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THE Hesiodic theogony gives no account of anything like a creation of man, nor does it seem that such an idea was much entertained in the legendary vein of Grecian imagination; which commonly carried back the present men by successive generations to some primitive ancestor, himself sprung from the soil, or from a neighboring river, or mountain, or from a god, a nymph, &c. But the poet of the Hesiodic “Works and Days” has given us a narrative conceived in a very different spirit respecting the origin of the human race, more in harmony with the sober and melancholy ethical tone which reigns through that poem.

First (he tells us) the Olympic gods made the golden race,—good, perfect, and happy men, who lived from the spontaneous abundance of the earth, in ease and tranquility, like the gods themselves: they suffered neither disease nor old-age, and their death was like a gentle sleep. After death they became, by the award of Zeus, guardian terrestrial demons, who watch unseen over the proceedings of mankind—with the regal privilege of dispensing to them wealth, and taking account of good and bad deeds.

Next, the gods made the silver race,—unlike and greatly inferior, both in mind and body, to the golden. The men of this race were reckless and mischievous towards each other, and disdainful to the immortal gods, to whom they refused to offer either worship or sacrifice. Zeus in his wrath buried them in the earth; but there they still enjoy a secondary honor, as the Blest of the underworld.

Thirdly, Zeus made the brazen race, quite different from the silver. They were made of hard ash-wood, pugnacious and terrible: they were of immense strength and adamantine soul, neither raising nor touching bread. Their arms, their houses, and their implements were all of brass: there was then no iron. This race, eternally fighting, perished by each other's hands, died out, and descended without name or privilege to Hades.

Next, Zeus made a fourth race, far juster and better than the last preceding. These were the Heroes or demigods, who fought at the sieges of Troy and Thebes. But this splendid stock also became extinct: some perished in war, others were removed by Zeus to a happier state in the islands of the Blest. There they dwell in peace and comfort, under the government of Kronos, reaping thrice in the year the spontaneous produce of the earth.

The fifth race, which succeeds to the Heroes, is of iron: it is the race to which the poet himself belongs, and bitterly does he regret it. He finds his contemporaries mischievous, dishonest, unjust, ungrateful, given to perjury, careless both of the ties of consanguinity and of the behests of the gods: Nemesis and Edo’s (Ethical Self-reproach) have left earth and gone back to Olympus. How keenly does he wish that his lot had been cast either earlier or later! This iron race is doomed to continual guilt, care, and suffering, with a small infusion of good; but the time will come when Zeus will put an end to it. The poet does not venture to predict what sort of race will succeed.

Such is the aeries of distinct races of men, which Hesiod, or the author of the “Works and Days”, enumerates as having existed down to his own time. I give it as it stands, without placing much confidence in the various explanations which critics have offered. It stands out in more than one respect from the general tone and sentiment of Grecian legend: moreover, the sequence of races is neither natural nor homogeneous,—the heroic race not having any metallic denomination, and not occupying any legitimate place in immediate succession to the brazen. Nor is the conception of the daemons in harmony either with Homer or with the Hesiodic theogony. In Homer, there is scarcely any distinction between gods and daemons: farther, the gods are stated to go about and visit the cities of men in various disguises for the purpose of inspecting good and evil proceedings. But in the poem now before us, the distinction between gods and demons is generic. The latter are invisible tenants of earth, remnants of the once happy golden race whom the Olympic gods first made: the remnants of the second or silver race are not daemons, nor are they tenants of earth, but they still enjoy an honorable posthumous existence as the Blest of the underworld. Nevertheless the Hesiodic daemons are in no way authors or abettors of evil: on the contrary, they form the unseen police of the gods, for the purpose of repressing wicked behavior in the world.

We may trace, I think, in this quintuple succession of earthly races, set forth by the author of the “Works and Days”, the confluence of two veins of sentiment, not consistent one with the other, yet both co-existing in the author’s mind. The drift of his poem is thoroughly didactic and ethical. Though deeply penetrated with the injustice and suffering which darken the face of human life, he nevertheless strives to maintain both in himself and in others, a conviction that on the whole the just and laborious man will come off well, and he enforces in considerable detail the lessons of practical prudence and virtue. This ethical sentiment, which dictates his appreciation of the present, also guides his imagination as to the past. It is pleasing to him to bridge over the chasm between the gods and degenerate man, by the supposition of previous races,—the first altogether pure, the second worse than the first, and the third still worse than the second; and to show further how the first race passed by gentle death-sleep into glorious immortality; how the second race was sufficiently wicked to drive Zeus to bury them in the underworld, yet still leaving them a certain measure of honor; while the third was so desperately violent as to perish by its own animosities, without either name or honor of any kind. The conception of the golden race passing after death into good guardian daemons, which some supposed to have been derived from a comparison with oriental angels, presents itself to the poet partly as approximating this race to the gods, partly as a means of constituting a triple gradation of post-obituary existence, proportioned to the character of each race whilst alive. The denominations of gold and silver, given to the two first races, justify themselves, like those given by Simonides of Amorgos and by Phokylides to the different characters of women, derived from the dog, the bee, the mare, the ass, and other animals; and the epithet of brazen is specially explained by reference to the material which the pugnacious third race so plentifully employed for their arms and other implements.

So far we trace intelligibly enough the moralizing vein: we find the revolutions of the past so arranged as to serve partly as an ethical lesson, partly as a suitable preface to the present. But fourth in the list comes “the divine race of Heroes” and here a new vein of thought is opened by the poet. The symmetry of his ethical past is broken up, in order to make way for these cherished beings of the national faith. For though the author of the “Works and Days” was himself of a didactic cast of thought, like Phokylides, or Solon, or Theognis, yet he had present to his feelings, in common with his country­men, the picture of Grecian foretime, as it was set forth in the current myths, and still more in Homer and those other epical productions which were then the only existing literature and history. It was impossible for him to exclude, from his sketch of the past, either the great persons or the glorious exploits which these poems ennobled; and even if he himself could have consented to such an exclusion, the sketch would have become repulsive to his bearers. But the chiefs who figured before Thebes and Troy could not be well identified either with the golden, the silver, or the brazen race: moreover, it was essential that they should be placed in immediate contiguity with the present race, because their descendants, real or supposed, were the most prominent and conspicuous of existing men. Hence the poet is obliged to assign to them the fourth place in the series, and to interrupt the descending ethical movement in order to interpolate them between the brazen and the iron race, with neither of which they present any analogy. The iron race, to which the poet himself unhappily belongs, is the legitimate successor, not of the heroic, but of the brazen. Instead of the fierce and self-annihilating pugnacity which characterizes the latter, the iron race manifests an aggregate of smaller and meaner vices and mischiefs, It will not perish by suicidal extinction—but it is growing worse and worse, and is gradually losing its vigor, so that Zeus will not vouchsafe to preserve much longer such a race upon the earth.




The Works and Days, earliest didactic poem.

I conceive that the series of races imagined by the poet of the “Works and Days” is the product of two distinct and incongruous veins of imagination,—the didactic or ethical blending with the primitive mythical or epical. His poem is remarkable as the most ancient didactic production of the Greeks, and as one of the first symptoms of a new tone of sentiment finding its way into their literature, never afterwards to become extinct. The tendency of the “Works and Days” is antiheroic: far from seeking to inspire admiration for adventurous enterprise, the author inculcates the strictest justice, the most unremitting labor and frugality, and a sober, not to say anxious, estimate of all the minute specialties of the future. Prudence and probity are his means,—practical comfort and happiness his end. But he deeply feels, and keenly exposes, the manifold wickedness and shortcomings of his contemporaries, in reference to this capital standard. He turns with displeasure from the present men, not because they are too feeble to hurl either the spear of Achilles or some vast boundary-stone, but because they are rapacious, knavish, and unprincipled.

The daemons first introduced into the religious atmosphere of the Grecian world by the author of the “Works and Days”—as generically different from the gods, but essentially good, and forming the intermediate agents and police between gods and men,—are deserving of attention. They are the seed of a doctrine which afterwards underwent many changes, and became of great importance, first as one of the constituent elements of pagan faith, then as one of the helps to its subversion. It will be recollected that the buried remnants of the half-wicked silver race, though they are not recognized as demons, are still considered as having a substantive existence, a name, and dignity, in the underworld.

The step was easy, to treat them as demons also, but as demons of a defective and malignant character: this step was made by Empedocles and Xenocrates, and to a certain extent countenanced by Plato. There came thus to be admitted among the pagan philosophizers daemons both good and bad, in every degree: and these daemons were found available as a means of explaining many phenomena for which it was not convenient to admit the agency of the gods. They served to relieve the gods from the odium of physical and moral evils, as well as from the necessity of constantly meddling in small affairs. The objectionable ceremonies of the pagan religion were defended upon the ground that in no other way could the exigencies of such malignant beings be appeased. The demons were most frequently noticed as causes of evil, and thus the name came insensibly to convey with it a bad sense,—the idea of an evil being as contrasted with the goodness of a god. So it was found by the Christian writers when they commenced their controversy with paganism. One branch of their argument led them to identify the pagan gods with demons in the evil sense, and the insensible change in the received meaning of the word lent them a specious assistance.

For they could easily show, that not only in Homer, but in the general language of early pagans, all the gods generally were spoken of as demons—and therefore, verbally speaking, Clemens and Tatian seemed to affirm nothing more against Zeus or Apollo than was involved in the language of paganism itself. Yet the audience of Homer or Sophocles would have strenuously repudiated the proposition, if it had been put to them in the sense which the word demon bore in the ago and among the circle of these Christian writers.

In the imagination of the author of the “Works and Days”, the demons occupy an important place, and are regarded as being of serious practical efficiency. When he is remonstrating with the rulers around him upon their gross injustice and corruption, he reminds them of the vast number of these immortal servants of Zeus who are perpetually on guard amidst mankind, and through whom the visitations of the gods will descend even upon the most potent evil-doers. His supposition that the demons were not gods, but departed men of the golden race, allowed him to multiply their number indefinitely, without too much cheapening the divine dignity.

As this poet, enslaved by the current legends, has introduced the heroic race into a series to which they do not legitimately belong—so he has under the same influence inserted in another part of his poem the myth of Pandora and Prometheus, as a means of explaining the primary diffusion, and actual abundance, of evil among mankind. Yet this myth can in no way consist, with his quintuple scale of distinct races, and is in fact a totally distinct theory to explain the same problem,—the transition of mankind from a supposed state of antecedent happiness to one of present toil and suffering. Such an inconsistency is not a sufficient reason for questioning the genuineness of either passage; for the two stories, though one contradicts the other, both harmonies with that central purpose which governs the author’s mind,—a querulous and didactic appreciation of the present. That such was his purpose appears not only from the whole tenor of his poem, but also from the remarkable fact that his own personality, his own adventures and kindred, and his own sufferings figure in it conspicuously. And this introduction of self-imparts to it a peculiar interest. The father of Hesiod came over from the Eolic Kyme, with the view of bettering his condition, and settled at Askra in Boeotia, at the foot of Mount Helicon. After his death his two sons divided the family inheritance: but Hesiod bitterly complains that his brother Perses cheated and went to law with him, and obtained through corrupt judges an unjust decision. He farther reproaches his brother with a preference for the suits and unprofitable bustle of the agora, at a time when he ought to be laboring for his subsistence in the field. Askra indeed was a miserable place, repulsive both in summer and winter. Hesiod had never crossed the sea, except once from Aulis to Euboea, whither he went to attend the funeral-games of Amphidamas, the chief of Chalcis: he sung a hymn, and gained as prize a tripod, which he consecrated to the muses in Helicon.

Probable age of the poem.

These particulars, scanty as they are, possess a peculiar value, as the earliest authentic memorandum respecting the doing or suffering of any actual Greek person. There is no external testimony at all worthy of trust respecting the age of the “Works and Days” Herodotus treats Hesiod and Homer as belonging to the same age, four hundred years before his own time; and there are other statements besides, some placing Hesiod at an earlier date than Homer, some at a later. Looking at the internal evidences, we may observe that the pervading sentiment, tone, and purpose of the poem is widely different from that of the Iliad and Odyssey, and analogous to what we read respecting the compositions of Archilochus and the Amorgian Simonides. The author of the “Works and Days” is indeed a preacher and not a satirist: but with this distinction, we find in him the same predominance of the present and the positive, the same disposition to turn the muse into an exponent of his own personal wrongs, the same employment of Aesopic fable by way of illustration, and the same unfavorable estimate of the female sex, all of which may be traced in the two poets above-mentioned, placing both of them in contrast with the Homeric epic. Such an internal analogy, in the absence of good testimony, is the best guide which we can follow in determining the date of the “Works and Days”, which we should accordingly place shortly after the year 700 BC. The style of the poem might indeed afford a proof that the ancient and uniform hexameter, though well adapted to continuous legendary narrative or to solemn hymns, was somewhat monotonous when called upon either to serve a polemical purpose or to impress a striking moral lesson. When poets, then the only existing composers, first began to apply their thoughts to the cut and thrust of actual life, aggressive or didactic, the verse would be seen to require a new, livelier, and smarter metre; and out of this want grew the elegiac and the iambic verse, both seemingly contemporaneous, and both intended to supplant the primitive hexameter for the short effusions then coming into vogue.







THE sons of the Titan god Iapetus, as described in the Hesiodic theogony, are Atlas, Mencetius, Prometheus, and Epimetheus. Of these, Atlas alone is mentioned by Homer in the Odyssey, and even he not as the son of Iapetus: the latter himself is named in the Iliad as existing in Tartarus along with Kronos. The Homeric Atlas “knows the depths of the whole sea, and keeps by himself those tall pillars which hold the heaven apart from the earth”.

As the Homeric theogony generally appears much expanded in Hesiod, so also does the family of Iapetus, with their varied adventures. Atlas is here described, not as the keeper of the intermediate pillars between heaven and earth, but as himself condemned by Zeus to support the heaven on his head and hands; while the fierce Menoetius is pushed down to Erebus as a punishment for his ungovernable insolence. But the remaining two brothers, Prometheus and Epimetheus, are among the most interesting creations of Grecian legend, and distinguished in more than one respect from all the remainder.

First, the main battle between Zeus and the Titan gods is a contest of force purely and simply—mountains are hurled and thunder is launched, and the victory remains to the strongest. But the competition between Zeus and Prometheus is one of craft and stratagem: the victor does indeed remain to the former, but the honors of the fight belong to the latter. Secondly, Prometheus and Epimetheus (the fore-thinker and the after-thinker) are characters stamped at the same mint, and by the same effort, the express contrast and antithesis of each other. Thirdly, mankind are here expressly brought forward, not indeed as active partners in the struggle, but as the grand and capital subjects interested,—as gainers or sufferers by the result. Prometheus appears in the exalted character of champion of the human race, even against the formidable superiority of Zeus.

In the primitive or Hesiodic legend, Prometheus is not the creator or molder of man; it is only the later additions which invest him with this character. The race are supposed as existing, and Prometheus, a member of the dispossessed body of Titan gods, comes forward as their representative and defender. The advantageous bargain which he made with Zeus on their behalf, in respect to the partition of the sacrificial animals, has been recounted in a preceding chapter. Zeus felt that he had been outwitted, and was exceeding wroth. In his displeasure he withheld from mankind the inestimable comfort of fire, so that the race would have perished, had not Prometheus stolen fire, in defiance of the Supreme Ruler, and brought it to men in the hollow stem of the plant called giant-fennel.

Zeus was now doubly indignant, and determined to play off a still more ruinous stratagem. Hephaestus, by his direction, molded the form of a beautiful virgin; Athene dressed her, Aphrodite and the Charites bestowed upon her both ornament and fascination, while Hermes infused into her the mind of a dog, a deceitful spirit, and treacherous words. The messengers of the gods conducted this “fascinating mischief” to mankind, at a time when Prometheus was not present. Now Epimetheus had received from his brother peremptory injunctions not to accept from the hands of Zeus any present whatever; but the beauty of Pandora (so the newly-formed female was called) was not to be resisted. She was received and admitted among men, and from that moment their comfort and tranquility was exchanged for suffering of every kind. The evils to which mankind are liable had been before enclosed in a cask in their own keeping; Pandora in her malice removed the lid of the cask, and out flew these thousand evils and calamities, to exercise for ever their destroying force. Hope alone remained imprisoned, and therefore without efficacy, as before—the inviolable lid being replaced before she could escape. Before this incident (says the legend) men had lived without disease or suffering; but now both earth and sea are full of mischiefs. Maladies of every description stalk abroad by day as well as by night, without any hope fox man of relief to come.

The Theogony gives the legend here recounted, with some variations—leaving out the part of Epimetheus altogether, as well as the cask of evils. Pandora is the ruin of man, simply as the mother and representative of the female sex. And the variations are thus useful, as they enable us to distinguish the essential from the accessory circumstances of the story.



“Thus (says the poet, at the conclusion of his narrative) it is not possible to escape from the purposes of Zeus”. His myth, connecting the calamitous condition of man with the malevolence of the supreme god, shows, first, by what cause such an unfriendly feeling was raised; next, by what instrumentality its deadly results were brought about. The human race are not indeed the creation, but the protected flock of Prometheus, one of the elder or dispossessed Titan gods. When Zeus acquires supremacy, mankind along with the rest become subject to him, and are to make the best bargain they can, respecting worship and service to be yielded. By the stratagem of their advocate Prometheus, Zeus is cheated into such a partition of the victims as is eminently unprofitable to him; whereby his wrath is so provoked, that he tries to subtract from man the use of feeling of fire. Here, however, his scheme is frustrated by the theft of Prometheus: but his second attempt is more successful, and he in his turn cheats the unthinking Epimetheus into the acceptance of a present (in spite of the peremptory interdict of Prometheus) by which the whole of man’s happiness is wrecked. This legend grows out of two feelings; partly as to the relations of the gods with man, partly as to the relation of the female sex with the male. The present gods are unkind towards man, but the old gods, with whom man's lot was originally cast, were much kinder—and the ablest among them stands forward as the indefatigable protector of the race. Nevertheless, the mere excess of his craft proves the ultimate ruin of the cause which he espouses. He cheats Zeus out of a fair share of the sacrificial victim, so as both to provoke and justify a retaliation which he cannot be always at hand to ward off; the retaliation is, in his absence, consummated by a snare laid for Epimetheus and voluntarily accepted. And thus, though Hesiod ascribes the calamitous condition of man to the malevolence of Zeus, his piety suggests two exculpatory pleas for the latter; mankind have been the first to defraud Zeus of his legitimate share of the sacrifice—and they have moreover been consenting parties to their own ruin. Such are the feelings, as to the relation between the gods and man, which have been one of the generating elements of this legend. The other element, a conviction of the vast mischief arising to man from women, whom yet they cannot dispense with, is frequently and strongly set forth in several of the Greek poets—by Simonides of Amorgos and Phokylidis, not less than by Euripides.

Punishment of Prometheus

But the miseries arising from woman, however great they might be, did not reach Prometheus himself. For him, the rash champion who had ventured “to compete in sagacity” with Zeus, a different punishment was in store. Bound by heavy chains to a pillar, he remained fast imprisoned for several generations: every day did an eagle prey upon his liver, and every night did the liver grow afresh for the next day’s suffering. At length Zeus, eager to enhance the glory of his favorite son, Heracles, permitted the latter to kill the eagle and rescue the captive.

