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The Running Course in Sparta . To the left are depicted the sanctuary of the DIOSCURI, the temple of Apollo, the tomb of Eumides and the altar of Heracles 1. To the left of the running course is the statue of Polydeuces (one of the DIOSCURI). In the center is the Platanistas. To the right of the running course are the Gymnasium, the statue of Castor 1 (brother of Polydeuces), and at the very right the Odeon.
Jos Hoffmann: Der Dromos in Sparta (c. 1870).

Sparta is a city of Laconia in the Peloponessus. Laconia is a part of a vaster region, Lacedaemon, a name which has also been used to denote the city of Sparta. To the north of Laconia are Argolis and Arcadia, and to the west Messenia.

First king

The first Laconian king was Lelex 2, a "son of the soil" (see AUTOCHTHONOUS) or, as others say, a son of Poseidon and Libya, that is a descendant of Io, since Libya is daughter of Epaphus 1, king of Egypt and son of Zeus and Io. Lelex 2 himself is said to have arrived to Laconia from Egypt. Lelex 2 was succeeded on the throne by his son Myles, the inventor of the mill. His mother was the naiad Cleocharia. Another son, Polycaon 1, emigrated and became the first king of Messenia. Yet another son of Lelex 2, Eurotas, who is also called son of Myles, became king after the latter. Eurotas had a daughter Sparta, who married Lacedaemon, son of Zeus and the Pleiad Taygete, after whom the Lacedaemonians are called. It is told that Eurotas led down to the sea the stagnant water on the plain, and when it flowed away, a river-stream was formed which he named Eurotas after himself.


After Eurotas, Lacedaemon became king and had by Sparta a son Amyclas 1, and a daughter Eurydice 2. According to some, this daughter married King Acrisius of Argos, and gave birth to Danae, mother of Perseus 1, the founder of Mycenae. Lacedaemon called the inhabitants Lacedaemonians after himself, and having founded a city, he called it Sparta after his wife.

Memorials and name of flower

This curious and original custom of leaving memorials behind was also followed by King Lacedaemon's son and successor, King Amyclas 1, who having founded a city near Sparta, called it Amyclae. Amyclas 1 married Diomede 2, and among their children is Hyacinthus 1, a handsome young man whom Apollo loved, and accidentally killed with the cast of a quoit. His blood, which had stained the grass, transformed into a flower. Argalus, son of Amyclas 1 and Diomede 2, became king after his father, and on his own death was succeeded by his brother Cynortes.

Oebalus 1

After Cynortes, one of his sons, Oebalus 1, became king. Some say that Oebalus 1 married the naiad Batia 2, while others say that his wife was Gorgophone 2, daughter of Perseus 1. It is said that Gorgophone 2 was the first woman to marry a second time, and that her husbands were brothers. Among the children of Oebalus 1 are Tyndareus (father of Helen), Icarius 1 (father of Penelope, Odysseus' wife), and Hippocoon 2. These sons disputed for the kingdom, and Hippocoon 2 expelled both Icarius 1 and Tyndareus from Lacedaemon, and became king of the Lacedaemonians.

Occasion for war

At this time, Heracles 1 was campaigning in the Peloponessus; he had already captured Elis, and after attacking Pylos, he killed Neleus and his sons except Nestor. When Pylos was taken, Heracles 1 marched against Lacedaemon, because the Lacedaemonians had supported the Pylians in their war against Heracles 1, and also because he wished to punish the sons of Hippocoon 2 for the death of Oeonus. This Oeonus, son of Licymnius, had once visited Sparta with Heracles 1, and was killed by the sons of Hippocoon 2, for having himself killed their dog that had attacked him. In order to invade Lacedaemon, Heracles 1 requested and obtained military assistance from King Cepheus 2 of Tegea (in Arcadia), who at the beginning was reluctant to go to war, as he feared the Argives could march against his city. However, he was finally persuaded when Heracles 1 provided a lock of the hair of Medusa 1 that he received from Athena. This lock, he explained, used in a certain way, would protect Tegea from any attack. During the invasion of Lacedaemon, however, Cepheus 2 and his sons perished in battle. Som say that Iphicles, son of Amphitryon and Alcmena and brother of Heracles 1, was also killed in this battle; however, others affirm that Iphicles was wounded in the first battle fought by Heracles 1 against King Augeas of Elis, and died later of his wound.

