AUGEIAS (Augeas) was a king of Elis in the western Peloponnesos who possessed an enormous herd of cattle. Herakles was commanded by King Eurystheus to clean Augeias' stables as one of his Twelve Labours. The hero accomplished this by diverting the waters of the river Alpheios (Alpheus) through the plain, washing the manure away. When Augeias refused him the promised payment, Herakles swore revenge and, after his Labours were complete, gathered an army to invade the country. The king at first repelled the hero with the help of several allies, including his nephews, the twin Molionidai, and Amarynkeus. Herakles was also struck down by illness, further stalling the campaign. After his recovery, he ambushed and slew the twins at Kleonai (Cleonae) before launching a second invasion. This time he conquered the country, slaying King Augeias in battle. To celebrate his victory Herakles founded the Olympic Games near the Eleian town of Pisa.
The parentage of King Augeias was disputed by classical writers but he was most commonly described as the son of the country's eponym--either Eleios a grandson of Endymion, Heleios a son of Perseus, or Helios the sun-god. The grandsons of Augeias, Polyxeinos and Meges, led the armies of Elis and the island nation of Doulikhion (Dulichium) in the Trojan War.
FAMILY OF AUGEAS
[1.1] HELIOS (Apollodorus 1.9.16 & 2.5.5, Apollonius Rhodius 1.172, Theocritus Idylls 25.51)
[1.2] HELIOS & NAUSIDAME (Hyginus Fabulae 14)
[1.3] HELIOS & IPHIBOE (Tzetzes on Lycophron 41)
[2.1] ELEIOS (Pausanias 5.1.8)
[3.1] POSEIDON (Apollodorus 2.5.5)
[4.1] PHORBAS (Apollodorus 2.5.5, Diodorus Siculus 4.69.2)
[1.1] PHYLEUS (Homer Iliad 2.625, Apollodorus 2.5.5, 2.7.2, Theocritus Idylls 25.150, Strabo 10.2.19, Diodorus Siculus 4.33.4, Pausanias 5.3.1)
[2.1] AGASTHENES (Homer Iliad 2.615, Pausanias 5.3.4)
[3.1] AGAMEDE (Homer Iliad 11.738, Strabo 8.3.5, Hyginus Fabulae 157)
[4.1] Sons x ? (Apollodorus 2.7.2)
[5.1] EPIKASTE (Apollodorus 2.7.8)
AUGEAS (Augeas), or Augeias, a son of Phorbas and Hyrmine, and king of the Epeians in Elis. According to some accounts he was a son of Eleios or Helios or Poseidon. (Paus. v. 1. § 7; Apollod. ii. 5. § 5; Schol. ad Apollon. i. 172.) His mother, too, is not the same in all traditions, for some call her Iphiboë or Nausidame. (Tzetz. ad Lycoph. 41; Hygin. Fab. 14.) He is mentioned among the Argonauts, but he is more celebrated in ancient story on account of his connexion with Heracles, one of whose labours, imposed upon him by Eurystheus. was to clear in one day the stables of Augeas, who kept in them a large number of oxen. Heracles was to have the tenth part of the oxen as his reward, but when the hero had accomplished his task by leading the rivers Alpheus and Peneus through the stables, Augeas refused to keep his promise. Heracles, therefore, made war upon him, which terminated in his death and that of his sons, with the exception of one, Phyleus, whom Heracles placed on the throne of his father. (Apollod. l. c.; ii. 7. § 2; Diod. iv. 13, 33; Theocrit. Idyll. 25.) Another tradition preserved in Pausanias (v. 3. § 4, 4. § 1) represents Augeas as dying a natural death at an advanced age, and as receiving heroic honours from Oxylus.
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
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 (Buprasium) and brilliant Elis, all as much as Hyrmine (Hyrmina) 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 (Thalpius) and Amphimakhos (Amphimachus) were leaders, of Aktor's (Actor's) seed, sons one of Kteatos (Cteatus), one of Eurytos (Euryteus). Ten more were led by Amaryngkeus' (Amarynceus') son, strong Diores, and of the fourth ten godlike Polyxeinos was leader, son of lord Agasthenes, of the race of Augeias (Augeas)." [N.B. Polyxeinos, king of Elis, was a the grandson of Augeias.]