Such is the Promethean myth as it stands in the Hesiodic poems; its earliest form, as far as we can trace. Upon it was founded the sublime tragedy of Aeschylus, “The Enchained Prometheus”, together with at least one more tragedy, now lost, by the same author. Aeschylus has made several important alterations; describing the human race, not as having once enjoyed and subsequently lost a state of tranquility and enjoyment, but as originally feeble and wretched. He suppresses both the first trick played off by Prometheus upon Zeus respecting the partition of the victim—and the final formation and sending of Pandora—which are the two most marked portions of the Hesiodic story; while on the other hand he brings out prominently and enlarges upon the theft of fire, which in Hesiod is but slightly touched. If he has thus relinquished the antique simplicity of the story, he has rendered more than ample compensation by imparting to it a grandeur of ideal, a large reach of thought combined with appeals to our earnest and admiring sympathy, and a pregnancy of suggestion in regard to the relations between the gods and man, which soar far above the Hesiodic level, and which render his tragedy the most impressive, though not the most artistically composed, of all Grecian dramatic productions. Prometheus there appears not only as the heroic champion and sufferer in the cause and for the protection of the human race, but also as the gifted teacher of all the arts, helps, and ornaments of life, amongst which fire is only one: all this against the will and in defiance of the purpose of Zeus, who, on acquiring his empire, wished to destroy the human race and to beget some new breed. Moreover, new relations between Prometheus and Zeus are superadded by Aeschylus. At the commencement of the struggle between Zeus and the Titan gods, Prometheus had vainly attempted to prevail upon the latter to conduct it with prudence; but when he found that they obstinately declined all wise counsel, and that their ruin was inevitable, he abandoned their cause and joined Zeus. To him and to his advice Zeus owed the victory; yet the monstrous ingratitude and tyranny of the latter is now manifested by nailing him to a rock, for no other crime than because he frustrated the purpose of extinguishing the human race, and furnished to them the means of living with tolerable comfort. The new ruler Zeus, insolent with his victory over the old gods, tramples down all right, and sets at naught sympathy and obligation, as well towards gods as towards man. Yet the prophetic Prometheus, in the midst of intense suffering, is consoled by the foreknowledge that the time will come when Zeus must again send for him, release him, and invoke his aid, as the sole means of averting from himself dangers otherwise insurmountable. The security and means of continuance for mankind have now been placed beyond the reach of Zeus—whom Prometheus proudly defies, glorying in his generous and successful championship, despite the terrible price which he is doomed to pay for it.

As the Aeschylean Prometheus, though retaining the old lineaments, has acquired a new coloring, soul, and character, so he has also become identified with a special locality. In Hesiod there is no indication of the place in which he is imprisoned; but Aeschylus places it in Scythia, and the general belief of the Greeks supposed it to be on Mount Caucasus. So long and so firmly did this belief continue, that the Roman general Pompey, when in command of an army in Colchis, made with his companion, the literary Greek Theophanes, a special march to view the spot in Caucasus where Prometheus had been transfixed.








HAVING briefly enumerated the gods of Greece, with their chief attributes as described in legend, we come to those genealogies which connected them with historical men.

In the retrospective faith of a Greek, the ideas of worship and ancestry coalesced. Every association of men, large or small, in whom there existed a feeling of present union, traced back that union to some common initial progenitor; that progenitor being either the common god whom they worshipped, or some semi-divine person closely allied to him. What the feelings of the community require is, a continuous pedigree to connect them with this respected source of existence, beyond which they do not think of looking back. A series of names, placed in filiation or fraternity, together with a certain number of family or personal adventures ascribed to some of the individuals among them, constitute the ante-historical past through which the Greek looks back to his gods. The names of this genealogy are, to a great degree, gentile or local names familiar to the people,—rivers, mountains, springs, lakes, villages, demes, &c.,—embodied as persons, and introduced as acting or suffering. They are moreover called kings or chiefs, but the existence of a body of subjects surrounding them is tacitly implied rather than distinctly set forth ; for their own personal exploits or family proceedings constitute for the most part the whole matter of narrative. And thus the genealogy was made to satisfy at once the appetite of the Greeks for romantic adventure, and their demand for an unbroken line of filiation between themselves and the gods.

The eponymous personage, from whom the community derive their name, is sometimes the begotten son of the local god, even if it could be ascertained, we must at once set it historical aside, if we wish to look at the genealogy in the point of view of the Greeks. For to them, not only all the members were alike real, but the gods and heroes at the commencement were in a certain sense the most real; at least, they were the most esteemed and indispensable of all. The value of the genealogy consisted, not in its length, but in its continuity; not (according to the feeling of modern aristocracy) in the power of setting out a prolonged series of human fathers and grandfathers, but in the sense of ancestral union with the primitive god. And the length of the series is traceable rather to humility, inasmuch as the same person who was gratified with the belief that he was descended from a god in the fifteenth generation, would have accounted it, criminal insolence to affirm that a god was his father or grandfather. In presenting to the reader those genealogies which constitute the supposed primitive history of Hellas, I make no pretense to distinguish names real and historical from fictitious creations; partly because I have no evidence upon which to draw the line, and partly because by attempting it I should altogether depart from the genuine Grecian point of view.

Nor is it possible to do more than exhibit a certain selection of such as were most current and interesting; for the total number of them which found place in Grecian faith exceeds computation. As a general rule, every deme, every gens, every aggregate of men accustomed to combined action, religious or political, had its own. The small and unimportant demes into which Attica was divided had each its ancestral god and heroes, just as much as the great Athens herself. Even among the villages of Phocis, which Pausanias will hardly permit himself to call towns, deductions of legendary antiquity were not wanting. And it is important to bear in mind, when we are reading the legendary genealogies of Argos, or Sparta, or Thebes, that these are merely samples amidst an extensive class, all perfectly analogous, and all exhibiting the religious and patriotic retrospect of some fraction of the Hellenic world. They are no more matter of historical tradition than any of the thousand other legendary genealogies which men delighted to recall to memory at the periodical festivals of their gees, their deme, or their village.

With these few prefatory remarks, I proceed to notice the most conspicuous of the Grecian heroic pedigrees, and first, that of Argos.

Argeian genealogy-Inachus

The earliest name in Argeian antiquity is that of Inachus, the son of Oceanus and Tethys, who gave his name to the Argeian river flowing under the walls of the town. According to the chronological computations of those who regarded the mythical genealogies as substantive history, and who allotted a given number of years to each generation, the reign of Inachus was placed 1986 BC, or about 1100 years prior to the commencement of the recorded Olympiads.

The sons of Inachus were Phoroneus and Egialeus; both of whom however were sometimes represented as autochthonous or indigenous men, the one in the territory of Argos, the other in that of Sicyon. Egialeus gave his name to the north-western region of the Peloponnesus, on the southern coast of the Corinthian Gulf. The name of Phoreneus was of great celebrity in the Argeian mythical genealogies, and furnished both the title and the subject of the ancient poem called Phoronis, in which he is styled “the father of mortal men”. He is said to have imparted to mankind, who had before him lived altogether isolated, the first notion and habits of social existence, and even the first knowledge of fire: his dominion extended over the whole Peloponnesus. His tomb at Argos, and seemingly also the place, called the Phoronic city, in which he formed the first settlement of mankind, were still shown in the days of Pausanias. The offspring of Phoroneus, by the nymph Teledike, were Apis and Niobe. Apis, a harsh ruler, was put to death by Thelxion and Telchin, having given to Peloponnesus the name of Apia: he was succeeded by Argos, the son of his sister Niobe by the god Zeus. From this sovereign Peloponnesus was denominated Argos. By his wife Evadne, daughter of Strymon, he had four sons, Ekbasus, Peiras, Epidaurus, and Kriasus. Ekbasus was succeeded by his son Agenor, and he again by his son Argos Panoptes, a very powerful prince, who is said to have bad eyes distributed over all his body, and to have liberated Peloponnesus from several monsters and wild animals which infested it: Akusilaus and Aeschylus make this Argos an earthborn person, while Pherekydes reports him as son of Arestor. Iasus was the son of Argos Panoptes by Ismene, daughter of Asopus. According to the authors whom Apollodorus and Pausanias prefer, the celebrated Io was his daughter: but the Hesiodic epic (as well as Akusilaus) represented her as daughter of Peiras, while Aeschylus and Kastor the chronologist affirmed the primitive king Inachus to have been her father. A favorite theme, as well for the ancient genealogical poets as for the Attic tragedians, were the adventures of Io; of whom, while priestess of Hera, at the ancient and renowned Heraeon between Mycenae and Tiryns, Zeus became amorous. When Hera discovered the intrigue and taxed him with it, he denied the charge, and metamorphosed Io into a white cow. Here, requiring that the cow should be surrendered to her, placed her under the keeping of Argos Panoptes; but this guardian was slain by Hermes, at the command of Zeus; and Hera then drove the cow Io away from her native land by means of the incessant stinging of a gadfly, which compelled her to wander without repose or sustenance over an immeasurable extent of foreign regions. The wandering Io gave her name to the Ionian Gulf, traversed Epirus and Illyria, passed the chain of Mount Haemus and the lofty summits of Caucasus, and swam across the Thracian or Cimmerian Bosporus (which also from her derived its appellation) into Asia. She then went through Scythia, Cimmeria, and many Asiatic regions, until she arrived in Egypt, where Zeus at length bestowed upon her rest, restored her to her original form, and enabled her to give birth to his black son Epaphos.

Such is a general sketch of the adventures which the ancient poets, epic, lyric, and tragic, and the logographers after them, connect with the name of the Argeian Io—one of the numerous tales which the fancy of the Greeks deduced from the amorous dispositions of Zeus and the jealousy of Hera. That the scene should be laid in the Argeian territory appears natural, when we recollect that both Argos and Mycenae were under the special guardianship of Here, and that the Heraeon near Mycenae was one of the oldest and most celebrated temples in which she was worshipped. It is useful to compare this amusing fiction with the representation reported to us by Herodotus, and derived by him as well from Phoenician as from Persian antiquarians, of the circumstances which occasioned the transit of Io from Argos to Egypt—an event recognized by all of them as historical matter of fact. According to the Persians, a Phoenician vessel had arrived at the port near Argos, freighted with goods intended for sale to the inhabitants of the country. After the vessel had remained a few days, and disposed of most of her cargo, several Argeian women, and among them Io the king’s daughter, coming on board to purchase, were seized and carried off by the crew, who sold Io in Egypt. The Phoenician antiquarians, however, while they admitted the circumstance that Io had left her own country in one of their vessels, gave a different color to the whole by affirming that she emigrated voluntarily, having been engaged in an amour with the captain of the vessel, and fearing that her parents might come to the knowledge of her pregnancy. Both Persians and Phoenicians described the abduction of Io as the first of a series of similar acts between Greeks and Asiatics, committed each in revenge for the preceding. First came the rape of Europe from Phoenicia by Grecian adventurers—perhaps, as Herodotus supposed, by Cretans: next, the abduction of Medeia from Colchis by Jason, which occasioned the retaliatory act of Paris, when he stole away Helena from Menelaos. Up to this point the seizures of women by Greeks from Asiatics, and by Asiatics from Greeks, had been equivalent both in number and in wrong. But the Greeks now thought fit to equip a vast conjoint expedition to recover Helen, in the course of which they took and sacked Troy. The invasions of Greece by Darius and Xerxes were intended, according to the Persian antiquarians, as a long-delayed retribution for the injury inflicted on the Asiatics by Agamemnon and his followers.

Danaos and his fifty daughters

The account thus given of the adventures of Io, when contrasted with the genuine legend, is interesting, as it tends to illustrate the phenomenon which early Grecian history is constantly presenting to us—the way in which the epical furniture of an unknown past is recast and newly colored so as to meet those changes which take place in the retrospective feelings of the present. The religious and poetical character of the whole legend disappears: nothing remains except the names of persons and places, and the voyage from Argos to Egypt: we have in exchange a sober, quasi-historical narrative, the value of which consists in its bearing on the grand contemporary conflicts between Persia and Greece, which filled the imagination of Herodotus and his readers.

To proceed with the genealogy of the kings of Argos, Iasus was succeeded by Krotopus, son of his brother Agenor; Krotopus by Sthenelas, and he again by Gelanor. In the reign of the latter, Danaos came with his fifty daughters from Egypt to Argos; and here we find another of those romantic adventures which so agreeably decorate the barrenness of the mythical genealogies. Danaos and Egyptos were two brothers descending from Epaphos, son of Io: Egyptos had fifty sons, who were eager to marry the fifty daughters of Danaos, in spite of the strongest repugnance of the latter. To escape such a necessity, Danaos placed his fifty daughters on board of a penteconter (or vessel with fifty oars) and sought refuge at Argos; touching in his voyage at the island of Rhodes, where he erected a statue of Athena at Lindos, which was long exhibited as a memorial of his passage. Egyptos and his sons followed them to Argos, and still pressed their suit, to which Danaos found himself compelled to assent; but on the wedding night he furnished each of his daughters with a dagger, and enjoined them to murder their husbands during the hour of deep. His orders were obeyed by all, with the single exception of Hypermnestra, who preserved her husband Lynkeus, incurring displeasure and punishment from her father. He afterwards, however, pardoned her; and when, by the voluntary abdication of Gelamor, he became king of Argos, Lynkeus was recognized as his son-in-law, and ultimately succeeded him. The remaining daughters, having been purified by Athena and Hermes, were given in marriage to the victors in a gymnic contest publicly proclaimed. From Danaos was derived the name of Danai, applied to the inhabitants of the Argeian territory, and to the Homeric Greeks generally.

Akrisios and Proetus

From the legend of the Danaides we pass to two barren names of kings, Lynkeus and his son Abas. The two sons of Abas were Akrisios and Proetos, who, after much dissension, divided between them the Argeian territory; Akrisios ruling at Argos, and Proetos at Tiryns. The families of both formed the theme of romantic stories. To pass over for the present the legend of Bellerophon, and the unrequited passion which the wife of Proetos conceived for him, we are told that the daughters of Proetos, beautiful, and solicited in marriage by suitors from all Greece, were smitten with leprosy and driven mad, wandering in unseemly guise throughout Peloponnesus. The visitation had overtaken them, according to Hesiod, because they refused to take part in the Bacchic rites; according to Pherekydes and the Argeian Akusilaus, because they had treated scornfully the wooden statue and simple equipments of Hera: the religious character of the old legend here displays itself in a remarkable manner. Unable to cure his daughters, Proetos invoked the aid of the renowned Pylian prophet and leech, Melampus son of Amythaon, who undertook to remove the malady on condition of being rewarded with the third part of the kingdom. Proetos indignantly refused these conditions : but the state of his daughters becoming aggravated and intolerable, he was compelled again to apply to Melampus; who, on the second request, raised his demands still higher, and required another third of the kingdom for his brother Bias. These terms being acceded to, he performed his part of the covenant. He appeased the wrath of Hera by prayer and sacrifice; or, according to another account, he approached the deranged women at the head of a troop of young men, with shouting and ecstatic dance—the ceremonies appropriate to the Bacchic worship of Dionysos,—and in this manner effected their cure. Melampus, a name celebrated in many different Grecian myths, is the legendary founder and progenitor of a great and long-continued family of prophets. He and his brother Bias became kings of separate portions of the Argeian territory: he is recognized as ruler there even in the Odyssey, and the prophet Theoklymenos, his grandson, is protected and carried to Ithaca by Telemachus. Herodotus also alludes to the cure of the women, and to the double kingdom of Melampus and Bias in the Argeian land: recognizing Melampus as the first person who introduced to the knowledge of the Greeks the name and worship of Dionysos, with its appropriate sacrifices and phallic processions. Here again he historicizes various features of the old legend in a manner not unworthy of notice.

Perseus and the Gorgons

But Danae, the daughter of Akrisios, with her son Perseus, acquired still greater celebrity than her cousins the Proetides. An oracle had apprised Akrisios that his daughter would give birth to a son by whose hand he would himself be slain. To guard against this danger, he imprisoned Danae in a chamber of brass underground. But the god Zeus had become amorous of her, and found means to descend through the roof in the form of a shower of gold: the consequence of his visits was the birth of Perseus. When Akrisios discovered that his daughter had given existence to a son, he enclosed both the mother and the child in a coffer, which he cast into the sea. The coffer was carried to the isle of Seriphos, where Diktys, brother of the king Polydektes, fished it up, and rescued both Danae and Perseus. The exploits of Perseus, when he grew up, against the three Phorkydes or daughters of Phorkys, and the three Gorgons, are among the most marvelous and imaginative in all Grecian legend: they bear a stamp almost Oriental. I shall not here repeat the details of those unparalleled hazards which the special favor of Athene enabled him to overcome, and which ended in his bringing back from Libya the terrific head of the Gorgon Medusa, endued with the property of turning everyone who looked upon it into stone. In his return he rescued Andromeda, daughter of Cepheus, who had been exposed to be devoured by a sea-monster, and brought her back as his wife. Akrisios trembled to see him after this victorious expedition, and retired into Thessaly to avoid him; but Perseus followed him thither, and having succeeded in calming his apprehensions, became competitor in a gymnic contest where his grandfather was among the spectators. By an incautious swing of his quoit, he unintentionally struck Akrisios, and caused his death: the predictions of the oracle were thus at last fulfilled. Stung with remorse at the catastrophe, and unwilling to return to Argos, which had been the principality of Akrisios, Perseus made an exchange with Megapenthes, son of Proetos king of Tiryns. Megapenthes became king of Argos, and Perseus of Tiryns: moreover the latter founded, within ten miles of Argos, the far-famed city of Mycenae. The massive walls of this city, like those of Tiryns, of which a large portion yet remains, were built for him by the Lycian Cyclopes.

The Perseids

We here reach the commencement of the Perseid dynasty of Mycenae. It should be noticed, however, that there were among the ancient legends contradictory accounts of the foundation of this city. Both the Odyssey and the great Eoiai enumerated, among the heroines, Mykene, the Eponyma of the city; the former poem classifying her with Tyre and Alkmene, the latter describing her as the daughter of Inachus and wife of Arestor. And Akusilaus mentioned an Eponymous Mykeneus, the son of Sparton and grand-son of Phoreneus.

The prophetic family of Melampus maintained itself in one of the three parts of the divided Argeian kingdom for five generations, down to Amphiaraos and his sons Alkmaeon and Amphilochos. The dynasty of his brother Bias, and that of Megapenthes, son of Proetos, continued each for four generations: a list of barren names fills up the interval. The Perseids of Mykenae boasted a descent long and glorious, heroic as well as historical, continuing down to the last kings of Sparta. The issue of Perseus was numerous: his son Alkaeos was father of Alkmene; a third, Sthenelos, father of Eurysthenes.

After the death of Perseus, Alkaeos and Amphitryon dwelt at Tiryns. The latter became engaged in a quarrel with Elektryon respecting cattle, and in a fit of passion killed him; moreover the piratical Taphians from the west coast of Acarnania invaded the country, and slew the sons of Alektryon, so that Alkmene alone was left of that family. She was engaged to wed Amphitryon; but she bound him by oath not to consummate the marriage until he had avenged upon the Teleboae the death of her brothers. Amphitryon, compelled to flee the country as the murderer of his uncle, took refuge in Thebes, whither Alkmene accompanied him: Sthenelos was left in possession of Tiryns. The Cadmeians of Thebes, together with the Lokrians and Phokians, supplied Amphitryon with troops, which he conducted against the Teleboae and the Taphians: yet he could not have subdued them without the aid of Komaetho, daughter of the Taphian king Pterelaus, who conceived a passion for him, and cut off from her father’s head the golden lock to which Poseidon had attached the gift of immortality. Having conquered and expelled his enemies, Amphitryon returned to Thebes, impatient to consummate his marriage: but Zeus on the wedding-night assumed his form and visited Alkmene before him: he had determined to produce from her a son superior to all his prior offspring—“a specimen of invincible force both to gods and men”. At the proper time Alkmene was delivered of twin sons: Heracles, the offspring of Zeus, and the inferior and unhonoured Iphikles, offspring of Amphitryon.

Birth of Herakles

When Alkmene was on the point of being delivered at Thebes, Zeus publicly boasted among the assembled gods, at the instigation of the mischief-making Ate, that there was on that day about to be born on earth, from his breed, a son who should rule over all his neighbors. Hera treated this as an empty boast, calling upon him to bind himself by an irremissible oath that the prediction should be realized. Zeus incautiously pledged his solemn word; upon which Hera darted swiftly down from Olympus to the Achaic Argos, where the wife of Sthenelos (son of Perseus, and therefore grandson of Zeus) was already seven months gone with child. By the aid of the Eileithyiae, the special goddesses of parturition, she caused Eurystheus, the son of Sthenelos, to be born before his time on that very day, while she retarded the delivery of Alkmene. Then returning to Olympus, she announced the fact to Zeus: “The good man Eurystheus, son of the Perseid Sthenelos, is this day born of thy loins: the scepter of the Argeians worthily belongs to him”. Zeus was thunderstruck at the consummation which he had improvidently bound himself to accomplish. He seized Ate his evil counselor by the hair, and hurled her for ever away from Olympus: but he had no power to avert the ascendency of Eurystheus and the servitude of Herakles. “Many a pang did he suffer when he saw his favorite son going through his degrading toil in the tasks imposed upon him by Eurystheus”.

