THE MOLIONIDAI were heroes of Elis, a pair of saimese twins named Eurytos and Kteatos hatched from a silver egg. They were sons of Poseidon and Molione, the wife of Aktor, a prince of the Eleian town of Bouprasion, who was, one might assume, seduced by the god in the guise of a bird.
|Sons of Aktor
The Molionidai came to the assistance of King Augeias of Elis when Herakles threatened to invade the country. They successfully repelled the first invasion, but Herakles afterwards ambushed and slew them at Kleonai on the way to the Nemeian games. Elis fell with the second invasion but, as promised by King Augeias, the sons of the Molionidai received a share in the Eleian throne and later led the Eleian forces to the Trojan War.
[1.1] AKTOR / POSEIDON & MOLIONE (Homer Iliad 2.615 & 11.749, Hesiod Catalogues Frag 9, Apollodorus 2.7.2)
[1.2] POSEIDON & MOLIONE (Ibycus Frag, Athenaeus 2.57f)
[1.3] POSEIDON (Pindar Olympian Ode 10.23, Diodorus Siculus 4.33.4)
[1.4] AKTOR & MOLINE (Pausanias 5.1.9 & 8.14.9)
|OFFSPRING OF KTEATOS
[1.1] AMPHIMAKHOS (Homer Iliad 2.615, Apollodorus 3.10.8, Hyginus Fabulae 97)
[1.1] AMPHIMAKHOS (by Theronike) (Pausanias 5.3.3)
|OFFSPRING OF EURYTOS
[1.1] THALPIOS (Homer Iliad 2.615, Apollodorus 3.10.8)
[1.1] THALPIOS (by Theraiphone) (Pausanias 5.3.3)
MOLIONES or MOLIONIDAE (Molionidai), a patronymic name by which Eurytus and Cteatus, the sons of Actor, or Poseidon, by Molione, are orten designated. They were nephews of Augeas, king of the Epeians. As sons of Actor, they are also called Actoridae, or Aktoriône. (Hom. Il. xxiii. 638; Ov. Met. viii. 308.) According to a late tradition, they were born out of an egg (Athen. ii. p. 58); and it is further stated, that the two brothers were grown together, so that they had only one body, but two heads, four arms, and four legs. (Athen. l. c.; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 882 ; Pherecyd. Fragn. 47, ed. Sturz; Plut. De fiat. am. 1.) Homer mentions none of these extraordinary circumstances; and, according to him, the Moliones, when yet boys, took part in an expedition of the Epeians against Neleus and the Pylians. (Il. xi. 709, 750.) When Heracles marched against Augeas to chastise him for refusing to give the reward he had promised, he entrusted the conduct of the war to the Moliones; but Heracles, who, in the mean time was taken ill and concluded peace with Augeas, was then himself attacked and beaten by them. In order to take vengeance, he afterwards stew them near Cleonae, on the frontiers of Argolis, as they had been sent from Elis to sacrifice at the Isthmian games, on behalf of the town. (Apollod. ii. 7. § 2; Pind. Ol. xi. 33, &c., with the Schol.; Paus. viii. 14. § 6.) The Eleians demanded of the Argives to atone for this murder ; but as the latter refused, and were not excluded from the Isthmian games, Molione cursed the Eleians who should ever take part again in those games. (Paus. v. 2. § 1.) Heracles, on the other hand, dedicated, on account of his victory, six altars at Olympia, and instituted special honours at Nemea for the 360 Cleonaeans who had assisted him, but had fallen in the contest. (Schol. ad Pind. Ol. xi. 29; Aelian, V. H. iv. 5.) The Moliones are also mentioned as conquerors of Nestor in the chariot race, and as having taken part in the Calydonian hunt. (Athen. l.c. ; Hom. Il. xxiii. 638, &c.; Ov. Alet. viii. 308.) Cteatus was the father of Amphimachus by Theronice; and Eurytus, of Thalpius by Theraphone. (Hom. Il. ii. 620; Paus. v. 3. § 4.) Their tomb was shown in later times at Cleonae. (Paus. ii. 15. § 1.)
