My unabridged Liddell/Scott does not have any indication of what the name of the Greek Mount "Kyllene" means. Robert Graves in "The Greek Myths" says it means "Twisted Queen." I have seen where he can be off in his interpretation of names, plus that just sounds like an odd name for the mountain. Does someone have a reliable source for the meaning of "Kyllene"?

  • I don't know where the name comes from, but Kyllẽnē was also the name of a nymph who lived at that mountain. That could explain Graves' translation.
    – Draconis
    Jan 23, 2017 at 22:51
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    (Kyllós means "deformed", from *(s)kel- "bend", but I'm not sure how one would get "queen" from -ēnē. Or of any other source backing this up.)
    – Draconis
    Jan 23, 2017 at 22:57
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    Graves was a novelist, not a linguist.
    – fdb
    Jan 23, 2017 at 23:24
  • The meaning twisted queen is rather wild imagination. Draconis etymology seems correct to me.
    – Midas
    Jan 24, 2017 at 7:20
  • Thank you, Draconis and others. I came across kullos as a description of Hefaistos' deformed legs ("bandy-legged"), but I also came across kulle', meaning "a cup, any hollow: the palm of the hand," and remembered that Hermes' epithet, "Kullenios," has associations with smithing. Do you think there might be an ancient, though infrequent, association between Hermes' magical/smithing qualities? The mountain was mythically named after Kullenos, a daktul ("finger," associated with magical and mystical smithing gods) of Samothrake' and elsewhere.
    – Kent
    Jan 25, 2017 at 16:49

1 Answer 1


OK Pausanias (Paus. 8.17.1) gives it to:

After the grave of Aepytus you come to the highest mountain in Arcadia, Cyllene, on the top of which is a dilapidated temple of Cyllenian Hermes. It is clear that Cyllen, the son of Elatus, gave the mountain its name and the god his surname. ( δῆλα δέ ἐστιν ἀπὸ Κυλλῆνος τοῦ Ἐλάτου τῷ τε ὄρει τὸ ὄνομα καὶ ἡ ἐπίκλησις γεγενημένη τῷ θεῷ.)

I know little about this gentleman (Κυλλήν, the above being apparently his only claim to fame), but Beekes gives

κυλλός [adj.] 'deformed, crippled, crooked', of hands, feet, etc. (lA). ... .ETYM Probably connected with κελλόν: στρεβλόν, πλάγιον 'twisted, athwart' (H.)... In view of its semantics and problematic lE etymology, the word may as well be Pre-Greek (cf. Fur.: 35455).

Further see WP.

Α Pre-Greek placename is plausible, given their plethora in the area, but if you have seen the crooked mountain, you cannot escape the evident inference. (Where Graves' queen came from one should not have a clue.)

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