The legend, of unquestionable antiquity, here transcribed from the Iliad, is one of the most pregnant and characteristic in the Grecian mythology. It explains, according to the religious ideas familiar to the old epic poets, both the distinguishing attributes and the endless toils and endurances of Heracles—the most renowned and most ubiquitous of all the semi-divine personages worshipped by the Hellenes—a being of irresistible force, and especially beloved by Zeus, yet condemned constantly to labor for others and to obey the commands of a worthless and cowardly persecutor. His recompense is reserved to the close of his career, when his afflicting trials are brought to a close: he is then admitted to the god-head and receives in marriage Hebe. The twelve labors, as they are called, too notorious to be here detailed, form a very small fraction of the exploits of this mighty being, which filled the Herakleian epics of the ancient poets. He is found not only in most parts of Hellas, but throughout all the regions then known to the Greeks, from Gades to the river Thermodon in the Euxine and to Scythia, overcoming all difficulties and vanquishing all opponents. Distinguished families are everywhere to be traced who bear his patronymic, and glory in the belief that they are his descendants. Among Achaeans, Cadmeians, and Dorians, Heracles is venerated: the latter especially treat him as their principal hero—the Patron Hero-God of the race: the Herakleids form among all Dorians a privileged gens, in which at Sparta the special lineage of the two kings was included.

His character lends itself to myths countless in number, as well as disparate in their character. The irresistible force remains constant, but it is sometimes applied with reckless violence against friends as well as enemies, sometimes devoted to the relief of the oppressed. The comic writers often brought him out as a coarse and stupid glutton, while the Keian philosopher Prodikos, without at all distorting the type, extracted from it the simple, impressive, and imperishable apologue still known as the choice of Hercules.

After the death and apotheosis of Heracles, his son Hyllos and his other children were expelled and persecuted by Eurystheus; the fear of whose vengeance deterred both the Trachinian king Keyx and the Thebans from harboring them. The Athenians alone were generous enough to brave the risk of offering them shelter. Eurystheus invaded Attica, but perished in the attempt by the hand of Hyllos, or by that of Iolaos, the old companion and nephew of Heracles. The chivalrous courage which the Athenians had on this occasion displayed on behalf of oppressed innocence was a favorite theme for subsequent eulogy by Attic poets and orators.

All the sons of Eurystheus lost their lives in the battle along with him, so that the Perseid family was now represented only by the Herakleids, who collected an army and endeavored to recover the possessions from which they had been expelled. The united forces of Ionians, Achaeans, and Arcadians, then inhabiting Peloponnesus, met the invaders at the isthmus, when Hyllos, the eldest of the sons of Heracles, proposed that the contest should be determined by a single combat between himself and any champion of the opposing army. It was agreed that if Hyllos were victorious, the Herakleids should be restored to their possessions—if he were vanquished, that they should forego all claim for the space of a hundred years, or fifty years, or three generations,—for in the specification of the time accounts differ. Echemos, the hero of Tegea, in Arcadia, accepted the challenge, and Hyllos was slain in the encounter; in consequence of which the Herakleids retired, and resided along with the Dorians under the protection of Egimios, son of Dorus. As soon as the stipulated period of truce had expired, they renewed their attempt upon Peloponnesus, conjointly with the Dorians, and with complete success: the great Dorian establishments of Argos, Sparta, and Messenia were the result. The details of this victorious invasion will be hereafter recounted.

Sicyon, Phlios, Epidauros, and Troezen all boasted of respected eponyms and a genealogy of dignified length, not exempt from the usual discrepancies—but all just as much entitled to a place on the tablet of history as the more renowned Eolids or Herakleids. I omit them here because I wish to impress upon the reader's mind the salient features and character of the legendary world,—not to load his memory with a full list of legendary names.





IN the Hesiodic theogony, as well as in the “Works and Days”, the legend of Prometheus and Epimetheus presents an import religious, ethical, and social, and in this sense it is carried forward by Aeschylus; but to neither of the characters is any genealogical function assigned. The Hesiodic Catalogue of Women brought both of them into the stream of Grecian legendary lineage, representing Deucalion as the son of Prometheus and Pandora, and seemingly his wife Pyrrha as daughter of Epimetheus.

Deucalion is important in Grecian mythical narrative under two points of view. First, he is the person specially saved at the time of the general deluge: next, he is the father of Hellen, the great eponym of the Hellenic race: at least this was the more current story, though there were other statements which made Hellen the son of Zeus.

The name of Deucalion is originally connected with the Lokrian towns of Kynos and Opus, and with the race of the Leleges, but he appears finally as settled in Thessaly, and ruling in the portion of that country called Phthiotis. According to what seems to have been the old legendary account, it is the deluge which transferred him from the one to the other; but according to another statement, framed in more historicizing times, he conducted a body of Kuretes and Leleges into Thessaly, and expelled the prior Pelasgian occupants.

The enormous iniquity with which earth was contaminated—as Apollodorus says, by the then existing brazen race, or as others say, by the fifty monstrous sons of Lykaon—provoked Zeus to send a general deluge? An unremitting and terrible rain laid the whole of Greece under water, except the highest mountain tops, whereon a few stragglers found refuge. Deukalion was saved in a chest or ark, which he had been forewarned by his father Prometheus to construct. After floating for nine days on the water, he at length landed on the summit of Mount Parnassus. Zeus having sent Hermes to him, promising to grant whatever he asked, he prayed that men and companions might be sent to him in his solitude: accordingly Zeus directed both him and Pyrrha to cast stones over their heads: those cast by Pyrrha became women, those by Deucalion men. And thus the “stony race of men” (if we may be allowed to translate an etymology which the Greek language presents exactly, and which has not been disdained by Hesiod, by Pindar, by Epicharmus, and by Virgil) came to tenant the soil of Greece. Deucalion on landing from the ark sacrificed a grateful offering to Zeus Phyxios, or the god of escape; he also erected altars in Thessaly to the twelve great gods of Olympus.

The reality of this deluge was firmly believed throughout the historical ages of Greece; the chronologers, reckoning up by genealogies, assigned the exact date of it, and placed it at the same time as the conflagration of the world by the rashness of Phaethon, during the reign of Krotopos, king of Argos, the seventh from Inachus. The meteorological work of Aristotle admits and reasons upon this deluge as an unquestionable fact, though he alters the locality by placing it west of Mount Pindus, near Dodona and the river Achelous. He at the same time treats it as a physical phenomenon, the result of periodical cycles in the atmosphere—thus departing from the religious character of the old legend, which described it as a judgment inflicted by Zeus upon a wicked race. Statements founded upon this event were in circulation throughout Greece even to a very late date. The Megarians affirmed that Megaros, their hero, son of Zeus by a local nymph, had found safety from the waters on the lofty summit of their mountain Geraneia, which had not been completely submerged. And in the magnificent temple of the Olympian Zeus at Athens a cavity in the earth was shown, through which it was affirmed that the waters of the deluge had retired. Even in the time of Pausanias, the priest poured into this cavity holy offerings of meal and honey. In this, as in other parts of Greece, the idea of the Deukalionian deluge was blended with the religious impressions of the people, and commemorated by their sacred ceremonies.

Hellen and Amphiktion

The offspring of Deucalion and Pyrrha were two sons, Hellen and Amphiktyon, and a daughter, Protogeneia, whose son by Zeus was Aethlius: it was however maintained by many that Helen was the son of Zeus and not of Deucalion. Hellen had by a nymph three sons, Dorus, Xuthus, and Eolus. He gave to those who had been before called Greeks the name of Hellenes, and partitioned his territory among his three children. Eolus reigned in Thessaly; Xuthus received Peloponnesus, and had by Kreusa as his sons Achaeus and Ion; while Dorus occupied the country lying opposite to the Peloponnesus, on the northern side of the Corinthian Gulf. These three gave to the inhabitants of their respective countries the names of Aeolians, Achaeans and Ionians, and Dorians.

Such is the genealogy as we find it in Apollodorus. In so far as the names and filiation are concerned, many points in it are given differently, or implicitly contradicted by Euripides and other writers. Though as literal and personal history it deserves no notice, its import is both intelligible and comprehensive. It expounds and symbolizes the first fraternal aggregation of Hellenic men, together with their territorial distribution and the institutions which they collectively venerated.

There were two great holding-points in common for every section of Greeks. One was the Amphiktyonic assembly, which met half-yearly, alternately at Delphi and at Thermopylae; originally and chiefly for common religious purposes, but indirectly and occasionally embracing political and social objects along with them. The other was the public festivals or games, of which the Olympic came first in importance; next the Pythian, Nemean, and Isthmian—institutions which combined religions solemnities with recreative effusion and hearty sympathies, in a manner so imposing and so unparalleled. Amphiktyon represents the first of these institutions, and Aethlius the second. As the Amphiktyonic assembly was always especially connected with Thermopylae and Thessaly, Amphiktyon is made the son of the Thessalian Deucalion; but as the Olympic festival was nowise locally connected with Deucalion, Aethlius is represented as having Zeus for his father, and as touching Deucalion only through the maternal line. It will be seen presently that the only matter predicated respecting Aethlius is, that he settled in the territory of Elis, and begat Endymion: this brings him into local contact with the Olympic games, and his function is then ended.

Division of Hellas: Eolians, Dorians, Ionians

Having thus got Hellas as an aggregate with its main cementing forces, we march on to its subdivision into parts, through Eolus, Dorus, and Xuthus, the three sons of Hellen, a distribution which is far from being exhaustive: nevertheless, the genealogists whom Apollodorus follows recognize no more than three sons.

The genealogy is essentially post-Homeric; for Homer knows Hellas and the Hellenes only in connection with a portion of Achaia Phthiotis. But as it is recognized in the Hesiodic Catalogue—composed probably within the first century after the commencement of recorded Olympiads, or before 676 BC—the peculiarities of it elating from so early a period, deserve much attention. We may remark, first, that it seems to exhibit to us Dorus and Eolus as the only pure and genuine offspring of Hellen. For their brother Xuthus is not enrolled as an eponymous; he neither founds nor names any people; it is only his sons Achaeus and Ion, after his blood has been mingled with that of the Erechtheid Kreusa, who become eponyms and founders, each of his own separate people. Next, as to the territorial distribution, Xuthus receives Peloponnesus from his father, and unites himself with Attica (which the author of this genealogy seems to have conceived as originally unconnected with Hellen) by his marriage with the daughter of the indigenous hero Erechtheus. The issue of this marriage, Achaeus and Ion, present to us the population of Peloponnesus and Attica conjointly as related among themselves by the tie of brotherhood, but as one degree more distant both from Dorians and Eolians. Eolus reigns over the regions about Thessaly, and calls the people in those parts Aeolians; while Dorus occupies “the country over against Peloponnesus on the opposite side of the Corinthian Gulf”, and calls the inhabitants after himself Dorians. It is at once evident that this designation is in no way applicable to the confined district between Parnassus and Eta, which alone is known by the name of Doris, and its inhabitants by that of Dorians, in the historical ages. In the view of the author of this genealogy, the Dorians are the original occupants of the large range of territory north of the Corinthian Gulf, comprising Phocis, and the territory of the Ozolian Lokrians. And this farther harmonizes with the other legend noticed by Apollodorus, when he states that Etolus, son of Endymion, having been forced to expatriate from Peloponnesus, crossed into the Kuretid territory, and was there hospitably received by Dorus, Laodokus, and Polypcetes, sons of Apollo and Phthia. He slew his hosts, acquired the territory, and gave to it the name of Etolia; his son Pleuron married Xanthippe, daughter of Dorus; while his other son, Kalydon, marries Eolia, daughter of Amythaon. Here again we have the name of Dorus, or the Dorians, connected with the tract subsequently termed Etolia. That Dorus should in one place be called the son of Apollo and Phthia, and in another place the son of Hellen by a nymph, will surprise no one accustomed to the fluctuating personal nomenclature of these old legends: moreover the name of Phthia is easy to reconcile with that of Hellen, as both are identified with the same portion of Thessaly, even from the days of the Iliad.

This story, that the Dorians were at one time the occupants, or the chief occupants, of the range of territory between the river Achelous and the northern shore of the Corinthian gulf, is at least more suitable to the facts attested by historical evidence than the legends given in Herodotus, who represents the Dorians as originally in the Phthiotid; then as passing under Dorus, the son of Hellen, into the Histiotid, under the mountains of Ossa and Olympus; next, as driven by the Kadmeians into the regions of Pindus; from thence passing into the Dryopid territory, on Mount Eta; lastly, from thence into Peloponnesus. The received story was, that the great Dorian establishments in Peloponnesus were formed by invasion from the north, and that the invaders crossed the gulf from Naupaktus,—a statement which, however disputable with respect to Argos, seems highly probable in regard both to Sparta and Messenia. That the name of Dorians comprehended far more than the inhabitants of the insignificant tetrapolis of Doris Proper must be assumed, if we believe that they conquered Sparta and Messenia: both the magnitude of the conquest itself and the passage of a large portion of them from Naupaktus, harmonize with the legend as given by Apollodorus, in which the Dorians are represented as the principal inhabitants of the northern shore of the gulf.

The statements which we find in Herodotus, respecting the early migrations of the Dorians, have been considered as possessing greater historical value than those of the fabulist Apollodorus. But both are equally matter of legend, while the brief indications of the latter seem to be most in harmony with the facts which we afterwards find attested by history.

It has already been mentioned that the genealogy which makes Eolus, Xuthus, and Dorus sons of Hellen, is as old as the Hesiodic Catalogue; probably also that which makes Hellen son of Deucalion. Aethlius also is an Hesiodic personage; whether Amphiktion be so or not, we have no proof. They could not have been introduced into the legendary genealogy until after the Olympic games and the Amphiktyonic council had acquired an established and extensive reverence throughout Greece.

Respecting Dorus the son of Hellen, we find neither legends nor legendary genealogy; respecting Xuthus, very little beyond the tale of Kreusa and Ion, which has its place more naturally among the Attic fables. Achaeus, however, who is here represented as the son of Xuthus, appears in other stories with very different parentage and accompaniments. According to the statement which we find in Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Achaeis, Phthius, and Pelasgus are sons of Poseidon and Larissa. They migrate from Peloponnesus into Thessaly, and distribute the Thessalian territory between them, giving their names to its principal divisions: their descendants in the sixth generation were driven out of that country by the invasion of Deucalion at the head of the Kuretes and the Leleges. This was the story of those who wanted to provide an eponymus for the Achaeans in the southern districts of Thessaly: Pausanias accomplishes the same object by different means, representing Achaeus the son of Xuthus as having gone back to Thessaly and occupied the portion of it to which his father was entitled. Then, by way of explaining how it was that there were Achaeans at Sparta and at Argos, he tells us that Archander and Architeles the sons of Achaeus, came back from Thessaly to Peloponnesus, and married two daughters of Danaus: they acquired great influence at Argos and Sparta, and gave to the people the name of Achaeans after their father Achaeus.

Euripides also deviates very materially from the Hesiodic genealogy in respect to the eponymous persons. In the drama called Ion, he describes Ion as son of Kreusa by Apollo, but adopted by Xuthus: according to him, the real sons of Xuthus and Kreusa are Dorus and Achaeus,—eponyms of the Dorians and Achaeans in the interior of Peloponnesus. And it is a still more capital point of difference that he omits Hellen altogether—making Xuthus an Achaean by race, the son of Eolus, who is the son of Zeus. This is the more remarkable, as in the fragments of two other dramas of Euripides, the Melanippe and the Eolus, we find Hellen mentioned both as father of Eolus and son of Zeus. To the general public even of the most instructed city of Greece, fluctuations and discrepancies in these mythical genealogies seem to have been neither surprising nor offensive.



IF two of the sons of Hellen, Dorus and Xuthus, present to us families comparatively unnoticed in mythical narrative, the third son, Aeolus, richly makes up for the deficiency. From him we pass to his seven sons and five daughters, amidst a great abundance of heroic and poetical incident.

In dealing, however, with these extensive mythical families, it is necessary to observe, that the legendary world of Greece, in the manner in which it is presented to us, appears invested with a degree of symmetry and coherence which did not originally belong to it. For the old ballads and stories which were sung or recounted at the multiplied festivals of Greece, each on its own special theme, have been lost: the religious narratives, which the Exegetes of every temple had present to his memory, explanatory of the peculiar religious ceremonies and local customs in his own town or deme, had passed away. All these primitive elements, originally distinct and unconnected, are removed out of our sight, and we possess only an aggregate result, formed by many confluent streams of fable, and connected together by the agency of subsequent poets and logographers. Even the earliest agents in this work of connecting and systematizing—the Hesiodic poets—have been hardly at all preserved. Our information respecting Grecian mythology is derived chiefly from the prose logographers who followed them, and in whose works, since a continuous narrative was above all things essential to them, the fabulous personages are woven into still more comprehensive pedigrees, and the original isolation of the legends still better disguised. Hekataeus, Pherekydes, Hellanikus, and Akusilaus lived at a time when the idea of Hellas as one great whole, composed of fraternal sections, was deeply rooted in the mind of every Greek, and when the hypothesis of a few great families, branching out widely from one common stem was more popular and acceptable than that of a distinct indigenous origin in each of the separate districts. These logographers, indeed, have themselves been lost; but Apollodorus and the various scholiasts, our great immediate sources of information respecting Grecian mythology, chiefly borrowed from them: so that the legendary world of Greece is in fact known to us through them, combined with the dramatic and Alexandrine poets, their Latin imitators, and the still later class of scholiasts—except indeed such occasional glimpses as we obtain from the Iliad and the Odyssey, and the remaining Hesiodic fragments, which exhibit but too frequently a hopeless diversity when confronted with the narratives of the logographers.

Though Aeolus (as has been already stated) is himself called the son of Hellen along with Dorus and Xuthus, yet the legends concerning the Aeolids, far from being dependent upon this genealogy, are not all even coherent with it: moreover the name of Aeolus in the legend is older than that of Hellen, inasmuch as it occurs both in the Iliad and Odyssey. Odysseus sees in the underworld the beautiful Tyre, daughter of Salmoneus, and wife of Kretheus, son of Aeolus.

Aeolus is represented as having reigned in Thessaly: his seven sons were Kretheus, Sisyphus, Athamas, Salmoneus, Deion, Magnes, and Perieres: his five daughters, Canace, Alcyone, Peisidike, Calyce, and Perimede. The fables of this race seem to be distinguished by a constant introduction of the god Poseidon, as well as by an unusual prevalence of haughty and presumptuous attributes among the Aeolid heroes, leading them to affront the gods by pretenses of equality, and sometimes even by defiance. The worship of Poseidon must probably have been diffused and pre-eminent among a people with whom those legends originated.


Salmoneus is not described in the Odyssey as son of Aeolus, but he is so denominated both in the Hesiodic Catalogue and by the subsequent logographers. His daughter Tyro became enamored of the river Enipeus, the most beautiful of all streams that traverse the earth; she frequented the banks assiduously, and there the god Poseidon found means to indulge his passion for her, assuming the character of the river-god himself. The fruit of this alliance were the twin brothers, Pelias and Neleus: Tyro afterwards was given in marriage to her uncle Kretheus, another son of Aolus, by whom she had Aeson, Pheres, and Amythaon—all names of celebrity in the heroic legends. The adventures of Tyro formed the subject of an affecting drama of Sophocles, now lost. Her father had married a second wife, named Sidero, whose cruel counsels induced him to punish and torture his daughter on account of her intercourse with Poseidon. She was shorn of her magnificent hair, beaten and ill-used in various ways, and confined in a loathsome dungeon. Unable to take care of her two children, she had been compelled to expose them immediately on their birth in a little boat on the river Enipeus; they were preserved by the kindness of a herdsman, and when grown up to manhood, rescued their mother, and revenged her wrongs by putting to death the iron-hearted Sidero. This pathetic tale respecting the long imprisonment of Tyro is substituted by Sophocles in place of the Homeric legend, which represented her to have become the wife of Kretheus, and mother of a numerous offspring.