Homer, Iliad 2. 625 ff :
"[The leaders of Doulikhion (Dulichium) in the Trojan War :] They who came from Doulikhion and the sacred Ekhinai (Echinades) 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 [Augeias (Augeas)] had settled Doulikhion." [N.B. Meges, king of Doulikhion, was a grandson of Augeias.]
Homer, Iliad 11. 669 ff :
[King Nestor of Pylos tells the story of war between Elis and Pylos from the days of his youth. King Augeias ruled in Elis at the time and Neleus was the king of Pylos. Herakles had already slain the elder sons of Neleus in a war but Elis was still undefeated.]
"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 (Hypeirochus) 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 (Heracles) 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 (Augeas) 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 (Alpheus) 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 Eos (the 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.
There we wrought fine sacrifices to Zeus in his great strength and sacrificed a bull to Alpheios, a bull to Poseidon, but to Athene of the grey eyes a cow from the herds. Then 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 (Mulius) the spearman who was son-in-law of Augeias and had as wife his eldest daughter, fair-haired Agamede who knew of all the medicines that are grown in the broad earth. As he came on I threw and hit him with the bronze-headed spear and he dropped in the dust, whereupon I sprinign into his chariot took my place among the champions, as the high-hearted Epeians fled one way and another in terror when they saw the man fall who was leader of their horsemen and the best of them all in fighting. 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 [Molionides], scions of Aktor (Actor), 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 (Buprasium) 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 (Achaeans) steered back from Bouprasion to Pylos their fast-running horses, and all glorified Zeus among the gods, but among men Nestor."
Cinaethon or Eugammon, Telegony Fragment 1 (from Proclus, Chrstomathia 2) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 6th B.C.) :
"Odysseus, after sacrificing to the Nymphai (Nymphs), sails to Elis to inspect his herds. He is entertained there by Polyxeinos and receives a mixing bowl as a gift; the story of Trophonios and Agamedes and Augeas then follows." [N.B. Polyxeinos was the king of Elis and a grandson of Augeas.]
Pindar, Olympian Ode 10. 23 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"Zeus now bids me sing the matchless contest [the Olympic Games], founded beside the ancient tomb of Pelops by Herakles (Heracles), who set six altars there, after that he had slain Poseidon's son, the warrior Kteatos (Cteatus), and Eurytos (Eurytus) 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 [Molionides], 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. Strife with the mighty is hard to set aside. And he in his unwisdom last of all fallen into captive chains, could not escape the headlong death.
Then gathering all the host and his rich spoils, the valiant son of Zeus in Pisa measured and founded in his great father's name a holy precinct, and fenced and marked out on clear ground the Altis, and the encircling plain he ruled should be for rest and feasting, to honour Alpheios' (Alpheus') river with the twelve kings divine."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 9. 16 (trans. Frazer) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"[The gathering of the Argonauts :] When the ship was built, and he [Jason] inquired of the oracle, the god gave him leave to assemble the nobles of Greece and sail away. And those who assembled were as follows : . . . Periklymenos (Periclymenus), son of Neleus; Augeias (Augeas), son of Helios (the Sun)."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 5. 5 :
"The fifth labour he [Eurystheus] laid on him [Herakles] was to carry out the dung of the cattle of Augeias (Augeas) in a single day. Now Augeias was king of Elis; some say that he was a son of Helios (the Sun), others that he was a son of Poseidon, and others that he was a son of Phorbas; and he had many herds of cattle. Herakles accosted him, and without revealing the command of Eurystheus, said that he would carry out the dung in one day, if Augeias would give him the tithe of the cattle. Augeias was incredulous, but promised. Having taken Augeias's son Phyleus to witness, Herakles made a breach in the foundations of the cattle-yard, and then, diverting the courses of the Alpheios (Alpheus) and Peneios (Peneus), which flowed near each other, he turned them into the yard, having first made an outlet for the water through another opening. When Augeias learned that this had been accomplished at the command of Eurystheus, he would not pay the reward; nay more, he denied that he had promised to pay it, and on that point he professed himself ready to submit to arbitration. The arbitrators having taken their seats, Phyleus was called by Herakles and bore witness against his father, affirming that he had agreed to give him a reward. In a rage Augeias, before the voting took place, ordered both Phyleus and Herakles to pack out of Elis. So Phyleus went to Doulikhion and dwelt there, and Herakles repaired to Dexamenos at Olenos . . . But Eurystheus would not admit this labour either among the ten, alleging that it had been performed for hire."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 5. 11 :
"When the labours had been performed in eight years and a month, Eurystheus ordered Herakles, as an eleventh labour, to fetch golden apples from the Hesperides, for he did not acknowledge the labour of the cattle of Augeias nor that of the Hydra."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 7. 2 - 3 :
"Not long afterwards [the completion of his Twelve Labours] he [Herakles] collected an Arkadian army, and being joined by volunteers from the first men in Greece he marched against Augeias (Augeas). 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 (Actor) 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." [N.B. In the Iliad, Herakles' war against Pylos precedes the Eleian one.]
