8. Let us now return to Pelasgus, who, Acusilaus says, was a son of Zeus and Niobe, as we have supposed,1 but Hesiod declares him to have been a son of the soil. He had a son Lycaon2 by Meliboea, daughter of Ocean or, as others say, by a nymph Cyllene; and Lycaon, reigning over the Arcadians, begat by many wives fifty sons, to wit: Melaeneus, Thesprotus, Helix, Nyctimus, Peucetius, Caucon, Mecisteus, Hopleus, Macareus, Macednus, Horus, Polichus, Acontes, Evaemon, Ancyor, Archebates, Carteron, Aegaeon, Pallas, Eumon, Canethus, Prothous, Linus, Coretho, Maenalus, Teleboas, Physius, Phassus, Phthius, Lycius, Halipherus, Genetor, Bucolion, Socleus, Phineus, Eumetes, Harpaleus, Portheus, Plato, Haemo, Cynaethus, Leo, Harpalycus, Heraeeus, Titanas, Mantineus, Clitor, Stymphalus, Orchomenus, ... These exceeded all men in pride and impiety; and Zeus, desirous of putting their impiety to the proof, came to them in the likeness of a day-laborer. They offered him hospitality and having slaughtered a male child of the natives, they mixed his bowels with the sacrifices, and set them before him, at the instigation of the elder brother Maenalus.3 But Zeus in disgust upset the table at the place which is still called Trapezus,4 and blasted Lycaon and his sons by thunderbolts, all but Nyctimus, the youngest; for Earth was quick enough to lay hold of the right hand of Zeus and so appease his wrath.  But when Nyctimus succeeded to the kingdom, there occurred the flood in the age of Deucalion;5 some said that it was occasioned by the impiety of Lycaon's sons. But Eumelus and some others say that Lycaon had also a daughter Callisto;6 though Hesiod says she was one of the nymphs, Asius that she was a daughter of Nycteus, and Pherecydes that she was a daughter of Ceteus.7 She was a companion of Artemis in the chase, wore the same garb, and swore to her to remain a maid. Now Zeus loved her and, having assumed the likeness, as some say, of Artemis, or, as others say, of Apollo, he shared her bed against her will, and wishing to escape the notice of Hera, he turned her into a bear. But Hera persuaded Artemis to shoot her down as a wild beast. Some say, however, that Artemis shot her down because she did not keep her maidenhood. When Callisto perished, Zeus snatched the babe, named it Arcas, and gave it to Maia to bring up in Arcadia; and Callisto he turned into a star and called it the Bear.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
2 The following passage about Lycaon and his sons, down to and including the notice of Deucalion's flood, is copied, to a great extent verbally, by Tzetzes （Scholiast on Lycophron 481）, who mentions Apollodorus by name as his authority. For another and different list of Lycaon's sons, see Paus. 8.3.1ff., who calls Nyctimus the eldest son of Lycaon, whereas Apollodorus calls him the youngest （see below）. That the wife of Pelasgus and mother of Lycaon was Cyllene is affirmed by the Scholiast on Eur. Or. 1645.
