Pelops 1 was slaughtered by his father, boiled, and offered as a meal to the gods, who having discovered this disgusting circumstance, brought him to life again. Pelops 1 emigrated from Phrygia, seized the
kingdom of Oenomaus 1,
and having expanded it, called it Peloponnesus
RIII.1-0782: Pelops, Oenomaus, Hippodamia, Myrtilus. Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher (Göttingen, 1845- Dresden, 1923), Ausfürliches Lexikon der griechisches und römisches Mythologie, 1884.
Pelops 1's impious father
Pelops 1's impious father Tantalus 1, being a
son of Zeus, was for some
time a favorite of the gods, and Zeus, they say, used to
confide his plans to him. But since those who enjoy
privileges not seldom take undue advantage, also Tantalus 1 became
boastful and assumed that whatever he conceived
would be allowed to such a nice fellow like
himself. So for example, he gave himself to gossip
and started to report Zeus'
plans to mortal men.
Pelops 1 served as a meal
In addition, he also felt that time could be ripe to play some jokes at the gods' expense. Accordingly, he slain his own son Pelops 1, and cut him up serving him as an splendid meal at a banquet of the gods. It was then that Demeter ate Pelops 1's arm, but when the gods discovered the bizarre trick that Tantalus 1 had played on them, they, joining all limbs together again, restored Pelops 1 to life. And Demeter, noticing that the shoulder was not complete, for she had eaten of it, fixed one of ivory in its place and Pelops 1 was made whole again. Pelops 1 came back to life, they say, fairer than ever, and that is why Poseidon, admiring the beauty of the young man, fell in love with Pelops 1 and gave him a winged chariot the axles of which were not wet even when it ran through the sea. Naturally, some believe that these are deceptive stories embroidered with lies.
Emigrant Pelops 1
Having escaped alive from the banquet of the gods, Pelops 1 must have deemed inconvenient to stay in his cruel father's home in Mount Sipylus near Smyrna in Asia Minor, for he emigrated to Hellas where he met great success because, says General Thucydides, Pelops 1 carried with him a vast wealth to a needy country. But it has also been told that Pelops 1 was forced to withdraw when Ilus 2, the founder of Troy, launched an army against him. Pelops 1 arrived to Hellas approximately at the time when Perseus 1 went to hunt Medusa 1.
The king of Pisa
Now, in the district of Elis in Peloponnesus there
was a king Oenomaus 1,
who ruled in the city of Pisa, owning arms and
horses which Ares had given him. Some have affirmed that this king was too much in love with his own daughter Hippodamia 3, but others have said that an oracle had declared that the man who would marry her was the same who would kill him. For one of these reasons, or for both, or for others unknown, King Oenomaus 1 lacked the
disposition, or the talent, to become what some
would call a caring father-in-law. And his
temperament not being gentle, but instead rather
fierce, he devised a system in order to get rid of
his daughter's suitors.
Dealing with Oenomaus 1
Oenomaus 1 offered as a prize to the suitors the hand of his daughter, and each suitor had to take up Hippodamia 3 on his own chariot, and flee as far as the Isthmus of Corinth. Then Oenomaus 1 pursued him, and if he overtook him he killed him; and only if the suitor were not overtaken, he was given Hippodamia 3 to wife. Applying this method, he slew many suitors (the SUITORS OF HIPPODAMIA 3 were at least nineteen), and after killing them he cut off their heads, and nailed them to his house so that all could learn how dear his daughter was to him.
