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Telephus
Τήλεφος

Survival of the child Telephus. 7114: Hercules finds his son Telephus in Arcadia (detail). Ercolano, Basilica. National Archaeological Museum, Naples.

After an uncertain birth in Arcadia, Telephus is thought to have come to Teuthrania, the country in Asia Minor near the river Caicus and the city of Pergamum, north of Mount Sipylus. Here he became, through his mother, related to King Teuthras 1, who adopted him as his son and heir. Having become king in this part of Mysia, Telephus repelled the ACHAEANS when they invaded the country, and was healed, by unusual means, of a wound received in battle.

Telephus exposed

When Heracles 1 came to Tegea in Arcadia he made love to Auge 2, not knowing that she was King Aleus' daughter. Of this union, a boy was born that was secretly hidden by Auge 2 in the precinct of Athena. But Aleus, some say, discovered her daughter's motherhood when he, on account of a pestilence that was ravaging the country, visited the temple of Athena. He then took the babe and exposed it in Mount Parthenius; and if the child had died, probably nothing would be known about him. But since Providence or the gods took care of him, he survived, being nourished by a doe that had just cast her fawn. Soon shepherds appeared who took up the babe and called him Telephus.

Children abandoned

Now, some might be tempted to think that exposed babies are often saved by someone. For Minos 2's grandson Miletus was exposed and survived; and so did Aechmagoras whom Heracles 1 rescued; and Aegisthus was suckled by a goat and lived; and Hippothous 2, son of Poseidon and Alope, was suckled by a mare and survived; and also Amphion 1 and his brother Zethus were exposed as infants, but a herdsman found and reared them; and Asclepius was saved by a shepherd; and Atalanta was exposed by his father, but a bear came and gave her suck until hunters found her; and Atalanta herself exposed her son Parthenopaeus, pretending to be still a virgin, but he grew up and became one of the SEVEN AGAINST THEBES; and the twins Lycastus 3 and Parrhasius, sons of Ares and Phylonome, were suckled by a wolf and later saved by a shepherd; and Meliteus, son of Zeus and Othreis, was also exposed and saved by bees which fed him; and Neleus was exposed; and Oedipus; and the twins Romulus and Remus 1; and Paris. These are known, however, not so much for having been exposed, but for having survived; and it is their survival that made their exposure known. But there cannot be any record about those who do not survive, since they leave this world without a name and as soon as they arrive. And since to be saved is naturally regarded as an exceptional and lucky circumstance, the number of those who perish for being abandoned, although unknown, might be reasonably assumed to be larger than the number of those who survive.

Severe father condemns his daughter

After Telephus had been exposed then, Aleus, being everything but proud of his, as he saw her, debauched daughter, gave her to Palamedes' father Nauplius 1, who was an excellent sailor and a genius in other respects too, with instructions to sell her far away. And Nauplius 1, who easily navigated most parts of the known world, brought her to Teuthrania in Mysia (near Pergamum in Asia Minor), where she was married to Teuthras 1, the ruler of that land, who had by her a daughter Argiope 4. But others have said that Heracles 1 could not ignore what he was doing when he made love to Auge 2, since he was a guest in Aleus' home, where he had come after the campaign that resulted in the restoration of Tyndareus as king of Sparta. They also say that Aleus discovered the motherhood of his daughter, not by finding a child in the shrine of Athena, but by noticing that she was pregnant. For some reason or another, Aleus did not believe his daughter when she disclosed that Heracles 1 had been her lover. And so he gave her to Nauplius 1, ordering him to drown her in the sea.

What Nauplius 1 did not do

Nauplius 1 took the girl with him; but as they, in their way to his harbor in Argolis, came near Mount Parthenius, she withdrew into a thicket as if to perform some natural necessity. It was then, they say, that Auge 2 gave birth in a place where a temple to Ilithyia was later built to the male child, which she left hidden in the bushes. When she returned, Nauplius 1, ignoring what had happened, took her to the harbor; but instead of drowning her, as he had been instructed to do, he made a gift of her to some Carians who were about to sail to Asia. This is how Auge 2 was brought to Teuthras 1, king of Mysia, although others simply say that she fled to that country.

How Telephus was saved

Telephus himself was found by herdsmen belonging to King Corythus 3, when he was being fed from the teat of a hind. These men, they say, brought the child to the king, who raised him as his own son and called him Telephus. Years later Telephus, desiring to learn about his mother, went to Delphi where the oracle instructed him to sail to the court of Teuthras 1 in Mysia. Here Telephus reunited with his mother, and having married Teuthras 1's daughter Argiope 4, inherited the throne at the king's death. Still others have said that Telephus and Atalanta's son Parthenopaeus were exposed at the same time at Mount Parthenius, and that shepherds found them both and reared them, while Auge 2, fearing her father, fled to Mysia, where King Teuthras 1 adopted her as his own daughter.

Telephus defeats Idas 2 ...

6928: Heracles and the child Telephus. Moulded in Paris. In Stockholm since 1698. Konstakademin, Stockholm.

