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Adrastus in Who is Who in Classical Mythology


1. Son of Talaus, king of Argos, and Lysimache. After a quarrel with other branches of the royal family—descended from Melampus and Proetus—he fled from Argos. Talaus was killed by Amphiaraus, a descendant of Melampus, and his son took refuge with Polybus 2, king of Sicyon. Talaus had married Polybus’ daughter, and now Polybus, who had no sons, made him his heir. After becoming king of Sicyon, Adrastus was reconciled to Amphiaraus and gave him his sister Eriphyle in marriage. Adrastus was now restored to the throne of Argos and, in spite of warnings from Amphiaraus (a prophet), agreed to help Polynices and Tydeus to recover their thrones, of Thebes and Calydon respectively. Adrastus noticed that the two young men were wearing animal skins—Polynices a lionskin and Tydeus a boarskin—and, obeying the dictates of an oracle that bade him marry his daughters to a lion and a boar, gave the girls Argia and Deiphyle to the two young men in marriage. Adrastus, who had married his own niece Amphithea, had one other daughter, Aegialia, and two sons, Aegialeus and Cyanippus. Adrastus led the seven armies of his allies against Thebes in the famous expedition described by Homer in the Iliad, by Aeschylus in his play Seven against Thebes, and by Euripides in Suppliant Women and Phoenician Women. This attack was a failure, Adrastus himself, alone of its leaders, escaping on his magic horse Arion. A portent of the defeat was the death of the child Archemorus, killed by a snake while his nurse Hypsipyle showed the army to a watering place. Adrastus founded the Nemean Games in his honour. Ten years after his first attack on Thebes Adrastus accompanied the children of the first Seven, called the Epigoni, against the same city. This time there was victory, but at the cost of the life of Adrastus’ son Aegialeus. Adrastus was so grief-stricken that he died on the way home. His grandson, Diomedes, became ruler of Argos. 2. Father of Eurydice, wife of Ilus.

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