THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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ATREUS, in Greek legend, son of Pelops and Hippodameia, and elder brother of Thyestes. Having murdered his stepbrother Chrysippus, Atreus fled with Thyestes to Mycenae, where he succeeded Eurystheus in the sovereignty. His wife AŽrope was seduced by Thyestes, who was driven from Mycenae. To avenge himself, Thyestes sent Pleisthenes (Atreusí son whom Thyestes had brought up as his own) to kill Atreus, but Pleisthenes was himself slain by his own father. After this Atreus, apparently reconciled to his brother, recalled him to Mycenae 877 and invited him to a banquet to eat of his son, whom Atreus had slain. Thyestes fled in horror. Subsequently Atreus married the daughter of Thyestes, Pelopia, who had by her own father a son, Aegisthus, who was adopted by Atreus. Thyestes was found by Agamemnon and Menelaus, the sons of Atreus, and imprisoned at Mycenae. Aegisthus being sent to murder Thyestes, mutual recognition took place, and Atreus was slain by the father and son, who seized the throne, and drove Agamemnon and Menelaus out of the country (Thucydides i. 9; Hyginus, Fabulae; Apollodorus). Homer does not speak of the horrors of the story, which are first found in the tragedians; he merely states (Iliad, ii. 105) that Atreus at his death left the kingdom to Thyestes.

See T. Voigt in Dissert. philol. Halenses. vi. (1886).


Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected. They appear in the text like this, and the explanation will appear when the mouse pointer is moved over the marked passage. Sections in Greek will yield a transliteration when the pointer is moved over them, and words using diacritic characters in the Latin Extended Additional block, which may not display in some fonts or browsers, will display an unaccented version.

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