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
Homer, Iliad 2. 615 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"[The leaders of Elis in the Trojan War :] They who lived in Bouprasion and brilliant Elis, all as much as Hyrmine and Myrsinos the uttermost and the Olenian rock and Alesion close between them, of these there were four chieftains, and with each man ten swift vessels followed, with many Epeian men on board them. Of two tens Thalpios and Amphimakhos were leaders, of Aktor's seed, sons one of Kteatos, one of Eurytos. Ten more were led by Amaryngkeus' son, strong Diores, and of the fourth ten godlike Polyxeinos was leader, son of lord Agasthenes, of the race of Augeias."
Homer, Iliad 13. 185 ff :
"Hektor struck Amphimakhos, son of Kteatos Aktoriones, with a spear in his chest as he swept into battle."
Homer, Iliad 11. 669 ff :
"[Nestor of Pylos describes a war between Pylos and Elis from his youth in which he fought the Moliones :] If only I [Nestor] were young now, and the strength still steady within me, as that time when a quarrel was made between us [the Pylians] and the Eleians over a driving of cattle, when I myself killed Itymoneus, the brave son of Hypeirokhos who made his home in Elis. I was driving cattle in reprisal, and he, as he was defending his oxen, was struck among the foremost by a spear thrown from my hand and fell, and his people who live in the wild fled in terror about him. And we got and drove off together much spoil from this pastureland : fifty herds of oxen, as many sheepflocks, as many droves of pigs, and again as many wide-ranging goatflocks, and a hundred and fifty brown horses, mares all of them and many with foals underneath. And all there we drove inside the keep of Neleian Pylos, making our way nightwise to the town.
And Neleus was glad in his heart that so much had come my way, who was young to go to the fighting. And next day as dawn showed the heralds lifted their clear cry for all to come who had anything owed them in shining Elis. And the men who were chiefs among the Pylians assembling divided the spoil. There were may to whom the Epeians owed something since we in Pylos were few and we had been having the worst of it. For Herakles had come in his strength against us and beaten us in the years before, and all the bravest among us had been killed. For we who were sons of lordly Neleus had been twelve, and now I alone was left of these, and all the others had perished, and grown haughty over this the bronze-armoured Epeians despised and outraged us, and devised wicked actions against us.
Now the old man took for himself a herd of cattle and a big flock of sheep, choosing out three hundred of them along with the shepherds; for indeed a great debt was owing to him in shining Elis. It was four horses, race-competitors with their own chariot, who were on their way to a race and were to run for a tripod, but Augeias the lord of men took these, and kept them and sent away their driver who was vexed for the sake of the horses.
Now aged Neleus, angry over things said and things done, took a vase amoung for himself, and gave the rest to the people to divide among them, so none might go away without a just share. So we administered all this spoil, and all through the city wrought sacrifices to the gods; and on the third day the Epeians came all against us, numbers of men and single-foot horses in full haste, and among them were armoured the two Moliones, boys still, not yet altogether skilled in furious fighting.
There is a city, Thyroessa, headlong hill town far away by the Alpheios at the bottom of sandy Pylos. They had thrown their encampment about that place, furious to smash it. But when they had swept the entire plain, Athene came running to us, a messenger from Olympos by night, and warned us to arm. It was no hesitant host she assembled in Pylos but people straining hard toward the battle. Now Neleus would not let me be armed among them, and had hidden away my horses because he thought I was not yet skilled in the work of warfare. Even so I was pre-eminent among our own horsemen though I went on foot; since thus Athene guided the battle.