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 7. 8 :
"And he [Herakles] had sons . . . by Epikaste (Epicaste), daughter of Augeias (Augeas), he had Thestalos."
Theocritus, Idylls 25. 1 ff (trans. Edmonds) (Greek bucolic C3rd B.C.) :
"And the old ploughman that was set over the kine [of King Augeas] ceased from the work he had in hand, and answered him [Herakles], saying : ‘Sir, I will gladly tell you all you ask of me. Trust me, I hold the vengeance of Hermes o' the Ways in mickle awe and dread; for they say he be the wrathfullest god in heaven an you deny a traveller guidance that hath true need of it. King Augeas' fleecy flocks, good Sir, feed not all of one pasture nor all upon one spot, but some of them be tended along Heilisson, others beside divine Alpheios' sacred stream, others again by the fair vineyards of Bouprasion (Buprasium), and yet others, look you, hereabout; and each flock hath his several fold builded. But the herds, mark you, for all their exceeding number, find all of them their fodder sprouting ever around this great mere of river Menios; for your watery leas and fenny flats furnish honey-sweet grass in plenty, and that is it which swells the strength of the horned kine. Their steading is all one, and 'tis there upon your right hand beyond where the river goes running again; there where the outspreading platens and the fresh green wild-olive, Sir, make a right pure and holy sanctuary of one that is graciousest of all gods, Apollon o' the Pastures. Hard by that spot there are builded rare and roomy quarters for us swains that keep close watch over the king's so much and so marvellous prosperity; aye, we often turn the same fallows for the sowing three and four times in the year. And as for the skirts of this domain, they are the familiar place of the busy vine-planters, who come hither to the vintage-home when the summer draweth to its end. Yea, the whole plain belongeth unto sapient Augeas, alike fat wheatfield and bosky vineyard, until thou come to the uplands of Akroreia and all his fountains; and in this plain we go to and fro about our labour all the day long as behoveth bondsmen whose life is upon the glebe. But now pray tell me you, Sir,--as 'faith, it shall be to your profit--what it is hath brought you hither. Is your suit of Augeas himself, or of one of the bondsmen that serve him? I may tell you, even I, all you be fain to know, seeing none, I trow, can be of ill seeming or come of ill stock that makes so fine a figure of a man as you. Marry, the children of the Immortals are of such sort among mortal men.’
To this [Herakles] the stalwart child of Zeus answered, saying : ‘Yea verily, gaffer, I would look upon Augeas king of the Epeians; that which brings me hither is need of him. And so, if so be that caring for his people he abideth with them at the town to give judgment there, pray, father, carry me to one of the bondsmen that is elder and set in authority over these estates, unto whom I may tell what my suit is and have my answer of him. For 'tis god's will that one man have need of another.’
And the gallant old ploughman answered him again : ‘Sure one of the Immortals, Sir,’ saith he, ‘hath send you this way, so quickly come you by all you would. Augeas child of Helios (the Sun) is here, and that piece of strength, his son the noble Phyleus, with him. 'Twas only yesterday he came from the town for to view after many days the possessions he hath without number upon the land. For in their hearts, 'faith, your kings are like to other men; they wot well their substance be surer if they see to it themselves. But enough; go we along to him. I will show you the way to our steading, and there it is like we find him.’
With this he led on, musing as well he might concerning the skin of a beast he saw the stranger clad in, and the great club that filled his grasp, and whence he might be come; aye, and was minded and minded again to ask him right out, but ever took back the words that were even upon his tongue, for fear he should say him somewhat out of season, he being in that haste; for 'tis ill reading the mind of another man.
