In Greek mythology
("mighty cunning") was one of the matrilineal Minyan
daughters, the daughter of Clymene
' daughter. She was the mother of Jason
, whom she met in the caves below Iolcus
, a chthonic
lair where the rightful king Aeson had been imprisoned by his evil half-brother Pelias
The old story of Alcimede's son Jason and the quest for the golden fleece is most familiar from a late version, the Argonautica of Apollonius of Rhodes.
A hint of matrilineal descent in archaic times among the Boeotian Minyans of Greece, is in Apollonius' aside concerning Jason's heritage:
- "So many then were the helpers who assembled to join the son of Aeson. All the chiefs the dwellers thereabout called Minyae, for the most and the bravest avowed that they were sprung from the blood of the daughters of Minyas; thus Jason himself was the son of Alcimede who was born of Clymene the daughter of Minyas." (Argonautica Book iii, 11.228-233)
A further hint of archaic matrilineal descent is that Clymene's consort is offered in two versions: she was usually cast as the wife of Phylacus (son of Deion, son of Aeolus) or in some versions, Aeson was fathered by Cephalus, otherwise the consort of Procris.
Along with Aeson, Alcimede was forced by the usurping Pelias to commit suicide. She hanged herself or else drank— along with her husband and the child Promachus— of bull's blood and so died.
Some other classical references: Valerius Flaccus (who also wrote an Argonaut epic) 1.818 etc; Argonautica 1.47, 1.228ff; Hyginus Fabulae.14; Pausanias 10.29.6