King Tyndareus

But as Hippocoon 2 and his sons were defeated and dead, and Sparta subjugated, Heracles 1 restored Tyndareus, entrusting the kingdom to him. Tyndareus married Leda and had children by her: the DIOSCURI, Clytaemnestra, Helen, Timandra 1, Phylonoe, and Phoebe 6. During his rule, Helen was abducted by Theseus, and later (when Helen had been brought back) many kings and princes of Hellas came to Sparta as SUITORS OF HELEN. On this occasion, The Oath of Tyndareus was exacted from the SUITORS. Tyndareus gave Penelope to Odysseus, and Helen to Menelaus. Clytaemnestra married first Tantalus 3, and after him King Agamemnon of Mycenae, brother of Menelaus. Timandra 1 married Echemus, king of the Arcadians, and Phylonoe was made immortal by Artemis. Some day or other, Tyndareus died, having bequeathed the kingdom of Sparta to his son-in-law Menelaus. Tyndareus is said to have been raised from the dead by Asclepius.

King Menelaus

Menelaus and Helen reigned as king and queen of Sparta when the Trojan Paris came for a visit, and violating all rules of hospitality, abducted his host's wife and took her to Troy. This outrage was regarded by Menelaus and the kings of Hellas who were bound by The Oath of Tyndareus, as a reason for waging war against Troy. After the war, Menelaus and Helen returned to Sparta, having wandered in the Mediterranean for seven years. Menelaus and Helen never died because they were made immortal by Hera, and sent to the Elysian Fields, but on earth Menelaus was succeeded on the throne by his nephew Orestes 2, son of Agamemnon.

Dispute between the sons of Agamemnon and Achilles echoes previous conflict

Hermione, daughter of Menelaus and Helen, was nine years old when she was abandoned by her mother. She married Orestes 2, but when he went mad after killing his mother Clytaemnestra, Neoptolemus, son of Achilles, carried her off, because she had previously been promised to him at Troy by her father. However, when Orestes 2 recovered his mind, he and his troops looked for Neoptolemus, and finding him at Delphi, they murdered him and took Hermione back.

Extension of the kingdom of Orestes 2

Location of Sparta in Laconia

King Orestes 2 ruled over a vaster territory than his father. For when Cylarabes died childless, leaving vacant the throne of Argos, Orestes 2 succeeded him, thus adding this kingdom to his own. Orestes 2 also succeeded to the throne of Sparta, for the Lacedaemonians considered his claim to the throne prior to that of Nicostratus and Megapenthes 1, these being sons of Menelaus by one or perhaps two slave women, whereas Orestes 2 was the son of one of the daughters of King Tyndareus. Besides Sparta and Argos, Orestes 2 also extended his rule over the greater part of Arcadia, and obeying the oracle of Delphi, he moved his capital from Mycenae to Arcadia. Messenia was held in ancient times by the line of Neleus and Nestor until some time after the Trojan War; then Orestes 2 annexed the region to his kingdom, and Messenia was ruled by him and his descendants down to the return of the HERACLIDES.

The sons of Orestes 2

When Orestes 2 died, killed by the bite of a snake at Oresteum in Arcadia, his son by Hermione, Tisamenus 2, came to the throne, while his bastard son by Erigone 1 (daughter of Aegisthus and Clytaemnestra), Penthilus 1, led the Aeolian colonisation, which preceded the Ionian by four generations. He advanced as far as Thrace sixty years after the Trojan War, about the time of the return of the HERACLIDES to the Peloponnesus. Tisamenus 2 lost both life and kingdom when the HERACLIDES Temenus 2 and Cresphontes invaded the country. With him disappeared the dynasty of the Pelopides, and the HERACLIDES, descendants of Perseus 1, took over.

Two Royal Houses

Casting lots after victory, the HERACLIDES Cresphontes and the twin brothers Procles 2 and Eurysthenes 1 divided the territory they had conquered, Messenia being assigned to Cresphontes, and Sparta to the twins. The twins Procles 2 and Eurysthenes 1 were bitter enemies, but as they had won by lot the kingdom of Lacedaemon, they decided to rule with two royal houses, and this is why there were two kings in Sparta also in historical times.

Throne Succession Laconia / Sparta 

= Descendants of Io.

= Descendants of Atlas.

