Online Encyclopedia

ATREUS

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V02, Page 877 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ATREUS, in Greek legend, son of Pelops and Hippodameia, and elder brother of Thyestes. Having murdered his step-brother Chrysippus, Atreus fled with Thyestes to Mycenae, where he succeeded Eurystheus in the sovereignty. His wife Aerope was seduced by Thyestes, who was driven from Mycenae. To avenge himself, Thyestes sent Pleisthenes (Atreus' son whom Thyestes had brought up as his own) to kill Atreus, but Pleisthenes was himself slain by his own father. After this Atreus, apparently reconciled to his brother, recalled him to Mycenae and invited him to a banquet to eat of his son, whom Atreus had slain. Thyestes fled in horror. Subsequently Atreus married the daughter of Thyestes, Pelopia, who had by her own father a son, Aegisthus, who was adopted by Atreus. Thyestes was found by Agamemnon and Menelaus, the sons of Atreus, and imprisoned at Mycenae. Aegisthus being sent to murder Thyestes, mutual recognition took place, and Atreus was slain by the father and son, who seized the throne, and drove Agamemnon and Menelaus out of the country (Thucydides 9; Hyginus, Fabulae; Apollodorus). Homer does not speak of the horrors of the story, which are first found in the tragedians; he merely states (Iliad, ii. 105) that Atreus at his death left the kingdom to Thyestes. See T. Voigt in Dissert, philol. Halenses. vi. (1886).
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