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[8] When that befell, the Argives turned to flee. And as many fell, Eteocles and Polynices, by the resolution of both armies, fought a single combat for the kingdom, and slew each other.1 In another fierce battle the sons of Astacus did doughty deeds; for Ismarus slew Hippomedon,2 Leades slew Eteoclus, and Amphidicus slew Parthenopaeus. But Euripides says that Parthenopaeus was slain by Periclymenus, son of Poseidon.3 And Melanippus, the remaining one of the sons of Astacus, wounded Tydeus in the belly. As he lay half dead, Athena brought a medicine which she had begged of Zeus, and by which she intended to make him immortal. But Amphiaraus hated Tydeus for thwarting him by persuading the Argives to march to Thebes; so when he perceived the intention of the goddess he cut off the head of Melanippus and gave it to Tydeus, who, wounded though he was, had killed him. And Tydeus split open the head and gulped up the brains. But when Athena saw that, in disgust she grudged and withheld the intended benefit.4 Amphiaraus fled beside the river Ismenus, and before Periclymenus could wound him in the back, Zeus cleft the earth by throwing a thunderbolt, and Amphiaraus vanished with his chariot and his charioteer Baton, or, as some say, Elato;5 and Zeus made him immortal. Adrastus alone was saved by his horse Arion. That horse Poseidon begot on Demeter, when in the likeness of a Fury she consorted with him.6


1 As to the single combat and death of Eteocles and Polynices, see Aesch. Seven 804ff.; Eur. Ph. 1356ff.; Diod. 4.65.8; Paus. 9.5.12; Hyginus, Fab. 71; Statius, Theb. xi.447-579.

2 According to Statius, Theb. ix.455-539, Hippomedon was overwhelmed by a cloud of Theban missiles after being nearly drowned in the river Ismenus.

3 As to the death of Parthenopaeus, see Eur. Ph. 1153ff. In the Thebaid , also, Periclymenus was represented as the slayer of Parthenopaeus. See Paus. 9.18.6.

4 Compare Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 1066; Scholiast on Pind. N. 10.7(12); Scholiast on Hom. Il. v.126. All these writers say that it was Amphiaraus, not Tydeus, who killed as well as decapitated Melanippus. Pausanias also (Paus. 9.18.1) represents Melanippus as slain by Amphiaraus. Hence Heyne was perhaps right in rejecting as an interpolation the words “who, wounded though he was, had killed him.” See the Critical Note. The story is told also by Statius, Theb. viii.717-767 in his usual diffuse style; but according to him it was Capaneus, not Amphiaraus, who slew and beheaded Melanippus and brought the gory head to Tydeus. The story of Tydeus's savagery is alluded to more than once by Ovid, Ibis 427ff., 515ff., that curious work in which the poet has distilled the whole range of ancient mythology for the purpose of commination. With this tradition of cannibalism on the field of battle we may compare the custom of the ancient Scythians, who regularly decapitated their enemies in battle and drank of the blood of the first man they slew (Hdt. 4.64). It has indeed been a common practice with savages to swallow some part of a slain foe in order with the blood, or flesh, or brains to acquire the dead man's valour. See for example L. A. Millet-Mureau, Voyage de la Perouse autour du Monde (Paris, 1797), ii.272 (as to the Californian Indians); Fay-Cooper Cole, The Wild Tribes of Davao District, Mindanao (Chicago, 1913), pp. 94, 189 (as to the Philippine Islanders). I have cited many more instances in Spirits of the Corn and of the Wild, ii.148ff. The story of the brutality of Tydeus to Melanippus may contain a reminiscence of a similar custom. From the Scholiast on Hom. Il. v.126 we learn that the story was told by Pherecydes, whom Apollodorus may be following in the present passage. The grave of Melanippus was on the road from Thebes to ChalcisPaus. 9.18.1), but Clisthenes, tyrant of Sicyon, “fetched Melanippus” (ἐπηγάγετο τὸν μελάνιππον ) to Sicyon and dedicated a precinct to him in the Prytaneum or town-hall; moreover, he transferred to Melanippus the sacrifices and festal honours which till then had been offered to Adrastus, the foe of Melanippus. See Hdt. 5.67. It is probable that Clisthenes, in “fetching Melanippus,” transferred the hero's bones to the new shrine at Sicyon, following a common practice of the ancient Greeks, who were as anxious to secure the miraculous relics of heroes as modern Catholics are to secure the equally miraculous relics of saints. The most famous case of such a translation of holy bones was that of Orestes, whose remains were removed from Tegea to SpartaHdt. 1.67ff.). Pausanias mentions many instances of the practice. See the Index to my translation of Pausanias, s.v. “Bones,” vol. vi. p. 31. It was, no doubt, unusual to bury bones in the Prytaneum, where was the Common Hearth of the city (Pollux ix.40; Corpus Inscriptionum Atticarum, ii.467, lines 6, 73; Frazer, note on Paus. viii.53.9, vol. iv. pp. 441ff.); but at Mantinea there was a round building called the Common Hearth in which Antinoe, daughter of Cepheus, was said to be buried (Paus. 8.9.5); and the graves of not a few heroes and heroines were shown in Greek temples. See Clement of Alexandria, Protrept. iii.45, pp. 39ff., ed. Potter. The subject of relic worship in antiquity is exhaustively treated by Fr. Pfister, Der Reliquienkult im Altertum (Giessen, 1909-1912).