There is a river, Minyeïos, which empties its water in the sea beside Arene. There we waited for divine Dawn, we horsemen among the Pylians, and the hordes of streaming foot-soldiers, and from there having armed in all speed and formed in our armour we came by broad daylight to the sacred stream of Alpheios . . . We took our dinner along the host in divided watches and went to sleep, each man in his own armour, by the current of the river, and meanwhile the high-hearted Epeians had taken their places around the city, furious to smash it. But sooner than this there was shown forth a great work of the war god, for when the sun in his shining lifted above the earth, then we joined our battle together, with prayers to Zeus and Athene.
Now when the battle came on between Pylians and Epeians, I was the first to kill a man, and I won his single-foot horses. It was Moulios the spearman who was son-in-law of Augeias . . . Then I charged upon them like a black whirlwind, and overtook fifty chariots, and for each of the chariots two men caught the dirt in their teeth beaten down under my spear.
And now I would have killed the young Moliones, scions of Aktor, had not their father [Poseidon] who shakes the earth in his wide strength caught them out of the battle, shrouding them in thick mist.
Then Zeus gave huge power into the hands of the Pylians, for we chased them on over the hollow plain, killing the men themselves, and picking up their magnificent armour until we brought our horses to Bouprasion of the wheatfields and the Olenian rock, where there is a hill called the hill of Alesios. There at last Athene turned back our people. There I killed my last man and left him. There the Akhaians steered back from Bouprasion to Pylos their fast-running horses, and all glorified Zeus among the gods, but among men Nestor."
Hesiod, Catalogues of Women Fragment 9a (from Scholiast Venetian on Homer's Iliad 11. 750) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"The two sons of Aktor and Molione . . . Hesiod has given their descent by calling them after Aktor and Molione; but their father was Poseidon."
Hesiod, Catalogues of Women Fragment 9b (from Porphyrius, Question's on Homer's Iliad 265) :
"But Aristarkhos is informed that they [the Molionidai] were twins, not . . . such as were the Diokouroi, but, on Hesiod's testimony, double in form and with two bodies and joined to one another."
Pindar, Olympian Ode 10. 23 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"Zeus now bids me sing the matchless contest [i.e. the Olympic Games], founded beside the ancient tomb of Pelops by Herakles, who set six altars there, after that he had slain Poseidon’s son, the warrior Kteatos, and Eurytos too he slew, so to exact from Augeas, that proud despot, rewards for service he would not deign to pay : under Kleonai, hiding in ambush on the road, he felled those haughty Moliones, and avenged the day they lay in Elis vale, and ravaged the host he led from Tiryns.
Nor waited long that lord of the Epeians, King Augeas, who broke faith with his guest, till that he saw his homeland and all his wealth in the fell strokes of iron-handed war wasted beneath the breath of stubborn flame, and his own city sunk in the pit of doom."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 7. 2 - 3 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Not long afterwards [the completion of his Twelve Labours] he [Herakles] collected an Arcadian army, and being joined by volunteers from the first men in Greece he marched against Augeias. But Augeias, hearing of the war that Herakles was levying, appointed Eurytos and Kteatos generals of the Eleians. They were two men joined in one, who surpassed all of that generation in strength and were sons of Aktor by Molione, though their father was said to be Poseidon; now Aktor was a brother of Augeias. But it came to pass that on the expedition Herakles fell sick; hence he concluded a truce with the Molionides. But afterwards, being apprized of his illness, they attacked the army and slew many. On that occasion, therefore, Herakles beat a retreat; but afterwards at the celebration of the third Isthmian festival, when the Eleians sent the Molionides to take part in the sacrifices, Herakles waylaid and killed them at Kleonai, and marching on Elis took the city. And having killed Augeias and his sons, he restored Phyleus and bestowed on him the kingdom. He also celebrated the Olympian games and founded an altar of Pelops, and built six altars of the twelve gods. After the capture of Elis he marched against Pylos."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 10. 8 :
"Now the kings of Greece repaired to Sparta to win the hand of Helene. The wooers were these . . . Amphimakhos, son of Kteatos; Thalpios, son of Eurytos; Meges, son of Phyleus . . . Polyxenos, son of Agasthenes."
