web counter









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.