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Aleus

by Dr Alena Trckova-Flamee Ph.D.

Aleus, who was the son of Apheidas and the grandson of Arcas, became the king of the Arcadian city Tegea in the Peloponnesus. He married Neaera, the daughter of Pereus, and he had by her four children. Their son Cepheus (2) later succeeded Aleus as the ruler of Tegea and was the ally of Heracles in the expedition against Sparta. The second son Lycurgus was sometimes also mentioned as the king of Tegea and his son was known as a member of the expedition with Jason to Colchis. Amphidamas and Auge were the other children of Aleus.

Once, when Aleus was visiting Delphi, the oracle told him that the brothers of his wife would be killed by his grandson. Because of this Aleus ordered his daughter Auge to become a priestess and threatened her with a certain death if she would ever have a child. Thus Auge served the goddess Athena Alea in her temple at Tegea, which was founded by Aleus (aleo in Greek means to grind flour from wheat).

One day Heracles arrived at Tegea and King Aleus entertained him with wine, and eventually Heracles became intoxicated and violated Auge. She became pregnant and gave birth to a boy whom she concealed in the temple. Because of this profanation, the country was visited by a famine. The Pythia of Delphi reported that the sacred place of Athena Alea had been desecrated because Auge, the priestess of Athena Alea, had given birth to a boy.

Aleus ordered that the child was to be exposed on Mount Parthenion, where it was suckled by a deer (hence the boy's name, Telephus) and later found by herdsmen. Aleus was reluctant to kill his own daughter so he called upon King Nauplius to drown her. Nauplius sold her to slavers from Caria, who sold her again to King Teuthras of Mysia. According to another version of myth Aleus had Auge and her baby put in a chest and thrown in the sea. They arrived with the help of the goddess Athena at Mysia in Asia Minor, where the king Teuthras married Auge and adopted her son Telephus, who was later on worshiped there as the forefather of the Pergamum kingdom’s house. This story is represented in the small frieze of the Pergamum Altar in the Berlin Museum.

The myth about Aleus and his daughter Auge is related to the historical event. This story explains the migration of the Greek colonists from the region Arcadia to Mysia in Asia Minor.


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