Now or ever they were come nigh, the dogs were quickly aware of their coming, as well by the scent of them as by the sound of their footfalls, and made at Herakles Amphitryonias from this, that, and every side with a marvellous great clamour; and the old man, they bayed him likewise, but 'twas for baying's sake, and they fawned him about on the further side. Then did gaffer with the mere lifting stones from the ground fray them back again and bespake them roughly and threateningly, every one, to make them give over their clamour, howbeit rejoicing in his heart that the steading should have so good defenders when he was away; and so upspake and said : ‘Lord! what a fiery inconsiderate beast is here made by the high gods to be with man! If there were but as great understanding within him and he knew with whom to be angered and whom to forbear, there's no brute thing might claim such honour as he; but it may not be, and he's nought but a blusterer, wild and uncouth.’ This said, they quickened their steps and passed on and came to the steading.
Now had Helios (the Sun) turned his steeds westward and brought evening on, and the fat flocks had left the pastures and were come up among the farmyards and folds. Then it was that he cows came thousand upon thousand, came even as the watery clouds which, be it of Notos (the South-Wind) or Boreas (the North-Wind) out of Thrake, come driving forward through the welkin, till there's no numbering them aloft nor no end to their coming on, so many new doth the power of the wind roll up to join the old, row after row rearing crest ever upon crest--in like multitude now came those herds of kine still up and on, up and on. Aye, all the plain was filled, and all the paths of it, with the moving cattle; the fat fields were thronged and choked with their lowing, and right readily were the byres made full of shambling kine, while the sheep settled themselves for the night in the yards.
Then of a truth, for all there were hinds without number, stood there no man beside those cattle idle for want of aught to do; but here was one took thongs cut straight and true and had their feet to the hobbles for to come at the milking; here was another took thirsty yeanlings and put them to drink of their dams' sweet warm milk; this again held the milking-pail, and that did curd the milk for a good fat cheese, and yonder was one a-bringing in the bulls apart from the heifers. Meanwhile King Augeas went his rounds of the byres to see what care his herdsmen might have of his goods; and through all that great wealth of his there went with him his son also, and grave-minded Herakles in his might.
And now, albeit he was possessed within him of a heart of iron ever and without ceasing unmoved, the child of Amphitryon fell marvellously a-wondering, as well he might, when he saw the unnumbered bride-gift of the god. Indeed, no man would have said, nay, nor thought, that so many cattle could belong to ten men, let alone one; and those ten must needs have been rich in sheep and oxen beyond any kings. For Helios (the Sun) did give him that was his child a most excellent gift, to wit to be the greatest master of flocks in the world; and what is more, himself did make them all to thrive and prosper unceasingly without end, for of all the distempers that destroy the labours of a keeper of oxen never came there one upon that man's herds, but rather did his horned dams wax ever year in year out both more in number and better in kind, being never known to cast their young and all passing good bringers of cow-calves.
Moreover there went with them three hundred bulls, white-shanked and crump-horned, and other two hundred dun, and all leapers grown; and over and above these, there was a herd of twelve sacred to Helios (the Sun), and the colour of them glistering white like a swan, so that they did outshine all shambling things; and what is more, they were lone-grazers all in the springing pastures, so marvellous proud were they and haughty; and the same, when swift beasts of the field came forth of the shag forest after the kine that went in herds, ever at the smell of them would out the first to battle, bellowing dreadfully and glancing death.
Now of these twelve the highest and mightiest both for strength and mettle was the great Phaethon, whom all the herdsmen likened to that star, for that going among the other cattle he shined exceedingly bright and conspicuous; and this fellow, when he espied that tanned skin of a grim lion, came at the watchful wearer of it for to have at his sides with his great sturdy front. But my lord up with a strong hand and clutched him by the left horn and bowed that his heavy neck suddenly downward, and putting his shoulder to't had him back again; and the muscle of his upper arm was drawn above the sinews till it stood on a heap. And the king marvelled, both he and his son the warlike Phyleus, and the hinds also that were set over the crump-horned kine, when they beheld the mettlesome might of the child of Amphitryon.
