In the earliest testimony for this character in ancient Greek literature (Iliad 11.20-23), Cinyras (in Greek, Κινύρας – Kinyras) was a ruler on Cyprus who gave a corselet to Agamemnon as a guest-gift when he heard that the Greeks were planning to sail to Troy. The name Cinyras does not appear again until he is mentioned by Pindar as "beloved of Apollo," and the priest of Aphrodite (Pythian 2 lines 15-17). Pindar mentions Cinyras as being fabulously rich in Nemean 8, line 18. This mythological ruler is associated with Cyprus in all sources.
Later, in Roman literature and in the Christian fathers such as Clement of Alexandria, the story of Cinyras is elaborated. They say that on Cyprus, Cinyras was revered as the creator of art and of musical instruments, such as the flute. Hesychius says he was a son of Apollo, and in other sources he is the husband of Galatea. With Galatea, he fathered Mygdalion (who led his only real ship to Troy), Adonis and Myrrha. There is mention of a musical contest between Cinyras and Apollo, similar to that between Apollo and Marsyas, to see who was a better musician with a lyre. Cinyras lost and killed himself.
According to Ovid, Cinyras' daughter Myrrha, impelled by an unnatural lust for her own father, slept with him, became pregnant, and asked the gods to change her into something other than human; she became a tree from whose bark myrrh drips. From this incestuous union sprang the child Adonis.
Clement of Alexandria in his Protrepticus talks about the "Cyprian Islander Cinyras, who dared to bring forth from night to the light of day the lewd orgies of Aphrodite in his eagerness to deify a strumpet of his own country."
In his Histories, Tacitus relates the account of divination rites at the famous Temple of Venus at Paphos; according to traditional tales, this temple was founded by King Aerias, but others say Cinyras consecrated the temple. The footnotes to this story also state that Cinyras is "Another mythical king of Cyprus. Hesychius calls him a son of Apollo, and Ovid makes him the father of Adonis."