Akalli, Ariadne’s older sister, is the eldest of Pasiphae and Minos’ children. While still a young teenager, she met the youthful Apollo while he was undergoing purification rituals. Instantly smitten, he seduced her: she is described as his “first love.”
Akalli conceived, but instead of being pleased, her parents were livid, apparently perceiving Apollo as not good enough for their daughter. Akalli was forbidden to marry him or continue the relationship. She is the mother of various sons whom she did not raise but who became founders of cities, heroes of Crete and North Africa.
Akalli’s own personal myth is curious and complex. In addition to Apollo, she had relations with Zeus and/or Hermes. Although deities now considered important and powerful pursue her, her parents are always displeased. One myth suggests that, while pregnant, Akalli was banished to Libya to live incognito. The son born to her there is sometimes called “the first man,” implying that she is the primordial mother.
Implicit in her myth is that none of these deities are worthy of her; Apollo is described as very young and a newcomer to the region. Akalli may be a very ancient and powerful, pre-Hellenic goddess venerated in the region before any of her suitors. The Olympian deities’ enthusiasm for her may indicate their desire to align themselves with her, to absorb her spiritual power and constituency. Her parents’ dismay may indicate an attempt to maintain independence or indigenous traditions. Akalli’s sojourn in Libya may reflect history: Cretans fleeing invaders are believed to have established colonies in Libya. Her name has two meanings:
• Without walls, as in traditionally unwalled Minoan cities or a vulnerable, undefended woman
• A narcissus flower
Also known as:
Acacallis; Akakallis; Acalle
Narcissus flowers, especially wild narcissus; honey
She was venerated at Lera Cave, Crete.
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