Or Alcithoe (Ἀλκιθόη), a daughter of Minyas, and sister of Leucippe and Arsippe. Instead of Arsippe, Aelian1 calls the latter Aristippa, and Plutarch2 Arsinoe. At the time when the worship of Dionysus was introduced into Boeotia, and while the other women and maidens were reveling and ranging over the mountains in Bacchic joy, these two sisters alone remained at home, devoting themselves to their usual occupations, and thus profaning the days sacred to the god. Dionysus punished them by changing them into bats, and their work into vines.3
Plutarch, Aelian, and Antoninus Liberalis, though with some differences in the detail, relate that Dionysus appeared to the sisters in the form of a maiden, and invited them to partake in the Dionysiac mysteries. When this request was not complied with, the god metamorphosed himself successively into a bull, a lion, and a panther, and the sisters were seized with madness. In this state they were eager to honor the god, and Leucippe, who was chosen by lot to offer a sacrifice to Dionysus, gave up her own son Hippasus to be torn to pieces.
In extreme Bacchic frenzy the sisters now roamed over the mountains, until at last Hermes changed them into birds. Plutarch adds that down to his time the men of Orchomenos descended from that family were called ψολόεις (psoloeis), that is, mourners, and the women ὀλεῖαι (oleiai) or αἰολεῖαι (aioleiai), that is, the destroyers.
In what manner the neglect of the Dionysiac worship on the part of Alcathoe and her sister was atoned for every year at the festival of the Agrionia, see Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, s.v. Ἀγριώνια.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.