3 With this and what follows compare Nicolaus Damascenus, Frag. 43 （Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, ed. C. Müller, iii.378; Suidas, s.v. Λυκάων）: “Lycaon, son of Pelasgus and king of Arcadia, maintained his father's institutions in righteousness. And wishing like his father to wean his subjects from unrighteousness he said that Zeus constantly visited him in the likeness of a stranger to view the righteous and the unrighteous. And once, as he himself said, being about to receive the god, he offered a sacrifice. But of his fifty sons, whom he had, as they say, by many women, there were some present at the sacrifice, and wishing to know if they were about to give hospitality to a real god, they sacrificed a child and mixed his flesh with that of the victim, in the belief that their deed would be discovered if the visitor was a god indeed. But they say that the deity caused great storms to burst and lightnings to flash, and that all the murderers of the child perished.” A similar version of the story is reported by Hyginus, Fab. 176, who adds that Zeus in his wrath upset the table, killed the sons of Lycaon with a thunderbolt, and turned Lycaon himself into a wolf. According to this version of the legend, which Apollodorus apparently accepted, Lycaon was a righteous king, who ruled wisely like his father Pelasgus before him （see Paus. 8.1.4-6）, but his virtuous efforts to benefit his subjects were frustrated by the wickedness and impiety of his sons, who by exciting the divine anger drew down destruction on themselves and on their virtuous parent, and even imperilled the existence of mankind in the great flood. But according to another, and perhaps more generally received, tradition, it was King Lycaon himself who tempted his divine guest by killing and dishing up to him at table a human being; and, according to some, the victim was no other than the king's own son Nyctimus. See Clement of Alexandria, Protrept. ii.36, p. 31, ed. Potter; Nonnus, Dionys. xviii.20ff.; Arnobius, Adversus Nationes iv.24. Some, however, said that the victim was not the king's son, but his grandson Arcas, the son of his daughter Callisto by Zeus. See Eratosthenes, Cat. 8; Hyginus, Ast. ii.4; Scholia in Caesaris Germanici Aratea, p. 387 （in Martianus Capella, ed. Fr. Eyssenhardt）. According to Ov. Met. 1.218ff., the victim was a Molossian hostage. Others said simply that Lycaon set human flesh before the deity. See Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. xi.128; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i.5 (First Vatican Mythographer 17). For this crime Zeus changed the wicked king into a wolf, according to Hyginus, Ovid, the Scholiast on Caesar Germanicus, and the First Vatican Mythographer; but, on the other hand, Clement of Alexandria, Nonnus, Eratosthenes, and Arnobius say nothing of such a transformation. The upsetting of the table by the indignant deity is recorded by Eratosthenes, Cat. 8 as well as by Hyginus, Ast. ii.4 and Apollodorus. A somewhat different account of the tragical occurrence is given by Pausanias, who says （Paus. 8.2.3） that Lycaon brought a human babe to the altar of Lycaean Zeus, after which he was immediately turned into a wolf. These traditions were told to explain the savage and cruel rites which appear to have been performed in honour of Lycaean Zeus on Mount Lycaeus down to the second century of our era or later. It seems that a human victim was sacrificed, and that his inward parts （σπλάγχνον）, mixed with that of animal victims, was partaken of at a sort of cannibal banquet by the worshippers, of whom he who chanced to taste of the human flesh was believed to be changed into a wolf and to continue in that shape for eight years, but to recover his human form in the ninth year, if in the meantime he had abstained from eating human flesh. See Plat. Rep. 8.565d-e; Paus. 8.2.6. According to another account, reported by Varro on the authority of a Greek writer Euanthes, the werewolf was chosen by lot, hung his clothes on an oak tree, swam across a pool, and was then transformed into a wolf and herded with wolves for nine years, afterwards recovering his human shape if in the interval he had not tasted the flesh of man. In this account there is no mention of cannibalism. See Pliny, Nat. Hist. viii.81; Augustine, De civitate Dei xviii.17. A certain Arcadian boxer, named Damarchus, son of Dinnytas, who won a victory at Olympia, is said to have been thus transformed into a wolf at the sacrifice of Lycaean Zeus and to have been changed back into a man in the tenth year afterwards. Of the historical reality of the boxer there can be no reasonable doubt, for his statue