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


Epaphus was the son of Zeus[3] and Io[4] and thus, Ceroessa's brother.[5] With his wife, Memphis[6] (or according to others, Cassiopeia[7]), he had one daughter, Libya[8] while some accounts added another one who bore the name Lysianassa.[9] 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,[10] who was mother of Aegyptus[11] and Heracles[12] 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.[13][14] He was born in Euboea, in the cave Boösaule[15] or according to others, in Egypt, on the river Nile,[16] 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.[17] According Strabo, Epaphus was born in a cave in Euboea.[18]


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."[19] 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.[20] Hera being envious that her husband's bastard ruled such a great kingdom,[21] saw to it that Epaphus should be killed while hunting.[22]

David Rohl identifies Epaphus with the Hyksos pharaoh Apophis.[23]

Argive genealogy[edit]

Argive genealogy in Greek mythology
Colour key:



  1. ^ Herodotus, 3.27
  2. ^ Pseudo-Clement, Recognitions 10.21-23
  3. ^ a b Hesiod, Ehoiai 40a as cited in Oxyrhynchus Papyri 1358 fr. 2
  4. ^ Euripides, Phoenissae 678; Oedipus 1.638–689; Aeschylus, Suppliant Women 48; Apollodorus, 2.1.3; Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.747–748; Hyginus, Fabulae 155; Nonnus, Dionysiaca 3.284–285
  5. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 32.70
  6. ^ Apollodorus, 2.1.4.
  7. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 149
  8. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 157; Nonnus, Dionysiaca 3.287
  9. ^ Apollodorus, 2.5.11
  10. ^ Scholia on Homer, Iliad 9.383
  11. ^ Tzetzes on Lycophron, 1206
  12. ^ John Lydus, De mensibus 4.67
  13. ^ Aeschylus, Suppliant Women 315
  14. ^ Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 850–852
  15. ^ Strabo, 10.1.3
  16. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 145
  17. ^ Apollodorus, 2.1.3
  18. ^ Strabo, 10.1.3
  19. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.749–743
  20. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 149 & 275
  21. ^ Statius, Thebaid 7.186
  22. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 150
  23. ^ 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. {{cite encyclopedia}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)