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In Greek mythology, Epaphus (/ˈɛpəfəs/; Ancient Greek: Ἔπᾰφος), also called Apis[1] or Munantius[2], was a king of Egypt.


Epaphus was the son of Zeus[3] and Io[4][5][6][7][8][9][10] and thus, Ceroessa's brother.[11] With his wife, Memphis[12] (or according to others, Cassiopeia[13]), he had one daughter, Libya[14][15] while some accounts added another one who bore the name Lysianassa.[16] These daughters later became mothers of Poseidon's sons, Belus, Agenor and possibly, Lelex to the former and Busiris to the latter. In other versions of the myth, Epaphus was also called father of Thebe,[17] mother of Aegyptus[18] and Heracles[19] by Zeus. Through these daughters, Epaphus was the ancestor of the "dark Libyans, and high-souled Aethiopians, and the Underground-folk and feeble Pygmies".[3]



The name/word Epaphus means "Touch". This refers to the manner in which he was conceived, by the touch of Zeus' hand.[20][21] He was born in Euboea, in the cave Boösaule[22] or according to others, in Egypt, on the river Nile,[23] after the long wanderings of his mother. He was then concealed by the Curetes, by the request of Hera, but Io sought and afterward found him in Syria where he was nursed by the wife of the king of Byblus.[4]


Epaphus was also a contemporary and the rival of Phaethon, son of Helios and Clymene. He criticized his heraldry saying, "Poor, demented fellow, what will you not credit if your mother speaks, you are so puffed up with the fond conceit of your imagined sire, the Lord of Day."[24] This prompted Phaethon to undertake his fateful journey in his father's chariot of the sun.

Reign and death[edit]

Epaphus is regarded in the myths as the founder of Memphis, Egypt.[25] Hera being envious that her husband's bastard ruled such a great kingdom,[26] saw to it that Epaphus should be killed while hunting.[27][28]

David Rohl identifies Epaphus with the Hyksos pharaoh Apophis.[29]

Argive genealogy[edit]

Argive genealogy in Greek mythology
Colour key:



  1. ^ Herodotus, Histories 3.27
  2. ^ Pseudo-Clement, Recognitions 10.21-23
  3. ^ a b Hesiod, Ehoiai 40a as cited in Oxyrhynchus Papyri 1358 fr. 2
  4. ^ a b Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.1.3
  5. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 155
  6. ^ Aeschylus, Suppliant Women 48
  7. ^ Euripides, Phoenissae 678
  8. ^ Euripides, Oedipus 1.638–689
  9. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 3.284–285
  10. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.747–748
  11. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 32.70
  12. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.1.4
  13. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 149
  14. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 157
  15. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 3.287
  16. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.5.11
  17. ^ Scholia on Homer, Iliad 9.383
  18. ^ Tzetzes on Lycophron, 1206
  19. ^ John Lydus, De mensibus 4.67
  20. ^ Aeschylus, Suppliant Women 315
  21. ^ Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 850–852
  22. ^ Strabo, Geographica 10.1.3
  23. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 145
  24. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.749–743
  25. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 149 & 275
  26. ^ Statius, Thebaid 7.186
  27. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 150
  28. ^ Aeschylus, Suppliant Women 586-587
  29. ^ David Rohl: The Lords of Avaris. London, Arrow Books 2007


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainLeonhard Schmitz (1870). Smith, William (ed.). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. Missing or empty |title= (help)