Then did Phyleus and Herakles the mighty leave the fat fields behind them and set out for the town. Their swift feet were gotten to the end of the little path which stretched from the farmsteads through the vineyard and ran not over-clearly in the midst of the fresh greenery, and they were just come to the people's highway, when the dear son of Augeas up and spake to the child of most high Zeus that was following behind him, and with a little turn of his head over his right shoulder, ‘Sir,’ says he, ‘there's somewhat I had heard of you, and O how late am I, if of you it were, to bethink me on't but now! 'Tis not long since there came hither from Argos an Akhaian (Achaean) of Helikè-by-the-sea, who told a tale, look you, unto more than one of us Epeians, how that he had seen an Argive slay a beast of the field, to wit a lion dire that was the dread of the countryside and had the den of his lying beside the grove of Zeus of Nemea . . .’
With these words Phyleus bent him sidelong from the midst of the road both to make room enough for them twain to go together, and that he might the easier hear what Heracles had to say. Who now came abreast of him, and ‘Son of Augeas’ quoth he, ‘your former question you have answered yourself, readily and aright; but of this monster, being you so desire it, I will tell you how it all fell out every whit, save whence he came. [Herakles then tells the tale of his conquest of the Nemeian Lion.]’"
Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 1. 18 & 172 ff (trans. Seaton) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.) :
"The ship [of the Argonauts], as former bards relate, Argos wrought by the guidance of Athena. But now I will tell the lineage and the names of the heroes, and of the long sea-paths and the deeds they wrought in their wanderings; may the Mousai (Muses) be the inspirers of my song! . . . There came also Augeias (Augeas), whom fame declared to be the son of Helios; he reigned over the Eleians, glorying in his wealth; and greatly he desired to behold the Kolkhian (Colchian) land and Aeetes himself the ruler of the Kolkhians." [N.B. King Aeetes, like Augeias, was a child of Helios the Sun.]
Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3. 196 ff :
"[The Argonauts arrive in Kolkhis (Colchis) :] And then he [Jason] summoned to go with him the sons of Phrixos (Phrixus), and Telamon and Augeias (Augeas); and himself took Hermes' wand; and at once they passed forth from the ship beyond the reeds and the water to dry land, towards the rising ground of the plain . . . [to the palace of Aeetes.]
[Jason introduces himself and his companions to King Aeetes :] ‘. . . And here, if thou hast heard at all of the seed of Helios, thou dost behold Augeias.’"
[N.B. Both Aeetes and Augeias were sons of the sun-god Helios. Augeias was therefore invited by Jason to join the initial delegation, but Aeetes does not respond to his declaration of common kinship.]
Strabo, Geography 8. 3. 5 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[On the Eleian town of Ephyra :] He [Homer] says of the corselet of Meges : ‘this corselet Phyleus once brought out of Ephyra, from the River Sellëeis.’ And thirdly, the man-slaying drugs : for Homer says that Odysseus came to Ephyra ‘in search of a man-slaying drug, that he might have wherewithal to smear his arrows’; and in speaking of Telemakhos (Telemachus) the wooers say : ‘or else he means to go to the fertile soil of Ephyra, that from there he may bring deadly drugs’; for Nestor in his narrative of his war against the Epeians, introduces the daughter of Augeas, the king of the Epeians, as a mixer of drugs : ‘I was the first that slew a man, even the spearman Moulios (Mulius); he was a son-in-law of Augeias, having married his eldest daughter, and she knew all drugs that are nourished by the wide earth.’"
Strabo, Geography 8. 3. 9 :
"Hekataios (Hecataeus) of Miletos [Greek historian C5th B.C.] says that the Epeians are a different people from the Eleians; that, at any rate, the Epeians joined Herakles in his expedition against Augeas and helped him to destroy both Augeas and Elis. And he says, further, that Dyme is an Epeian and an Akhaian (Achaean) city."
Strabo, Geography 10. 2. 19 :
"As for the Ekhinades (Echinades) [Islands], or the Oxeiai, Homer says that they were ruled over in the time of the Trojan War by Meges, ‘who was begotten by the knightly Phyleus, dear to Zeus, who once changed his abode to Doulikhion (Dulichium) because he was wroth with his father.’ His father was Augeas, the ruler of the Eleian country and the Epeians; and therefore the Epeians who set out for Doulikhion with Phyleus held these islands."