Telephus, they add, came to Mysia in the company of Parthenopaeus, looking for his mother in accordance with an oracle. At the time, Idas 2 (the man who killed Castor 1, one of the DIOSCURI) threatened the country. So Teuthras 1 promised both kingdom and his adoptive daughter Auge 2 to Telephus in exchange for protection against his enemy. Telephus, they say, accepted the proposal, and along with his friend Parthenopaeus, defeated Idas 2. Fulfilling his promise, Teuthras 1 gave Auge 2 as wife to Telephus, but she, being faithful to Heracles 1, did not wish anybody to touch her body. That is why Auge 2 drew a sword to slay Telephus as they entered the wedding chamber. However, a big serpent glided between them, as they say by the will of the gods, making her drop the sword; and when Telephus was about to kill her, she called for help on Heracles 1, being then recognized by Telephus as his mother.

Aleus submerges daughter in the sea

Yet others affirm that Auge 2 and her child Telephus were submerged in the sea by Aleus, but that through Athena's providence they navigated the sea in the chest, being cast ashore in Teuthrania, where King Teuthras 1 received them, marrying Auge 2 and raising Telephus as his own son. In any case, Telephus ruled in Mysia when the country was invaded by the ACHAEANS, who intending to punish Troy on account of the abduction of Helen two years before, came by mistake to Mysia, thinking it Trojan territory, and pillaged it. Now Telephus' forces reacted energetically, and repelled the invaders, killing, among others, Oedipus' grandson Thersander 1. This defeat by the banks of the river Caicus forced the ACHAEANS to return to Hellas, and made a second gathering several years later at Aulis, the Boeotian harbor; but Telephus himself, having been pursued during the battle, was entangled in a vine-branch and wounded by Achilles's spear in the thigh.

Telephus in Aulis

Some believe that the ACHAEANS did not know how to reach Troy, being that the reason why they landed in Mysia. It is then said that when eight years later the ACHAEANS gathered once more their forces in Aulis, they were perplex about the voyage because no one could show them the way. In the meantime, Telephus' wound was unhealed; and having consulted the oracles he learned that the one who had wounded him was the same who would cure him. That is why Telephus, clad in rags but apparently knowing the sea better than the ACHAEANS, appeared in Argos to beg Achilles to help his wound. And in exchange, he said, he would show the way to Troy. Having reached this agreement, Achilles healed him by scraping off the rust of his spear, and Telephus showed the course, the accuracy of which was confirmed by the seer Calchas. Others said that when Telephus arrived to receive medical attention, he, following Clytaemnestra's advice snatched little Orestes 2, threatening to kill him if he was not healed. It is said that the ACHAEANS accepted this blackmail because an oracle had said that Troy could not be taken without the aid of Telephus. But as Achilles replied that he ignored the art of healing, Odysseus said:

"Apollo does not mean you, but calls the spear the inflictor of the wound." (Odysseus to Achilles. Hyginus, Fabulae 101).

So they scraped the spear on the wound, and Telephus was healed by the same ashen spear that Peleus had received from Chiron when he married Thetis. Achilles, who received it from his father, took to the war at Troy this heavy and huge spear, which, as they say, no one among the ACHAEANS was able to wield. The ACHAEANS then invited him to join the expedition, but Telephus, being (as some say) the son-in-law of Priam 1, refused. He nevertheless led them to Troy before returning to Mysia.

Achilles' son kills Telephus' son

Telephus did not fight in the Trojan War, but his son Eurypylus 6 came to the war with a force of Mysians, and was killed by Neoptolemus.


Family 

Parentage

Mates

Offspring

Notes

Heracles 1 & Auge 2

 


Auge 2 was daughter of King Aleus of Arcadia, son of Aphidas 1, son of Arcas 1, son of Zeus and Callisto. Her mother was Neaera 3, daughter of Pereus, son of Elatus 2, who was king in Mount Cyllene in Arcadia, and son of Arcas 1.

a) Laodice 3

b) Argiope 4

c) Astyoche 4

Eurypylus 6

("a)", "b)", etc. = different versions.

Laodice 3 was the fairest of the daughters of Priam 1. She was swallowed up by a chasm in the earth in the sight of all when Troy fell.
Argiope 4 was daughter of King Teuthras 1 of Teuthrania, Asia Minor.
Astyoche 4 was daughter of King Laomedon 1 of Troy. When Troy was sacked, she was taken captive by the victors, and being in Italy and fearing slavery in Hellas, she set fire to the ships, causing the ACHAEANS to settle there. For this, she and her sisters were called Nauprestides.
For Eurypylus 6 see TROJAN LEADERS.

unknown

Roma 2

Roma 2, who is also called daughter of Italus and Leucaria, gave her name to the city of Rome. But the same is said of Roma 1, Roma 3, Romanus, Romus, and Romis.

unknown

Tyrsenus

Tyrsenus or Tyrrhenus 1, the inventor of the trumpet, emigrated from Lydia to Tyrrhenia (Italy), which was called after him. But others say that he was the son of Heracles 1 and Omphale, or of Atys 3 (son of Manes, son of Zeus) and Callithea.


Related sections

Telephus in GROUPS: HERACLES 1'S OFFSPRING (see Heracles 1)

Sources
Abbreviations

Apd.2.7.4, 2.7.8, 3.9.1; Apd.Ep.3.17-20, 5.12; DH.1.28.1; Dio.4.33.11-12; Hom.Od.11.520; Hyg.Fab.99, 101, 162, 244, 252; Ov.Met.13.171; Pau.3.26.9, 8.45.7, 8.48.7, 9.5.14; Pin.Isth.5.40, Pin.Oly.9.70; Plu.Rom.2.1; QS.6.136; Strab.13.1.69.

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