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In Greek mythology, Aleus (or Aleos) (Ancient Greek: Ἀλεός) was the king of Arcadia, eponym of Alea, and founder of the cult of Athena Alea. He was the grandson of Arcas. His daughter Auge was the mother of the hero Telephus, by Heracles. His sons Amphidamas and Cepheus, and his grandson Ancaeus were Argonauts. Ancaeus was killed by the Calydonian boar.


Aleus was the son of Apheidas whose father was Arcas, the son of Zeus and Callisto, and the eponym of Arcadia.[1] Some accounts make Aleus the brother of Stheneboea, the wife of Proetus.[2] Aleus succeeded his father as king of Tegea in Arcadia, and when Aepytus died, Aleus became king of all Arcadia, with Tegea as his capital.[3] He was said to have been the eponymous founder of the city of Alea.[4] From Aleus also comes, presumably, the epithet Athena Alea, whose temple at Tegea, he was said to have built.[5]

According to various accounts Aleus had three sons, Lycurgus, the Argonauts Amphidamas and Cepheus, and two daughters, Auge, and Alcidice, by either Neaera the daughter of Pereus, or Cleobule.[6]

Auge and Telephus[edit]

Aleus' daughter Auge, virgin priestess of Athena Alea, was made pregnant by Heracles, and though Aleus tried to dispose of mother and child, both ended up at the court of king Teuthras in Mysia, with Auge his wife (or by some accounts his daughter) and Telephus his adopted heir.[7] According to one account, the Delphic oracle had warned Aleus that if his daughter had a son, then this grandson would kill Aleus' sons, so Aleus made Auge a priestess of Athena, telling her that she must remain a virgin, on pain of death.[8] But Heracles passing through Tegea,[9] became enamored of Auge and while drunk had sex with her.[10] In some accounts, Aleus discovered that Auge was pregnant and gave her to Nauplius to be drowned,[11] but instead Nauplius sold her to Teuthras.[12] Others say that Auge had her baby secretly in the temple of Athena at Tegea and hid it there, but that an ensuing plague and investigation caused her to be found out,[13] so Aleus put Auge and Telephus to sea in a wooden chest and cast them adrift.[14]

In some accounts, the infant Telephus arrives together with Auge in Mysia, where he is adopted by Teuthras.[15] In others, Telephus is left behind in Arcadia, having been abandoned on Mount Parthenion, either by Aleus,[16] or by Auge when she was being taken to the sea by Nauplius to be drowned;[17] however Telephus is suckled by a deer,[18] and eventually reunited with Auge in Mysia, many years later.[19] Some accounts have Telephus killing his maternal uncles, the sons of Aleus, thereby fulfilling the oracle, but none say how.[20]


When Aleus was an old man, his sons Amphidamas and Cepheus left Tegea to join Jason and the Argonauts on their quest to find the Golden Fleece. Aleus' eldest son Lycurgus stayed home to care for his father, sending his son Ancaeus in his stead. But Aleus, hoping to keep his grandson with him safe at home, hid all of Ancaeus' implements of war, and so Ancaeus went with Jason wearing a bearskin, and wielding a double-sided axe.[21] Later Ancaeus joined the hunt for the Calydonian boar, during which the boar gored Ancaeus killing him.[22] At the time of Pausanias, the scene was depicted on the front gable of the temple of Athena Alea at Teage, with Ancaeus shown wounded, supported by Epochus, next to his dropped axe.[23]

The story of Aleus and his grandson Ancaeus shares similarities with the story told by Herodotus[24] about Croesus and his son Atys. Croesus had dreamed that Atys would be killed by a spear. Because of this, to keep Atys safe, Croesus locked away all of his son's weaponry. A wild boar began to ravage the countryside and when a hunt was organized to rid the land of the raging beast, Croeus would not let his son join. However Atys said the boar would surely not kill him using a spear. So Croesus relented, and Atys was killed by a spear thrown by a fellow hunter.[25]