Her father, the unjust Salmoneus, exhibited in his conduct the most insolent impiety towards the gods. He assumed the name and title even of Zeus, and caused to be offered to himself the sacrifices destined for that god: he also imitated the thunder and lightning, by driving about with brazen caldrons attached to his chariot, and casting lighted torches towards heaven. Such wickedness finally drew upon him the wrath of Zeus, who smote him with a thunderbolt, and effaced from the earth the city which he had founded, with all its inhabitants. Pelias and Neleus, “both stout vassals of the great Zeus”, became engaged in dissension respecting the kingdom of Iolkos in Thessaly. Pelias got possession of it, and dwelt there in plenty and prosperity; but he had offended the goddess Hera by killing Sidero upon her altar, and the effects of her wrath were manifested in his relations with his nephew Jason.

Neleus quitted Thessaly, went into Peloponnesus, and there founded the kingdom of Pylos. He purchased, by immense marriage presents, the privilege of wedding the beautiful Chloris, daughter of Amphion, king of Orchomenos, by whom he had twelve sons and but one daughters—the fair and captivating Pero, whom suitors from all the neighborhood courted in marriage. But Neleus, “the haughtiest of living men”, refused to entertain the pretensions of any of them: he would grant his daughter only to that man who should bring to him the oxen of Iphiklos, from Phylake in Thessaly. These precious animals were carefully guarded, as well by herdsmen as by a dog whom neither man nor animal could approach.

Nevertheless, Bias, the son of Amythaon, nephew of Neleus, being desperately enamored of Pero, prevailed upon his brother Melampus to undertake for his sake the perilous adventure in spite of the prophetic knowledge of the latter, which forewarned him that though he would ultimately succeed, the prize must be purchased by severe captivity and suffering. Melampus, in attempting to steal the oxen, was seized and put in prison; from whence nothing but his prophetic powers rescued him. Being acquainted with the language of worms, he heard these animals communicating to each other, in the roof over his head, that the beams were nearly eaten through and about to fall in. He communicated this intelligence to his guards, and demanded to be conveyed to another place of confinement, announcing that the roof would presently fall in and bury them. The prediction was fulfilled, and Phylakos, father of Iphiklos, full of wonder at this specimen of prophetic power, immediately caused him to be released. He further consulted him respecting the condition of his son Iphiklos, who was childless; and promised him the possession of the oxen on condition of his suggesting the means whereby offspring might be ensured. A vulture having communicated to Melampus the requisite information, Podarkes, the son of Iphiklos, was born shortly afterwards. In this manner Melampus obtained possession of the oxen, and conveyed them to Pylos, ensuring to his brother Bias the hand of Pero. How this great legendary character, by miraculously healing the deranged daughters of Proetos, procured both for himself and for Bias dominion in Argos, has been recounted in a preceding chapter.

Of the twelve sons of Neleus, one at least, Periklymenos,—besides the ever memorable Nestor,—was distinguished for his exploits as well as for his miraculous gifts. Poseidon, the divine father of the race, had bestowed upon him the privilege of changing his form at pleasure into that of any bird, beast, reptile, or insects He had occasion for all these resources, and he employed them for a time with success in defending his family against the terrible indignation of Herakles, who, provoked by the refusal of Neleus to perform for him the ceremony of purification after his murder of Iphitus, attacked the Neleids at Pylos. Periklymenos by his extraordinary powers prolonged the resistance, but the hour of his fate was at length brought upon him by the intervention of Athene, who pointed him out to Heracles while he was perched as a bee upon the hero’s chariot. He was killed, and Heracles became completely victorious, overpowering Poseidon, Here, Ares, and Hades, and even wounding the three latter, who assisted in the defence. Eleven of the sons of Neleus perished by his hand, while Nestor, then a youth, was preserved only by his accidental absence at Gerena, away from his father's residence.

The proud house of the Neleids was now reduced to Nester; but Nestor singly sufficed to sustain its eminence. He appears not only as the defender and avenger of Pylos against the insolence and rapacity of his Epeian neighbors at Elis, but also as aiding the Lapithae in their terrible combat against the Centaurs, and as companion of Theseus, Peirithous, and the other great legendary heroes who preceded the Trojan war. In extreme old age his once marvelous power of handling his weapons has indeed passed away, but his activity remains unimpaired, and his sagacity as well as his influence in counsel is greater than ever. He not only assembles the various Grecian chiefs for the armament against Troy, perambulating the districts of Hellas along with Odysseus, but takes a vigorous part in the siege itself, and is of pre-eminent service to Agamemnon. And after the conclusion of the siege, he is one of the few Grecian princes who returns to his original dominions. He is found, in a strenuous and honored old age, in the midst of his children and subjects,—sitting with the scepter of authority on the stone bench before his house at Pylos,—offering sacrifice to Poseidon, as his father Neleus had done before him,—and mourning only over the death of his favorite son Antilochus, who had fallen along with so many brave companions in arms in the Trojan war.

After Nestor the line of the Neleids numbers undistinguished names,—Borus, Penthilus, and Andropompus,—three successive generations down to Melanthus, who on the invasion of Peloponnesus by the Herakleids, quitted Pylos and retired to Athens, where he became king, in a manner which I shall hereafter recount. His son Kodrus was the last Athenian king; and Neleus, one of the sons of Kodrus, is mentioned down to as the principal conductor of what is called the Ionic emigration from Athens to Asia Minor. It is certain that during the historical age, not merely the princely family of the Kodrids in Miletus, Ephesus, and other Ionic cities, but some of the greatest families even in Athens itself, traced their heroic lineage through the Neleids up to Poseidon; and the legends respecting Nestor and Periklymenos would find especial favor amidst Greeks with such feelings and belief. The Kodrids at Ephesus, and probably some other Ionic towns, long retained the title and honorary precedence of kings, even after they had lost the substantial power belonging to the office. They stood in the same relation, embodying both religious worship and supposed ancestry, to the Neleids and Poseidon, as the chiefs of the Aeolic colonies to Agamemnon and Orestes. The Athenian despot Peisistratus was named after the son of Nestor in the Odyssey; and we may safely presume that the heroic worship of the Neleids was as carefully cherished at the Ionic Miletus as at the Italian Metapontum.

Having pursued the line of Salmoneus and Neleus to the end of its legendary career, we may now turn back to that of another son of Aeolus, Kretheus, a line hardly less celebrated in respect of the heroic names which it presents. Alcestis, the most beautiful of the daughters of Pelias, was promised by her father in marriage to the man who could bring him a lion and a boar tamed to the yoke and drawing together. Admetus, son of Pheres, the eponymous of Pherae in Thessaly, and thus grandson of Kretheus, was enabled by the aid of Apollo to fulfill this condition, and to win her; for Apollo happened at that time to be in his service as a slave (condemned to this penalty by Zeus for having put to death the Cyclopes), in which capacity he tended the herds and horses with such success, as to equip Eumelus (the son of Admetus) to the Trojan war with the finest horses in the Grecian army. Though menial duties were imposed upon him, even to the drudgery of grinding in the mill, he yet carried away with him a grateful and friendly sentiment towards his mortal master, whom he interfered to rescue from the wrath of the goddess Artemis, when she was indignant at the omission of her name in his wedding sacrifices.

Admetus was about to perish by a premature death, when Apollo, by earnest solicitation to the Fates, obtained for him the privilege that his life should be prolonged, if he could find any person to die a voluntary death in his place. His father and his mother both refused to make this sacrifice for him, but the devoted attachment of his wife Alcestis disposed her to embrace with cheerfulness the condition of dying to preserve her husband. She had already perished, when Heracles, the ancient guest and friend of Admetus, arrived during the first hour of lamentation; his strength and daring enabled him to rescue the deceased Alcestis even from the grasp of Thanatos (Death), and to restore her alive to her disconsolate husband.


The son of Pelias, Akastus, had received and sheltered Peleus when obliged to fly his country in consequence of the involuntary murder of Eurytion. Kretheis, the wife of Akastus, becoming enamored of Peleus, made to him advances which he repudiated. Exasperated at his refusal, and determined to procure his destruction, she persuaded her husband that Peleus had attempted her chastity: upon which Akastus conducted Peleus out upon a hunting excursion among the woody regions of Mount Pelion, contrived to steal from him the sword fabricated and given by Hephestos, and then left him, alone and unarmed, to perish by the hands of the Centaurs or by the wild beasts. By the friendly aid of the Centaur Cheiron, however, Peleus was preserved, and his sword restored to him: returning to the city, he avenged himself by putting to death both Akastus and his perfidious wife.

But amongst all the legends with which the name of Pelias is connected, by far the most memorable is that of Jason and the Argonautic expedition. Jason was son of Aeson, grandson of Kretheus, and thus great-grandson of Eolus. Pelias, having consulted the oracle respecting the security of his dominion at Iolkos, had received in answer a warning to beware of the man who should appear before him with only one sandal. He was celebrating a festival in honor of Poseidon, when it so happened that Jason appeared before him with one of his feet unsandaled: he had lost one sandal in wading through the swollen current of the river Anauros. Pelias immediately understood that this was the enemy against whom the oracle had forewarned him. As a means of averting the danger, he imposed upon Jason the desperate task of bringing back to Iolkos the Golden Fleece,—the fleece of that ram which had carried Phryxos from Achaia to Colchis, and which Phryxos had dedicated in the latter country as an offering to the god Ares. The result of this injunction was the memorable expedition—of the ship Argo and her crew called the Argonauts, composed of the bravest and noblest youths of Greece—which cannot be conveniently included among the legends of the Aeolids, and is reserved for a separate chapter.

The voyage of the Argo was long protracted, and Pelias, persuaded that neither the ship nor her crew would ever return, put to death both the father and mother of Jason, together with their infant son. Aeson, the father, being permitted to choose the manner of his own death, drank bull’s blood while performing a sacrifice to the gods. At length, however, Jason did return, bringing with him not only the golden fleece, but also Medea, daughter of Aetes, king of Colchis, as his wife,—a woman distinguished for magical skill and cunning, by whose assistance alone the Argonauts had succeeded in their project. Though determined to avenge himself upon Pelias, Jason knew that he could only succeed by stratagem. He remained with his companions a short distance from Iolkos, while Medea, feigning herself a fugitive from his ill-usage, entered the town alone, and procured access to the daughters of Pelias. By exhibitions of her magical powers she soon obtained unqualified ascendancy over their minds. For example, she selected from the flocks of Pelias a ram in the extremity of old age, cut him up and boiled him in a caldron with herbs, and brought him out in the shape of a young and vigorous lamb: the daughters of Pelias were made to believe that their old father could in like manner be restored to youth. In this persuasion they cut him up with their own hands and cast his limbs into the caldron, trusting that Medea would produce upon him the same magical effect. Medea pretended that an invocation to the moon was a necessary part of the ceremony she went up to the top of the house as if to pronounce it, and there lighting the fire-signal concerted with the Argonauts, Jason and his companions burst in and possessed themselves of the town. Satisfied with having thus revenged himself, Jason yielded the principality of Iolkos to Akastus, son of Pelias, and retired with Medea to Corinth. Thus did the goddess gratify her ancient wrath against Pelias: she had constantly watched over Jason, and had carried the “all-notorious” Argos through its innumerable perils, in order that Jason might bring home Medea to accomplish the ruin of his uncle. The misguided daughters of Pelias departed as voluntary exiles to Arcadia: Akastus his son celebrated splendid funeral games in honor of his deceased father.

Jason and Medea retired from Iolkos to Corinth where they resided ten years: their children were—Medeius, whom the Centaur Cheiron educated in the regions of Mount Pélion,—and Mermerus and Pheres, born at Corinth. After they had resided there ten years in prosperity, Jason set his affections on Glauke, daughter of Kreon, king of Corinth; and as her father was willing to give her to him in marriage, he determined to repudiate Medea, who received orders forthwith to leave Corinth. Stung with this insult and bent upon revenge, Medea prepared a poisoned robe, and sent it as a marriage present to Glauke: it was unthinkingly accepted and put on, and the body of the unfortunate bride was burnt up and consumed. Kreon, her father, who tried to tear from her the burning garment, shared her fate and perished. The exulting Medea escaped by means of a chariot with winged serpents furnished to her by her grandfather Helios: she placed herself under the protection of Aegeus at Athens, by whom she had a son named Medus. She left her young children in the sacred enclosure of the Akraean Here, relying on the protection of the altar to ensure their safety; but the Corinthians were so exasperated against her for the murder of Kreon and Glauke, that they dragged the children away from the altar and put them to death. The miserable Jason perished by a fragment of his own ship Argo, which fell upon him while he was asleep under it, being hauled on shore, according to the habitual practice of the ancients.


The first establishment at Ephyre, or Corinth, had been founded by Sisyphus, another of the sons of Aeolus, brother of Salmoneus and Kretheus. The Aeolid Sisyphus was distinguished as an unexampled master of cunning and deceit. He blocked up the road along the isthmus, and killed the strangers who came along it by rolling down upon them great stones from the mountains above. He was more than a match even for the arch thief Autolykus, the son of Hermes, who derived from his father the gift of changing the color and shape of stolen goods, so that they could no longer be recognized: Sisyphus, by marking his sheep under the foot, detected Autolykus when he stole them, and obliged him to restore the plunder. His penetration discovered the amour of Zeus with the nymph Aegina, daughter of the river-god Aesopus. Zeus had carried her off to the island of Oenone (which subsequently bore the name of Aegina); upon which Aesopus, eager to recover her, inquired of Sisyphus whither she was gone; the latter told him what had happened, on condition that he should provide a spring of water on the summit of the Acro-Corinthus. Zeus, indignant with Sisyphus for this revelation, inflicted upon him in Hades the punishment of perpetually heaving up a hill a great and heavy stone, which, so soon as it attained the summit, rolled back again, in spite of all his efforts, with irresistible force into the plain.

In the application of the Aeolid genealogy to Corinth, Sisyphus, the son of Aeolus, appears as the first name: but the old Corinthian poet Eumelus either found or framed an heroic genealogy for his native city, independent both of Aeolus and Sisyphus. According to this genealogy, Ephyre, daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, was the primitive tenant of the Corinthian territory, Aesopus of the Sicyonian: both were assigned to the god Helios, in adjusting a dispute between him and Poseidon, by Briareus. Helios divided the territory between his two sons Aetes and Aloeus: to the former he assigned Corinth, to the latter Sicyon. Aetes, obeying the admonition of an oracle, emigrated to Colchis, leaving his territory under the rule of Bunos, the son of Hermes, with the stipulation that it should be restored whenever either he or any of his descendants returned. After the death of Bunos, both Corinth and Sicyon were possessed by Epopeus, son of Aloeus, a wicked man. His son Marathon left him in disgust, and retired into Attica, but returned after his death and succeeded to his territory, which he in turn divided between his two sons, Corinthos and Sicyon, from whom the names of the two districts were first derived. Korinthos died without issue, and the Corinthians then invited Medea from Iolkos as the representative of Aetes: she, with her husband Jason, thus obtained the sovereignty of Corinth. This legend of Eumelus, one of the earliest of the genealogical poets, so different from the story adopted by Neophron or Euripides, was followed certainly by Simonides, and seemingly by Theopompus. The incidents in it are imagined and arranged with a view to the supremacy of Medea; the emigration of Aetes and the conditions under which he transferred his scepter, being so laid out as to confer upon Medea an hereditary title to the throne. The Corinthians paid to Medea and to her children solemn worship, either divine, or heroic, in conjunction with Here Akraea, and this was sufficient to give to Medea a prominent place in the genealogy composed by a Corinthian poet, accustomed to blend together gods, heroes, and men in the antiquities of his native city. According to the legend of Eumelus, Jason became (through Medea) king of Corinth; but she concealed the children of their marriage in the temple of Here, trusting that the goddess would render them immortal. Jason, discovering her proceedings, left her, and retired in disgust to Iolkos; Medea also, being disappointed in her scheme, quitted the place, leaving the throne in the hands of Sisyphus, to whom, according to the story of Theopompus, she had become attached. Other legends recounted that Zeus had contracted a passion for Medea, but that she had rejected his suit from fear of the displeasure of Here; who, as a recompense for such fidelity, rendered her children immortal: moreover, Medea had erected, by special command of Here, the celebrated temple of Aphrodite at Corinth.

The tenor of these fables manifests their connection with the temple of Here, and we may consider the legend of Medea as having been originally quite independent of that of Sisyphus, but fitted on to it, in seeming chronological sequence, so as to satisfy the feelings of those Aeolids of Corinth who passed for his descendants.

Sisyphus had for his sons Glaukos and Ornytion. From Glaukos sprang Bellerophon, whose romantic adventures commence with the Iliad, and are further expanded by subsequent poets: according to some accounts, he was really the son of Poseidon, the prominent deity of the Aeolid family. The youth and beauty of Bellerophon rendered him the object of a strong passion on the part of Anteia, wife of Proetos, king of Argos. Finding her advances rejected, she contracted a violent hatred towards him, and endeavored, by false accusations, to prevail upon her husband to kill him. Proetos refused to commit the deed under his own roof, but dispatched him to his son-in-law, the king of Lykia in Asia Minor, putting into his hands a folded tablet full of destructive symbols. Conformably to these suggestions, the most perilous undertakings were imposed upon Bellerophon. He was directed to attack the monster Chimaera and to conquer the warlike Solymi as well as the Amazons: as he returned victorious from these enterprises, an ambuscade was laid for him by the bravest Lycian warriors, all of whom he slew. At length the Lycian king recognized him “as the genuine son of a god”, and gave him his daughter in marriage together with half of his kingdom. The grand-children of Bellerophon, Glaukos and Sarpedon,—the latter a son of his daughter Laodameia by Zeus,—combat as allies of Troy against the host of Agamemnon.

Fourth Aeolid line-Athamas.

We now pass from Sisyphus and the Corinthian fables to another son of Eolus, Athamas, whose family history is not less replete with mournful and tragical incidents, abundantly diversified by the poets. Athamas, we are told, was king of Orchomenos; his wife Nephele was a goddess, and he had by her two children, Phryxus and Helle. After a certain time he neglected Nephele, and took to himself as new wife Ino, the daughter of Kadmus, by whom he had two sons, Learchus and Melikertes. Ino, looking upon Phryxus with the hatred of a stepmother, laid a snare for his life. She persuaded the women to roast the seed-wheat, which, when sown in this condition, yielded no crop, so that famine overspread the land. Athamas, sending to Delphi to implore counsel and a remedy, received for answer, through the machinations of Ino with the oracle, that the barrenness of the fields could not be alleviated except by offering Phryxus as a sacrifice to Zeus. The distress of the people compelled him to execute this injunction, and Phryxus was led as a victim to the altar. But the power of his mother Nephele snatched him from destruction, and procured for him from Hermes a ram with a fleece of gold, upon which he and his sister Helle mounted and were carried across the sea. The ram took the direction of the Euxine sea and Colchis: when they were crossing the Hellespont, Helle fell off into the narrow strait, which took its name from that incident. Upon this, the ram, who was endued with speech, consoled the terrified Phryxus, and ultimately carried him safe to Colchis: Aetes, king of Colchis, son of the god Helios, and brother of Circe, received Phryxus kindly, and gave him his daughter Chalkiope in marriage. Phryxus sacrificed the ram to Zeus Phyxios, suspending the golden fleece in the sacred grove of Ares.

Athamas—according to some both Athamas and Ino—were afterwards driven mad by the anger of the goddess Here; insomuch that the father shot his own son Learchus, and would also have put to death his other son Melikertes, if Ino had not snatched him away. She fled with the boy across the Megarian territory and Mount Geraneia, to the rock Moluris, overhanging the Saronic Gulf: Athamas pursued her, and in order to escape him she leaped into the sea. She became a sea-goddess under the title of Leukothea; while the body of Melikertes was cast ashore on the neighboring territory of Schoenus, and buried by his uncle Sisyphus, who was directed by the Nereids to pay to him heroic honours under the name of Palaemon. The Isthmian games, one of the great periodical festivals of Greece, were celebrated in honor of the god Poseidon, in conjunction with Palaemon as a hero. Athamas abandoned his territory, and became the first settler of a neighboring region called from him Athamantia, or the Athamantian plain.

