Homeric world PISSA (Ancient city) ANCIENT OLYMPIA - GTP - Greek Travel Pages

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He was the son of Pelops by Hegesandra, and father of Iphiloche (Od. 4.10).



A son of Tantalus, who came from Phrygia. In Elis, after his victory in a horse race, he got married to Hippodameia, the daughter of Oenomaus, and became king (Il. 2.104).

Pelops came from Asia and succeeded Oenomaus to the kingdom. After the death of the latter, he also took possesion of Olympia. The Eleans said that he was the first to found a temple of Hermes in Peloponnese (Paus. 5,1,7). He also held the most brilliant Olympian games, when compared with all previous ones (Paus. 5,8,2) and the Eleans honoured him as their favourite hero (Paus. 5,13,1).

   (Pelops, "Black-face"). A grandson of Zeus and son of Tantalus and Dione, the daughter of Atlas. Some writers call his mother Euryanassa or Clytia. He was married to Hippodamia, by whom he became the father of Atreus, Thyestes, Dias, Cynosurus, Corinthius, Hippalmus (Hippalcmus or Hippalcimus), Hippasus, Cleon, Argius, Alcathous, Aelius, Pittheus, Troezen, Nicippe, and Lysidice, known collectively as the Pelopidae. By Axioche or the nymph Danais he is said to have been the father of Chrysippus. Pelops was king of Pisa in Elis, and from him the great southern peninsula of Greece was believed to have derived its name Peloponnesus. According to a tradition which became very general in later times, Pelops was a Phrygian, who was expelled by Ilus from Phrygia (Ovid, Met.viii. 622), and thereupon migrated with his great wealth to Pisa. Others describe him as a Paphlagonian, and call the Paphlagonians themselves Pelopeioi. Others again represent him as a native of Greece; and there can be little doubt that in the earliest traditions Pelops was described as a native of Greece and not as a foreign immigrant; in them, also, he is called the tamer of horses and the favourite of Poseidon. The legends about Pelops consist mainly of (a) the story of his being cut to pieces and boiled; (b) of his contest with Oenomaus and Hippodamia; and (c) of his relation to his sons, to which may be added the honours paid to his remains.
    (a) The first tells how Tantalus, the favourite of the gods, once invited them to a repast, and on that occasion killed his own son, and having boiled him set the flesh before them that they might eat it. But the immortal gods, knowing what it was, did not touch it; Demeter alone, being absorbed by grief for her lost daughter, consumed the shoulder of Pelops. Hereupon the gods ordered Hermes to put the limbs of Pelops into a caldron, and thereby restore him to life. When the process was over, Clotho took him out of the caldron, and as the shoulder consumed by Demeter was wanting, the goddess supplied its place by one made of ivory; his descendants (the Pelopidae), as a mark of their origin, were believed to have one shoulder as white as ivory.
    (b) As an oracle had declared to Oenomaus that he should be killed by his son-in-law, he refused giving his daughter Hippodamia in marriage to any one. But since many suitors appeared, Oenomaus declared that he would bestow her hand upon the man who should conquer him in the chariot-race, but that he should kill all who were defeated by him. Among other suitors Pelops also presented himself; but when he saw the heads of his conquered predecessors stuck up above the door of Oenomaus he was seized with fear, and endeavoured to gain the favour of Myrtilus, the charioteer of Oenomaus, promising him half the kingdom if he would assist him in conquering his master. Myrtilus agreed, and drew out the linchpins of the chariot of Oenomaus. In the race the chariot of Oenomaus broke down, and he was thrown out and killed. Thus Hippodamia became the wife of Pelops. But as Pelops had now gained his object, he was unwilling to keep faith with Myrtilus; and accordingly, as they were driving along a cliff, he threw Myrtilus into the sea. As Myrtilus sank he cursed Pelops and his whole race. Pelops returned with Hippodamia to Pisa in Elis, and soon also made himself master of Olympia, where he restored the Olympian Games with greater splendour than they had ever been celebrated before.
    (c) Chrysippus was the favourite of his father, and was, in consequence, envied by his brothers. The eldest two among them, Atreus and Thyestes, with the connivance of Hippodamia, accordingly murdered Chrysippus, and threw his body into a well. Pelops, who suspected his sons of the murder, expelled them from the country. Hippodamia, dreading the anger of her husband, fled to Midea in Argolis, whence her remains were afterwards conveyed by Pelops to Olympia.
    Pelops, after his death, was honoured at Olympia above all other heroes. His tomb, with an iron sarcophagus, existed on the banks of the Alpheus, not far from the temple of Artemis, near Pisa. The spot on which his sanctuary (Pelopion) stood in the Altis was said to have been dedicated by Heracles, who also offered to him the first sacrifices. The magistrates of the Eleans likewise offered to him there an annual sacrifice, consisting of a black ram, with special ceremonies. The name of Pelops was so celebrated that it was constantly used by the poets in connection with his descendants and the cities they inhabited. Hence we find Atreus, the son of Pelops, called Pelopeius Atreus, and Agamemnon, the grandson or great-grandson of Atreus, called Pelopeius Agamemnon. In the same way Iphigenia, the daughter of Agamemnon, and Hermione, the wife of Menelaus, are each called by Ovid Pelopeia virgo. Vergil ( Aen.ii. 193) uses the phrase Pelopea moenia to signify the cities in Peloponnesus which Pelops and his descendants ruled over; and in like manner Mycenae is called by Ovid Pelopeiades Mycenae.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Pelops : Various WebPages

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