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The halcyon days in Greek plays.

Ancient Greek mythology described "halcyon days" as seven days each winter when storms never occurred, which allowed Alcyone, who had been transformed by the gods along with her husband Ceyx into a bird, to lay her eggs on the beach in peaceful conditions. An examination of Greek plays recently published in Weather suggests that such days did actually occur, at least in fifth-century B.C. Athens, and possibly in the fourth century B.C. as well. Researchers perused 43 works written by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes between 458 and 401 B.C. for weather allusions and discovered seven clear references to midwinter halcyon days. According to lead author Christina Chronopoulou of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, the literary references to clear weather and mild winters, combined with "the fact that dramatic contests were held in midwinter without any indication of postponement," leads to the assumption "that those particular days of almost every January were summery in the 5th and maybe the 4th centuries B.C." as the result of a high-pressure system that consistently stalled over the area in the Attic month of Gamelion (January 15-February 15). As Sophocles wrote in Oedipus at Colonus (one of the works analyzed in the study): "... the wind is mute, in winter." (Source: Wiley)

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Publication:Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society
Geographic Code:4EUGR
Date:Jun 1, 2014
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