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Arkas ( Greek Ἀρκάς Arkás , Latin Arcas ) is a figure in Greek mythology .

He was a son of Zeus and the nymph Callisto , who was then transformed into a bear by Hera . Zeus handed the child over to the Lykaon to raise it. However, he wanted to put the father of the gods to the test on a later visit, killed Arkas and put him in front of Zeus for dinner (this shows a parallel to the story of Tantalus and Pelops ).

The Olympian discovered the sacrilege, destroyed the house of Lykaon with a lightning bolt, turned the murderer into a wolf (λύκος, Lykos ) and brought Arkas back to life. As an adolescent, he once came across a bear while hunting: She was his mother, but he did not recognize her. At the last moment, Zeus intervened and placed the two of them in the sky as constellations, as the Great Bear and the Little Bear (or the bear guardian , depending on the variant).

In later reports Arkas becomes the progenitor of the Arcadians. He succeeded Nyktimos , a son of Lycaon, who was spared during the great flood , to the throne and taught the people the arts of agriculture, bread-baking, weaving and similar skills, in which he had been instructed by Triptolemus and Adristas . In honor of the ruler, the country was renamed Arcadia .

With Laodameia (also called Leaneira), the daughter of Amyklas , Arkas fathered the sons Elatos and Apheidas ; Meganeira , the daughter of Krokon , or the nymph Chrysopeleia are also mentioned as alternative mothers . In addition, Erato gave him the Azan . A bronze monument in the market square of the city of Mantineia testified to a daughter of Arkas named Diomeneia .

Arkas divided the land among the three sons. His tomb originally stood at a fork in the road near Mantineia; later his remains were buried in the city at a Hera altar. The Tegeates erected statues of Arkas and his descendants in Delphi as consecration gifts.


Individual evidence

  1. Pausanias 8,4,1.
  2. Pausanias 8,9,9.