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Telephos is greeted in Argos - panel of the Telephos frieze from the Pergamon Altar

Telephos ( Greek  Τήλεφος 'who shines from afar ') is an Arcadian in Greek mythology , son of Heracles and the Eye , a priestess of Athena .

Eye's father, King Aleos , had been prophesied in Delphi that a son of the eye would kill his own uncles, eye's brothers, which is why he wanted to keep her safe with a vow of chastity as a priestess of Athena. The passing demigod Heracles fell in love with the beautiful eye and impregnated her, whereupon eye gave birth to the child in secret. After the discovery, it was abandoned by Aleos on the open sea, because the king was afraid to kill his daughter himself. Telephos was abandoned in a mountain area, but was suckled by a doe . He eventually came to King Corythus . On the Small Pergamon Frieze in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin , Telephos is suckled by a lioness. For this reason, the name Telephos was already associated with Greek θηλή (thelé 'mother's breast') in folk etymology , although it is very likely a short form of Τηλεφάνης (Telephanes 'the most radiant').

He later found his mother with King Teuthras of Mysia , who was accepted there. But no one realized that it was mother and son. After he had fought for Teuthras, Teuthras gave him his own mother's eye for his wife and made him his successor. The marriage was not consummated thanks to a snake that passed between them (see story of the eye ). When the Hellenes accidentally attacked Mysia on their way against Troy , they were defeated by Telephus, who was wounded by Achilles with his spear.

Since the wound did not heal and the oracle announced that it could only be healed by someone who had struck it, Telephus turned to Argos to visit Achilles in Agamemnon's palace. On Clytaimnestra's advice, he stole Orestes , Agamemnon's young son, from the cradle and threatened to kill the child if he was not helped. After Achilles' objection that he was not familiar with the field of medicine, Odysseus hit upon the idea that the oracle could also be meant in such a way that it was not Achilles but his spear that caused the wound and could therefore heal it. As a result, the scraped rust of the lance that was placed in the wound actually led to the desired success. Ovid alludes to when he lets Achilles say that he made Telephos feel the effect of his lance twice.

Called by the oracle as the guide to Troy, Telephos showed the Greeks the way there, but refused to take part in the war as the consort of Astyoche , a sister of Priam . He founded the city of Pergamon and was later worshiped as a hero by the kings of the house of the Attalids . His story is shown on the inner relief of the Pergamon Altar excavated in Pergamon .

As with many legends from ancient Greece, there are also several different variants of the Telephos myth.


Web links

Commons : Telephos  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  1. Stein, Otto: "Telephos". IN: RE, Vol. VA 1, Col. 362.
  2. ^ Hyginus Mythographus , Fabulae 101.
  3. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses 12, 112.
  4. similar, but strongly coded: Ovid, Ibis 254: 'He was wounded by an armed man, received help from an unarmed man.'