Wishing to marry this princess, Pelops 1 came to the residence of Oenomaus 1 asking for the hand of Hippodamia 3, but when he saw the nailed heads of his predecessors Pelops 1 regretted having come, for the king's horses were known to be swifter than the wind. When Pelops 1 understood that this four-horse race was impossible to win in a regular way, he decided to leave fair play by obtaining the confidence of the king's charioteer Myrtilus, whom he promised half of the kingdom if he would help him to come across this dangerous situation. And yet some have said that when Pelops 1 appeared, Hippodamia 3 fell immediately in love with him, and that it was she who persuaded Myrtilus to help Pelops 1. And either because Myrtilus, son of Hermes, expected to rule over half of the kingdom, or because he was himself in love with Hippodamia 3, he did not insert the linchpins in the boxes of the wheels of his master's chariot. That is how Myrtilus let himself be turned into a saboteur, letting Pelops 1 get a stolen victory. For King Oenomaus 1 lost the race, being entangled in the reins and dragged to death or, as some say, being killed by Pelops 1. When the king was dying, he discovered Myrtilus' treachery, and cursing him, he prayed that he might perish by the hand of Pelops 1. When Pelops 1 saw that the king was dead, the bride was his, and himself was about to become a respectable man of power, inheriting the kingdom of the man he had murdered, he started to see things in a different light, thinking that the whole affair would disgrace him. So he refused to keep his promise to Myrtilus, who was both accomplice and witness, and he cast him into the sea. However, some say that when all three were returning from the race, Pelops 1 withdrew to fetch some water, and then Myrtilus tried to rape Hippodamia 3. When Pelops 1, on his return, learned what had happened he threw Myrtilus into the sea, which was called after him the Myrtoan Sea, which is between the Peloponnesus and the islands called Cyclades. But before dying, Myrtilus uttered curses not only against Pelops 1 but also against his whole house, for, they say, the punishment for breaking an oath also comes upon the descendants of the sinner. And that is why it could be said many years later:
chariot-race of Pelops long ago, source of many a
sorrow, what disaster you have brought upon this
land! For ever since Myrtilus sank to rest beneath
the waves, hurled to utter destruction from his
golden chariot in disgraceful outrage, from that
time to this, outrage and its many sorrows were
never yet gone from this house." (Mycenaean women. Sophocles, Electra 504).
The kingdom of Pelops 1
Having been purified by Hephaestus for the murder of Myrtilus, Pelops 1 returned to Pisa, took also possession of Olympia, and in time
expanded his kingdom to what was formerly called
Apia and Pelasgiotis, calling it Peloponnesus after
himself. According to the people of Elis, Pelops 1 was the first to found a temple of Hermes in Peloponnesus,
for he wished to avert the wrath of the god for the
death of Myrtilus. The kingdom of Pelops 1 was a flourishing one, and when he held the games in Olympia he surpassed in splendor all of his predecessors. Pelops 1 may be said to have been the strongest of the kings in Peloponnesus, in part because of his wealth, but also because he gave many daughters in marriage to men of power and rank, and appointed many of his sons among the cities as their rulers. Also Pelops 1 gave King Amphion 1 of Thebes his sister Niobe 2 as wife. From that union the NIOBIDS were born, who
were later killed by the children of Leto. But above all, the descendants of Pelops 1 infiltrated, through marriage, the royal house of Mycenae, and eventually
(counting from Eurystheus) took
power in the city, keeping it until the HERACLIDES, who are
Perseids (that is, descendants of Perseus 1, the founder
of Mycenae), invaded the
Pelops 1 refuses to punish love
While Oedipus' father Laius 1 was still in exile, he lived in Peloponnesus, being hosted by Pelops 1. Laius 1 fell in love with Pelops 1's bastard son Chryssipus 2, son of the nymph Danais, and carried him off, being pursued and arrested by the legitimate sons of Pelops 1 and Hippodamia 3, Atreus and Thyestes 1. But Laius 1 obtained mercy from the king, for apparently Pelops 1 did not wish to punish a man on account of his love. But Queen Hippodamia 3 plotted against bastard Chrysippus 2, and arguing that he would become a contestant for the throne, she tried to persuade her sons to murder him. As they refused, Hippodamia 3 visited at night Laius 1 and Chrysippus 2 when they were asleep, and taking the sword of the Theban, she wounded Chrysippus 2 and fixed the sword in his body, so that Laius 1 would be suspected. However, Chrysippus 2 acknowledged the truth before dying, and King Pelops 1 banished his wife, who, according to some, committed suicide.
The death of Pelops 1 has not been reported, but it is known that his shoulder blade in ivory was precious to the Achaeans fighting in Troy. For it had been
prophesied that Troy could only be taken if the bone of Pelops 1 were brought from Pisa to the front at Troy. After the sack of Troy, the bone was supposed
to be returned to Pisa, but the ship carrying the
bone was wrecked off Euboea in a storm. It was only
many years later that Damarmenus, a fisherman from
Eretria in the island of Euboea, drew up the bone
from the sea. For some time he kept it hidden in
the sand, but it was afterwards restored to Elis, following
instructions from the oracle at Delphi.
Pelops 2 is the son of Agamemnon and Cassandra. He was
killed by Aegisthus while still a baby.