Lelex 2
Amyclas 1
Oebalus 1
Orestes 2
Tisamenus 2

Return of the HERACLIDES
Two royal houses in Sparta (coming into historical times)

Eurysthenes 1
Procles 2
Agis 1
Prytanis 2
Eunomus 2
Polydectes 2
Archelaus 4

Lelex 2. This is the first king of Laconia (the southernmost part of the Peloponnesus), said to have arrived from Egypt. Yet some say that Lelex 2 was AUTOCHTHONOUS; others say he was son of Poseidon and Libya. By the naiad Cleocharia he fathered Eurotas, Myles, Polycaon 1, Cleson, and Bias 6 (Apd.3.10.3, 3.15.5; Pau.1.39.6, 1.44.3, 3.1.1).

Myles, credited with the invention of the mill, was king of Laconia and Sparta and son of Lelex 2 and Cleocharia. He was father of Eurotas (Pau.3.1.1, 3.20.2).

Eurotas succeeded Myles as king of the Lacedaemonians and was himself succeeded by Lacedaemon. Some have said that Myles was his father, but others say that Eurotas was son of Lelex 2 and Cleocharia. Eurotas is father of Sparta and Tiasa (see also the city of Sparta) (Apd.3.10.3; Pau.3.1.1, 3.18.6).

Lacedaemon. King of Lacedaemon, the country about Sparta which is called after him. He succeeded Eurotas on the throne. Lacedaemon was son of Zeus and Taygete, one of the PLEIADES; he married Sparta and had children by her: Eurydice 2 (mother of Danae) and Amyclas 1, who succeeded his father as king (Apd.3.10.3; Hyg.Ast.2.21; Pau.3.1.1).

Amyclas 1. King of Laconia and Lacedaemon, and founder of Amyclae. Amyclas 1 is son of Lacedaemon and Sparta. He succeeded his father in the throne and, marrying Diomede 2, daughter of Lapithus 1, son of Apollo and Stilbe, the daughter of the river god Peneus, had many children by her: Leanira, Cynortes, Hyacinthus 1, Argalus, Polyboea 1, Harpalus 1, Laodamia 3 and Daphne 1. On the death of Amyclas 1 he was succeeded by Argalus (see also Sparta) (Apd.3.9.1, 3.10.3; Parth.15.1; Pau.3.1.3, 3.19.4, 7.18.5, 10.9.5.).

Argalus. King of Lacedaemon after his father's death. He is son of Amyclas 1, son of Lacedaemon, son of Zeus and Taygete, one of the PLEIADES. His mother was Diomede 2, daughter of Lapithus 1, son of Apollo and Stilbe, daughter of the river god Peneus. On his death he was succeeded by Cynortes (see also Sparta) (Apd.3.10.3; Pau.3.1.3).

Cynortes (Cynortas) received the kingdom of Lacedaemon when his brother King Argalus died. Cynortes was son of Amyclas 1, son of Lacedaemon, son of Zeus and Taygete, one of the PLEIADES. His mother was Diomede 2, daughter of Lapithus 1, son of Apollo and Stilbe, daughter of Peneus, one of the RIVER GODS. Cynortes had two sons: Perieres 1 and Oebalus 1 (Apd.3.10.3; Pau.3.1.3-4).

Oebalus 1. King of Lacedaemon and Sparta. He was son either of King Perieres 1 of Messenia (son either of Aeolus 1 or of Cynortes), or of Cynortes. His wife was either Batia 2 or Gorgophone 2. According to some his children by Batia 2 were: Arene, Tyndareus (father of Helen), Hippocoon 2, Icarius 1, and Pirene 2; but others say that he had Tyndareus, Arene, and Hippocoon 2 by Gorgophone 2 (daughter of Perseus 1) (see also Sparta) (Apd.3.10.4; Pau.2.2.3, 3.1.4, 4.2.4).

Tyndareus, king of Sparta, was expelled from Lacedaemon by Hippocoon 2, but was later restored to the kingdom by Heracles 1. He gave Penelope to Odysseus for having invented "The Oath of Tyndareus", and Helen to Menelaus, whom he granted the kingdom of Sparta. Later he brought Orestes 2 to trial for the death of Clytaemnestra. Tyndareus is among those who were raised from the dead by Asclepius (see Leda, SUITORS OF HELEN, Helen, Trojan War, Menelaus, Penelope, etc.). Tyndareus was son either of Perieres 1 & Gorgophone 2, or of Oebalus 1 & Batia 2, or of Oebalus 1 & Gorgophone 2. Perieres 1 was king of Messenia. Oebalus 1 was son either of Perieres 1 or of Cynortes, king of Sparta. Gorgophone 2 was daughter of Perseus 1. Tyndareus married Leda and had children by her: Castor 1 and Polydeuces (see DIOSCURI), Timandra 1, Clytaemnestra, Phylonoe, and Phoebe 6 (Apd.3.10.3, 3.10.5-9; Apd.Ep.6.25; Cic.ND.2.6; Eur.IA.50; Eur.Ore.passim; Hes.CWE.68.38; Hom.Od.11.298-304; Pau.3.1.4).

