Neleus - Encyclopedia




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NELEUS, in Greek legend, son of Poseidon and Tyro, brother of Pelias. The two children were exposed by their mother, who afterwards married Cretheus, king of Iolcus in Thessaly. After the death of Cretheus, the boys, who had been brought up by herdsmen, quarrelled for the possession of Iolcus. Pelias expelled Neleus, who migrated to Messenia, where he became king of Pylos (Apollodorus i. 9; Diod. Sic. iv. 68) and the ancestor of a royal family called the Neleidae, who are historically traceable as the old ruling family in some of the Ionic states in Asia Minor. Their presence is explained by the legend that, when the Dorians conquered Peloponnesus, the Neleidae were driven out and took refuge in Attica, whence they led colonies to the eastern shores of the Aegean. By Chloris, daughter of Amphion, Neleus was the father of twelve sons (of whom Nestor was the most famous) and a daughter Pero. Through the contest for his daughter's hand (see Melampus) he is connected with the legends of the prophetic race of the Melampodidae, who founded the mysteries and expiatory rites and the orgies of Dionysus in Argolis. According to Pausanias (ii. 2.2, v. 8.2) Neleus restored the Olympian games and died at Corinth, where he was burled on the isthmus.

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