A famous Cyprian hero. According to the common tradition, he was a son of Apollo or Paphos, king of Cyprus, and priest of the Paphian Aphrodite, which latter office remained hereditary in his family, the Cinyradae.1 Tacitus describes him as having come to Cyprus from Cilicia, from whence he introduced the worship of Aphrodite; and Apollodorus2 too calls him a son of Sandacus, who had emigrated from Syria to Cilicia.

Cinyras, after his arrival in Cyprus, founded the town of Paphos. He was married to Metharme, the daughter of the Cyprian king, Pygmalion, by whom he had several children. One of them was Adonis, whom, according to some traditions, he begot unwittingly in an incestuous intercourse with his own daughter, Smyrna. He afterwards killed himself on discovering this crime, into which he had been led by the anger of Aphrodite.3

According to other traditions, he had promised to assist Agamemnon and the Greeks in their war against Troy; but, as he did not keep his word, he was cursed by Agamemnon, and Apollo took vengeance upon him by entering into a contest with him, in which he was defeated and slain.4 His daughters, fifty in number, leaped into the sea, and were metamorphosed into halcyons — kingfishers. He is also described as the founder of the town of Cinyreia in Cyprus.5

Cinyras is also the name of an Assyrian king whose daughters were turned into the stone steps of a temple for their presumption.



  1. Pindar. Pythian Odes ii, 26 ff.; Tacitus. Histories, ii, 3; Scholiast on Theocritus, i, 109.
  2. The Library iii, 14.3.
  3. Hyginus. Fabulae, 58, 242; Antoninus Liberalis, 34; Ovid. Metamorphoses x, 310 ff.
  4. Homer. Iliad xii, 20, with the note of Eustathius.
  5. Pliny the Elder. Naturalis Historia v, 31; Nonnus. Dionysiaca xiii, 451.


  • 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.