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 69. 2 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"Lapithes made his home about the Peneios (Peneus) 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 (Lapiths) after Lapithes. As for the sons of Lapithes, Phorbas went to Olenos, from which city Alektor (Alector), 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 [Augeas] and Aktor (Actor), who received the kingship over the Eleians."
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 13. 3 :
"Upon the performance of this Labour [i.e. the fifth Labour of the Stymphalian Birds] he [Herakles] received a Command from Eurystheus to cleanse the stables of Augeas, and to do this without the assistance of any other man. These stables contained an enormous mass of dung which had accumulated over a great period, and it was a spirit of insult which induced Eurystheus to lay upon him the command to clean out this dung. Herakles declined as unworthy of him to carry this out upon his shoulders, in order to avoid the disgrace which would follow upon the insulting command; and so, turning the course of the Alpheios (Alpheus) river, as it is called, into the stables and cleansing them b means of the stream, he accomplished the Labour in a single day, and without suffering any insult. Surely, then, we may well marvel at the ingenuity of Herakles; for he accomplished the ignoble task involved in the Command without incurring any disgrace or submitting to something which would render him unworthy of immortality."
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 33. 1 - 4 :
"After this [his conquest of Troy] Heracles returned to the Peloponnesos and set out against Augeas, 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 (Alcmena) and Iphikles (Iphicles) 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 (Arcadia).
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 (Eurytus), the son [nephew?] of Augeas, was at the head of it, he fell unexpectedly upon Eurytos and killed him near Kleonai (Cleonae), 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 hands; for the son had been exiled by his father at the time when he had served as arbitrator between his father and Herakles in the matter of the reward and had given the decision to Herakles."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 5. 1. 8 - 3. 4 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"The kingdom of the Epeians fell to Eleios (Eleus), the son of Eurykyda (Eurycyda), daughter of Endymion and, believe the tale who will, of Poseidon. It was Eleios who gave the inhabitants their present name of Eleians in place of Epeians.
Eleios had a son Augeas. Those who exaggerate his glory give a turn to the name Eleios and make Helios (the Sun) to be the father of Augeas. This Augeas had so many cattle and flocks of goats that actually most of his land remained untilled because of the dung of the animals. Now he persuaded Heracles to cleanse for him the land from dung, either in return for a part of Elis or possibly for some other reward.
Herakles accomplished this feat too, turning aside the stream of the Menios (Menius) 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 (Actor) and with Amarynkeus (Amarynceus). Amarynkeus, besides being a good soldier, had a father, Pyttios, of Thessalian descent, who came from Thessalia (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 (Epeus). 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 (Corinthians) proclaimed the Isthmian truce, and the sons of Aktor came as envoys to the meeting. Herakles set an ambush for then, at Kleonai (Cleonae) and murdered them. As the murderer was unknown, Molione, 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, Molione 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. The Eleians were aided by the men of Pisa and of Pylos in Elis. The men of Pylos were punished by Herakles, but his expedition against Pisa was stopped by an oracle from Delphoi to this effect ‘My father cares for Pisa, but to me in the hollows of Pytho.’
This oracle proved the salvation of Pisa. To Phyleus Herakles gave up the land of Elis and all the rest, more out of respect for Phyleus than because he wanted to do so: he allowed him to keep the prisoners, and Augeas to escape punishment.
The women of Elis, it is said, seeing that their land had been deprived of its vigorous manhood, prayed to Athena that they might conceive at their first union with their husbands. Their prayer was answered, and they set up a sanctuary of Athena surnamed Meter (Mother). Both wives and husbands were so delighted at their union that they named the place itself, where they first met, Badu (sweet), and the river that runs thereby Badu Water, this being a word of their native dialect.
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 (Amphimachus) and Thalpios (Thalpius). 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 (Theronice), Thalpios to her sister Theraiphone (Theraephone) 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 (Amphimachus)."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 5. 8. 1 - 3 :
"[On the Olympic Games :] Endymion, the son of Aithlios (Aethlius), deposed Klymenos (Clymenus), and set his sons a race in Olympia with the kingdom as the prize. About a generation later than Endymion, Pelops held the games in honor of Olympian Zeus in a more splendid manner than any of his predecessors. When the sons of Pelops were scattered from Elis over all the rest of Peloponnesos, Amythaon, the son of Kretheus (Cretheus), and cousin of Endymion on his father's side--for they say that Aithlios (Aethlius) too was the son of Aiolos, though supposed to be a son of Zeus--, held the Olympian games, and after him Pelias and Neleus in common.
