Greek Mythology >> Heroines >> Tyro


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Like Cheese (tyrôs)

TYRO was a Thessalian princess who fell in love with the river Enipeus. As she was sitting on the banks of the river, Poseidon seduced her in the guise of the river-god. She bore him twin sons, Pelias and Neleus, which she left in the wilderness to die. The infants were found and rescued by passing herdsmen who raised them as their own. Tyro's father Salmoneus later married her to his brother Kretheus (Cretheus), King of Iolkos (Iolcus), and she bore him three sons. Upon reaching manhood the sons of Poseidon returned to their mother and seized control of their uncle's Kretheus' kingdom. They also slew his second wife Sidero who had been mistreating Tyro.

There were several alternate versions of her story. In one, after Tyro revealed she was pregnant by the god, her father Salmoneus refused to believe her, suspecting that his wicked brother Sisyphos was involved. He commanded her to expose the children as soon as they were born.
In yet another version, Sisyphos fathered two children by Tyro after learning that these sons would grow up to kill Salmoneus. When this was revealed Tyro, out of loyalty to her father, put the infants to death.

Tyro was the ancestress of many of the great heroes of myth. Her grandsons included the seer Melampos and the Argonauts Jason, Admetos, Akastos (Acastus), Iphiklos (Iphiclus) and Periklymenos (Periclymenus). Several of her great-grandsons fought in the Trojan War.

According to Diodorus Siculus Tyro's name was derived from the Greek word tyrôs "like cheese" for her complexion was said to be as fair as white goat cheese.



[1.1] SALMONEUS (Homer Odyssey 11.236, Hesiod Catalogues Frag 13, Strabo 8.3.32, Pausanias 10.29.7, Hyginus Fabulae 60 & 239)
[1.2] SALMONEUS & ALKIDIKE (Apollodorus 1.9.8, Diodorus Siculus 4.68.1)


[1.1] PELIAS, NELEUS (by Poseidon) (Homer Odyssey 11.236, Hesiod Catalogues Frag 13, Apollodorus 1.90, Diodorus Siculus 4.68.1 & 6.7.3, Hyginus Fabulae 157)
[2.1] AISON, AMYTHAON, PHERES (by Kretheus) (Homer Odyssey 11.236, Hesiod Catalogues Frag 13, Apollodorus 1.96, Diodorus Siculus 4.68.1)
[3.1] TWO SONS (by Sisyphos) (Hyginus Fabulae 60 & 239)


TYRO (Turô), a daughter of Salmoneus and Alcidice, was the wife of Cretheus, and the beloved of the river-god Enipeus in Thessaly, in the form of whom Poseidon appeared to her, and became by her the father of Pelias and Neleus. By Cretheus she was the mother of Aeson, Pheres, and Amythaon. (Hom. Od. xi. 235, &c.; Apollod. i.9.§ 8.)

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.


Homer, Odyssey 11. 236 ff (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"[Odysseus sees the shades of heroines in the underworld :] The first that I saw was high-born Tyro, daughter of great Salmoneos (Salmoneus) and wife of Kretheus (Cretheus) son of Aiolos (Aeolus)--such was her twofold boast. She fell in love with the river-god Enipeos (Enipeus), whose waters are the most beautiful of any that flow on earth; and she haunted his beguiling streams. But in place of Enipeos, and in his likeness, there came the god [Poseidon] who sustains and who shakes the earth. He lay with her at the mouth of the eddying river, and a surging wave, mountain-high, curled over them and concealed the god and the mortal girl. And when the god had finished the work of love, he uttered these words with her hand in his : ‘Girl, be happy in this our love. When the year comes round you will be the mother of glorious children (an immortal's embrace is not in vain); tend them and care for them. Now return home; be wary, and say no word of me; nevertheless I would have you know that I am the Shaker of the Earth, Poseidon.’
With these words he sank beneath billowing ocean. She conceived and brought forth Pelias and Neleus, and both became powerful liegemen of mighty Zeus [i.e. kings]. Pelias, possessor of many flocks, had spacious Iolkos (Iolcus) for his dwelling; the domain of Neleus was sandy Pylos. Queen Tyro bore other sons to Kretheos--Aison (Aeson) and Pheres and the chariot-warrior Amythaon."

Homer, Odyssey 2. 111 ff :
"A keen mind, subtelty--these she [Penelope] has, beyond anything he have heard of even in the ladies of older times--the Akhaian (Achaean) ladies of braided tresses like Tyro and Aklmene (Alcmena) and garlanded Mykene; not one of these had the mastery in devising things that Penelope has."