  1. ^ Apollodorus, 3.8.2, 3.9.1, Pausanias, 8.4.1–2, 8.4.4, Hyginus, Fabulae 155.
  2. ^ An early genealogy in Hesiod's Catalogue of Women (Hesiod fragment 129 Merkelbach–West numbering, Most, pp. 148–151) has Stheneboea as the daughter of Aleus' father Apheidas (see also Apollodorus 3.9.1) but by the time of Euripides' lost tragedy Stheneboea her father is Iobates (Gantz, I pp. 311–312), see Apollodorus, 2.2.1, Hyginus, Fabulae 57.
  3. ^ Pausanias, 8.4.3, 8.4.5, 8.4.7–8.
  4. ^ Pausanias, 8.23.1.
  5. ^ Pausanias, 8.4.8, 8.45.4.
  6. ^ Pausanias, 8.4.8, Apollodorus, 3.9.1–2, Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 1.161–171, Hyginus, Fabulae 14 and Diodorus Siculus, 4.68.1. Of the sources given here, only Diodorus Siculus mentions Alcidice. Pausanias, gives no mother. Apollodorus names Neaera the daughter of Pereus as mother (but compare with Pausanias, 8.4.6 which says that Neaera married Autolycus), and has Amphidamas as a son of Lycurgus. Hyginus says that Cleobule was the mother of the Argonauts Amphidamas and Cepheus.
  7. ^ Hesiod (Pseudo), Catalogue of Women fragment 165 (Merkelbach–West numbering) from the Oxyrhynchus Papyri XI 1359 Fragment 1 (Most, pp. 184–187, Grenfell–Hunt, pp. 52–55—this version of the myth, unlike all others, has Heracles fathering Telephus in Mysia); Alcidamas, Odysseus 16; Hecataeus (according to Pausanias, 8.4.9); Hyginus, Fabulae 99; Diodorus Siculus, 4.33.10–12; Strabo, 12.8.2, 12.8.4, 13.1.69; Apollodorus, 2.7.4, 3.9.1 (Hesiod and Hyginus have Teuthras adopting Auge).
  8. ^ This is according to a declamation attributed to the fourth century BC orator Alcidamas, Odysseus 14-16 (see Garagin and Woodruff, p. 286) which probably used Sophocles' play Aleadai as a source (see Gantz I, p. 428). Alcidamas is the only source for the oracle given to Aleus (see Jebb, I, p.46, 47). As for Auge being a priestess of Athena see also, Euripides, Auge, test. iia (Hypothesis), Collard and Cropp, pp. 264–267; Apollodorus, 3.9.1; Pausanias, 8.45.4–7, 8.47.2 and 8.47.4; Moses of Chorene, Progymnasmata 3.3 (Collard and Cropp, pp. 266–267).
  9. ^ Alcidamas, Odysseus 14, says that Heracles stopped at Tegea on his way to Elis to make war on Augeas; Apolodorus, 2.7.2–4 and Diodorus Siculus, 4.33 say that he was on his way back from Elis and his subsequent campaign against Hippocoon in Sparta.
  10. ^ Euripides' Auge, had Auge raped (Collard and Cropp, pp. 260, 264–265, Rosivach, pp. 43–44, Webster, p. 238–240, Winnington-Ingram, p. 333, Huys, pp. 115–116), see also Apollodorus, 2.7.4, 3.9.1, Hyginus, Fabulae 99, Pausanias, 8.47.4, Diodorus Siculus, 4.33.8, Strabo, 13.1.69, Ovid, Heroides 9.47, Moses of Chorene, Progymnasmata 3.3 (Collard and Cropp, pp. 266–267). In other versions Auge received Heracles willingly: Hesiod (Pseudo), Catalogue of Women fragment 165 (Merkelbach–West numbering) from the Oxyrhynchus Papyri XI 1359 Fragment 1 (Most, pp. 184–187, Grenfell–Hunt, pp. 52–55), Hecataeus (according to Pausanias, 8.4.9), Quintus Smyrnaeus, 6.152–153.
