Reader's Encyclopedia

Pelops

In Greek mythology, a son of Tantalus. The Peloponnese was named after him. As an infant, Pelops was served at a banquet given by his father for the gods. Failing to notice, Demeter ate a part of his shoulder, but the other gods were horrified. They condemned Tantalus to torture in Hades and revived Pelops by boiling him; Demeter gave him a new shoulder of ivory. Making the beautiful child his favorite, Poseidon took him to Olympus.

As a young man, Pelops sued for the hand of Hippodamia, the daughter of Oenomaus, king of Pisa. Her suitors were required to flee with her in their chariots while Oenomaus pursued them, armed. Many had been killed thus, but Pelops persuaded Oenomaus ' charioteer Myrtilus to place linchpins of wax in the chariot. Oenomaus was killed, but, when Myrtilus demanded the payment agreed on, a night with Hippodamia, Pelops killed him also, and was cursed by him.

Pelops subjugated much of the northern Peloponnese. Unable to subdue Stymphalus, king of Arcadia, he invited him to a banquet, where he treacherously killed him. The crime caused a famine throughout Greece, which was ended only by the prayers of Aeacus. Hippodamia bore many children by Pelops, including Atreus and Thyestes (see the House of Atreus) and Pittheus. Through jealousy she caused the death of his son by the nymph Astyoche, Chrysippus, whom Laius carried off to Thebes. The sanctuary of Pelops at Olympia was one of its most sacred spots.

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