The legend of Athamas connects itself with some sanguinary religious rites and very peculiar family customs, which prevailed at Alos in Achaia Phthiotis, down to a time later than the historian Herodotus, and of which some remnant existed at Orchomenos even in the days of Plutarch. Athamas was worshipped at Alos as a hero, having both a chapel and a consecrated grove, attached to the temple of Zeus Laphystios. On the family of which he was the heroic progenitor, a special curse and disability stood affixed. The eldest of the race was forbidden to enter the prytaneion or government-house: if he was found within the doors of the building, the other citizens laid hold of him on his going out, surrounded him with garlands, and led him in solemn procession to be sacrificed as a victim at the altar of Zeus Laphystios. The prohibition carried with it an exclusion from all the public meetings and ceremonies, political as well as religious, and from the sacred fire of the state: many of the individuals marked out had therefore been bold enough to transgress it. Some had been seized on quitting the building and actually sacrificed; others had fled the country for a long time to avoid a similar fate.

The guides who conducted Xerxes and his army through southern Thessaly detailed to him this existing practice, coupled with the local legend, that Athamas, together with Ino, had sought to compass the death of Phryxus, who however had escaped to Colchis; that the Achaeans had been enjoined by an oracle to offer up Athamas himself as an expiatory sacrifice to release the country from the anger of the gods; but that Kytissoros, son of Phryxus, coming back from Colchis, had intercepted the sacrifice of Athamas, whereby the anger of the gods remained still unappeased, and an undying curse rested upon the family.

That such human sacrifices continued to a greater or less extent, even down to a period later than Herodotus, among the family who worshipped Athamas as their heroic ancestor, appears certain: mention is also made of similar customs in parts of Arcadia, and of Thessaly, in honor of Peleus and Cheiron. But we may reasonably presume, that in the period of greater humanity which Herodotus witnessed, actual sacrifice had become very rare. The curse and the legend still remained, but were not called into practical working, except during periods of intense national suffering or apprehension, during which the religious sensibilities were always greatly aggravated. We cannot at all doubt, that during the alarm created by the presence of the Persian king with his immense and ill-disciplined host, the minds of the Thessalians must have been keenly alive to all that was terrific in their national stories, and all that was expiatory in their religious solemnities. Moreover, the mind of Xerxes himself was so awe-struck by the tale, that he reverenced the dwelling-place consecrated to Athamas. The guides who recounted to him the romantic legend gave it as the historical and generating cause of the existing rule and practice: a critical inquirer is forced (as has been remarked before) to reverse the order of precedence, and to treat the practice as having been the suggesting cause of its own explanatory legend.

The family history of Athamas and the worship of Zeus Laphystios are expressly connected by Herodotus with Alos in Achaea Phthiotis—one of the towns enumerated in the Iliad as under the command of Achilles. But there was also a mountain called Laphystion, and a temple and worship of Zeus Laphystios between Orchomenos and Koroneia, in the northern portion of the territory known in the historical ages as Boeotia. Here too the family story of Athamas is localised, and Athamas is presented to us as king of the districts of Koreneia, Haliartus and Athamas in Mount Laphystion: he is thus interwoven with the Orchomenian genealogy. Andreus (we are told), son of the river Peneios, was the first person who settled in the region: from him it received the name Andreis. Athamas, coming subsequently to Andreus, received from him the territory of Koreneia and Haliartus with Mount Laphystion: he gave in marriage to Andreus Euippe, daughter of his son Leucon, and the issue of this marriage was Eteokles, said to be the son of the river Kephisos. Koronos and Haliartus, grandsons of the Corinthian Sisyphus, were adopted by Athamas, as he had lost all his children. But when his grandson Presbem, son of Phryxus, returned to him from Kolchis, he divided his territory in such manner that Koronos and Haliartus became the founders of the towns which bore their names. Almon, the son of Sisyphus, also received from Eteokles a portion of territory, where he established the village Almones.


With Eteokles began, according to a statement in one of the Hesiodic poems, the worship of the Charites or Graces, so long and so solemnly continued at Orchomenos in the periodical festival of the Charitesia, to which many neighbouring towns and districts seem to have contributed. He also distributed the inhabitants into two tribes—Eteokleia and Kephisias. He died childless, and was succeeded by Almos, who had only two daughters, Chryse and Chrysogeneia. The son of Chryse by the god Ares was Phlegyas, the father and founder of the warlike and predatory Phlegyae, who despoiled everyone within their reach, and assaulted not only the pilgrims on their road to Delphi, but even the treasures of the temple itself. The offended god punished them by continued thunder, by earthquakes, and by pestilence, which extinguished all this impious race, except a scanty remnant who fled into Phocis.

Chrysogeneia, the other daughter of Almos, had for issue, by the god Poseidon, Minyas: the son of Minyas was Orchomenos. From these two was derived the name both of Minyae for the people, and of Orchomenos for the town. During the reign of Orchomenos, Hyettus came to him from Argos, having become an exile in consequence of the death of Molyros: Orchomenos assigned to him a portion of land, where he founded the village called Hyettus. Orchomenos, having no issue, was succeeded by Klymenos, son of Presbon, of the house of Athamas: Klymenos was slain by some Thebans during the festival of Poseidon at Onchestos; and his eldest son, Erginus, to avenge his death, attacked the Thebans with his utmost force;—an attack in which he was so successful, that the latter were forced to submit, and to pay him an annual tribute.

The Orchomenian power was now at its height: both Minyas and Orchomenos had been princes of surpassing wealth, and the former had built a spacious and durable edifice which he had filled with gold and silver. But the success of Erginus against Thebes was soon terminated and reversed by the hand of the irresistible Heracles, who rejected with disdain the claim of tribute, and even mutilated the envoys sent to demand it: he not only and the emancipated Thebes, but broke down and impoverished Orchomenos.

Erginus in his old age married a young wife, from which match sprang the illustrious heroes, or gods, Trophonius and Agamedes; though many (amongst whom is Pausanias himself) believed Trophonius to be the son of Apollo. Trophonius, one of the most memorable persons in Grecian mythology, was worshipped as a god in various places, but with especial sanctity as Zeus Trophonius at Lebadeia: in his temple at this town, the prophetic manifestations outlasted those of Delphi itself. Trophonius and Agamedes, enjoying matchless renown as architects, built the temple of Delphi, the thalamus of Amphitryon at Thebes, and also the inaccessible vault of Hyrieus at Hyria, in which they are said to have left one stone removable at pleasure so as to reserve for themselves a secret entrance. They entered so frequently, and stole so much gold and silver, that Hyrieus, astonished at his losses, at length spread a fine net, in which Agamedes was inextricably caught: Trophonius cut off his brother's head and carried it away, so that the body, which alone remained, was insufficient to identify the thief. Like Amphiaraos, whom he resembles in more than one respect, Trophonius was swallowed up by the earth near Lebadeia.


From Trophonius and the Orchomenian genealogy passes to Askalaphos and Ialmenos, the sons of Ares by Astyoche, who are named in the Catalogue of the Iliad as leaders of the thirty ships from Orchomenos against Troy. Azeus, the grandfather of Astyoche in the Iliad, is introduced as the brother of Erginus by Pausanias, who does not carry the pedigree lower.

The genealogy here given out of Pausanias is deserving of the more attention, because it seems to have been copied from the special history of Orchomenos by the Corinthian Kallippus, who again borrowed from the native Orchomenian poet, Chersias the works of the latter had never come into the hands of Pausanias. It illustrates forcibly the principle upon which these mythical genealogies were framed, for almost every personage in the series is an Eponymous. Andreus gave his name to the country, Athamas to the Athamantian plain; Minyas, Orchomenos, Koronus, Haliartus, Almos, and Hyettos , are each in like manner connected with some name of people, tribe, town, or village; while Chryse and Chrysogeneia have their origin in the reputed ancient wealth of Orchomenos. Abundant discrepancies are found, however, in respect to this old genealogy, if we look to other accounts. According to one statement, Orchomenos was the son of Zeus, by Isione, daughter of Danaus; Minyas was the son of Orchomenos (or rather Poseidon) by Hermippe, daughter of Boeto; the sons of Minyas were Presbon, Orchomenos, Athamas, and Diochthondas. Others represented Minyas as son of Poseidon by Kallirrhoe, an Oceanic nymph, while Dionysius called him son of Ares, and Aristodemus, son of Aleas; lastly, there were not wanting authors who termed both Minyas and Orchomenos, sons of Eteokles. Nor do we find in any one of these genealogies the name of Amphion the son of Iasus, who figures so prominently in the Odyssey as king of Orchomenos, and whose beautiful daughter Chloris is married to Neleus. Pausanias mentions him, but not as king, which is the denomination given to him in Homer.

The discrepancies here cited are hardly necessary in order to prove that these Orchomenian genealogies possess no historical value. Yet some probable inferences appear deducible from the general tenor of the legends, whether the facts and persons of which they are composed be real or fictitious. Throughout all the historical age, Orchomenos is a member of the Boeotian confederation. But the Boeotians are said to have been immigrants into the territory which bore their name from Thessaly; and prior to the time of their immigration, Orchomenos and the surrounding territory appear as possessed by the Minyae, who are recognized in that locality both in the Iliad and in the Odyssey, and from whom the constantly recurring Eponymous, king Minyas, is borrowed by the genealogists. Poetical legend connects the Orchomenian Minyae, on the one side, with& Pylos and Triphylia in Peloponnesus; on the other side, with& Phthiotis and the town of Polkos in Thessaly; also with Corinth, through Sisyphus and his sons. Pherekydes represented Neleus, king of Pylos, as having also been king of Orchomenos. In the region of Triphylia, near to or coincident with Pylos, a Minyeian river is mentioned by Homer; and we find traces of residents called Minyae even in the historical times, though the account given by Herodotus of the way in which they came thither is strange and unsatisfactory.

Before the great changes which took place in the inhabitants of Greece from the immigration of the Thesprotians into Thessaly, of the Boeotians into Boeotia, and of the Dorians and Aetolians into Peloponnesus, at a date which we have no means of determining, the Minyae and tribes fraternally connected with them seem to have occupied a large portion of the surface of Greece, from Iolkos in Thessaly to Pylos in the Peloponnesus. The wealth of Orchomenos is renowned even in the Iliad; and when we study its topography in detail, we are furnished with a probable explanation both of its prosperity and its decay. Orchomenos was situated on the northern bank of the lake Kopais, which receives not only the river Kephisos from the valleys of Phocis, but also other rivers from Parnassus and Helicon. The waters of the lake find more than one subterranean egress—partly through natural rifts and cavities in the limestone mountains, partly through a tunnel pierced artificially more than a mile in length—into the plain on the northeastern side, from whence they flow into the Euboean sea near Larymna. And it appears that, so long as these channels were diligently watched and kept clear, a large portion of the lake was in the condition of alluvial land, pre-eminently rich and fertile. But when the channels came to be either neglected, or designedly choked up by an enemy, the water accumulated to such a degree as to occupy the soil of more than one ancient town, to endanger the position of Kopae, and to occasion the change of the site of Orchomenos itself from the plain to the declivity of Mount Hyphanteion. An engineer, Krates, began the clearance of the obstructed water-courses in the reign of Alexander the Great, and by his commission—the destroyer of Thebes being anxious to re-establish the extinct prosperity of Orchomenos. He succeeded so far as partially to drain and diminish the lake, whereby the site of more than one ancient city was rendered visible: but the revival of Thebes by Cassander, after the decease of Alexander, arrested the progress of the undertaking, and the lake soon regained its former dimensions, to contract which no further attempt was made.

According to the Theban legend, Heracles, after his defeat of Erginus, had blocked up the exit of the waters, and converted the Orchomenian plain into a lake. The spreading of these waters is thus connected with the humiliation of the Minyae; and there can be little hesitation in ascribing to these ancient tenants of Orchomenos, before it became boeotised, the enlargement and preservation of the protective channels. Nor could such an object have been accomplished without combined action and acknowledged ascendency on the part of that city over its neighbors, extending even to the sea at Larynma, where the river Kephisos discharges itself. Of its extended influence, as well as of its maritime activity, we find a remarkable evidence in the ancient and venerated Amphiktyony at Kalauria.

The little island so named, near the harbor of Troezen, in Peloponnesus, was sacred to Poseidon, and an asylum of inviolable sanctity. At the temple of Poseidon, in Kalauria, there had existed, from unknown date, a periodical sacrifice, celebrated by seven cities in common—Hermione, Epidaurus, Aegina, Athens, Prasiae, Nauplia, and the Minyeian Orchomenos. This ancient religious combination dates from the time when Nauplia was independent of Argos, and Prasiae of Sparta: Argos and Sparta, according to the usual practice in Greece, continued to fulfill the obligation each on the part of its respective dependent. Six out of the seven states are at once sea-towns, and near enough to Kalauria to account for their participation in this Amphiktyony. But the junction of Orchomenos, from its comparative remoteness, becomes inexplicable, except on the supposition that its territory reached the sea, and that it enjoyed a considerable maritime traffic—, a fact which helps to elucidate both its legendary connection with Iolkos>, and its partnership in what is called the Ionic emigration.

The great power of Orchomenos was broken down and the city reduced to a secondary and half-dependent position by the Boeotians of Thebes; at what time and under what circumstances, history has not preserved. The story that the Theban hero, Heracles, rescued his native city from servitude and tribute to Orchomenos, since it comes from a Cadmeian and not from an Orchomenian legend, and since the details of it were favorite subjects of commemoration in the Theban temples, affords a presumption that Thebes was really once dependent on Orchomenos. Moreover the savage mutilations inflicted by the hero on the tribute-seeking envoys, so faithfully portrayed in his surname Rhinokoloustes, infuse into the myth a portion of that bitter feeling which so long prevailed between Thebes and Orchomenos, and which led the Theban, as soon as the battle of Leuktra had placed supremacy in their hands, to destroy and depopulate their rival. The ensuing generation saw the same fate retorted upon Thebes, combined with the restoration of Orchomenos. The legendary grandeur of this city continued, long after it had ceased to be distinguished for wealth and power, imperishably recorded both in the minds of the nobler citizens and in the compositions of the poets: the emphatic language of Pausanias shows how much he found concerning it in the old epic.


With several of the daughters of Aeolus memorable mythical pedigrees and narratives are connected. Alcyone married Keyx, the son of Eosphoros, but both she and her husband displayed in a high degree the overweening insolence common in the Aeolic race. The wife called her husband Zeus, while he addressed her as Here, for which presumptuous act Zeus punished them by changing both into birds.

Canace had by the god Poseidon several children, amongst whom were Epopeus and Aloeus. Aloeus married Iphimedea, who became enamored of the god Poseidon, and boasted of her intimacy with him. She had by him two sons, Otos and Ephialtes, the huge and formidable Aloids,—Titanic beings, nine fathoms in height and nine cubits in breadth, even in their boyhood, before they had attained their full strength. These Aloids defied and insulted the gods in Olympus. They paid their court to Here and Artemis; moreover they even seized and bound Ares, confining him in a brazen chamber for thirteen months. No one knew where he was, and the intolerable chain would have worn him to death, had not Eriboea, the jealous stepmother of the Aloids, revealed the place of his detention to Hermes, who carried him surreptitiously away when at the last extremity. Ares could obtain no atonement for such an indignity. Otos and Ephialtes even prepared to assault the gods in heaven, piling up Ossa on Olympus and Pelion on Ossa, in order to reach them. And this they would have accomplished had they been allowed to grow to their full maturity; but the arrows of Apollo put a timely end to their short-lived career.

The genealogy assigned to Kalyke, another daughter of Aeolus, conducts us from Thessaly to Elis and Aetolia. She married Aethlius (the son of Zeus by Protogeneia, daughter of Deucalion and sister of Hellen), who conducted a colony out of Thessaly, and settled in the territory of Elis. He had for his son Endymion, respecting whom the Hesiodic Catalogue and the Eoiai related several wonderful things. Zeus granted him the privilege of determining the hour of his own death, and even translated him into heaven, which he forfeited by daring to pay court to Here: his vision in this criminal attempt was cheated by a cloud, and he was cast out into the underworld. According to other stories, his great beauty caused the goddess Selene to become enamored of him, and to visit him by night during his sleep:—the sleep of Endymion became a proverbial expression for enviable, undisturbed, and deathless repose. Endymion had for issue (Pausanias gives us three different accounts, and Apollodorus a fourth, of the name of his wife), Epeios, Etolus, Paeon, and a daughter Eurykyde. He caused his three sons to run a race on the stadium at Olympia, and Epeios, being victorious, was rewarded by becoming his successor in the kingdom: it was after him that the people were denominated Epeians.

Epeios had no male issue, and was succeeded by his nephew Eleios, son of Eurykyde by the god Poseidon: the name of the people was then changed from Epeians to Eleians. Etolus, the brother of Epeios, having slain Apis, son of Phoroneus, was compelled to flee from the country: he crossed the Corinthian gulf, and settled in the territory then called Buretis, but to which he gave the name of Aetolia.

The Mollonid Brothers

The son of Eleios,—or, according to other accounts, of the god Helios, of Poseidon, or of Phorbas,—is Augeas, whom we find mentioned in the Iliad as king of the Epeians or Eleiaus. Augeas was rich in all sorts of rural wealth, and possessed herds of cattle so numerous, that the dung of the animals accumulated in the stable or cattle-enclosures beyond all power of endurance. Eurystheus, as an insult to Heracles, imposed upon him the obligation of cleansing this stable: the hero, disdaining to carry off the dung upon his shoulders, turned the course of the river Alpheios through the building, and thus swept the encumbrance away. But Augeas, in spite of so signal a service, refused to Heracles the promised reward, though his son Phyleus protested against such treachery, and when he found that he could not induce his father to keep faith, retired in sorrow and wrath to the island of Dulichion. To avenge the deceit practiced upon him, Heracles invaded Elis; but Augeas had powerful auxiliaries, especially his nephews, the two Molionids (sons of Poseidon by Molione, the wife of Akteir), Eurytos, and Kteatos. These two miraculous brothers, of transcendant force, grew together,—having one body, but two heads and four arms. Such was their irresistible might, that Heracles was defeated and repelled from Elis: but presently the Eleians sent the two Mollonid brothers as Theori (sacred envoys) to the Isthmian games, and Heracles, placing himself in ambush at Kleonae, surprised and killed them as they passed through. For this murderous act the Eleians in vain endeavored to obtain redress both at Corinth and at Argos; which is assigned as the reason for the self-ordained exclusion, prevalent throughout all the historical age, that no Eleian athlete would ever present himself as a competitor at the Isthmian games. The Molionids being thus removed, Heracles again invaded Elis, and killed Augeas along with his children,—all except Phyleus, whom he brought over from Dulichion, and put in possession of his father's kingdom. According to the more gentle narrative which Pausanias adopts, Augeas was not killed, but pardoned at the request of Phyleus. He was worshipped as a hero even down to the time of that author.

It was on occasion of this conquest of Elis, according to the old myth which Pindar has ennobled in a magnificent ode, that Heracles first consecrated the ground of Olympia and established the Olympic games. Such at least was one of the many fables respecting the origin of that memorable institution.

It has already been mentioned that Etolus, son of Endymion, quitted Peloponnesus in consequence of having slain Apis. The country on the north of the Corinthian gulf, between the rivers Euenus and Achelous, received from him the name of Aetolia, instead of that of Kuretis: he acquired possession of it after having slain Doruis, Laodokus, and Polypoetes, sons of Apollo and Phthia, by whom he had been well received. He had by his wife Pronoe (the daughter of Phorbas) two sons, Pleuron and Kalyden, and from them the two chief towns in Aetolia were named. Pleuron married Xanthippe, daughter of Dorus, and had for his son Agenor, from whom sprang Portheus, or Porthaon, and Demonike: Euenos and Thestius were children of the latter by the god Ares.

Portheus had three sons, Agrius, Melas, and Eneus: among the off spring of Thestius were Althea. and Leda,—names which bring us to a period of interest in the legendary history. Leda marries Tyndareus and becomes mother of Helena and the Dioskuri; Althea marries Eneus, and has, among other children, Meleager and Deianeira; the latter being begotten by the god Dionysus, and the former by Ares. Tydeus also is his son, and the father of Diomedes: warlike eminence goes hand in hand with tragic calamity among the members of this memorable family.