Hesiod, Catalogues of Women Fragment 13 (from Scholiast on Homer's Odyssey 12. 69) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Tyro the daughter of Salmoneos (Salmoneus), having two sons by Poseidon, Neleus and Pelias, married Kretheus, and had by him three sons, Aison (Aeson), Pheres and Amythaon."

Sophocles, Tyro Shorn & Tyro Rediscovered (lost plays) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
Two lost tragedies of the Athenian playwright Sophocles told the story of Tyro--Tyro Keiromene (the Shorn) and Tyro Anagnorizomene ( Rediscovered). Aristotle says (Aristot. Poet. 1454b 25) that in Sophocles's play Tyro the recognition of the forsaken babes, Neleus and Pelias whom she had exposed, was effected by means of the ark (skaphê) in which they were found.

Sophocles, Salmoneus (lost satyr play) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
Tyro presumably also appeared in Sophocles' lost satyr-play Salmoneus.

Astydamas the Younger, Carcinus the Younger, Tyro (lost plays) (Greek tragedy C4th B.C.) :
These two Athenian dramatists also produced plays titled Tyro. There were probably others, however there is scant record of the lost plays of minor tragedians.

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 90 - 96 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Tyro was the daughter of Salmoneus and Alkidike (Alcidice), but was reared by Kretheus (Cretheus) [i.e. because her parents were slain by Zeus for pretending to be gods]. She was struck with love for the River Enipeos (Enipeus), to whose stream she would go constantly to lament. Poseidon, taking the form of Enipeos, slept with her. In secret she gave birth to twin boys. As the infants lay abandoned to exposure, a mare of some passing horse-keepers grazed on of them with her hoof, and made part of his face black and blue. The horseman took and reared both boys, giving the name Pelias to the one with the discoloration, and calling the other Neleus. When they had grown, they rediscovered their mother, and slew their stepmother Sidero [i.e. the wife of Kretheus]. For they found out that she was mistreating Tyro; yet when they set out to get her she eluded them and escaped into the temenos of Hera. But Pelias slaughtered her on the altar . . .
Later on, the two broke up with each other. Neleus was banished and made his way to Messene, where he founded Pylos [i.e. in the kingdom of his grandfather Salmoneus] . . .
Kretheos, after founding Iolkos (Iolcus), married Salmoneus' daughter Tyro, who bore him Aison (Aeson), Amythaon, and Pheres."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 68. 1 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"I shall endeavour to set forth the facts concerning Salmoneus and Tyro and their descendants s as far as Nestor, who took part in the campaign against Troy . . .
Salmoneus was a son of Aiolos (Aeolus). . . [who] setting out from Aiolis (Aeolis) with a number of Aiolians he founded a city Eleia on the banks of the river Alpheios (Alpheus) and called it Salmonia after his own name. And marrying Alkidike (Alcidice), the daughter of Aleus [the king of Arkadia], he begat by her a daughter, her who was given the name Tyro, a maiden of surpassing beauty. When his wife Alkidike died Salmoneus took for a second wife Sidero, as she was called, who treated Tyro unkindly, as a stepmother would. Afterwards Salmoneus, being an overbearing man and impious, came to be hated by his subjects and because of his impiety was slain by Zeus with a bolt of lightning. As for Tyro, who was still a virgin when this took place, Poseidon lay with her and begat two sons, Pelias and Neleus. Then Tyro married Kretheos (Cretheus) and bore Amythaon and Pheres and Aison (Aeson). But at the death of Kretheos a strife over the kingship arose between Pelias and Neleus. Of these two Pelias became king over Iolkos (Iolcus) and the neighbouring districts, but Neleus, taking with him Melampous and Bias, the son of Amythaon [to Pylos]."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 6. 6. 5 (from Const. Exc. 2) :
"Salmoneus had a daughter named Tyro, who received this name by reason of the whiteness and softness of her body."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 6. 7. 2 - 3 :
"And there was born to him [Salmoneus] an only daughter, Tyro, to whom he thought this name was appropriate by reason of the softness of her body and the whiteness of her skin. Poseidon became enamoured of this maiden because of her beauty, and lying with her he begat Pelias and Neleus. And Salmoneus, not believing that it was Poseidon who had taken her virginity, would not leave off ill-treating Tyro; but in the end he paid the penalty to the deity for his impiety, ending his life when struck by lightning from the hand of Zeus [i.e. as punishment for impersonating the god]."

