Online Encyclopedia

SALMONEUS

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 85 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SALMONEUS  , in

Greek
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mythology, son of
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Aeolus (king of
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Magnesia in
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Thessaly, the mythic ancestor of the Aeolian
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race), grandson of Hellen and
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brother of
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Sisyphus . He removed to Elis, where he built the
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town of Salmone, and became ruler of the country . His subjects were ordered to worship him under the name of
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Zeus; he built a
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bridge of brass, over which he drove at full speed in his chariot to imitate
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thunder, the effect being heightened by dried skins and caldrons trailing behind, while torches were thrown into the air to represent
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lightning . At last Zeus smote him with his thunderbolt, and destroyed the town (
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Apollodorus i . 9 . 7; Hyginus, Fab . 6o, 61; Strabo viii. p . 356; Manilius, Astronom . 5, 91; Virgil, Aen. vi . 585, with Heyne's excursus) . Joseph Warton's idea that the story is introduced by Virgil as a protest against the
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Roman custom of deification is not supported by the general tone of the Aeneid itself . According to Frazer (Early
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History of the Kingship, 1905; see also
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Golden Bough, i., 1900, p .

82), the early Greek

kings, who were expected to produce rain for the benefit of the crops, were in the habit of imitating thunder and lightning in the character of Zeus . At Crannon in Thessaly there was a
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bronze chariot, which in time of drought was shaken and prayers offered for rain (Antigonus of Carystus, Historiae mirabiles, 15) . S . Reinach (Revue archeologique, 1903, i . 154) suggests that the story that Salmoneus was struck by lightning was due to the misinterpretation of a picture, in which a Thessalian magician appeared bringing down lightning and rain from heaven; hence arose the idea that he was the victim of the anger or jealousy of Zeus, and that the picture represented his punishment .

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