We are fortunate enough to find the legend of Althea and Meleager set forth at considerable length in the Iliad, in the speech addressed by Phoenix to appease the wrath of Achilles. Eneus, king of Kalydon, in the vintage sacrifices which he offered to the gods, omitted to include Artemis: the misguided man either forgot her or cared not for her; and the goddess, provoked by such an insult, sent against the vineyards of Eneus a wild boar of vast size and strength, who tore up the trees by the root, and laid prostrate all their fruit. So terrible was this boar, that nothing less than a numerous body of men could venture to attack him: Meleager, the son of Eneus, however, having got together a considerable number of companions, partly from the Kuretes of Pleuron, at length blew him. But the anger of Artemis was not yet appeased. She raised a dispute among the combatants respecting the possession of the boar's head and hide—the trophies of victory. In this dispute Meleager slew the brother of his mother Althea, prince of the Kuretes of Pleuron: these Kuretes attacked the Etolians, of Kalydon in order to avenge their chief. So long as Meleager contended in the field the Etolians had the superiority. But he presently refused to come forth, indignant at the curses imprecated upon him by his mother. For Althea, wrung with sorrow for the death of her brother, flung herself upon the ground in tears, beat the earth violently with her hands, and implored Hades and Persephone to inflict death upon Meleager,—a prayer which the unrelenting Erinnyes in Erebus heard but too well. So keenly did the hero resent this behavior of his mother, that he kept aloof from the war. Accordingly, the Kuretes not only drove the Etolians from the field, but assailed the walls and gates of Kalydon, and were on the point of overwhelming its dismayed inhabitants. There was no hope of safety except in the arm of Meleager; but Meleager lay in his chamber by the side of his beautiful wife Cleopatra, the daughter of Idas, and heeded not the necessity. While the shouts of expected victory were heard from the assailants at the gates, the ancient men of Etolia and the priests of the gods earnestly besought Meleager to come forth, offering him his choice of the fattest land in the plain of Kalydon. His dearest friends, his father Eneus, his sisters, and even his mother herself, added their supplications—but he remained inflexible. At length the Kuretes penetrated into the town and began to burn it: at this last moment, Cleopatra his wife addressed to him her pathetic appeal to avert from her and from his family the desperate horrors impending over them all. Meleager could no longer resist: he put on his armor, went forth from his chamber, and repelled the enemy. But when the danger was over, his countrymen withheld from him the splendid presents which they had promised, because he had rejected their prayers, and had come forth only when his own haughty caprice dictated.

Such is the legend of Meleager in the Iliad: a verse in the second book mentions simply the death of Meleager, without farther details, as a reason why Thoas appeared in command of the Aetolians before Troy. Later poets both enlarged and altered the fable. The Hesiodic Eoiai, as well as the old poem called the Minyas, represented Meleager as having been slain by Apollo, who aided the Kuretes in the war; and the incident of the burning brand, though quite at variance with Homer, is at least as old as the tragic poet Phrynichus, earlier than Eschylus. The Fates, presenting themselves to Althea shortly after the birth of Meleager, predicted that the child would die so soon as the brand then burning on the fire near at hand should be consumed. Althea snatched it from the flames and extinguished it, preserving it with the utmost care, until she became incensed against Meleager for the death of her brother. She then cast it into the fire, and as soon as it was consumed the life of Meleager was brought to a close.

We know from the censure of Pliny, that Sophocles heightened the pathos of this subject by his account of the mournful death of Meleager’s sisters, who perished from excess of grief. They were changed into the birds called Meleagrides, and their never-ceasing tears ran together into amber. But in the hands of Euripides whether originally through him or not, we cannot tell—Atalanta became the prominent figure and motive of the piece, while the party convened to hunt the Kalydonian boar was made to comprise all the distinguished heroes from every quarter of Greece. In fact, as Heyne justly remarks, this event is one of the four aggregate dramas of Grecian heroic life, along with the Argonautic expedition, the siege of Thebes, and the Trojan war.

To accomplish the destruction of the terrific animal which Artemis in her wrath had sent forth, Meleager assembled not merely the choice youth among the Kuretes and Aetolians (as we find in the Iliad), but an illustrious troop, including Castor and Pollux, Idas and Lynkeus, Peleus and Telamon, Theseus and Peirithous, Ankaeus and Kepheus, Jason, Amphiaraus, Admetus, Eurytion and others. Nestor and Phoenix, who appear as old men before the walls of Troy, exhibited their early prowess as auxiliaries to the suffering Kalydonians. Conspicuous amidst them all stood the virgin Atalanta, daughter of the Arcadian Schoeneus; beautiful and matchless for swiftness of foot, but living in the forest as a huntress and unacceptable to Aphrodite. Several of the heroes were slain by the boar; others escaped, by various stratagems: at length Atalanta first shot him in the back, next Amphiaraus in the eye, and, lastly, Meleager killed him. Enamored of the beauty of Atalanta, Meleager made over to her the chief spoils of the animal, on the plea that she had inflicted the first wound. But his uncles, the brothers of Thestius, took them away from her, asserting their rights as next of kin, if Meleager declined to keep the prize for himself: the latter, exasperated at this behavior, slew them. Althea, in deep sorrow for her brothers and wrath against her son, is impelled to produce the fatal brand, which she had so long treasured up, and consign it the flames. The tragedy concludes with the voluntary death both of Althea and Cleopatra.

Interesting as the Arcadian huntress, Atalanta, is in herself, she is an intrusion, and not a very convenient intrusion, into the Homeric story of the Kalydonian boar-hunt, wherein another female, Cleopatra, already occupied the foreground. But the more recent version became accredited throughout Greece, and was sustained by evidence which few persons in those days felt any inclination to controvert. For Atalanta carried away with her the spoils and head of the boar into Arcadia; and there for successive centuries hung the identical hide and the gigantic tusks, of three feet in length, in the temple of Athene Alea at Tegea. Kallimachus mentions them as being there preserved, in the third century before the Christian era; but the extraordinary value set upon them is best proved by the fact that the emperor Augustus took away the tusks from Tegea, along with the great statue of Athene Alea, and conveyed them to Rome, to be there preserved among the public curiosities. Even a century and a half afterwards, when Pausanias visited Greece, the skin worn out with age was shown to him, while the robbery of the tusks had not been forgotten. Nor were these relics of the boar the only memento preserved at Tegea of the heroic enterprise. On the pediment of the temple of Athene Alea, unparalleled in Peloponnesus for beauty and grandeur, the illustrious statuary Skopas had executed one of his most finished reliefs, representing the Kalydonian hunt. Atalanta and Meleager were placed in the front rank of the assailants; while Ankaeus, one of the Tegean heroes, to whom the tusks of the boar had proved fatal, was represented as sinking under his death-wound into the arms of his brother Epochos. And Pausanias observes that the Tegeans, while they had manifested the same honorable forwardness as other Arcadian communities in the conquest of Troy, the repulse of Xerxes, and the battle of Dipaea against Sparta—might fairly claim to themselves, through Ankaeus and Atalanta, that they alone amongst all Arcadians had participated in the glory of the Kalydonian boar-hunt. So entire and unsuspecting is the faith both of the Tegeans and of Pausanias in the past historical reality of this romantic adventure. Strabo indeed tries to transform the romance into something which has the outward semblance of history, by remarking that the quarrel respecting the boar's head and hide cannot have been the real cause of war between the Kuretes and the Aetolians; the true ground of dispute (he contends) was probably the possession of a portion of territory. His remarks on this head are analogous to those of Thucydides and other critics, when they ascribe the Trojan war, not to the rape of Helen, but to views of conquest or political apprehensions. But he treats the general fact of the battle between the Kuretes and the Aetolians, mentioned in the Iliad, as something unquestionably real and historical—recapitulating at the same time a variety of discrepancies on the part of different authors, but not giving any decision of his own respecting their truth or falsehood.

In the same manner as Atalanta was intruded into the Kalydonian hunt, so also she seems to have been introduced into the memorable funeral games celebrated after the decease of Pelias at Iolkos, in which she had no place at the time when the works on the chest of Kypselus were executed. But her native and genuine locality is Arcadia; where her race-course, near to the town of Methydrion, was shown even in the days of Pausanias. This race-course had been the scene of destruction for more than one unsuccessful suitor. For Atalanta, averse to marriage, had proclaimed that her hand should only be won by the competitor who would surpass her in running: all who tried and failed were condemned to die, and many were the persons to whom her beauty and swiftness, alike unparalleled, had proved fatal. At length Meilanion, who had vainly tried to win her affections by assiduous services in her hunting excursions, ventured to enter the perilous lists. Aware that he could not hope to outrun her except by stratagem, he had obtained, by the kindness of Aphrodite, three golden apples from the garden of the Hesperides, which he successively let fall near to her while engaged in the race. The maiden could not resist the temptation of picking them up, and was thus overcome: she became the wife of Meilanion, and the mother of the Arcadian Parthenopaeus, one of the seven chiefs who perished in the siege of Thebes.


We have yet another female in the family of Eneus, whose name the legend has immortalized. His daughter Deianeira was sought in marriage by the river Achelous, who presented himself in various shapes, first as a serpent and afterwards as a bull. From the importunity of this hateful suitor she was rescued by the arrival of Heracles, who encountered Achelous, vanquished him and broke off one of his horns, which Achelous ransomed by surrendering to him the horn of Amaltheia, endued with the miraculous property of supplying the possessor with abundance of any food and drink which he desired. Herakles, being rewarded for his prowess by the possession of Deianeira, made over the horn of Amaltheia as his marriage-present to Eneus. Compelled to leave the residence of Eneus, in consequence of having in a fit of anger struck the youthful attendant Eunomus, and involuntarily killed him, Heracles retired to Trachin, crossing the river Euenus at the place where the Centaur Nessus was accustomed to carry over passengers for hire. Nessus carried over Deianeira, but when he had arrived on the other side, began to treat her with rudeness, upon which Heracles slew him with an arrow tinged by the poison of the Lernaean hydra. The dying Centaur advised Deianeira to preserve the poisoned blood which flowed from his wound, telling her that it would operate as a philtre to regain for her the affections of Heracles, in case she should ever be threatened by a rival. Some time afterwards the hero saw and loved the beautiful Iole, daughter of Eurytos, king of Echali : he stormed the town, killed Eurytos, and made Iole his captive. The misguided Deianeira now had recourse to her supposed philter: she sent as a present to Heracles a splendid tunic, imbued secretly with the poisoned blood of the Centaur. Heracles adorned himself with the tunic on the occasion of offering a solemn sacrifice to Zeus on the promontory of Kennon in Euboea: but the fatal garment, when once put on, clung to him indissolubly, burnt his skin and flesh, and occasioned an agony of pain from which he was only relieved by death. Deianeira slew herself in despair at this disastrous catastrophe.

We have not yet exhausted the eventful career of Eneus and his family—ennobled among the Etolians especially, both by religious worship and by poetical eulogy—and favorite themes not merely in some of the Hesiodic poems, but also in other ancient epic productions, the Alkmeonis and the Cyclic Thebais. By another marriage, Eneus had for his son Tydeus, whose poetical celebrity is attested by the many different accounts given both of the name and condition of his mother. Tydeus, having slain his cousins, the sons of Melas, who were conspiring against Eneus, was forced to become an exile, and took refuge at Argos with Adrastus, whose daughter Deipyle he married. The issue of this marriage was Diomedes, whose brilliant exploits in the siege of Troy were not less celebrated than those of his father at the siege of Thebes. After the departure of Tydeus, Eneus was deposed by the sons of Agrios. He fell into extreme poverty and wretchedness, from which he was only rescued by his grandson Diomedes, after the conquest of Troy. The sufferings of this ancient warrior, and the final restoration and revenge by Diomedes, were the subject of a lost tragedy of Euripides, which even the ridicule of Aristophanes demonstrates to have been eminently pathetic.

Though the genealogy just given of Eneus is in part Homeric, and seems to have been followed generally by the mythographers, yet we find another totally at variance with it in Hekataeus, which he doubtless borrowed from some of the old poets: the simplicity of the story annexed to it seems to attest its antiquity. Orestheus, son of Deucalion, first passed into Aetolia, and acquired the kingdom: he was father of Phytios, who was father of Eneus. Etolus was son of Eneus.

The original migration of Etolus from Elis to Aetolia—and the subsequent establishment in Elis of Oxylus, his descendant in the tenth generation, along with the Dorian invaders of Peloponnesus—were commemorated by two inscriptions, one in the Agora of Elis, the other in that of the Aetolian chief town, Thermum, engraved upon the statues of Etelus and Oxylus respectively.



AMONG the ancient legendary genealogies, there was none which figured with greater splendor, or which attracted to itself a higher degree of poetical interest and pathos, than that of the Pelopids: Tantalus, Pelops, Atreus and Thyestes, Agamemnon and Menelaus and Egisthus, Helen and Clytemnestra, Orestes and Elektra and Hermione. Each of these characters is a star of the first magnitude in the Grecian hemisphere: each name suggests the idea of some interesting romance or some harrowing tragedy: the curse, which taints the family from the beginning, inflicts multiplied wounds at every successive generation. So, at least, the story of the Pelopids presents itself, after it had been successively expanded and decorated by epic, lyric, and tragic poets. It will be sufficient to touch briefly upon events with which every reader of Grecian poetry is more or less familiar, and to offer some remarks upon the way in which they were colored and modified by different Grecian authors.

Pelops is the eponym or name-giver of the Peloponnesus: to find an eponym for every conspicuous local name was the invariable turn of Grecian retrospective fancy. The name Peloponnesus is not to be found either in the Iliad or the Odyssey, nor any other denomination which can be attached distinctly and specially to the entire peninsula. But we meet with the name in one of the most ancient post-Homeric poems of which any fragments have been preserved—the Cyprian Verses—a poem which many (seemingly most persons) even of the contemporaries of Herodotus ascribed to the author of the Iliad, though Herodotus contradicts the opinion. The attributes by which the Pelopid Agamemnon and his house are marked out and distinguished from the other heroes of the Iliad, are precisely those which Grecian imagination would naturally seek in an eponymous superior wealth, power, splendor and regality. Not only Agamemnon himself, but his brother Menelaus, is “more of a king” even than Nestor or Diomedes. The gods have not given to the king of the much-golden Mycenae greater courage, or strength, or ability, than to various other chiefs; but they have conferred upon him a marked superiority in riches, power and dignity, and have thus singled him out as the appropriate leader of the forces. He enjoys this preeminence as belonging to a privileged family and as inheriting the heaven-descended scepter of Pelops, the transmission of which is described by Homer in a very remarkable way. The scepter was made “by Hephaestus, who presented it to Zeus; Zeus gave it to Hermes, Hermes to the charioteer Pelops; Pelops gave it to Atreus, the ruler of men; Atreus at his death left it to Thyestes, the rich cattle-owner; Thyestes in his turn left it to his nephew Agamemnon to carry, that he might hold dominion over many islands and over all Argos”.

We have here the unrivalled wealth and power of the “king of men, Agamemnon”, traced up to his descent from Pelops, and accounted for, in harmony with the recognized epical agencies, by the present of the special scepter of Zeus through the hands of Hermes; the latter being the wealth-giving god, whose blessing is most efficacious in furthering the process of acquisition, whether by theft or by accelerated multiplication of flocks and herds. The wealth and princely character of the Atreids were proverbial among the ancient epic poets. Paris not only carries away Hellen, but much property along with her: the house of Menelaus, when Telemachus visits it in the Odyssey, is so resplendent with gold and silver and rare ornament, as to strike the beholder with astonishment and admiration. The attributes assigned to Tantalus, the father of Pelops, are in conformity with the general idea of the family—superhuman abundance and enjoyments, and intimate converse with the gods, to such a degree that his head is turned, and he commits inexpiable sin. But though Tantalus himself is mentioned, in one of the most suspicious passages of the Odyssey (as suffering punishment in the under-world), he is not announced, nor is anyone else announced, as father of Pelops, unless we are to construe the lines in the Iliad as implying that the latter was son of Hermes. In the conception of the author of the Iliad, the Pelopids are, if not of divine origin, at least a mortal breed specially favored and ennobled by the gods—beginning with Pelops, and localized at Mycenae. No allusion is made to any connection of Pelops either with Pisa or with Lydia.

The legend which connected Tantalus and Pelops with Mount Sipylus may probably have grown out of the Eolic settlements at Magnesia and Kyme. Both the Lydian origin and the Pisatic sovereignty of Pelops are adapted to times later than the Iliad, when the Olympic games had acquired to themselves the general reverence of Greece, and had come to serve as the religious and recreative center of the Peloponnesus—and when the Lydian and Phrygian heroic names, Midas and Gyges, were the types of wealth and luxury, as well as of chariot driving, in the imagination of a Greek. The inconsiderable villages of the Pisatid derived their whole importance from the vicinity of Olympia: they are not deemed worthy of notice in the Catalogue of Homer. Nor could the genealogy which connected the eponym of the entire peninsula with Pisa have obtained currency in Greece unless it had been sustained by pre-established veneration for the locality of Olympia. But if the sovereign of the humble Pisa was to be recognized as forerunner of the thrice-wealthy princes of Mycenae, it became necessary to assign some explanatory cause of his riches. Hence the supposition of his being an immigrant, son of a wealthy Lydian named Tantalus, who was the offspring of Zeus and Plouto. Lydian wealth and Lydian chariot-driving rendered Pelops a fit person to occupy his place in the legend, both as ruler of Pisa and progenitor of the Mycenaean Atreids. Even with the admission of these two circumstances there is considerable difficulty, for those who wish to read the legends as consecutive history, in making the Pelopids pass smoothly and plausibly from Pisa to Mycenae.

I shall briefly recount the legends of this great heroic family as they came to stand in their full and ultimate growth, after the localization of Pelops at Pisa had been tacked on as a preface to Homer’s version of the Pelopid genealogy.

Tantalus, residing near Mount Sipylus in Lydia, had two children, Pelops and Niobe. He was a man of immense possessions and preeminent happiness, above the lot of humanity: the gods communicated with him freely, received him at their banquets, and accepted of his hospitality in return. Intoxicated with such prosperity, Tantalus became guilty of gross wickedness. He stole nectar and ambrosia from the table of the gods, and revealed their secrets to mankind: he killed and served up to them at a feast his own son Pelops. The gods were horror-struck when they discovered the meal prepared for them: Zeus restored the mangled youth to life, and as Demeter, then absorbed in grief for the loss of her daughter Persephone, had eaten a portion of the shoulder, he supplied an ivory shoulder in place of it. Tantalus expiated his guilt by exemplary punishment. He was placed in the under-world, with fruit and water seemingly close to him, yet eluding his touch as often as he tried to grasp them and leaving his hunger and thirst incessant and unappeased. Pindar, in a very remarkable passage, finds this old legend revolting to his feelings: he rejects the tale of the flesh of Pelops having been served up and eaten, as altogether unworthy of the gods.

Niobe, the daughter of Tantalus, was married to Amphion, and had a numerous and flourishing offspring of seven sons and seven daughters. Though accepted as the intimate friend and companion of Leto, the mother of Apollo and Artemis, she was presumptuous enough to triumph over that goddess, and to place herself on a footing of higher dignity, on account of the superior number of her children. Apollo and Artemis avenged this insult by killing all the sons and all the daughters: Niobe, thus left a childless and disconsolate mother, wept herself to death, and was turned into a rock, which the later Greeks continued always to identify on Mount Sipylus.

Some authors represented Pelops as not being a Lydian, but a king of Paphlagonia; by others it was said that Tantalus, having become detested from his impieties, had been expelled from Asia, by Ilus the king of Troy—an incident which served the double purpose of explaining the transit of Pelops to Greece, and of imparting to the siege of Troy by Agamemnon the character of retribution for wrongs done to his ancestor. When Pelops came over to Greece, he found Enomaus, son of the god Ares and Harpinna, in possession of the principality of Pisa, immediately bordering on the district of Olympia. Enomaus, having been apprized by an oracle that death would overtake him if he permitted his daughter Hippodameia to marry, refused to give her in marriage except to some suitor who should beat him in a chariot-race from Olympia to the isthmus of Corinth; the ground here selected for the legendary victory of Pelops deserves attention, inasmuch as it is a line drawn from the assumed centre of Peloponnesus to its extremity, and thus comprises the whole territory with which Pelops is connected as eponym. Any suitor overmatched in the race was doomed to forfeit his life; and the fleetness of the Pisan horses, combined with the skill of the charioteer Myrtilus, had already caused thirteen unsuccessful competitors to perish by the lance of Enomaus. Pelops entered the lists as a suitor: his prayers moved the god Poseidon to supply him with a golden chariot and winged horses; or according to another story, he captivated the affections of Hippodameia herself, who persuaded the charioteer Myrtilus to loosen the wheels of Enomaus before he started, so that the latter was overturned and perished in the race. Having thus won the hand of Hippodameia, Pelops became Prince of Pisa. He put to death the charioteer Myrtilus, either from indignation at his treachery to Enomaus, or from jealousy on the score of Hippodameia: but Myrtilus was the son of Hermes, and though Pelops erected a temple in the vain attempt to propitiate that god, he left a curse upon his race which future calamities were destined painfully to work out.

