Reader's Encyclopedia

Alcmaeon

In Greek mythology, a son of Amphiaraus and Eriphyle. As children, Alcmaeon and his brother Amphilochus were enjoined by their father to avenge him on his wife for the treachery that drove him into the fatal war as one of The Seven against Thebes. When Alcmaeon was grown, Eriphyle, bribed by Thersander, repeated her treachery, by sending Alcmaeon too into war with Thebes. He led the Epigoni to victory and, on his return, killed his mother. Dying, she laid a curse on any land that would shelter him, and the Erinyes drove him mad.

Alcmaeon wandered through many lands. Phegeus, king of Psophis, married him to his daughter Arsinoe, and Alcmaeon gave her Harmonia's necklace, with which his mother had been bribed. Eriphyle 's curse brought famine on the land, and Alcmaeon left Psophis. He wandered to the river Achelous. On its delta, which had not existed when the curse was laid, he was at last free from madness. The river god Achelous gave his daughter Callirrhoe to Alcmaeon.

She bore him two sons, Acarnan and Amphoteros, but soon demanded the necklace for herself. Alcmaeon returned to Psophis and tricked Phegeus into giving him the necklace. As he was leaving, the trick was discovered, and Alcmaeon was killed by Phegeus ' sons. Callirrhoe, meanwhile, had been lending her favors to the amorous Zeus. At her request, he caused her sons by Alcmaeon to grow to manhood overnight. They killed Phegeus ' sons and finally dedicated the necklace to Apollo at Delphi, where it was still shown in classical times.

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