Augeas too held them, and likewise Herakles, the son of Amphitryon, after the conquest of Elis. The victors crowned by Herakles include Iolaos (Iolaus), who won with the mares of Herakles. So of old a competitor was permitted to compete with mares which were not his own."
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 hold that it is the tomb of an original inhabitant who was skilled in horsemanship; they call him Olenios, and say that after him was named the Olenian rock in the land of Elis. Others 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 (Cteatus) the son of Aktor (Actor), and that man and horse were buried in the same tomb."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 14. 9 :
"As you go down from the Akropolis 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 Iolaos. Iolaos, according to the Greek account, shared most of the labours of Herakles, but his father Iphikles (Iphicles), in the first battle fought by Herakles against the Eleians and Augeas, was wounded by the sons of Aktor (Actor), who were called after their mother Molione. In a fainting condition he was carried by his relatives to Pheneus, where he was carefully nursed by Bouphagos (Buphagus), a citizen of Pheneus, and by his wife Promne, who also buried him when he died of his wound."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 15. 1 :
"Kleonai (Cleonae) [a town in Argolis] possesses . . . the tomb of Eurytos and Kteatos (Cteatus). 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 5. 4. 2 :
"[Several generations after the Trojan War, one of the Herakleidai (Heracleidae)] Oxylos got the kingdom [of Elis]. He allowed the old inhabitants, the Epeians, to keep their possessions, except that he introduced among them Aitolian (Aetolian) colonists, giving them a share in the land. He assigned privileges to [the hero] Dios, and kept up after the ancient manner the honors paid to heroes, especially the worship of Augeas, to whom even at the present day hero-sacrifice is offered."
Aelian, Historical Miscellany 1. 24 (trans. Wilson) (Greek rhetorician C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :
"Kaukon (Caucon) son of Poseidon and Astydameia daughter of Phorbas had a child called Lepreus. He advised Augeas to tie up Herakles when the latter asked him for the reward for his labour. So Lepreus, as was expected, was disliked by Herakles after giving that advice."
Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 6. 258 ff (trans. Way) (Greek epic C4th A.D.) :
"[Amongst the labours of Herakles depicted on the quiver of his grandson Eurypylos :] Augeias' monstrous stable there was wrought with cunning craft on that invincible targe; and Herakles was turning through the same the deep flow of Alpheios' (Alpheus') stream divine, while wondering Nymphai (Nymphs) looked down on every hand upon that mighty work. Elsewhere portrayed was the fire-breathing Bull . . ."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 14 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Argonauts Assembled . . . Augeas, son of Sol [Helios] and Nausidame, daughter of Amphidamas; he was an Elean."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 30 :
"Twelve Labors of Hercules ordered by Eurystheus . . . He cleaned in one day the ox dung of King Augeas, Jove [Zeus] helping him for the most part. By letting in a river he washed away all the dung."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 157 :
"Sons of Neptunus [Poseidon] . . . Dictys by Agamede, daughter of Augeas."
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 Telegony Fragments - Greek Epic C8th - 6th B.C.
- Pindar, Odes - Greek Lyric C5th B.C.
- Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Apollonius Rhodius, The Argonautica - Greek Epic C3rd B.C.
- Theocritus, Idylls - Greek Idyllic C3rd B.C.
- Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History - Greek History C1st B.C.
- Strabo, Geography - Greek Geography C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
- Pausanias, Description of Greece - Greek Travelogue C2nd A.D.
- Aelian, Historical Miscellany - Greek Rhetoric C2nd - 3rd A.D.
- Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy - Greek Epic C4th A.D.
- Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.
Other references not currently quoted here: Tzetzes Chiliades 2.278, Scholiast on Homer's Iliad 2.629 & 11.700, Scholiast on Apollonius Rhodius' Argonautica 1.172, Servius on Virgil's Aeneid 8.300 & 188, Scholiast on Pindar's Olympian Ode 9.31(40).