Pelops had a numerous issue by Hippodameia: Pittheus, Troezen and Epidaurus, the eponyms of the two Argolic cities so called, are said to have been among them: Atreus and Thyestes were also his sons, and his daughter Nikippe married Sthenelus of Mycenae, and became the mother of Eurystheus. We hear nothing of the principality of Pisa afterwards: the Pisatid villages became absorbed into the larger aggregate of Elis, after a vain struggle to maintain their separate right of presidency over the Olympic festival. But the legend ran that Pelops left his name to the whole peninsula: according to Thucydides, he was enabled to do this because of the great wealth which he had brought with him from Lydia into a poor territory. The historian leaves out all the romantic interest of the genuine legends —preserving only this one circumstance, which, without being better attested than the rest, carries with it, from its common-place and prosaic character, a pretended historical plausibility.

Besides his numerous issue by Hippodameia, Pelops had an illegitimate son named Chrysippus, of singular grace and beauty, towards whom he displayed so much affection as to rouse the jealousy of Hippodameia and her sons. Atreus and Thyestes conspired together to put Chrysippus to death, for which they were banished by Pelops and retired to Mycenae,—an event which brings us into the track of the Homeric legend. For Thucydides, having found in the death of Chrysippus a suitable ground for the secession of Atreus from Pelops, conducts him at once to Mycenae, and shows a train of plausible circumstances to account for his having mounted the throne. Eurystheus, king of Mycenae, was the maternal nephew of Atreus: when he engaged in any foreign expedition, he naturally entrusted the regency to his uncle; the people of Mycenae thus became accustomed to be governed by him, and he on his part made efforts to conciliate them, so that when Eurystheus was defeated and slain in Attica, the Mycenaean people, apprehensive of an invasion from the Herakleids, chose Atreus as at once the most powerful and most acceptable person for his successor. Such was the tale which Thucydides derived “from those who had learnt ancient Peloponnesian matters most clearly from their forefathers”. The introduction of so much sober and quasi-political history, unfortunately unauthenticated, contrasts strikingly with the highly poetical legends of Pelops and Atreus, which precede and follow it.

Atreus and Thyestes are known in the Iliad only as successive possessors of the scepter of Zeus, which Thyestes at his death bequeaths to Agamemnon. The family dissensions among this fated race commence, in the Odyssey, with Agamemnon the son of Atreus, and Egisthus the son of Thyestes. But subsequent poets dwelt upon an implacable quarrel between the two fathers. The cause of the bitterness was differently represented: some alleged that Thyestes had intrigued with the Cretan Aerope, the wife of his brother; other narratives mentioned that Thyestes procured for himself surreptitiously the possession of a lamb with a golden fleece, which had been designedly introduced among the flocks of Atreus by the anger of Hermes, as a cause of enmity and ruin to the whole family. Atreus, after a violent burst of indignation, pretended to be reconciled, and invited Thyestes to a banquet, in which he served up to him the limbs of his own son, and the father ignorantly partook of the fatal meal. Even the all-seeing Helios is said to have turned back his chariot to the east in order that he might escape the shocking spectacle of this Thyestean banquet: yet the tale of Thyestean revenge—the murder of Atreus perpetrated by Egisthus, the incestuous offspring of Thyestes by his daughter Pelopia is no less replete with horrors.

Homeric legend is never thus revolting. Agamemnon and Menelaus are known to us chiefly with their Homeric attributes, which have not been so darkly overlaid by subsequent poets as those of Atreus and Thyestes. Agamemnon and Menelaus are affectionate brothers: they marry two sisters, the daughters of Tyndareus king of Sparta, Clytemnestra and Helen; for Helen, the real offspring of Zeus, passes as the daughter of Tyndareus. The “king of men” reigns at Mycenae; Menelaus succeeds Tyndareus at Sparta. Of the rape of Helen, and the siege of Troy consequent upon it, I shall speak elsewhere: I now touch only upon the family legends of the Atreids. Menelaus, on his return from Troy with the recovered Helen, is driven by storms far away to the distant regions of Phoenicia and Egypt, and is exposed to a thousand dangers and hardships before he again sets foot in Peloponnesus. But at length he reaches Sparta, resumes his kingdom, and passes the rest of his days in uninterrupted happiness and splendor: being moreover husband of the godlike Helen and son-in-law of Zeus, he is even spared the pangs of death. When the fullness of his days is past he is transported to the Elysian fields, there to dwell along with “the golden-haired Rhadamanthus” in a delicious climate and in undisturbed repose.

Far different is the fate of the king of men, Agamemnon. During his absence, the unwarlike Egisthus, son of Thyestes, had seduced his wife Clytemnestra, in spite of the special warning of the gods, who, watchful over this privileged family, had sent their messenger Hermes expressly to deter him from the attempt. A venerable bard had been left by Agamemnon as the companion and monitor of his wife, and so long as that guardian was at hand, Egisthus pressed his suit in vain. But be got rid of the bard by sending him to perish in a desert island, and then won without difficulty the undefended Clytemnestra. Ignorant of what had passed, Agamemnon returned from Troy victorious and full of hope to his native country; but he had scarcely landed when Egisthus invited him to a banquet, and there with the aid of the treacherous Clytemnestra, in the very ball of festivity and congratulation, slaughtered him and his companions “like oxen tied to the manger”. His concubine Cassandra, the prophetic daughter of Priam, perished along with him by the hand of Clytemnestra herself. The boy Orestes, the only male offspring of Agamemnon, was stolen away by his nurse, and placed in safety at the residence of the Phokian Strophius.

For seven years Egisthus and Clytemnestra reigned in tranquility at Mycenae on the throne of the murdered Agamemnon. But in the eighth year the retribution announced by the gods overtook them: Orestes, grown to manhood, returned and avenged his father by killing Egisthus, according to Homer; subsequent poets add, his mother also. He recovered the kingdom of Mycenae, and succeeded Menelaus in that of Sparta. Hermione, the only daughter of Menelaus and Helen, was sent into the realm of the Myrmidons in Thessaly, as the bride of Neoptolemus, son of Achilles, according to the promise made by her father during the siege of Troy.

Here ends the Homeric legend of the Pelopids, the final act of Orestes being cited as one of unexampled glory. Later poets made many additions: they dwelt upon his remorse and hardly earned pardon for the murder of his mother, and upon his devoted friendship for Pylades; they wove many interesting tales, too, respecting his sisters Iphigenia and Elektra and his cousin Hermione,—names which have become naturalized in every climate and incorporated with every form of poetry.

These poets did not at all scruple to depart from Homer, and to give other genealogies of their own, with respect to the chief persons of the Pelopid family. In the Iliad and Odyssey, Agamemnon is son of Atreus. In Homer he is specially marked as reigning at Mycenae; but Stesichorus, Simonides and Pindar represented him as having both resided and perished at Sparta or at Amyklae. According to the ancient Cyprian Verses, Helen was represented as the daughter of Zeus and Nemesis: in one of the Hesiodic poems she was introduced as an Oceanic nymph, daughter of Oceanus and Tethys. The genealogical discrepancies, even as to the persons of the principal heroes and heroines, are far too numerous to be cited, nor is it necessary to advert to them, except as they bear upon the unavailing attempt to convert such legendary parentage into a basis of historical record or chronological calculation.

The Homeric poems probably represent that form of the legend, respecting Agamemnon and Orestes, which was current and popular among the Eolic colonists. Orestes was the great heroic chief of the Eolic emigration; he, or his sons, or his descendants, are supposed to have conducted the Achaeans to seek a new home, when they were no longer able to make head against the invading Dorians: the great families at Tenedos and other Eolic cities even during the historical era, gloried in tracing back their pedigrees to this illustrious source. The legends connected with the heroic worship of these mythical ancestors form the basis of the character and attributes of Agamemnon and his family, as depicted in Homer, in which Mycenae appears as the first place in Peloponnesus, and Sparta only as the second: the former the special residence of “the king of men”; the latter that of his younger and inferior brother, yet still the seat of a member of the princely Pelopids, and moreover the birth-place of the divine Helen. Sparta, Argos and Mycenae are all three designated in the Iliad by the goddess Here as her favorite cities; yet the connection of Mycenae with Argos, though the two towns were only ten miles distant, is far less intimate than the connection of Mycenae with Sparta. When we reflect upon the very peculiar manner in which Homer identifies Here with the Grecian host and its leader, —for she watches over the Greeks with the active solicitude of a mother, and her antipathy against the Trojans is implacable to a degree which Zeus cannot comprehend, and when we combine this with the ancient and venerated Heraeon, or temple of Here, near Mycenae, we may partly explain to ourselves the preeminence conferred upon Mycenae in the Iliad and Odyssey. The Heraeon was situated between Argos and Mycenae; in later times its priestesses were named and its affairs administered by the Argeians: but as it was much nearer to Mycenae than to Argos, we may with probability conclude that it originally belonged to the former, and that the increasing power of the latter enabled them to usurp to themselves a religious privilege which was always an object of envy and contention among the Grecian communities. The Eolic colonists doubtless took out with them in their emigration the divine and heroic legends, as well as the worship and ceremonial rites, of the Heraeon; and in those legends the most exalted rank would be assigned to the close-adjoining and administering city.

Mycenae maintained its independence even down to the Persian invasion. Eighty of its heavy-armed citizens, in the ranks of Leonidas at Thermopile, and a number not inferior at Plataea, upheld the splendid heroic celebrity of their city during a season of peril, when the more powerful Argos disgraced itself by a treacherous neutrality. Very shortly afterwards Mycenae was enslaved and its inhabitants expelled by the Argeians. Though this city so long maintained a separate existence, its importance had latterly sunk to nothing, while that of the Thirian Argos was augmented very much, and that of the Dorian Sparta still more.

The name of Mycenae is imperishably enthroned in the Iliad and Odyssey; but all the subsequent fluctuations of the legend tend to exalt the glory of other cities at its expense. The recognition of the Olympic games as the grand religious festival of Peloponnesus gave vogue to that genealogy which connected Pelops with Pisa or Elis and withdrew him from Mycenae. Moreover, in the poems of the great Athenian tragedians, Mycenae is constantly confounded and treated as one with Argos. If any one of the citizens of the former, expelled at the time of its final subjugation by the Argeians, had witnessed at Athens a drama of Aeschylus, Sophocles, or Euripides, or the recital of an ode of Pindar, he would have heard with grief and indignation the city of his oppressors made a partner in the heroic glories of his own. But the great political ascendency acquired by Sparta contributed still farther to degrade Mycenae, by disposing subsequent poets to treat the chief of the Grecian armament against Troy as having been a Spartan. It has been already mentioned that Stesichorus, Simonides and Pindar adopted this version of the legend: we know that Zeus Agamemnon, as well as the here Menelaus, was worshipped at the Dorian Sparta, and the feeling of intimate identity, as well as of patriotic pride, which had grown up in the minds of the Spartans connected with the name of Agamemnon, is forcibly evinced by the reply of the Spartan Syagrus to Gelon of Syracuse at the time of the Persian invasion of Greece. Geron was solicited to lend his aid in the imminent danger of Greece before the battle of Salamis: he offered to furnish an immense auxiliary force, on condition that the supreme command should be allotted to him. “Loudly indeed would the Pelopid Agamemnon cry out (exclaimed Syagrus in rejecting this application), if he were to learn that the Spartans had been deprived of the headship by Geon and the Syracusans”. Nearly a century before this event, in obedience to the injunctions of the Delphian oracle, the Spartans had brought back from Tegea to Sparta the bones of “the Laconian Orestes”, as Pindar denominates him: the recovery of these bones was announced to them as the means of reversing a course of ill-fortune, and of procuring victory in their war against Tegea. The value which they set upon this acquisition, and the decisive results ascribed to it, exhibit a precise analogy with the recovery of the bones of Theseus from Skyros by the Athenian Cimon shortly after the Persian invasion. The remains sought were those of a hero properly belonging to their own soil, but who had died in a foreign land, and of whose protection and assistance they were for that reason deprived. And the superhuman magnitude of the bones, which were contained in a coffin seven cubits long, is well suited to the legendary grandeur of the son of Agamemnon.





THE earliest names in Laconian genealogy are an indigenous Lelex and a Naiad nymph Kleochareia. From this pair sprung a son Eurotas, and from him a daughter Sparta, who became the wife of Lacedaemon, son of Zeus and Taygete, daughter of Atlas. Amyklas, son of Lacedaemon, had two sons, Kynortas and Hyacinthus—the latter a beautiful youth, the favorite of Apollo, by whose hand he was accidentally killed while playing at quoits: the festival of the Hyacinthia, which the Lacedaemonians generally, and the Amyklaeans with special solemnity, celebrated throughout the historical ages, was traced back to this legend. Kynortas was succeeded by his son Perieres, who married Gorgophone, daughter of Perseus, and had a numerous issue—Tyndareus, Ikarius, Aphareus, Leukippus, and Hippokoon. Some authors gave the genealogy differently, making Perieres, son of Eolus, to be the father of Kynortas, and Ebalus son of Kynortas, from whom sprung Tyndareus, Ikarius and Hippokoon.

Both Tyndareus and Ikarius, expelled by their brother Hippokoon, were forced to seek shelter at the residence of Thestius, king of Kalydon, whose daughter, Leda, Tyndareus espoused. It is numbered among the exploits of the omnipresent Heracles, that he slew Hippokoon and his sons, and restored Tyndareus to his kingdom, thus creating for the subsequent Herakleidan kings a mythical title to the throne. Tyndareus, as well as his brothers, are persons of interest in legendary narrative: he is the father of Castor, of Timandra, married to Echemus, the hero of Tegea, and of Clytemnestra, married to Agamemnon. Pollux and the ever-memorable Helen are the offspring of Leda by Zeus. Ikarius is the father of Penelope, wife of Odysseus: the contrast between her behavior and that of Clytemnestra and Helen became the more striking in consequence of their being so nearly related. Aphareus is the father of Idas and Lynkeus, while Leukippus has for his daughters, Phoebe and Ilaeira. According to one of the Hesiodic poems, Castor and Pollux were both sons of Zeus by Leda, while Helen was neither daughter of Zeus nor of Tyndareus, but of Oceanus and Tethys.

The brothers Castor and (Polydeukes, or) Pollux are no less celebrated for their fraternal affection than for their great bodily accomplishment: Castor, the great charioteer and horse-master; Pollux, the first of pugilists. They are enrolled both among the hunters of the Kalydonian boar and among the heroes of the Argonautic expedition, in which Pollux represses the insolence of Amykus, king of the Bebrykes, on the coast of Asiatic Thrace—the latter, a gigantic pugilist, from whom no rival has ever escaped, challenges Pollux, but is vanquished and killed in the fight.

The two brothers also undertook an expedition into Attica, for the purpose of recovering their sister Helen, who had been carried off by Theseus in her early youth, and deposited by him at Aphidna, while he accompanied Perithous to the underworld, in order to assist his friend in carrying off Persephone. The force of Castor and Pollux was irresistible, and when they redemanded their sister, the people of Attica were anxious to restore her: but no one knew where Theseus had deposited his prize. The invaders, not believing in the sincerity of this denial, proceeded to ravage the country, which would have been utterly ruined, had not Dekelus, the eponymous of Dekeleia, been able to indicate Aphidna as the place of concealment. The indigenous Titakus betrayed Aphidna to Castor and Pollux, and Helen was recovered: the brothers in evacuating Attica, carried away into captivity Ethra, the mother of Theseus. In after-days, when Castor and Pollux, under the title of the Dioskuri, had come to be worshipped as powerful gods, and when the Athenians were greatly ashamed of this act of Theseus—the revelation made by Dekelus was considered as entitling him to the lasting gratitude of his country, as well as to the favorable remembrance of the Lacedaemonians, who maintained the Dekeleians in the constant enjoyment of certain honorary privileges at Sparta, and even spared that dome in all their invasions of Attica. Nor is it improbable that the existence of this legend had some weight in determining the Lacedaemonians to select Dekelia as the place of their occupation during the Peloponnesian war.

The fatal combat between Castor and Polydeukes on the one side, and Idas and Lynkeus on the other, for the possession of the daughters of Leucippus, was celebrated by more than one ancient poet, and forms the subject of one of the yet remaining Idylls of Theocritus. Leucippus had formally betrothed his daughters to Idas and Lynkeus; but the Tyndarids, becoming enamored of them, outbid their rivals in the value of the customary nuptial gifts, persuaded the father to violate his promise, and carried off Phoebe and Ilaeira as their brides. Idas and Lynkeus pursued them and remonstrated against the injustice: according to Theocritus, this was the cause of the combat. But there was another tale, which seems the older, and which assigns a different cause to the quarrel. The four had jointly made a predatory incursion into Arcadia, and had driven off some cattle, but did not agree about the partition of the booty—Idas carried off into Messenia a portion of it which the Tyndarids claimed as their own. To revenge and reimburse themselves, the Tyndarids invaded Messenia, placing themselves in ambush in the hollow of an ancient oak. But Lynkeus, endued with preternatural powers of vision, mounted to the top of Taygetus, from whence, as he could see over the whole Peloponnesus, he detected them in their chosen place of concealment. Such was the narrative of the ancient Cyprian Verses. Castor perished by the hand of Idas, Lynkeus by that of Pollux. Idas, seizing a stone pillar from the tomb of his father Aphareus, hurled it at Pollux, knocked him down and stunned him; but Zeus, interposing at the critical moment for the protection of his son, killed Idas with a thunderbolt. Zeus would have conferred upon Pollux the gift of immortality, but the latter could not endure existence without his brother: he entreated permission to share the gift with Castor, and both were accordingly permitted to live, but only on every other day.

The Dioskuri, or sons of Zeus,—as the two Spartan heroes, Castor and Pollux, were denominated,—were recognized in the historical days of Greece as gods, and received divine honors. This is even noticed in a passage of the Odyssey, which is at any rate a very old interpolation, as well as in one of the Homeric hymns. What is yet more remarkable is, that they were invoked during storms at sea, as the special and all-powerful protectors of the endangered mariner, although their attributes and their celebrity seem to be of a character so dissimilar. They were worshipped throughout most parts of Greece, but with preeminent sanctity at Sparta.

Castor and Pollux being removed, the Spartan genealogy passes from Tyndareus to Menelaus, and from him to Orestes.

Originally it appears that Messene was a name for the western portion of Laconia, bordering on what was called Pylos: it is so represented in the Odyssey, and Ephorus seems to have included it amongst the possessions of' Orestes and his descendants. Throughout the whole duration of the Messenico-Dorian kingdom, there never was any town called Messene: the town was first founded by Epaminondas, after the battle of Leuctra. The heroic genealogy of Messenia starts from the same name as that of Laconia—from the autochthonous Lelex: his younger son, Polykaon marries Messene, daughter of the Argeian Triopas, and settles the country. Pausanias tells us that the posterity of this pair occupied the country for five generations; but he in vain searched the ancient genealogical poems to find the names of their descendants. To them succeeded Perieres, son of Eolus; and Aphareus and Leukippus, according to Pausanias, were sons of Perieres.

Aphareus, after the death of his sons, founded the town of Arene, and made over most part of his dominions to his kinsman Neleus, with whom we pass into the Pylian genealogy.



THE Arcadian divine or heroic pedigree begins with Pelasgus, whom both Hesiod and Asius considered as an indigenous man, though Akusilaus the Argeian represented him as brother of Argos and son of Zeus by Niobe, daughter of Phoroneus. Akusilaus wished to establish a community of origin between the Argeians and the Arcadians.

Lykaon, son of Pelasgus and king of Arcadia, had, by different wives, fifty sons, the most savage, impious and wicked of mankind: Maenalus was the eldest of them. Zeus, in order that he might himself become a witness of their misdeeds, presented himself to them in disguise. They killed a child and served it up to him for a meal; but the god overturned the table and struck dead with thunder Lykaon and all his fifty sons, with the single exception of Nyktimus, the youngest, whom he spared at the earnest intercession of the goddess Gaea (the Earth). The town near which the table was overturned received the name of Trapezus (Tabletown).