Menelaus is the king of Sparta who was robbed of his sweet wife Helen by a guest he received in his palace. For his sake, a fleet of unprecedented size sailed to Troy in order to demand, by persuasion or by force, the restoration of Helen and the Spartan property that the seducer Paris, breaking all laws of hospitality, had stolen. Menelaus was son of Plisthenes 1 & Aerope 1, or of Plisthenes 1 & Cleolla, or of Atreus & Aerope 1 (Aes.Aga.42; Apd.3.10.8, 3.11.1, 3.2.1; Apd.Ep.2.15, 3.6, 3.11ff., 6.29; Eur.And. passim; Eur.Hel. passim; Eur.IA. passim; Eur.IT.3; Eur.Ore.18-20 and passim; Eur.Tro. passim; Hes.CWE.69, 70; Hom.Il.3.350; Hom.Od.4.265ff.; Hyg.Fab.85; Pau.2.29.4; QS.12.314ff.; Soph.Aj. passim; Vir.Aen.2.63).

Orestes 2. When Agamemnon returned from Troy, he was murdered by Aegisthus and Clytaemnestra, and Aegisthus became king of Mycenae. But Orestes 2, whose life was now in danger, was smuggled away and given to the Phocian Strophius 1 to bring up. Years later, following the oracle of Delphi, Orestes 2 returned to Mycenae in company of Pylades, and killed both his mother and Aegisthus. But having become a matricide, he was pursued by the ERINYES, and afflicted with madness. He was also brought to trial in Athens for this crime, and being acquitted, he then came to Tauris (today called Crimea) to get rid of his mental disorder. Orestes 2, along with Pylades, was made prisoner in Tauris, but after being recognized by his sister Iphigenia, who acted as a priestess, he fled with her back to Hellas. In time Orestes 2 inherited his father's throne, and became the ruler of a wide territory including Mycenae, Argos, Messenia, the greater part of Arcadia, and Sparta (Aes.Eum.passim; Aes.LB.passim; Apd.Ep.2.16, 6.13-14, 6.24-28; Dictys 6.4; Eur.And.884 and passim; Eur.Ele.passim; Eur.IT.passim; Eur.Ore.23 and passim; Hyg.Fab.257; Pau.2.16.7, 2.18.6, Pau.2.29.4; Soph.Ele.passim.).

Tisamenus 2. Son of Orestes 2 and Hermione and king of Mycenae. It was under his reign that the HERACLIDES (Temenus 2 and Cresphontes) succeeded in returning to the Peloponnesus. Some say that he was killed by them, whereas others say that he was killed in battle against the Ionians. Tisamenus 2's children were: Daimenes, Sparton 1, Tellis, Leontomenes, and Cometes 4 (Apd.2.8.2-3; Pau.2.18.6-7, 7.1.8, 7.6.2).

Eurysthenes 1. Son of Aristodemus & Argia 4. Father by Anaxandra of King Agis 1. Eurysthenes 1 and his twin brother Procles 2 were bitter enemies, but they won by lot the kingdom of Lacedaemon. They decided to institute two royal houses in Lacedaemon (Sparta) (Apd.2.8.2-5; Hdt.4.147, 6.52, 7.204; Pau.3.1.5-7, 4.3.4ff., 3.2.1, 3.16.6).

Procles 2. Son of Aristodemus & Argia 4. Father by Lathria of Sous and Eurypon. Procles 2 and his twin brother Eurysthenes 1 were bitter enemies, but they won by lot the kingdom of Lacedaemon and decided to institute two royal houses in Lacedaemon (Sparta) (Apd.2.8.2-5; Pau.3.1.5-7, 3.7.1, 3.16.6, 4.3.4ff.; Strab.8.5.5).

