MEGES was a king of the island of Doulikhion (Dulichium) who led his people in the Trojan War. He was a son of Phyleus, son of King Augeias of Elis, who had retired to Doulikhion after a dispute with his father. Meges was a minor combatant in the war against Troy. He helped defend the Greek ships in the Iliad and was one of the warriors who hid inside the Trojan Horse. During the sack of the city he slew King Priamos' son Deiopites but was himself wounded in the fighting.
Homer's island of Doulikhion (Dulichium) was identified by Greek geographer Strabo as one of the tiny Ekhidnades Islands off the Akarnanian coast. However, it seems more probable that Homer's Doulikhion was modern Zacynthus, a large island opposite the Eleian port town of Kyllene (Cyllene). The kingdom ruled by Homer's Meges may have also included the part of the mainland around Kyllene.
FAMILY OF MEGES
[1.1] PHYLEUS (Homer Iliad 2.625 & 5.69, Apollodorus 3.10.8, Quintus Smyrnaeus 10.149 & 12.340)
[1.2] PHYLEUS & EUSTYOKHE (Hyginus Fabulae 97)
MEGES (Megês), a son of Phyleus by Eustyoche, Ctimene, or Timandra, and a grandson of Augeas. He is mentioned among the suitors of Helen, and in forty ships he led his bands from Dulichium and the Echinades against Troy. (Hom. Il. ii.625, &c., v. 69, xiii.692, xv.520, &c., xix.269 ; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 303; Paus. x. 25. § 2; Strab. x. pp. 456, 459.) Polygnotus had painted him in the Lesche at Delphi as a wounded man. According to Dictys Cretensis (iii. 10) he was wounded in the Trojan war.
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
Homer, Iliad 2. 625 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"[Homer's Catalogue of Ships :] Who then of those were the chief men of the lords of the Danaans? . . . They who came from Doulikhion (Dulichium) and the sacred Ekhinai (Echidnades) islands, where men live across the water from Elis, Meges was the leader of these, a man like Ares, Phyleus' son, whom the rider dear to Zeus had begotten, Phyleus, who angered with his father [i.e. with Augeias] had settled Doulikhion."
Homer, Iliad 5. 69 ff :
"[After the withdrawal of Akhilleus (Achilles) from the war Diomedes led the Greeks in the surge of battle :] Meges in turn killed [the Trojan] Pedaios (Pedaeus), the son of Antenor, who, bastard though he was, was nured by lovely Theano with close care, as for her own children, to pleasure her husband. Now the son of Phyleus, the spear-famed, closing upon him struck him with the sharp spear behind the head at the tendon, and straight on through the teeth and under the tongue cut hte bronze blade, and he dropped in the dust gripping in his teeth the cold bronze."
Homer, Iliad 13. 685 ff :
"[The Greeks battle the Trojan forces led by Hektor (Hector) :] There the Boiotians, and Ionians with their trailing tunics, the Lokrians and the Phthians, with the shining Epeians tried to hold him as he swept hard for the ships, bu they could not avail to beat brilliant flame-like Hektor back from them. There also were the chosen Athenian men, and among them Peteos' (Peteus') son Mnestheus was lord . . . but the Epeians were led by Meges, Phyleus' son, Amphion and Drakios (Dracius), and before the Phthians were Medon and battle-stubborn Podarkes (Podarces)."
Homer, Iliad 15. 300 ff :
"[The Greeks were driven back by the Trojans to their ships where Meges was helped lead the defence :] They who rallied about Aias (Ajax), the lord Idomeneus, Teukros (Teucer), Meriones, and Meges, a man like the war god, closed their order for hard impact, calling on the bravest to face Hektor and the Trojans."
Homer, Iliad 15. 518 ff :
"[During the defence of the Greek encampment :] [The Trojan] Poulydamas (Polydamas) stripped Otos of Kyllene (Cyllene), companion to Meges, Phyleus' son, and a lrod among the great-hearted Epeians. Meges seeing it lunged at him, but Poulydamos bent down and away, so that Meges missed him. Apollon would not let Panthoös' son go down among the front fighters, but Meges stabbed with the spear the middle of hte chest of Kroismos (Croesmus). He fell, thunderously, and Meges stripped the armour from his shoulders, but meanwhile Dolops lunged at him, Lampos' (Lampus') son, a man crafty with the spear and strongest of the sons born to Lampos, Laomedon's son, one skilled in furious fighting. He from close up stabbed with his spear at the shield of Phyleides [Meges son of Phyleus] in the middle, but the corselet he wore defended him, solid and built with curving plates of metal, which in days past Phyleus had taken home from Ephyra and hte river Selleëis. A gues and friend had given him it, lord of men, Euphetes, to carry into the fighting and beat off the attack of the enemy, and now it guarded the body of his son from destruction. But Meges stabbed with the sharp spear at the uttermost summit of the brazen helmet thick with horse-hair, and tore off the mane of horse-hair from the helmet, so that it toppled groundward and lay in the dust in all its new shining of purple. Yet Dolops stood his ground and fought on, in hope still of winning, but meanwhile warlike Menelaos (Menelaus) came to stand beside Meges, and came from the side and unobserved with his spear, and from behind threw at his shoulder, so that the spear tore through his chest in its fury to drive on, so that Dolops reeled and went down, face forward. The two of them swept in to strip away from his shoulders the bronze armour."