This singular legend (framed on the same etymological type as that of the ants in Aegina, recounted elsewhere) seems ancient, and may probably belong to the Hesiodic Catalogue. But Pausanias tells us a story in many respects different, which was represented to him in Arcadia as the primitive local account, and which becomes the more interesting, as he tells us that he himself fully believes it. Both tales indeed go to illustrate the same point—the ferocity of Lykaon’s character, as well as the cruel rites which he practiced. The latter was the first who established the worship and solemn games of Zeus Lykaeus: he offered up a child to Zeus, and made libations with the blood upon the altar. Immediately after having perpetrated this act, he was changed into a wolf.

“Of the truth of this narrative (observes Pausanias) I feel persuaded: it has been repeated by the Arcadians from old times, and it carries probability along with it. For the men of that day, from their justice and piety, were guests and companions at table with the gods, who manifested towards them approbation when they were good, and anger if they behaved ill, in a palpable manner: indeed at that time there were some, who having once been men, became gods, and who yet retain their privileges as such Aristaeus, the Cretan Britomartis, Heracles son of Alkmena, Amphiaraus the son of Oikles, and Pollux and Castor besides. We may therefore believe that Lykaon became a wild beast, and that Niobe, the daughter of Tantalus, became a stone. But in my time, wickedness having enormously increased, so as to overrun the whole earth and all the cities in it, there are no farther examples of men exalted into gods, except by mere title and from adulation towards the powerful: moreover the anger of the gods falls tardily upon the wicked, and is reserved for them after their departure from hence”.

Pausanias then proceeds to censure those who, by multiplying false miracles in more recent times, tended to rob the old and genuine miracles of their legitimate credit and esteem. The passage illustrates forcibly the views which a religious and instructed pagan took of his past time—how inseparably he blended together in it gods and men, and how little he either recognized or expected to find in it the naked phenomena and historical laws of connection which belonged to the world before him. He treats the past as the province of legend, the present as that of history; and in doing this he is more skeptical than the persons with whom he conversed, who believed not only in the ancient, but even in the recent and falsely reported miracles. It is true that Pausanias does not always proceed consistently with this position: he often rationalizes the stories of the past, as if he expected to find historical threads of connection; and sometimes, though more rarely, accepts the miracles of the present. But in the present instance he draws a broad line of distinction between present and past, or rather between what is recent and what is ancient: his criticism is, in the main, analogous to that of Arrian in regard to the Amazons —denying their existence during times of recorded history, but admitting it during the early and unrecorded ages.

In the narrative of Pausanias, the sons of Lykaon, instead of perishing by thunder from Zeus, become the founders of the various towns in Arcadia. And as that region was subdivided into a great number of small and independent townships, each having its own eponym, so the Arcadian heroic genealogy appears broken up and subdivided. Pallas, Orestheus, Phigalus, Trapezeus, Maenalus, Mantineus, and Tegeates, are all numbered among the sons of Lykaon, and are all eponyms of various. Arcadian towns.

The legend respecting Kalliste and Arkas, the eponym of Arcadia generally, seems to have been originally quite independent of and distinct from that of Lykaon. Eumelus, indeed, and some other poets made Kallisto daughter of Lykaon; but neither Hesiod, nor Asius, nor Pherekydes, acknowledged any relationship between them. The beautiful Kallisto, companion of Artemis in the chase, had bound herself by a vow of chastity. Zeus, either by persuasion or by force, obtained a violation of the vow, to the grievous displeasure both of Here and Artemis. The former changed Kallisto into a bear, the latter when she was in that shape killed her with an arrow. Zeus gave to the unfortunate Kallisto a place among the stars, as the constellation of the Bear: he also preserved the child Arkas, of which she was pregnant by him, and gave it to the Atlantid nymph Maia to bring up.

Arkas, when he became king, obtained from Triptolemus and communicated to his people the first rudiments of agriculture; he also taught them to make bread, to spin, and to weave. He had three sons—Azan, Apheidas, and Elatus: the first was the eponym of Azania, the northern region of Arcadia; the second was one of the heroes of Tegea; the third was father of Ischys (rival of Apollo for the affections of Koronis), as well as of Epytus and Kyllen: the name of Epytus among the heroes of Arcadia is as old as the Catalogue in the Iliad.

Aleus, son of Apheidas and king of Tegea, was the founder of the celebrated temple and worship of Athena Alea in that town. Lycurgus and Kepheus were his sons, Auge his daughter, who was seduced by Heracles, and secretly bore to him a child: the father, discovering what had happened, sent Auge to Nauplius to be sold into slavery: Teuthras, king of Mysia in Asia Minor, purchased her and made her his wife: her tomb was shown at Pergamum on the river Kaikus even in the time of Pausanias.

From Lykurgus, the son of Aleus and brother of Auge, we pass to his son Ankaeus, numbered among the Argonauts, finally killed in the chase of the Kalydonian boar, and father of Agapenor, who leads the Arcadian contingent against Troy,—(the adventurers of his niece, the Tegeatic huntress Atalanta, have already been touched upon),—then to Echemus, son of Aöropus and grandson of the brother of Lycurgus, Kepheus. Echemus is the chief heroic ornament of Tegea. When Hyllus, the son of Herakles, conducted the Herakleids on their first expedition against Peloponnesus, Echemus commanded the Tegean troops who assembled along with the other Peloponnesians at the isthmus of Corinth to repel the invasion: it was agreed that the dispute should be determined by single combat, and Echemus, as the champion of Peloponnesus, encountered and killed Hyllus.

Pursuant to the stipulation by which they had bound themselves, the Herakleids retired, and abstained for three generations from pressing their claim upon Peloponnesus. This valorous exploit of their great martial hero was cited and appealed to by the Tegeates before the battle of Plataea, as the principal evidence of their claim to the second post in the combined army, next in point of honor to that of the Lacedaemonians, and superior to that of the Athenians: the latter replied to them by producing as counter-evidence the splendid heroic deeds of Athens,—the protection of the Herakleids against Eurystheus, the victory over the Kadmeians of Thebes, and the complete defeat of the Amazons in Attica. Nor can there be any doubt that these legendary glories were both recited by the speakers, and heard by the listeners, with profound and undoubting faith, as well as with heart-stirring admiration.

One other person there is—Ischys, son of Elatus and grandson of Arkas—in the fabulous genealogy of Arcadia whom it would be improper to pass over, inasmuch as his name and adventures are connected with the genesis of the memorable god or hero Esculapius, or Asklepius. Koronis, daughter of Phlegyas, and resident near the lake Boebeis in Thessaly, was beloved by Apollo and became pregnant by him: unfaithful to the god, she listened to the propositions of Ischys son of Elatus, and consented to wed him: a raven brought to Apollo the fatal news, which so incensed him that he changed the color of the bird from white, as it previously had been, into black. Artemis, to Avenge the wounded dignity of her brother, put Koronis to death; but Apollo preserved the male child of which she was about to be delivered, and consigned it to the Centaur Cheiron to be brought up. The child was named Asklepius or Aesculapius, and acquired, partly from the teaching of the beneficent leech Cheiron, partly from inborn and superhuman aptitude, a knowledge of the virtues of herbs and a mastery of medicine and surgery, such as had never before been witnessed. He not only cured the sick, the wounded, and the dying, but even restored the dead to life. Kapaneus, Eriphyle, Hippolytus, Tyndareus and Glaukus were all affirmed by different poets and logographers to have been endued by him with a new life. But Zeus now found himself under the necessity of taking precautions lest mankind, thus unexpectedly protected against sickness and death, should no longer stand in need of the immortal gods: he smote Asclepius with thunder and killed him. Apollo was so exasperated by this slaughter of his highly-gifted son, that he killed the Cyclopes who had fabricated the thunder, and Zeus was about to condemn him to Tartarus for doing so; but on the intercession of Latona he relented, and was satisfied with imposing upon him a temporary servitude in the house of Admetus at Pherae.

Asclepius was worshipped with very great solemnity at Trikka, at Kos, at Cnidus, and in many different parts of Greece, but especially at Epidaurus, so that more than one legend had grown up respecting the details of his birth and adventures: in particular, his mother was by some called Arsinoe. But a formal application had been made on this subject (so the Epidaurians told Pausanias) to the oracle of Delphi, and the god in reply acknowledged that Asclepius was his son by Koronis. The tale above recounted seems to have been both the oldest and the most current. It is adorned by Pindar in a noble ode, wherein however he omits all mention of the raven as messenger —not specifying who or what the spy was from whom Apollo learnt the infidelity of Koronis. By many this was considered as an improvement in respect of poetical effect, but it illustrates the mode in which the characteristic details and simplicity of the old fables came to be exchanged for dignified generalities, adapted to the altered taste of society.

Machaon and Podaleirius, the two sons of Asclepius, command the contingent from Trikka, in the north-west region of Thessaly, at the siege of Troy by Agamemnon. They are the leeches of the Grecian army, highly prized and consulted by all the wounded chiefs. Their medical renown was further prolonged in the subsequent poem of Arktinus, the Iliu-Persis, wherein the one was represented as unrivalled in surgical operations, the other as sagacious in detecting and appreciating morbid symptoms. It was Podaleirius who first noticed the glaring eyes and disturbed deportment which preceded the suicide of Ajax.

Galen appears uncertain whether Asclepius (as well as Dionysus) was originally a god, or whether he was first a man and then became afterwards a god; but Apollodorus professed to fix the exact date of his apotheosis. Throughout all the historical ages the descendants of Asclepius were numerous and widely diffused. The many families or gentes called Asklepiads, who devoted themselves to the study and practice of medicine, and who principally dwelt near the temples of Asclepius, whither sick and suffering men came to obtain relief—all recognized the god not merely as the object of their common worship, but also as their actual progenitor. Like Solon, who reckoned Neleus and Poseidon as his ancestors, or the Milesian Hekataeus, who traced his origin through fifteen successive links to a god—like the privileged gens at Pelion in Thessaly, who considered the wise Centaur Cheiron as their progenitor, and who inherited from him their precious secrets respecting the medicinal herbs of which their neighborhood was full,—Asklepiads, even of the later times, numbered and specified all the intermediate links which separated them from their primitive divine parent. One of these genealogies has been preserved to us, and we may be sure that there were many such, as the Asklepiads were found in many different places. Among them were enrolled highly instructed and accomplished men, such as the great Hippocrates and the historian Ktesias, who prided themselves on the divine origin of themselves and their gens—so much did the legendary element pervade even the most philosophical and positive minds of historical Greece. Nor can there be any doubt that their means of medical observation must have been largely extended by their vicinity to a temple so much frequented by the sick, who came in confident hopes of divine relief, and who, whilst they offered up sacrifice and prayer to Aesculapius, and slept in his temple in order to be favored with healing suggestions in their dreams, might, in case the god withheld his supernatural aid, consult his living descendants. The sick visitors at Kos, or Trikka, or Epidaurus, were numerous and constant, and the tablets usually hung up to record the particulars of their maladies, the remedies resorted to, and the cures operated by the god, formed both an interesting decoration of the sacred ground and an instructive memorial to the Asklepiads.

The genealogical descent of Hippocrates and the other Asklepiads from the god Asclepius is not only analogous to that of Hekataeus and Solon from their respective ancestral gods, but also to that of the Lacedaemonians kings from Heracles, upon the basis of which the whole supposed chronology of the ante-historical times has been built, from Eratosthenes and Apollodorus down to the chronologers of the present century. I shall revert to this hereafter.




THE memorable heroic genealogy of the Eakids establishes a fabulous connection between Aegina, Salamis, and Pithia, which we can only recognize as a fact, without being able to trace its origin.

Eakus was the son of Zeus, born of Aegina, daughter of Asopus, whom the god had carried off and brought into the island to which he gave her name: she was afterwards married to Aktor, and had by him Menoetius, father of Patroclus. As there were two rivers named Asopus, one between Phlius and Sicyon, and another between Thebes and Plataea—so the Aeginetans heroic genealogy was connected both with that of Thebes and with that of Phlius: and this belief led to practical consequences in the minds of those who accepted the legends as genuine history. For when the Thebans, in the 68th Olympiad, were hard-pressed in war by Athens, they were directed by the Delphian oracle to ask assistance of their next of kin: recollecting that Thebe and Aegina had been sisters, common daughters of Asopus, they were induced to apply to the Aeginetans as their next of kin, and the Aeginetans gave them aid, first by sending to them their common heroes, the Eakids, next by actual armed force. Pindar dwells emphatically on the heroic brotherhood between Thebes, his native city, and Aegina.

Eakus was alone in Aegina: to relieve him from this solitude, Zeus changed all the ants in the island into men, and thus provided him with a numerous population, who, from their origin, were called Mylmidons. By his wife Endeis, daughter of Cheiron, Eakus had for his sons Peleus and Telamon: by the Nereid Psamathe, he had Phokus. A monstrous crime had then recently been committed by Pelops, in killing the Arcadian prince, Stymphalus, under a simulation of friendship and hospitality: for this the gods had smitten all Greece with famine and barrenness. The oracles affirmed that nothing could relieve Greece from this intolerable misery except the prayers of Eakus, the most pious of mankind. Accordingly envoys from all quarters flocked to Aegina, to prevail upon Eakus to put up prayers for them: on his supplications the gods relented, and the suffering immediately ceased. The grateful Greeks established in Aegina the temple and worship of Zeus Panhellenius, one of the lasting monuments and institutions of the island, on the spot where Eakus had offered up his prayer. The statues of the envoys who had come to solicit him were yet to be seen in the Eakeium, or sacred edifice of Eakus, in the time of Pausanias: and the Athenian Isocrates, in his eulogy of Evagoras, the despot of Salamis in Cyprus (who traced his descent through Teukrus to Eakus), enlarges upon this signal miracle, recounted and believed by other Greeks as well as by the Aeginetans, as a proof both of the great qualities and of the divine favor and patronage displayed in the career of the Eakids. Eakus was also employed to aid Poseidon and Apollo in building the walls of Troy.

Peleus and Telamom, the sons of Eakus, contracting a jealousy of their bastard brother, Phokus, in consequence of his eminent skill in gymnastic contests, conspired to put him to death. Telamon flung his quoit at him while they were playing together, and Peleus dispatched him by a blow with his hatchet in the back. They then concealed the dead body in a wood, but Eakus, having discovered both the act and the agents, banished the brothers from the island. For both of them eminent destinies were in store.

While we notice the indifference to the moral quality of actions implied in the old Hesiodic legend, when it imputes distinctly and nakedly this proceeding to two of the most admired persons of the heroic world —it is not less instructive to witness the change of feeling which had taken place in the age of Pindar. That warm eulogist of the great Eakid race hangs down his head with shame, and declines to recount, though he is obliged darkly to glance at the cause which forced the pious Eakus to banish his sons from Aegina. It appears that Kallimachus, if we may judge by a short fragment, manifested the same repugnance to mention it.

Telamon retired to Salamis, then ruled by Kychreus, the son of Poseidon and Salamis, who had recently rescued the island from the plague of a terrible serpent. This animal, expelled from Salamis, retired to Eleusis in Attica, where it was received and harbored by the goddess Demeter in her sacred domicile. Kychreus dying childless left his dominion to Telamon, who, marrying Periboea, daughter of Alkathoos, and grand-daughter of Pelops, had for his son the celebrated Ajax. Telamon took part both in the chase of the Kalydonian boar and in the Argonautic expedition: he was also the intimate friend and companion of Heracles, whom he accompanied in his enterprise against the Amazons, and in the attack made with only six ships upon Laomedon, king of Troy. This last enterprise having proved completely successful, Telamon was rewarded by Heracles with the possession of the daughter of Laomedon, Hesione—who bore to him Teukros, the most distinguished archer amidst the host of Agamemnon, and the founder of Salamis in Cyprus.

Peleus went to Pithia, where he married the daughter of Eurytion, son of Aktor, and received from him the third part of his dominions. Taking part in the Kalydonian boar-hunt, he unintentionally killed his father-in-law Eurytion, and was obliged to flee to Iolkos, where he received purification from Akastus, son of Pelias: the danger to which lie became exposed by the calumnious accusations of the enamored wife of Akastus has already been touched upon in a previous section. Peleus also was among the Argonauts; the most memorable event in his life however was his marriage with the sea-goddess Thetis. Zeus and Poseidon had both conceived a violent passion for Thetis. But the former, having been forewarned by Prometheus that Thetis was destined to give birth to a son more powerful than his father, compelled her, much against her own will, to marry Peleus; who, instructed by the intimations of the wise Cheiron, was enabled to seize her on the coast called Sepias in the southern region of Thessaly. She changed her form several times, but Peleus held her fast until she resumed her original appearance, and she was then no longer able to resist. All the gods were present, and brought splendid gifts to these memorable nuptials: Apollo sang with his harp, Poseidon gave to Peleus the immortal horses Xanthus and Balius, and Cheiron presented a formidable spear, cut from an ash-tree on Mount Pelion. We shall have reason hereafter to recognize the value of both these gifts in the exploits of Achilles.

The prominent part assigned to Thetis in the Iliad is well known, and the post-Homeric poets of the Legend of Troy introduced her as actively concurring first to promote the glory, finally to bewail the death of her distinguished son. Peleus, having survived both his son Achilles and his grandson Neoptolemus, is ultimately directed to place himself on the very spot where he had originally seized Thetis, and thither the goddess comes herself to fetch him away, in order that he may exchange the desertion and decrepitude of age for a life of immortality along with the Nereids. The spot was indicated to Xerxes when he marched into Greece by the Ionians who accompanied him, and his magi offered solemn sacrifices to her as well as to the other Nereids, as the presiding goddesses and mistresses of the coast.

Neoptolemus or Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles, too young to engage in the commencement of the siege of Troy, comes on the stage after the death of his father as the indispensable and prominent agent in the final capture of the city. He returns victor from Troy, not to Pithia, but to Epirus, bringing with him the captive Andromache, widow of Hector, by whom Molossus is born to him. He himself perishes in the full vigor of life at Delphi by the machinations of Orestes, son of Agamemnon. But his son Molossus —like Fleance, the son of Banquo, in Macbeth—becomes the father of the powerful race of Molossian kings, who played so conspicuous a part during the declining vigor of the Grecian cities, and to whom the title and parentage of Eakids was a source of peculiar pride, identifying them by community of heroic origin with genuine and undisputed Hellenes.

The glories of Ajax, the second grandson of Eakus, before Troy, are surpassed only by those of Achilles. He perishes by his own hand, the victim of an insupportable feeling of humiliation, because a less worthy claimant is allowed to carry off from him the arms of the departed Achilles. His son Philaeus receives the citizenship of Athens, and the gens or deme called Philaidae traced up to him its name and its origin moreover the distinguished Athenians, Miltiades and Thucydides, were regarded as members of this heroic progeny.

Teukrus escaped from the perils of the siege of Troy as well as from those of the voyage homeward, and reached Salamis in safety. But his father Telamon, indignant at his having returned without Ajax, refused to receive him, and compelled him to expatriate. He conducted his followers to Cyprus, where he founded the city of Salamis: his descendant Evagoras was recognized as a Teukrid and as an Eakid even in the time of Isocrates.

Such was the splendid heroic genealogy of the Eakids,—family renowned for military excellence. The Eakeion at Aegina, in which prayer and sacrifice were offered to Eakus, remained in undiminished dignity down to the time of Pausanias. This genealogy connects together various eminent gentes in Achaia Phthioitis, in Aegina, in Salamis, in Cyprus, and amongst the Epirotic Molossians. Whether we are entitled to infer from it that the island of Aegina was originally peopled by Myrmidones from Achaia Phthiotis, as Muller imagines, I will not pretend to affirm. These mythical pedigrees seem to unite together special clans or gentes, rather than the bulk of any community—just as we know that the Athenians generally had no part in the Eakid genealogy, though certain particular Athenian families laid claim to it. The intimate friendship between Achilles and the Opuntian hero Patroclus—and the community of name and frequent conjunction between the Locrian Ajax, son of Oileus, and Ajax, son of Telamon connect the Eakids with Opus and the Opuntian Locrians, in a manner which we have no farther means of explaining. Pindar too represents Menoetius, father of Patroclus, as son of Aktor and Aegina, and therefore maternal brother of Eakus.