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Peleus with Thetis on the tondo of a red-figure bowl of the Douris , around 490 BC Chr.

Peleus ( ancient Greek Πηλεύς , Etruscan Pele ) is in Greek mythology king of the Myrmidons of Phthia in Thessaly , the son of Aiakos (hence also called the Aiakide) and Endeis (daughter of Cheiron or Skiron ). As the consort of Thetis he was the father of Achilles , who was often called Pel (e) ide (s), Peleiade or Peleione ("Peleussohn").


With his brother Telamon he conspired to kill a hated younger half-brother, the Phokos . Telamon carried out the deed by throwing a disc at his head (cf. Hyakinthos and Oxylos ); they hid the body in the forest. The crime was discovered, however, and the brothers had to flee the homeland of Aegina before their father .


Peleus went to Phthia in Thessaly to King Eurytion (son or grandson of the actor ), who purged him of his blood guilt and gave him his daughter Antigone along with the third part of his land as a dowry. (According to other sources, it was Aktor himself who atoned for Peleus and gave him his daughter Polymele as his wife.) From this marriage arose the beautiful Polydora . The alliance did not last long, however, because he accidentally killed his father-in-law Eurytion during the Calydonian hunt . Peleus had to flee again and came to Iolkos .


Wrestling match with Atalante, black-figure , Chalcidian hydria , around 550 BC Chr.

After he was again sinned by Akastus of Iolkos (son of Pelias), he settled there. He is named as a participant in the Argonaut procession and competed in a wrestling match with the Amazon-like Atalanta at the funeral games in honor of Pelias .

However, he got into a new calamity because Astydameia (according to other sources: Hippolyte ), Akastus' wife, fell in love with him. When he did not give in to her wooing, she slandered him in her husband: Peleus had pursued her virtue. She sent word to his wife that he was going to marry Sterope , Akastus' daughter; Antigone hanged himself out of grief. Akastos did not want to assault the one he had sinned himself, but decided to dedicate him to death in another way. He took him to hunt on Pelion and left the weary man lying helpless after robbing him of his sword. So the wild centaurs found him and would have killed him; However, Cheiron (according to other sources: Hermes ) took care of him and brought him back his hidden sword.

Peleus retaliated by conquering Iolkos with the help of the Dioscuri ( Tyndarids , according to some sources: and with Jason ). He put Akastos to flight, killed Astydameia and had her dismembered limbs scattered and the army moved over them into the city. The conquered Iolcus he handed Thessalos , son of Jason, with its Pelasgian Haimoniern . When exactly this should have happened is difficult to determine - how there are so many chronological difficulties and confusions in the story of Peleus.

Marriage to Thetis

The Horen, bringing wedding gifts to Peleus (Rome, Villa Albani ).

The Peleus legend most celebrated in pictures and songs is probably that of his love affair with the Nereid Thetis , from which one of the most famous heroes of ancient mythology emerged - the Thessalian national hero Achilles . After Peleus' first wife died, he won the Thetis who had been chosen for him by the gods (according to an older, pre-Homeric legend during a wrestling match). Zeus himself had shown interest in her, but had been warned by Prometheus that Thetis' son was growing taller than the father; so it was given to a mortal. The child of this marriage, Achilles, was entrusted to Cheiron for education.

 All Olympian gods were invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis - except Eris . As a wedding present, the bridegroom received the immortal horses Xanthos and Balios from Poseidon , the large, heavy lance from Cheiron, and from the others all the weapons with which Achilles would later fight at Troy. Eris, however, the uninvited goddess of quarreling, threw a golden apple among the guests out of revenge , which was labeled "The most beautiful". As a result, a dispute broke out between Hera , Athene and Aphrodite , which led to the judgment of Paris , the “rape of Helena ” and ultimately to the Trojan War .

Later years

Peleus was in the habit of welcoming those who had fled. For example the Phoinix who - cursed by his father Amyntor - sought protection in Phthia. In another version, Amyntor had his eyes gouged out: Cheiron healed the blind man, and Peleus made him king of the dolopers afterwards . Also Epeigeus found recording, the escaped murder former ruler of Budeion ; as did Patroclus , who had killed Kleitonymos in anger and later became Achilles' closest friend.

Peleus also tried to reconcile the actor - whose father, Eurytion, he had accidentally killed while hunting, as told above - by giving him a large herd of cattle as a present; However, this refused. So after the oracle had been consulted, he let the animals run without a shepherd, as instructed. The cattle fell victim to a wolf, which was afterwards turned into a stone, which could be seen for a long time between Lokris and Phocis .