Strabo, Geography 8. 3. 32 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[The town of] Salmone [in Triphylia, Elis] is situated near the spring of that name from which flows the Enipeus River. The river empties into the Alpheios (Alpheus), and is now called the Barnikhios (Barnichius). It is said that Tyro fell in love with Enipeus : ‘She loved a river, the divine Enipeus.’ For there [in southern Elis], it is said, her father Salmoneus reigned, just as Euripides also says in his Aiolos. Some write the name of the river in Thessalia ‘Eniseus’; it flows from Mount Othrys, and receives the Apidanos, which flows down out of Pharsalos."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 4. 2. 5 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Aphareus [king of Messenia] . . . received into his house his cousin Neleus the son of Kretheus (Cretheus), son of Aiolos (Aeolus)--he [Neleus] was also called a son of Poseidon--when he was driven from Iolkos (Iolcus) by Pelias."
[N.B. Neleus and Pelias are the children of Tyro, and western Messenia was her father Salmoneus' kingdom.]

Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 29. 7 :
"[In the painting of the underworld by Polygnotos at Delphoi, C5th B.C. :] Above the heads of the women [heroines] I have enumerated is [Tyro] the daughter of Salmoneus sitting on a rock, beside whom is standing Eriphyle."

Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 2. 8 (trans. Fairbanks) (Greek rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :
"The story of Enipeus and of Tyro's love for the river has been told by Homer, and he tells of Poseidon's deception of her and of the splendid colour of the cave beneath which was their couch."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 12 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Pelias son of Cretheus and Tyro."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 157 :
"Sons of Neptunus [Poseidon] . . . Neleus and Pelias by Tyro, daughter of Salmoneus."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 60 :
"Sisyphus and Salmoneus, sons of Aeolus, hated each other. Sisyphys aksed Apollo how he might kill his enemy, meaning his brother, and the answer was given that if he had children from the embrace of Tyro, daughter of his brother Salmoneus, they would avenge him. When Sisyphus followed his advice two sons were born, but their mother slew them when she learned the prophecy. But when Sisyphus found out . . ((lacuna))."
[N.B. This is a variation of the Poseidon myth in which Tyro exposes her two children by the god. Cf. Diodorus Siculus 6.7.2 above.]

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 239 :
"Mothers who killed their sons . . . Tyro, daughter of Salmoneus, killed her two sons by Sisyphus, son of Aeolus, in accordance with the oracle of Apollo."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 254 :
"Those who were exceptionally dutiful . . . Tyro, daughter of Salmoneus, killed her sons on account of her father."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 6. 116 (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Neptunus [Poseidon] too sired, as [the river] Enipeus, the Aloidae." [N.B. Ovid here confounds Iphimedeia, mother of the Aloadai, with Tyro. Tyro was the one seduced by the god in the form of the river Enipeus.]

Ovid, Heroides 19. 129 ff (trans. Showerman) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Neptune [Poseidon], wert thou mindful of thine own heart's flames, thou oughtst let no love be hindered by the winds--if neither Amymone, nor Tyro much bepraised for beauty, are stories idly charged to thee, nor shining Alcyone, and Calyce, child of Hecataeon, nor Medusa . . . nor golden-haired Laodice and Celaeno taken to the skies, nor those whose names I mind me of having read. These, surely, Neptune, and many more, the poets say in their songs have mingled their soft embraces with thine own."

Propertius, Elegies 1. 13 (trans. Goold) (Roman elegy C1st B.C.) :
"The god of Taenarum [Poseidon], in the disguise of Haemonian Enipeus, embrace Salmoneus' child [Tyro], the willing victim of his love."

Propertius, Elegies 3. 19 :
"Salmoneus' daughter [Tyro], who, afire for Thessalian Enipeus, was ready to yield totally to the watery god."

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 1. 118 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Do bulls also go mad with love, and ravish women? Has Poseidon played a trick, and ravished a girl under the shape of a horned bull like a river-god? Has he woven another plot to follow the bedding of Tyro, just as he did the other day, when the watery paramour came trickling up with counterfeit ripples like a bastard Enipeus?"

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 42. 118 ff :
"You know the love of Thessalian Tyro and her wedding in the waters; then you too take care of the crafty flood, lest the deceiver loose your girdle just as the wedding-thief Enipeus did. O that I also might become a flood, like Earthshaker [Poseidon], and murmuring might embrace my own Tyro of Lebanon, thirsty and careless beside the lovestricken spring!"

According to Eustathius on Homer's Odyssey 11.253 and the Scholiast on Homer's Odyssey 11.253, after Tyro exposed her twin sons, Pelias was suckled by a mare and Neleus by a bitch.





Other references not currently quoted here: Lucian Dialogue of the Sea Gods 13, Menander Epitrepontes 108, Eustathius on Homer's Odyssey 11.234, Scholiast on Homer's Iliad 10.334 & 11.234.


A complete bibliography of the translations quoted on this page.