Lesches or Cinaethon, The Little Iliad Fragment 12 (from Pausanias 10.25.5) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"[In a painting by Polygnotos at Delphoi :] Meges is represented wounded in the arm just as Leskheos (Lescheus) the son of Aeskhylinos (Aeschylinus) of Pyrrha describes in his Sack of Ilion where it is said that he was wounded in the battle which the Trojans fought in the night by Admetos, son of Augeias (Augeas). Lykomedes (Lycomedes) too is in the picture with a wound in the wrist, and Leskheos says he was so wounded by Agenor."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 10. 8 (trans. Frazer) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"The kings of Greece repaired to Sparta to win the hand of Helene. The wooers were these . . . Amphimakhos (Amphimachus), son of Kteatos (Cteatus); Thalpios, son of Eurytos; Meges, son of Phyleus . . . Polyxenos (Polyxenus), son of Agasthenes."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca E. 3. 11 - 12 :
"The armament mustered in Aulis. The men who went to the Trojan war were as follows :-- . . . Of the Eleans, Amphimakhos (Amphimachus) and his company: forty ships. Of the Doulikhians (Dulichians), Meges, son of Phyleus: forty ships."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca E. 6. 15 (from Tzetzes, Scholia on Lycophron 902) :
"After their wanderings the Greeks landed and settled in various countries . . . But Meges and Prothoos (Prothous), with many others, were cast away at Kaphereus (Caphareus) in Euboia (Euboea)."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 25. 5 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"[From a painting by Polygnotos at Delphoi depicting the sack of Troy :] Beyond Helene, a man wrapped in a purple cloak is sitting in an attitude of the deepest dejection; one might conjecture that he was Helenos (Helenus), the son of Priamos (Priam), even before reading the inscription. Near Helenos is Meges, who is wounded in the arm, as Leskheos (Lescheus) of Pyrrha, son of Aeskhylinos, describes in the Sack of Troy. For he says that he was wounded by Admetos, son of Augeias, in the battle that the Trojans fought in the night. Beside Meges is also painted Lycomedes the son of Creon, who has a wound in the wrist." [N.B. It is curious that Meges, grandson of Augeias, should be wounded by the son of a Trojan named Augeias.]
Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 1. 360 ff (trans. Way) (Greek epic C4th A.D.) :
"[During a battle of the Trojan War, Penthesileia and her Amazones lead the Trojans against the Greeks :] The heart of Paris filled with wrath for a friend slain. Full upon Sthenelos aimed he a shaft death-winged, yet touched him not, despite his thirst for vengeance: otherwhere the arrow glanced aside, and carried death whither the stern Moirai (Fates) guided its fierce wing, and slew Euenor brazen-tasleted, who from Doulikhion (Dulichium) came to war with Troy. For his death fury-kindled was [Meges] the son of haughty Phyleus : as a lion leaps upon the flock, so swiftly rushed he: all shrank huddling back before that terrible man. Itymoneus he slew, and Hippasos' son Agelaos : from Miletos brought they war against the Danaan men by Nastes led, the god-like, and Amphimakhos (Amphimachus) mighty-souled. On Mykale (Mycale) they dwelt; beside their home rose Latmos' snowy crests . . . these mid the storm of battle Meges slew, nor these alone, but whomsoe'er his lance black-shafted touched, were dead men; for his breast the glorious Tritogeneia [Athena] with courage thrilled to bring to all his foes the day of doom."
Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 6. 680 ff :
"[During a battle of the Trojan War, Eurypylos leads his Teuthranians against the Greeks :] Paris' arrows laid proud Phorkys (Phorcys) low, and Mosynos, brethren both, from Salamis who came in Aias' (Ajax's) ships, and nevermore saw the home-land. Kleolaos (Cleolaus) smote he next, Meges' stout henchman; for the arrow struck his left breast : deadly night enwrapped him round, and his soul fleeted forth: his fainting heart still in his breast fluttering convulsively made the winged arrow shiver."
Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 10. 105 & 149 ff :
"[During the battle of the Trojan War in which Paris was slain :] Doom the Destroyer against the Argives sped valiant Aeneas' friend, Eurymenes. Wild courage spurred him on, that he might slay many--and then fill death's cup for himself. man after man he slew like some fierce beast, and foes shrank from the terrible rage that burned on his life's verge, nor reeked of imminent doom. Yea, peerless deeds in that fight had he done, had not his hands grown weary, his spear-head bent utterly: his sword availed him not, snapped at the hilt by Fate. Then Meges' dart smote 'neath his ribs; blood spurted from his mouth, and in death's agony Doom stood at his side . . .
