POLYKAON & MESSENE
POLYKAON (Polycaon) and MESSENE were the first king and queen of Messenia, the latter giving her name to the country. They founded the town of Andania and introduced the Mysteries of the Great Goddesses.
PARENTS OF POLYKAON
[1.1] LELEX (Pausanias 4.1.1)
PARENTS OF MESSENE
[1.1] TRIOPAS (Pausanias 4.1.1)
POLYCAON (Polukaôn), a son of Lelex, brother of Myles, and husband of Messene, the daughter of Triopas of Argos. He emigrated from Laconia to Messenia, which country he thus called after his wife. He was the first king of Messenia. (Paus. iii. 1. § 1, iv. 1. § 1.)
MESSENE (Messênê), a daughter of Triopas, and wife of Polycaon, whom she induced to take possession of the country which was called after her, Messenia. She is also said to have introduced there the worship of Zeus and the mysteries of the great goddess of Eleusis. In the town of Messene she was honoured with a temple and heroic worship. (Paus. iv. 1. §§ 2, &c., 3. § 6, 27. § 4, 31. § 9.)
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
Pausanias, Description of Greece 4. 1. 1 - 2. 2 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"They say that this country [of Messenia], being unoccupied, received its first inhabitants in the following manner : On the death of Lelex, who ruled in the present Lakonia (Laconia), then called after him Lelegia, Myles, the elder of his sons, received the kingdom. Polykaon (Polycaon) was the younger and for this reason a private person, until he took to wife Messene, the daughter of Triopas, son of Phorbas, from Argos.
Messene, being proud of her origin, for her father was the chief of the Greeks of his day in reputation and power, was not content that her husband should be a private person. They collected a force from Argos and from Lakedaimon (Lacedaemon) and came to this country, the whole land receiving the name Messene from the wife of Polykaon. Together with other cities, they founded Andania, where their palace was built . . .
The first rulers then in this country were Polykaon, the son of Lelex, and Messene his wife. It was to her that Kaukon (Caucon), the son of Kelainos (Celaenus), son of Phlyos, brought the rites of the Great Goddesses [Demeter and Persephone] from Eleusis. Phlyos himself is said by the Athenians to have been the son of Ge (Gaea, the Earth), and the hymn of Musaios (Musaeus) to Demeter made for the Lykomidai (Lycomidae) agrees.
But the mysteries of the Great Goddesses were raised to greater honor many years later than Kaukon by Lykos (Lycus), the son of Pandion . . . Dedicated in the hut of the Lykomidai [is] a statue with an inscription that amongst other things helps to confirm my account :--‘I sanctified houses of Hermes and paths of holy Demeter and Kore her firstborn, where they say that Messene established the feast of the Great Goddesses, taught by Kaukon, sprung from Phlyos' noble son. And I wondered that Lykos, son of Pandion, brought all the Attic rite to wise Andania.’
This inscription shows that Kaukon who came to Messene was a descendant of Phlyos, and proves my other statements with regard to Lykos, and that the mysteries were originally at Andania. And it seems natural to me that Messene should have established the mysteries where she and Polykaon lived, not anywhere else.
As I was extremely anxious to learn what children were born to Polykaon by Messene, I read the poem called Eoiai and the epic Naupaktia, and in addition to these all the genealogies of Kinaithon (Cinaethon) and Asios (Asius). However, they made no reference to this matter . . .
Some time later, as no descendant of Polykaon survived (in my opinion his house lasted for five generations, but no more), they summoned Perieres, the son of Aiolos (Aeolus), as king."
CHRONOLOGY OF THE MESSENIAN KINGS
|MESSENE||PYLOS *||LEPREUS **|
|1. Polykaon ***|
|2. Perieres||1. Salmoneus|
|3. Aphareus & Leukippos||2. Neleus||1. Kaukon|
|4. (Idas & Lynkeus)||3. Nestor||2. Lepreus|
|3. Nestor ****|
1. Messene (central & eastern Messenia); Pylos (western Messenia); 3. Lepreus (northern "Pylos").
* Homeric Pylos consisted of the western coast of Messenia and the region of Triphylia. The river Alpheios formed the border with Elis. Salmoneus' capital was near the River Alpheios, but his grandson Neleus relocated to the town of Pylos in the south.
** The lords of Lepreus or Kaukonia were subjects of Pylos.
*** According to a local myth the first Messenian king was Polykaon. The epic poets, however, begin the royal list with the Aiolid Perieres. Pausanias suggests several anonymous kings reigned between the two.
**** Nestor was king of Pylos and Messenia at the time of the Trojan War. His reign spanned two generations. The line of Perieres died out with the death of Idas and Lynkeus.
- Pausanias, Description of Greece - Greek Travelogue C2nd A.D.