  11. ^ Alcidamas, Odysseus 15, Pausanias, 8.48.7 and Diodorus Siculus, 4.33.8, which adds that Aleus did not believe Auge when she told him that Heracles was the father. Apollodorus, 3.9.1 says simply that Naupliaus was to kill Auge. Moses of Chorene, Progymnasmata 3.3 (Collard and Cropp, pp. 266–267), says that Auge was to be "drowned in the ocean", but does not mention Nauplius.
  12. ^ Alcidamas, Odysseus 16; compare with Diodorus Siculus, 4.33.10, where Nauplius gave Auge to "some Carians" who ultimately gave her to Teuthras, and Apollodorus, 2.7.4, where (contradicting 3.9.1) Aleus gave Auge to Nauplius "to sell far away in a foreign land; and Nauplius gave her to Teuthras".
  13. ^ Euripides' Telephus, fragment 696 has Telephus say that Auge "bore me secretly" (Collard and Cropp (2), pp. 194–195; Page, p. 131), see also Pausanias, 8.4.9. Euripides, Auge had Auge give birth in the temple and hide it there, (see Aristophanes, Frogs 1080, with Tzetzes on Aristophanes, Frogs 1080, test. iii, Collard and Cropp, pp. 266–267, and fragments 266, 267, pp. 270–271; Webster, p. 239; Huys p. 115). Apollodorus 2.7.4, 3.9.1, says that pestilence and pollution caused the birth to be discovered, events suggested by Auge fragments 266, 267 (Collard and Cropp, pp. 260, 270–271).
  14. ^ Hecataeus (Pausanias, 8.4.9). See also Strabo, 13.1.69, which attributes this to Euripides, if so then this would have presumably been in Euripide's Auge (see Webster, p. 238) however Strabo's attribution may be erroneous (see Collard and Cropp, p. 261).
  15. ^ Alcidamas, Odysseus 16; Euripides, Auge (Collard and Cropp, p. 261, Webster, pp. 238—240); Strabo, 12.8.2, 12.8.4, 13.1.69; Moses of Chorene, Progymnasmata 3.3 (Collard and Cropp, pp. 266–267).
  16. ^ Apollodorus, 2.7.4, 3.9.1. Moses of Chorene, Progymnasmata 3.3 (Collard and Cropp, pp. 266–267) says simply that Aleus "ordered Telephus to be cast out in a deserted place".
  17. ^ Diodorus Siculus, 4.33.9, 4.33.11. Compare with Hyginus, Fabulae 99, which has Auge abandoning Telephus on Parthenius while fleeing to Mysia.
  18. ^ Sophocles, Aleadae fragment 89 (Lloyd-Jones, Sophocles Fragments p. 40–41), Apollodorus, 2.7.4, Diodorus Siculus, 4.33.11, Hyginus, Fabulae 99, 252, Pausanias, 8.48.7, 8.54.6, Quintus Smyrnaeus, 6.154–156, Moses of Chorene, Progymnasmata 3.3 (Collard and Cropp, pp. 266–267). In the Telephus frieze from the Pergamon Altar, Telephus is shown being suckled by a lioness (Heres, p. 85).
  19. ^ Euripides, Telephus fragment 696 (Collard and Cropp (2), pp. 194–195, Page, pp. 131–133, Webster, p. 238), Apollodorus, 3.9.1, Hyginus, Fabulae 100, Diodorus Siculus, 4.33.11–12.
  20. ^ Sophocles, Aleadae (Lloyd-Jones p. 33, Jebb I, p.47–48); Hyginus, Fabulae 244; Frazer, note to Apollodorus 2.7.4.
  21. ^ Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 1.161–171; Hyginus, Fabulae 14.
  22. ^ Apollodorus, 1.8.2 says that Ancaeus was accompanied by Cepheus also a son of Lycurgus. Ovid, Metamorphoses 8.315, 8.391–402, 8.519, Seneca, Medea 643, Hyginus, Fabulae 173.
  23. ^ Pausanias, 8.45.6–7.
  24. ^ Herodotus, 1.34 ff..
  25. ^ During the hunt for the Calydonian Boar, Peleus accidentally kills Eurytion in a similar manner: Apollodorus, 1.8.2, 3.13.2.