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 69. 2 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"Lapithes made his home about the Peneios river and ruled over these regions, and marrying Orsinomê, the daughter of Eurynomos, he begat two sons, Phorbas and Periphas. And these sons became kings in this region and all the peoples there were called Lapithai after Lapithes. As for the sons of Lapithes, Phorbas went to Olenos, from which city Alektor, the king of Eleia, summoned him to come to his aid, since he stood in fear of the overlordship of Pelops, and he gave him a share of the kingship of Elis; and to Phorbas were born two sons, Aigeus [i.e. Augeas] and Aktor, who received the kingship over the Eleians." [N.B. Aktor was the father of the Moloinidai who are represented as nephews of King Augeias in this genealogy.]
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 33. 1 - 4 :
"After this [his conquest of Troy] Heracles returned to the Peloponnesos and set out against Aegeas, since the latter had defrauded him of his reward. It came to a battle between him and the Eleians, but on this occasion he had no success and so returned to Olenos to Dexamenos.
When Herakles returned to Tiryns, Eurystheus charged him with plotting to seize the kingdom and commanded that he and Alkmenê and Iphikles and Iolaüs should depart from Tiryns. Consequently he was forced to go into exile along with these just mentioned and made his dwelling in Pheneus in Arkadia.
This city he took for his headquarters, and learning once that a sacred procession had been sent forth from Elis to the Isthmus in honour of Poseidon and that Eurytos, the son [nephew?] of Augeas, was at the head of it, he fell unexpectedly upon Eurytos and killed him near Kleonai, where a temple of Herakles still stands.
After this he made war upon Elis and slew Augeas its king, and taking the city by storm he recalled Phyleus, the son of Augeas, and gave the kingdom into his handss."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 5. 1. 8 - 3. 4 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Herakles accomplished this feat too [cleaning the stables of Augeas], turning aside the stream of the Menios into the dung. But, because Herakles had accomplished his task by cunning, without toil, Augeas refused to give him his reward, and banished Phyleus, the elder of his two sons, for objecting that he was wronging a man who had been his benefactor. He made preparations himself to resist Herakles, should he attack Elis; more particularly he made friends with the sons of Aktor and with Amarynkeus. Amarynkeus, besides being a good soldier, had a father, Pyttios, of Thessalian descent, who came from Thessaly to Elis. To Amarynkeus, therefore, Augeas also gave a share in the government of Elis; Aktor and his sons had a share in the kingdom and were natives of the country. For the father of Aktor was Phorbas, son of Lapithos, and his mother was Hyrmina, daughter of Epeios. Aktor named after her the city of Hyrmina, which he founded in Elis.
Herakles accomplished no brilliant feat in the war with Augeas. For the sons of Aktor were in the prime of courageous manhood, and always put to flight the allies under Herakles, until the Korinthians proclaimed the Isthmian truce, and the sons of Aktor came as envoys to the meeting. Herakles set an ambush for then, at Kleonai and murdered them. As the murderer was unknown, Moline, more than any of the other children, devoted herself to detecting him.
When she discovered him, the Eleians demanded satisfaction for the crime from the Argives, for at the time Herakles had his home at Tiryns. When the Argives refused them satisfaction, the Eleians as an alternative pressed the Korinthians entirely to exclude the Argive people from the Isthmian games. When they failed in this also, Moline is said to have laid curses on her countrymen, should they refuse to boycott the Isthmian festival. The curses of Molione are respected right down to the present day, and no athlete of Elis is wont to compete in the Isthmian games . . .
Herakles afterwards took Elis and sacked it, with an army he had raised of Argives, Thebans and Arkadians . . .
When Phyleus had returned to Doulikhion after organizing the affairs of Elis, Augeas died at an advanced age, and the kingdom of Elis devolved on Agasthenes, the son of Augeas, and on Amphimakhos and Thalpios. For the sons of Aktor married twin sisters, the daughters of Dexamenos who was king at Olenos; Amphimakhos was born to one son and Theronike, Thalpios to her sister Theraiphone and Eurytos.