Rushed on Alkaios (Alcaeus) Meges, Phyleus' son, and drave his spear beneath his fluttering heart. Loosed were the cords of sweet life suddenly, and his sad parents longed in vain to greet that son returning from the woeful war to Margasos and Phyllis lovely-girt, dwellers by lucent streams of Harpasos, who pours the full blood of his clamorous flow into Maiandros (Meander) madly rushing aye."
Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 12. 337 ff :
"[The Trojan Horse :] Into that cavernous Horse Akhilleus' (Achilles') son [Neoptolemos] first entered . . . Thalpios . . . Amphimakhos (Amphimachus) . . . Meges stalwart Phyleus' son--yea, more, even all their chiefest, entered in, so many as that carven Horse could hold. Godlike Epeios (Epeius) last of all passed in, the fashioner of the Horse; in his breast lay the secret of the opening of its doors and of their closing: therefore last of all he entered, and he drew the ladders up whereby they clomb: then made he all secure, and set himself beside the bolt. So all in silence sat 'twixt victory and death."
Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 13. 232 ff :
"[The Sack of Troy :] Thence rushed he [Diomedes] on slaying the Trojans, storming in his might all through their fortress . . . Amphimedon Aias slew: Agamemnon smote Damastor's son : Idomeneus struck down Mimas : by Meges Deiopites died."
Tryphiodorus, The Taking of Ilias 152 (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C5th A.D.) :
"[The heroes of the Trojan Horse :] And first godlike Neoptolemos followed his advising . . . And after Neoptolemus rose up Diomedes, the son of Tydeus . . . and Peneleus and Meges and valiant Antiphates . . . Last Epeios (Epeius) of glorious craft set foot in the thing he had himself contrived. Then they prayed unto [Athena] the grey-eyed daughter of Zeus and hasted into their vessel of the horse."
Anonymous, Dictys Cretensis' Journal of the Trojan War 3. 10 (trans. Frazer) (Latin faux-journal C4th A.D. after Greek original C1st A.D.) :
"The barbarians [i.e. the Trojans], in accordance with their utter lack of principles, began hostilities with a sneak attack. Pitched battles were not to their liking; nothing else than treachery and turmoil would do. They fell upon us like a landslide, hurling their javelins with barbarous war cries. Many of our men, being caught off guard and half-armed, were killed, including Arkesilaos (Arcesilaus), the Boiotian, and Skhedios (Schedius), the Krissaian (Crissaean), both of whom were the best of leaders. The number of the wounded, however, was even greater; among whom were Meges, the ruler of the Ekhinades (Echinades), and Agapenor, ruler of Arkadia."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 81 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Suitors of Helen . . . Thalpius, Polyxenus . . . Meges."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 97 :
"Those who went to attack Troy, and the number of their ships . . .
Amphimachus, son of Cteatus, from Elis, with 10 ships; . . .
Amarynceus, son of Onesimachus, from Mycenae, with 19 ships;
Polyxenus, son of Agasthenes and Peloris, from Aetolia, with 40 ships;
Meges, son of Phyleus and Eustyoche, from Dulichium, with 60 ships."
CHRONOLOGY OF THE ELEAN KINGS
|1. Aethlios||1. Alxion||1. Olenos|
|2. Endymion||2. Oinomaos|
6. Eleios *
5. Heleios *
|1. Phorbas||2. Alektor|
|7. Augeias **||2. Aktor||3. Dexamenos
4. Hipponoos ****
|8. Agasthenes||1. Amarynkeus ***||3. Kteatos & Eurytos||1. Phyleus|
|9. Polyxeinos||2. Diores||4. Thalpios & Antimakhos||2. Meges|
1. Pisa (southern Elis); 2. Elis (central Elis); 3. Bouprasion (northern Elis); 4. Doulikhion (island west of Elis); 5. Olenos (northern Elis & western Akhaia).
* Eleios-Heleios is the same figure. One tradition represents him as a son of Perseus and the heir of King Pelops, another makes him a grandson of King Endymion. He was sometimes confounded with the sun-god Helios.
** Augeias ruled the whole of Elis including the regions of Elis, Pisa, Bouprasion and Doulikhion. After his death the kingdom was divided into four autonomous parts.
*** Amarynkeus received a quarter of the kingdom of Augeias. One assumes his portion was Pisatis.
**** In the reign of Hipponoos, Olenos was annexed by King Oineus of Aitolia. It is listed as an Aitolian dominion in Homer's Catalogue of Ships.
- Homer, The Iliad - Greek Epic C8th B.C.
- Epic Cycle, The Little Iliad Fragments - Greek Epic C8th - 7th B.C.
- Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Pausanias, Description of Greece - Greek Travelogue C2nd A.D.
- Anonymous, Dictys Cretensis - Greek Faux-Journal C1st A.D.
- Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy - Greek Epic C4th A.D.
- Tryphiodorus, The Taking of Ilias - Greek Epic C5th A.D.
- Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.