Meriones (mythology)

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In Greek mythology, Meriones /məˈrənz/ (Greek: Μηριόνης) was a son of Molus and Melphis or Euippe. Molus was a half-brother of Idomeneus. Like other heroes of mythology, Meriones was said to be a descendant of gods. As a grandson of Deucalion (son of Minos), Meriones's ancestors include Zeus, Europa, Helios, and Pasiphae, the sister of Circe. Meriones possessed the helmet of Amyntor, which Autolycus had stolen. He inherited the helmet from his father Molus and later gave it to Odysseus. Meriones killed seven men at Troy.[1]

Prior to The Iliad[edit]

Hyginus lists Meriones as one of the suitors of Helen. This would have made him oath bound to participate in the Trojan War. Other ancient authorities, however, do not include him in the list. Among these are the Bibliotheca and Hesiod.

The Iliad[edit]

Though not usually numbered among the major characters, Meriones is a prominent character in Homer's Iliad. Meriones is mentioned in Books II, IV, V, VII, VIII, IX, X, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII. He is recorded to have killed Phereclus the son of Tecton (Book V), Adamas the son of Asius (Book XIII), Harpalion son of King Pylaemenes (Book XIII), Morys (Book XIV), Hippotion (Book XIV), Acamas (Book XVI), Laogonus son of Onetor (Book XVI), and wounded Deiphobus son of Priam (Book XIII).

Book II[edit]

The first reference to Meriones in the Iliad is in the Catalog of Ships in Book II. There he is listed alongside Idomeneus as one of the leaders of the eighty ships from Crete. He is described here and in Books VIII and XIII as a "peer of murderous Ares".[2]

Book VII[edit]

Meriones is among those who volunteered to fight Hector in single combat. The others were Agamemnon, Diomedes, Telamonian Ajax, Ajax the Lesser, Idomeneus, Eurypylus (son of Euaemon), Thoas, and Odysseus. Lots were cast to determine who among these would fight and Telamonian Ajax was chosen.

Books IX and X[edit]

Meriones, along with Nestor's son Thrasymedes, were charged to serve as sentinels for the Achaean army during a period of Trojan advance. Later that night, Nestor called for a volunteer spy among the captains and Diomedes stepped forward. A volunteer was then requested to join Diomedes and Meriones was among the volunteers. The two Ajaxes, Thrasymedes, Menelaus, and Odysseus also volunteered. Diomedes chose Odysseus. As Odysseus was inadequately armed, Meriones acquired a bow and arrows for him and gave him the helm of Amyntor.

Book XIII[edit]

After casting his spear at Deiphobus, but failing to pierce his shield, Meriones returned to his tent to get a new spear. He met Idomeneus there:[3]

Meriones grabbed a bronze spear and followed Idomeneus:[4]

The two then went to reinforce the left flank where they perceived the Achaeans to be weakest, Meriones leading the way. The two battled against the Trojans, particularly Deiphobus and Aeneas. In retaliation for the death of Ascalaphus, Meriones pierced Deiphobus in the shoulder with his spear. Gravely injured, Deiphobus was carried from the battlefield by his brother Polites. Meriones then killed Adamas son of Asius and Harpalion son of King Pylaemenes.

Books XVII and XXIII[edit]

Menelaus and Meriones lift the body of Patroclus (Etruscan urn, 2nd century BC)

After the death of Patroclus, Menelaus called on Meriones and the two Ajaxes to defend the body while he sought Antilochus to act as a messenger of the news to Achilles. Upon returning, Menelaus and Meriones carried Patroclus's body off the battlefield while the Ajaxes guarded them against further attack.

When the funeral pyre for Patroclus was built, Meriones was given charge over the men sent by Agamemnon to all parts of the camp to get wood. They felled timber and brought it to the place where Achilles would later build the structure.

Meriones competed in chariot racing at the funeral games. At the start he was fourth in line behind Antilochus, Eumelus, and Menelaus. Diomedes was fifth in line. Meriones placed fourth behind Diomedes, Antilochus, and Menelaus. He is described as having the slowest horses and being the worst driver of the lot. His prize was two talents of gold.

Meriones fared considerably better in the archery contest:[5]

Agamemnon and Meriones both stood for the javelin throw competition, but Achilles declared Agamemnon to be the greatest among javelin throwers. He proposed that Agamemnon take the cauldron prize and give Meriones the bronze spear. Agamemnon agreed.


Meriones is also a prominent character in Quintus Smyrnaeus' Posthomerica, his epic poem, telling the story of the Trojan War, from the death of Hector to the fall of Troy. In Book 1, Meriones kills the Amazons, Evandre and Thermodosa.[6] In Book 6, with Teucer, Idomeneus, Thoas and Thrasymedes, he comes to the rescue of Agamemnon and Menelaus[7] and kills the Paeonian warrior, Laophoon.[8] in Book 8, Meriones kills Chlemus, the son of Peisenor,[9] and kills Phylodamas with an arrow,[10] and in Book 11 he kills Lycon.[11] In Book 12, Meriones is one of the Greeks to enter Troy inside the Trojan Horse.[12]

In Gluck opera[edit]

Christoph Willibald Gluck gave Meriones a role in his 1765 opera "Telemaco", making this character involved in Odysseus' wanderings after the Trojan War - which is not attested in Homer's original Odyssey on which the opera was based.


  1. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 114.
  2. ^ Homer. The Iliad. Book II, Book VIII, Book XIII.
  3. ^ Homer. The Iliad. Book XIII.
  4. ^ Homer. The Iliad. Book XIII.
  5. ^ Homer. The Iliad. Book XXIII.
  6. ^ Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica 1.254–258, p. 9
  7. ^ Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica 6.538–544, p. 112
  8. ^ Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica 6.549–555, p. 112
  9. ^ Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica 8.101, p. 137
  10. ^ Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica 8.402, p. 145
  11. ^ Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica 11.91, p. 178
  12. ^ Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica 12.320 p. 197


  • Homer. The Iliad (Samuel Butler Translation - 1898), Wikisource.
  • Quintus Smyrnaeus, The Trojan Epic: Posthomerica, JHU Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-8018-8635-5.