existed in the sacred precinct at Olympia, where it was seen by Pausanias; but in the inscription on it, which Pausanias copied, there was no mention made of the man's transformation into a wolf. See Paus. 6.8.2. However, the transformation was recorded by a Greek writer, Scopas, in his history of Olympic victors, who called the boxer Demaenatus, and said that his change of shape was caused by his partaking of the inward parts of a boy slain in the Arcadian sacrifice to Lycaean Zeus. Scopas also spoke of the restoration of the boxer to the human form in the tenth year, and mentioned that his victory in boxing at Olympia was subsequent to his experiences as a wolf. See Pliny, Nat. Hist. viii.82; Augustine, De civitate Dei xviii.17. The continuance of human sacrifice in the rites of Lycaean Zeus on Mount Lycaeus is hinted at by Paus. 8.38.7 in the second century of our era, and asserted by Porphyry, （De abstinentia ii.27: Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelii, iv.16.6） in the third century. From these fragmentary notices it is hardly possible to piece together a connected account of the rite; but the mention of the transformation of the cannibal into a wolf for eight or nine years suggests that the awful sacrifice was offered at intervals either of eight or of nine years. If the interval was eight years, it would point to the use of that eight years' cycle which played so important a part in the ancient calendar of the Greeks, and by which there is reason to think that the tenure of the kingship was in some places regulated. Perhaps the man who was supposed to be turned into a wolf acted as the priest, or even as the incarnation, of the Wolf God for eight or nine years till he was relieved of his office at the next celebration of the rites. The subject has been learnedly discussed by A. B. Cook (Zeus, i.63-99);. He regards Lycaean Zeus as a god of light rather than of wolves, and for this view there is much to be said. See Frazer on Paus. 8.38.7 （vol. iv. pp. 385ff.）. The view would be confirmed if we were sure that the solemn sacrifice was octennial, for the octennial period was introduced in order to reconcile solar and lunar time, and hence the religious rites connected with it would naturally have reference to the great celestial luminaries. As to the octennial period, see the note on Apollod. 2.5.11. But with this view of the festival it is difficult to reconcile the part played by wolves in the myth and ritual. We can hardly suppose with some late Greek writers, that the ancient Greek word for a year, λυκάβας, was derived from λύκος, “a wolf,” and βαίνω, “to walk.” See Ael., Nat. Anim. x.26; Artemidorus, Onirocrit. ii.12; Eustathius on Hom. Od. xiv.161, p. 1756.
4 As to the town of Trapezus, see Paus. 8.3.3; Paus. 8.5.4; Paus. 8.27.4-6; Paus. 8.29.1; Paus. 8.31.5. The name is derived by Apollodorus from the Greek τράπεζα, “a table.” Compare Eratosthenes, Cat. 8.
6 As to the love of Zeus for Callisto, daughter of Lycaon, her transformation into a bear, and finally into the constellation of the Bear, see Paus. 1.25.1; Paus. 8.3.6ff.; Eratosthenes, Cat. 1; Libanius, in Westermann's Mythographi Graeci, Appendix Narrationum, 34, p. 374; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 481; Hyginus, Fab. 155, 176, and 177; Ov. Met. 2.409-507; Serv. Verg. G. 1.138; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. iii.685; Scholia in Caesaris Germanici Aratea, p. 381, ed. F. Eyssenhardt （in his edition of Martianus Capella）; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. p. 5 (First Vatican Mythographer 17; vol. ii. p. 94, Second Vatican Mythographer 58). The transformation of Callisto into a bear is variously ascribed to the amorous Zeus himself, to the jealous Hera, and to the indignant Artemis. The descent of the Arcadians from a bear-woman through a son Arcas, whose name was popularly derived from the Greek ἄρκτος, “a bear,” has sometimes been adduced in favour of the view that the Arcadians were a totemic people with the bear for their totem. See Andrew Lang, Myth, Ritual and Religion （London, 1887）, ii.211ff.
7 The Tegean historian Araethus also described the mother of Arcas as the daughter of Ceteus; according to him she was the granddaughter, not the daughter, of Lycaon, and her name was Megisto, not Callisto. But he agreed in the usual tradition that the heroine had been transformed into a bear, and he seems to have laid the scene of the transformation at Nonacris in northern Arcadia. See Hyginus, Ast. ii.1. According to a Scholiast on Eur. Or. 1646, Callisto, mother of Arcas, was a daughter of Ceteus by Stilbe.
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.