However, neither Amarynkeus himself nor his son Diores remained common people. Incidentally this is shown by Homer in his list of the Eleians; he makes their whole fleet to consist of forty ships, half of them under the command of Amphimakhos and Thalpios, and of the remaining twenty he puts ten under Diores, the son of Amarynkeus, and ten under Polyxenos, the son of Agasthenes. Polyxenos came back safe from Troy and begat a son, Amphimakhos . . . Amphimakhos, the son of Kteatos, died at Troy."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 15. 1 :
"On the road from Korinthos to Argos is a small city Kleonai . . . Kleonai possesses . . . the tomb of Eurytos and Kteatos. The story is that as they were going as ambassadors from Elis to the Isthmian contest they were here shot by Herakles, who charged them with being his adversaries in the war against Augeas."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 6. 20. 15 - 16 :
"The race-course [at Olympia] has one side longer than the other, and on the longer side, which is a bank, there stands, at the passage through the bank, Taraxippos, the terror of the horses. It has the shape of a round altar, and as they run along the horses are seized, as soon as they reach this point, by a great fear without any apparent reason. The fear leads to disorder; the chariots generally crash and the charioteers are injured. Consequently the charioteers offer sacrifice, and pray that Taraxippos may show himself propitious to them.
The Greeks differ in their view of Taraxippos. Some . . . say that Dameon, son of Phlios, who took part in the expedition of Herakles against Augeas and the Eleians, was killed along with his charger by Kteatos the son of Aktor, and that man and horse were buried in the same tomb."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 14. 9 :
"As you go down from the acropolis of Pheneus [a town in Arkadia] you come to a stadium, and on a hill stands a tomb of Iphikles, the brother of Herakles and the father of Iolaus. Iolaos, according to the Greek account, shared most of the labours of Herakles, but his father Iphikles, in the first battle fought by Herakles against the Eleians and Augeas, was wounded by the sons of Aktor, who were called after their mother Moline. In a fainting condition he was carried by his relatives to Pheneus, where he was carefully nursed by Bouphagos, a citizen of Pheneus, and by his wife Promne, who also buried him when he died of his wound."
Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 2. 57f - 58a (trans. Gullick) (Greek rhetorician C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :
"Ibykos [Greek lyric poet C6th B.C.], in the fifth book of his Lyrics, says of the Molionidai : `I [Herakles] likewise slew the white-horsed youths, sons of Molione, equal in age and in height, with their limbs joined in one, both hatched in a silver egg.'"
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 97 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Those who went to attack Troy, and the number of their ships . . .
Amphimachus, son of Cteatus, from Elis, with 10 ships."
Ancient Greek Scholia (from Frazer's notes on Apollodorus) :
According to some, the Moliones had two bodies joined in one (Scholiast on Hom. Il. 13.638, 639). According to others, they had each two heads four hands, and four feet but only one body (Scholiast on Hom. Il. xi.709). Compare Eustathius on Hom. Il. xi.749, p. 882. The poet Ibycus spoke of them as twins, born of a silver egg and "with equal heads in one body" (isokephalous heniguious). See Athenaeus ii.50, pp. 57ff. Their story was told by Pherecydes (Scholiast on Hom. Il. xi.709), whom Apollodorus may have followed in the present passage.
|CHRONOLOGY OF THE KINGS & PRINCES OF ELIS IN THE NORTH-WESTERN PELOPONNESOS
| (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 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.
- Hesiod, Catalogues of Women Fragments - Greek Epic C8th-7th B.C.
- Pindar, Odes - Greek Lyric C5th B.C.
- Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History - Greek History C1st B.C.
- Pausanias, Description of Greece - Greek Travelogue C2nd A.D.
- Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae - Greek Rhetoric C3rd A.D.
- Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.
Other references not currently quoted here : Scholiast on Homer's Iliad 13.628, 11.709; Eustathius on Homer's Iliad 11.749.