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[5]

After the capture of Thebes, when Alcmaeon learned that his mother Eriphyle had been bribed to his undoing also,1 he was more incensed than ever, and in accordance with an oracle given to him by Apollo he killed his mother.2 Some say that he killed her in conjunction with his brother Amphilochus, others that he did it alone. But Alcmaeon was visited by the Fury of his mother's murder, and going mad he first repaired to Oicles3 in Arcadia, and thence to Phegeus at Psophis. And having been purified by him he married Arsinoe, daughter of Phegeus,4 and gave her the necklace and the robe. But afterwards the ground became barren on his account,5 and the god bade him in an oracle to depart to Achelous and to stand another trial on the river bank.6 At first he repaired to Oeneus at Calydon and was entertained by him; then he went to the Thesprotians, but was driven away from the country; and finally he went to the springs of Achelous, and was purified by him,7 and received Callirrhoe, his daughter, to wife. Moreover he colonized the land which the Achelous had formed by its silt, and he took up his abode there.8 But afterwards Callirrhoe coveted the necklace and robe, and said she would not live with him if she did not get them. So away Alcmaeon hied to Psophis and told Phegeus how it had been predicted that he should be rid of his madness when he had brought the necklace and the robe to Delphi and dedicated them.9 Phegeus believed him and gave them to him. But a servant having let out that he was taking the things to Callirrhoe, Phegeus commanded his sons, and they lay in wait and killed him.10 When Arsinoe upbraided them, the sons of Phegeus clapped her into a chest and carried her to Tegea and gave her as a slave to Agapenor, falsely accusing her of Alcmaeon's murder.


1 That is, as well as to the undoing of his father Amphiaraus. See above, Apollod. 3.6.2.

2 Compare Thuc. 2.102.7ff.; Diod. 4.65.7; Paus. 8.24.7ff.; Ov. Met. 9.407ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 73. Sophocles and Euripides both wrote tragedies called Alcmaeon, or rather Alcmeon, for that appears to be the more correct spelling of the name. See TGF (Nauck 2nd ed.), pp. 153ff., 379ff.; The Fragments of Sophocles, ed. A. C. Pearson, vol. i. pp. 68ff.

3 Oicles was the father of Amphiaraus, and therefore the grandfather of Alcmaeon. See Apollod. 1.8.2.

4 Paus. 8.24.8 and Prop. i.15.19 call her Alphesiboea.

5 So Greece is said to have been afflicted with a dearth on account of a treacherous murder committed by Pelops. See below, Apollod. 3.12.6. Similarly the land of Thebes was supposed to be visited with barrenness of the soil, of cattle, and of women because of the presence of Oedipus, who had slain his father and married his mother. See Soph. OT 22ff.; Soph. OT 96ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 67. The notion that the shedding of blood, especially the blood of a kinsman, is an offence to the earth, which consequently refuses to bear crops, seems to have been held by the ancient Hebrews, as it is still apparently held by some African peoples. See Folk-Lore in the Old Testament, i.82ff.

6 The text is here uncertain. See the Critical Note.

7 Achelous here seems to be conceived partly as a river and partly as a man, or rather a god.

8 Compare Thuc. 2.102.7ff.; Paus. 8.24.8ff. As to the formation of new land by the deposit of alluvial soil at the mouth of the Achelous, compare Hdt. 2.10.

9 According to Ephorus, or his son Demophilus, this oracle was really given to Alcmaeon at Delphi. See Athenaeus vi.22, p. 232 DF, where the words of the oracle are quoted.

10 His grave was overshadowed by tall cypresses, called the Maidens, in the bleak upland valley of Psophis. See Paus. 8.24.7. A quiet resting-place for the matricide among the solemn Arcadian mountains after the long fever of the brain and the long weary wanderings. The valley, which I have visited, somewhat resembles a Yorkshire dale, but is far wilder and more solitary.

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