The Pelopids. Although the race of Pelopids took

The Pelopids. Although the race of Pelopids took their name from Pelops, they owed their origin to Pelops’ father, Tantalus. Tantalus was king of Phrygia or of Lydia. He was invited to dine with the gods on Olympus and he stole their nectar and ambrosia. He returned their invitation, and when they sat at his table he served to them, in order to test their divinity, the body of his own son, Pelops. The guests immediately realised this; Demeter alone, more absent-minded or else more hungry than the others, ate flesh from the shoulder. Zeus ordered that ‘the child’s remains should be thrown into a magic cauldron and Clotho restored Pelops to life. Only one of his shoulders was missing and had to be replaced in ivory. For these crimes Tantalus was cast into the infernal regions. He stood waist-deep in the middle of a lake in Tartarus surrounded by trees laden with delicious fruit. Thirst and hunger which he could never satisfy tortured him; for when he reached out his hand the fruit evaded him, when he leaned down to drink the water receded. When he was grown up Pelops left Phrygia and went to Pisa in Elis where he competed for the hand of Hippodameia. Her father, Oenomaus, had promised to give his daughter to the first suitor who vanquished him in a chariot race. Fifteen suitors had already been defeated and killed. Pelops bribed Myrtilus, Oenomaus’ charioteer, to loosen one of his master’s chariot wheels, and thus he won the race and the hand of Hippodameia. Afterwards he killed Myrtilus in order to get rid of an embarrassing accomplice. But the father of Myrtilus was Hermes, and Hermes avenged the death of his son by laying a curse on Pelops and all his house. By Hippodameia Pelops had several children, among them Atreus and Thyestes. By another wife he had a son Chrysippus, whom he particularly loved. At Hippodameia’s instigation Atreus and Thyestes murdered Chrysippus and for this crime were forced to go into exile. They reached Mycenae. At the death of Eurystheus, King of Mycenae, Atreus succeeded to the throne. His brother Thyestes was jealous and seduced the wife of Atreus, Aerope, and in addition stole from him a ram with a golden fleece which had been a present from Hermes. He was driven from Mycenae but left Pleisthenes to avenge him. Now Pleisthenes was Atreus’ son, who had been brought up by Thyestes as his own son. Pleisthenes was on the point of striking down Atreus, but Atreus killed him instead, realising too late that it was his son. To avenge himself Atreus pretended to be reconciled with Thyestes and invited him and his children to return to Mycenae. In the course of a feast he served to Thyestes the bodies of two of his sons. The sun, it was said, hid in order not to cast light on such a crime. Later Atreus was killed by Aegisthus, another son of Thyestes, whom Atreus had brought up with his own children, Agamemnon and Menelaus. The series of these revolting crimes did not stop at this point. Thyestes who had succeeded his brother to the throne of Argos was driven from it by his nephews Agamemnon and Menelaus. On his return from the Trojan War, Agamemnon, in his turn, was murdered by Aegisthus who was living in adultery with Agamemnon’s wife, Clytemnestra. Eight years later Aegisthus and Clytemnestra perished by the hand of Clytemnestra’s son, Orestes, who expiated this matricide by a long period of suffering. Then only were the Furies satisfied and an end put to the atrocities which had stained the family of Atreus with blood. THE DIOSCURI AND THE HEROES OF LACONIA The Dioscuri. The founder of the Laconian dynasties was Lelex who, by his union with a Naiad, had a son Eurotas, whose daughter Sparta married Lacedaemon. Lacedaemon reigned over Sparta and gave his name to that city. The most famous of his descendants were Hippocoon, who was killed by Hercules: Icarius. to whom Dionysus taught the secret of wine- making and who was killed by drunken shepherds; and finally Tyndarcus. husband of Leda and father of Helen, of Clytemnestra, and of the Dioscuri: Castor and Pollux. It was said that Zeus had played a certain part in this paternity since, in the guise of a swan, he had visited
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