Old age and death

That Peleus reached a great age is emphasized several times in the epic. The Iliad mentions him in several places, although he himself did not take part in the Trojan War.

According to Euripides , Peleus was expelled from Phthia - after the Greeks returned from Troy - by Archandros and Architeles , the sons of Akastos (or Akastos himself). On the island of Kos he met his grandson Neoptolemus , who killed the two and helped Peleus return. Driven again by Orestes later, he fled again to Kos, where he died in sorrow: if his only son Achilles had died before Troy, he had now also had to learn of the death of Neoptolemus, whose body was brought by Andromache . According to other sources, the grandson succeeded his ancestors in Phthia.

Name and etymology

An allegorical interpretation arises from the derivation of the name Peleus from "pelos" ( ancient Greek πηλός , clay, clay ') and the consideration of the sea nymph Thetis as the personified water: This is how the human race is said to have emerged from this connection. Apollo - as Phoibos a sun god - was not allowed to come to the wedding because fire and water extinguish each other. Eris was not invited either, because the procreation of people requires unity, not discord.

According to Preller , Peleus is supposed to mean the same as “Pallas” ( Πάλλας , with an emphasis on the first syllable): a swinger, the “swinger of the terrible death lance” from Pelion, which passed from Peleus to his son Achilles. However, this derivation is questionable. The verb “pallo” ( πάλλω ) means 'to swing, to shake'; “Pallas” ( Παλλάς ) in turn - with an emphasis on the second syllable - means 'young man, girl' and was, among other things, an epithet of Athena .


The Mount Peleus in Antarctica is named after him.


Web links

Commons : Peleus  - collection of images, videos and audio files
  • Peleus in the Greek Myth Index

Individual evidence

  1. Scholion Pind. N. 5, 12 .; Scholion Iliad 16:14; Hyginus fabulae 14
  2. Plutarch Thes. 10 .; Pausanias 2, 29, 7; Apollodorus libri III. c. 2. §. 6 .; Gale adl. c. Cf. Mezir. sur les ep. d'Ovid. TI p. 144.
  3. ^ Pausanias Corinth. c. 29. p. 140
  4. Apollodorus libri III. 13, 2.
  5. Scholion Lycophr. 175.901
  6. ^ Julius Adolf Bernhard : Actor 1 . In: Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher (Hrsg.): Detailed lexicon of Greek and Roman mythology . Volume 1,1, Leipzig 1886, Col. 217 f. ( Digitized version ).
  7. Apollodorus libri I. c. 8th. §. 2.
  8. ^ Ovid , Metamorphoses VIII. 311.
  9. ↑ The oldest witness for Peleus participation is Pindar frgm. 158 (Scholion Eur. Andr. 798)
  10. Hyginus fabulae 14 p. 43. Cf. Burman. Catal. argon
  11. ^ Pausanias V, 17
  12. Hyginus fabulae 273
  13. Apollodorus libri III. 9, 2
  14. Apollodorus libri III. 13, 3
  15. Scholion Aristoph. ad Neb. v. 1059.
  16. Apollodorus libri III. c. 11. §. 3. 7.
  17. Pind. Nem. 4, 91.
  18. ^ Iliad 16, 143 ff. 867; 17, 194,443; 18, 84; 19, 390; 23, 277; 24, 62. Hesiod wrote επιθαλάμια εις Πηλέα καὶ Θέτιν. See Pindar N. 3, 56; 5, 22 ff., Eurip. Iphig. A. 704, 1040 ff., Catullus 64. Vase pictures and other sculptures b. Overbeck 197 ff.
  19. In this sense the Cyppri in particular told of the wedding, Scholion Iliad 16, 140.
  20. Homer I. 478 ff.
  21. Apollodorus libri III. 13, 8, 3; Tzetz. Lyc. 421 (with allegorical interpretation); Scholion Plat. Leg. 11, 931 B.
  22. Homer II 571 ff.
  23. Apollodorus libri III, 13, 8, 3; Philosteph. in the Scholion Homer II 14; Scholion Homer II 574.
  24. Eurip. Andr. 1128
  25. Schmid. ad Pind. Pyth. Γ. c. 3rd p. 127.
  26. ^ Fulgentius libri III. c. 7. Cf. Voss. Theol. gent. libri II. c. 77.