Greek Mythology >> Villians >> Lepreus


Greek Name




Latin Spelling



Of Lepreion (town)

LEPREUS was the founder of the town of Lepreum in the Eleian region of Triphylia. He once challenged Herakles to a series of contests--first a discus match, followed by a water-bailing contest, then an eating match and finally a drinking contest. Being defeated time and time again, he flew into a rage, took up arms against the hero and was slain.


[1.1] PYRGEUS (Pausanias 5.5.3)
[2.1] KAUKON (Aelian Miscellany 1.24)


LEPREUS (Lepreus), a son of Caucon, Glaucon, or Pyrgeus (Aelian, V. H. i. 24; Paus. v. 5. § 4), by Astydameia, from whom the town of Lepreum, in the south of Elis, was said to have derived its name. He was a grandson of Poseidon (the Schol. ad Callim. Hymn. in Jov. 39, calls him a son of Poseidon), and a rival of Heracles both in his strength and his powers of eating, but he was conquered and slain by him. His tomb was believed to exist at Phigalia. (Athen. x. p. 41 , &c.; Paus. l. c.; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 1523.)

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.


Pausanias, Description of Greece 5. 5. 3 - 5 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Triphylia [a region of Elis], in which is the city Lepreus . . . The city got its name, they say, from its founder Lepreus the son of Pyrgeus. There was also a story that Lepreus contended with Herakles : that he was as good a trencherman. Each killed an ox at the same time and prepared it for the table. It turned out, even as Lepreus maintained, that he was as powerful a trencherman as Herakles. Afterwards he made bold to challenge him to a duel. Lepreus, they say, lost, was killed, and was buried in the land of Phigaleia. The Phigalians, however, could not show a tomb of Lepreus.
I have heard some who maintained that Lepreus was founded by Leprea, the daughter of Pyrgeus. Others say that the first dwellers in the land were afflicted with the disease leprosy, and that the city received its name from the misfortune of the inhabitants. The Lepreans told me that in their city once was a temple of Zeus Leukaios (Of the White Poplar), the grave of Lykourgos (Lycurgus), son of Aleus, and the grave of Kaukon (Caucon), over which was the figure of a man holding a lyre." [N.B. According to Aelian below, Kaukon was the father of Lepreus.]

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. Some time later the son of Zeus arrived at Kaukon's house. At Astydameia's request Herakles gave up his dislike of Lepreus. But they were overcome by a youthful spirit of quarrelsomeness, and competed with each other in throwing the discus, in bailing out water, in seeing who could first consume a bull for dinner. In all these matters Lepreus was defeated. They had a drinking competition, and here again Herakles won. Lepreus was very annoyed, took up his weapons and challenged Herakles to single combat. And so he paid the penalty for his misbehaviour at Augeas' house, because he died in the fight."


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.




A complete bibliography of the translations quoted on this page.