5 Compare Pind. N. 9.24(59)ff.; Pind. N. 10.8(13); Eur. Supp. 925ff.; Diod. 4.65.8; Strab. 9.2.11; Paus. 1.34.2; Paus. 2.23.2; Paus. 9.8.3; Paus. 9.19.4; Statius, Theb. vii.789-823. The reference to Periclymenus clearly proves that Apollodorus had here in mind the first of these passages of Pindar. Pausanias repeatedly mentions Baton as the charioteer of Amphiaraus (Paus. 2.23.2; Paus. 5.17.8; Paus. 10.10.3). Amphiaraus was believed to be swallowed up alive, with his chariot and horses, and so to descend to the nether world. See Eur. Supp. 925ff.; Statius, Theb. viii.1ff.; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. p. 49 (First Vatican Mythographer 152). Hence Sophocles speaks of him as reigning fully alive in Hades (Soph. Elec. 836ff.). Moreover, Amphiaraus was deified (Paus. 8.2.4; Cicero, De divinatione i.40.88), and as a god he had a famous oracle charmingly situated in a little glen near Oropus in Attica. See Paus. 1.34, with (Frazer, commentary on Paus., vol. ii. pp. 466ff.). The exact spot where Amphiaraus disappeared into the earth was shown not far from Thebes on the road to Potniae. It was a small enclosure with pillars in it. See Paus. 9.8.3. As the ground was split open by a thunderbolt to receive Amphiaraus (Pind. N. 9.24(59)ff.; Pind. N. 10.8(13)ff.), the enclosure with pillars in it was doubtless one of those little sanctuaries, marked off by a fence, which the Greeks always instituted on ground struck by lightning. See Frazer on Apollod. 3.7.1.

6 Arion, the swift steed of Adrastus, is mentioned by Homer, who alludes briefly to the divine parentage of the animal (Hom. Il. 22.346ff.), without giving particulars to the quaint and curious myth with which he was probably acquainted. That myth, one of the most savage of all the stories of ancient Greece, was revealed by later writers. See Paus. 8.25.4-10; Paus. 8.42.1-6; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 153; compare Scholiast on Hom. Il. 23.346. The story was told at two places in the highlands of Arcadia: one was Thelpusa in the beautiful vale of the Ladon: the other was Phigalia, where the shallow cave of the goddess mother of the horse was shown far down the face of a cliff in the wild romantic gorge of the Neda. The cave still exists, though the goddess is gone: it has been converted into a tiny chapel of Christ and St. John. See Frazer, commentary on Pausanias, vol. iv. pp. 406ff. According to Diod. 4.65.9 Adrastus returned to Argos. But Pausanias says (Paus. 1.43.1) that he died at Megara of old age and grief at his son's death, when he was leading back his beaten army from Thebes: Pausanias informs us also that Adrastus was worshipped, doubtless as a hero, by the Megarians, Hyginus, Fab. 242 tells a strange story that Adrastus and his son Hipponous threw themselves into the fire in obedience to an oracle of Apollo.

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