Passing by Tegea, Hercules debauched Auge, not knowing her to be a daughter of Aleus.1 And she brought forth her babe secretly and deposited it in the precinct of Athena. But the country being wasted by a pestilence, Aleus entered the precinct and on investigation discovered his daughter's motherhood. So he exposed the babe on Mount Parthenius, and by the providence of the gods it was preserved: for a doe that had just cast her fawn gave it suck, and shepherds took up the babe and called it Telephus.2 And her father gave Auge to Nauplius, son of Poseidon, to sell far away in a foreign land; and Nauplius gave her to Teuthras, the prince of Teuthrania, who made her his wife.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
1 As to the story of Herakles, Auge, and Telephus, see Apollod. 3.9.1; Diod. 4.33.7-12; Strab. 13.1.69; Paus. 8.4.9, Paus. 8.47.4, Paus. 8.48.7, Paus. 8.54.6, Paus. 10.28.8; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 206; Hyginus, Fab. 99ff. The tale was told by Hecataeus （Paus. 8.4.9, Paus. 8.47.4）, and was the theme of tragedies by Sophocles and Euripides. See TGF (Nauck 2nd ed.), pp. 146ff., 436ff.; The Fragments of Sophocles. ed. A. C. Pearson, i. 46ff., ii.70ff. Different versions of the story were current among ancient writers and illustrated by ancient artists. See Frazer, note on Paus. 1.4.6 （vol. ii. pp. 75ff.）. One of these versions, which I omitted to notice in that place, ran as follows. On a visit to Delphi, king Aleus of Tegea was warned by the oracle that his daughter would bear a son who would kill his maternal uncles, the sons of Aleus. To guard against this catastrophe, Aleus hurried home and appointed his daughter priestess of Athena, declaring that, should she prove unchaste, he would put her to death. As chance would have it, Herakles arrived at Tegea on his way to Elis, where he purposed to make war on Augeas. The king entertained him hospitably in the sanctuary of Athena, and there the hero, flushed with wine, violated the maiden priestess. Learning that she was with child, her father Aleus sent for the experienced ferryman Nauplius, father of Palamedes, and entrusted his daughter to him to take and drown her. On their way to the sea the girl （Auge） gave birth to Telephus on Mount Parthenius, and instead of drowning her and the infant the ferryman sold them both to king Teuthras in Mysia, who, being childless, married Auge and adopted Telephus. See Alcidamas, Od. 14-16, pp. 179ff., ed. Blass （appended to his edition of Antiphon）. This version, which represents mother and child as sold together to Teuthras, differs from the version adopted by Apollodorus, according to whom Auge alone was sold to Teuthras in Mysia, while her infant son Telephus was left behind in Arcadia and reared by herdsmen （Apollod. 3.9.1）. The sons of Aleus and maternal uncles of Telephus were Cepheus and Lycurgus （Apollod. 3.9.1）. Ancient writers do not tell us how Telephus fulfilled the oracle by killing them, though the murder is mentioned by Hyginus, Fab. 244 and a Greek proverb-writer （Paroemiographi Graeci, ed. Leutsch and Schneidewin, i. p. 212）. Sophocles appears to have told the story in his lost play, The Mysians; for in it he described how Telephus came, silent and speechless, from Tegea to Mysia （Aristot. Poet. 1460a 32">P">Aristot. Poet. 1460a 32）, and this silence of Telephus seems to have been proverbial. For the comic poet Alexis, speaking of a greedy parasite who used to gobble up his dinner without exchanging a word with anybody, says that, “he dines like speechless Telephus, answering all questions put to him only with nods” （Athenaeus x.18, p. 421 D）. And another comic poet, Amphis, describing the high and mighty airs with which fish-mongers treated their customers in the market, says that it was a thousand times easier to get speech of a general than of a fish-monger; for if you addressed one of these gentry and, pointing to a fish, asked “How much?” he would not at first deign to look at you, much less speak to you, but would stoop down, silent as Telephus, over his wares; though in time, his desire of lucre overcoming his contempt of you, he would slap a bloated octopus and mutter meditatively, as if soliloquizing, “ Sixpence for him, and a bob for the hammerfish.” This latter poet explains incidentally why Telephus was silent; he says it was very natural that fish-mongers should hold their tongue, “for all homicides are in the same case,” thus at once informing us of a curious point in Greek law or custom and gratifying his spite at the “cursed fish-mongers,” whom he compares to the worst class of criminals. See Athenaeus vi.5, p. 224 DE. As Greek homicides were supposed to be haunted by the ghosts of their victims until a ceremony of purification was performed which rid them of their invisible, but dangerous, pursuers, we may conjecture that the rule of silence had to be observed by them until the accomplishment of the purificatory rite released them from the restrictions under which they laboured during their uncleanness, and permitted them once more to associate freely with their fellows. As to the restrictions imposed on homicides in ancient Greece, see Psyche's Task, 2nd ed. pp. 113ff.; Folk-Lore in the Old Testament, i.80, 83ff. The motive of the homicide's silence may have been a fear lest by speaking he should attract the attention, and draw down on himself the vengeance, of his victim's ghost. Similarly, among certain peoples, a widow is bound to observe silence for some time after her husband's death, and the rule appears to be based on a like dread of exciting the angry or amorous passions of her departed spouse by the sound of the familiar voice. See Folk-Lore in the Old Testament, iii.71ff.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.