Τῶν δὲ ἀλκυόνων οἱ ἄρσενες κηρύλοι καλοῦνται. ὅταν οὖν ὑπὸ τοῦ γήρως ἀσθενήσωσιν καὶ μηκέτι δύνωνται πέτεσθαι, φέρουσιν αὐτοὺς αἱ θήλειαι ἐπὶ τῶν πτερῶν λαβοῦσαι. καὶ ἔστι τὸ ὑπὸ τοῦ Ἀλκμᾶνος λεγόμενον τούτῳ συνῳκειωμένον· φησὶν γὰρ ἀσθενὴς ὢν διὰ τὸ γῆρας καὶ τοῖς χοροῖς οὐ δυνάμενος συμπεριφέρεσθαι οὐδὲ τῇ τῶν παρθένων ὀρχήσει·
οὔ μ’ ἔτι, παρσενικαὶ μελιγάρυες ἱαρόφωνοι,
γυῖα φέρην δύναται· βάλε δὴ βάλε κηρύλος εἴην,
ὅς τ’ ἐπὶ κύματος ἄνθος ἅμ’ ἀλκυόνεσσι ποτήται
νηλεὲς ἦτορ ἔχων, ἁλιπόρφυρος ἱαρὸς ὄρνις. [Alcman, fr. 26]
(Antigonus of Carystus, De Animalibus fr. 54b Dorandi)
Male halcyons are called ceryli.* When they become weak from old age and are no longer able to fly, the females carry them, taking them on their wings. What Alcman says is connected with this: weak from old age and unable to whirl about with the choirs and the girls’ dancing, he says,
No longer, honey-toned, strong-voiced girls, can my limbs carry me. If only, if only I were a cerylus, who flies along with the halcyons over the flower of the wave with resolute heart, strong, sea-blue bird.
* Both mythical seabirds, sometimes identified with the kingfisher.
(tr. David Campbell, with his note)