the darkness, and the wonderful colors of her garments were reflected to the farthest recess of the cave. She roused Somnus and delivered Hera's message.
That night Somnus sent a dream to Halcyone, - a dream of a wreck at a place some distance down the coast. Early the next morning, Halcyone ran to the place of which she had dreamed. She saw floating beams, and something bright among them - something which shone like the king's crown. Having a sudden longing to go to this spot, she started forward, and immediately felt herself raised on wings and carried out over the tossing waves, for Hera had changed her into a bird with plumage of Iris's own colors. With a loud cry, Halcyone flew to her Ceyx. Just as she lit on the floating beams, the bright crown became a crest of feathers, and the dead king a living bird with plumage like Halcyone's own.
So, after all, Ceyx and Halcyone were not separated. The air was as fresh and the sunshine as bright as ever. They could still be happy as kingfishers. After this, every year, the two birds built a nest which floated on the sea. During the fourteen days that Halcyone sat brooding, there was never a breath of wind stirring, but the sea was as smooth as glass, for aeolus watched over the waters. From that time, days of fine weather and calm seas, in midwinter, have been called "halcyon days."
The Legend and Myth of Halcyone
The Myth of Halcyone
The story of Halcyone is featured in the book entitled Favorite Greek Myths by Lilian Stoughton Hyde, published in 1904 by D. C. Heath and Company.
Halcyone - A Myth with a Moral
Many of the ancient Myth Stories, like the legend of Halcyone, incorporate tales with morals that provided the old story-tellers with short examples of exciting tales for kids and children of how to act and behave and reflected important life lessons. The characters of the heroes in this type of fable demonstrated the virtues of courage, love, loyalty, strength, perseverance, leadership and self reliance. Whereas the villains demonstrated all of the vices and were killed or punished by the gods. The old, famous myth story and fable, like Halcyone, were designed to entertain, thrill and inspire their young listeners...
The Myth of Halcyone - the Magical World of Myth & Legend
The story of Halcyone is one of the fantastic stories featured in ancient mythology and legends. Such stories serve as a doorway to enter the world of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. The names of so many of the heroes and characters are known today through movies and games but the actual story about such characters are unknown. Reading a myth story such as Halcyone is the easy way to learn about the stories of the classics.