Agis 1. King of Sparta, after whom the family of Eurysthenes 1 is called the Agiadae. Agis 1, a contemporary of Patreus, was son of Eurysthenes 1, son of Aristodemus, son of Aristomachus 2, son of Cleodaeus 2, son of Hyllus 1, son of Heracles 1. His mother Anaxandra was daughter of Thersander 3, son of Agamedidas, who was great-grandson of Ctesippus 1 and king of the Cleonaeans. Ctesippus 1 was son of Heracles 1. Agis 1 had two sons: Echestratus and Amphicles (Pau.3.2.1-2, 3.16.6, 3.16.9; Strab.8.5.4).

Sous. King of Sparta after his father Procles 2. He was suceeded on the throne by his son Eurypon (Pau.3.7.1).

Echestratus. Son of Agis 1 and king of Sparta. He is father of Labotas (see also Sparta) (Pau.3.2.2-3).

Eurypon. King of Sparta. He reached such renown that his house changed name from Proclides to Eurypontides. He is the son either of Sous or of Procles 2. Sous himself is son of Procles 2, son of Aristodemus, son of Aristomachus 2, son of Cleodaeus 2, son of Hyllus 1, son of Heracles 1. Eurypon had a son Prytanis 2 (Pau.3.7.1; Strab.8.5.5).

Labotas. King of Sparta and leader of the Lacedaemonians against the Argives. He was son of Echestratus and father of Doryssus (see Sparta) (Pau.3.2.3-4).

Prytanis 2. Son of Eurypon and king of Sparta. Under his reign began the enmity of the Lacedaemonians against the Argives. Prytanis 2 was father of Eunomus 2 (Pau.3.7.2).

Doryssus. King of Sparta, approaching historical times, who was soon killed. He was son of Labotas, son of Echestratus, son of Agis 1, son of Eurysthenes 1, son of Aristodemus, son of Aristomachus 2, son of Cleodaeus 2, son of Hyllus 1, son of Heracles 1. Doryssus had a son Agesilaus, during whose reign Lycurgus 7 made his famous legislation (Pau.3.2.4).

Eunomus 2. King of Sparta after his father Prytanis 2, son of Eurypon. He was father of Polydectes 2 (see also Sparta) (Pau.3.7.2).

Agesilaus. King of Sparta who died soon, as also History says. During his reign the famous Lycurgus 6 made his legislation. Agesilaus was son of Doryssus, son of Labotas, son of Echestratus, son of Agis 1, son of Eurysthenes 1, son of Aristodemus, son of Aristomachus 2, son of Cleodaeus 2, son of Hyllus 1, son of Heracles 1 (Pau.3.2.4-5).

Polydectes 2 succeeded his father Eunomus 2 as king of Sparta and was succeeded by his son Charillus (Pau.3.7.3).

Archelaus 4. Spartan king, remembered for having conquered, in historical times, the city of Aegys, selling the inhabitants (the Perioeci) into slavery. He was son of Agesilaus, son of Doryssus, son of Labotas, son of Echestratus, son of Agis 1, son of Eurysthenes 1, son of Aristodemus, son of Aristomachus 2, son of Cleodaeus 2, son of Hyllus 1, son of Heracles 1. Archelaus 4 had a son Teleclus (Pau.3.2.5-6).

Charillus. King of Sparta. Under his reign the campaign of the Spartans against Tegea in Arcadia took place. Charillus was son of Polydectes 2, son of Eunomus 2, son of Prytanis 2, son of Eurypon, son of Sous, son of Procles 2, son of Aristodemus, son of Aristomachus 2, son of Cleodaeus 2, son of Hyllus 1, son of Heracles 1 (Pau.3.7.3).

Teleclus. King of Sparta; under his reign the Lacedaemonians conquered several cities belonging to the Achaeans. Teleclus, who had succeeded his father Archelaus 4 on the throne, was himself succeed by his son Alcamenes after being murdered by the Messenians (Pau.3.2.6; Strab.6.3.3).

Alcamenes. King of Sparta after the death of his father Teleclus' (Pau.3.2.6).

Related sections  

Some mentions of Sparta: Apd.2.5.7, 3.10.8, 3.11.2, 3.12.6; Apd.Ep.1.23, 2.16, 3.2, 6.29; Arg.1.148, 4.1761, 4.1762; Cal.Ap.74; Hom.Il.2.582, 4.52; Hom.Od.1.93, 1.285, 2.214, 2.327, 2.359, 4.10, 11.460, 13.412; Hyg.Fab.14, 173a, 238; Nonn.16.103, 19.187, 31.262, 35.175, 41.330; Ov.Met.6.414, 10.170.