Mention in the Odyssey
In Book 18, the beggar Irus was threatened with being handed over to Echetus, who would then have had Irus' nose and ears cut off and thrown to his dogs. A story is also described how Echetus had a daughter, Metope, who had an intrigue with a lover; as a punishment Echetus mutilated the lover and blinded Metope by piercing her eyes with bronze needles. He then incarcerated her in a tower and gave her grains of bronze, promising that she would regain her sight when she had ground these grains into flour.
Theories on the basis of Echetus
It is thought that Echetus was a mythological creation, used to scare disobedient children or used as the villain in bedtime stories. An alternate theory is that Echetus was a real king around the time of Homer, and that he was quite deformed and possibly a cannibal; no evidence currently exists to support this theory, however.
- Homer - Odyssey, Book 18, lines 85, 116 & Book 21, line 307
- Apollonius of Rhodes - Argonautica, Book IV, line 1093
- Eustathius of Thessalonica - Commentaries on Homer, p. 1839