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Last Update: 07 Mar 2021


Pelias, the power-loving King of Iolcos

Pelias was an over-ambitious king of Iolcos and the uncle of Greek hero Jason

Family of Pelias

Pelias was a son of greek god Poseidon and the mortal Tyro. Pelias had a twin brother with the name Neleus and a half-brother called Aeson, who was the father of the Greek hero Jason.

The Early Years of Pelias

In their infancy, Pelias and Neleus were abandoned by their mother on a mountain and were raised by a mare and a bitch, respectively (and later by a shepherd).

One day the mare kicked Pelias in the face, leaving a large mark on his cheek. According to legend, Pelias got his name from this bruise, because "Pelios" in Ancient Greek means black, bruised.

Pelias, Jason and the Kingdom of Iolcos

Later in their lives, the two twins were accepted by their mother and began to fight over the kingdom of Iolcos. Pelias, eager to overthrow his brother Aeson, sought out an oracle to tell his fortune. The oracle advised him to beware of a man who came from the countryside wearing only a single sandal. So Pelias decided to kill all of Aeson's descendants, except for the infant Jason, whom his mother passed off as stillborn.

Jason grew up in Mount Pelion and his education was taken over by the wise centaur Chiron.

When Jason came of age, he returned to Iolkos to claim the throne of the city, wearing only a sandal. So Pelias sent him on a journey in search of the Golden Fleece, to regain the throne.

The Death of Pelias

The Murder of Pelias by His Daughters, Detail of a painting by Georges Moreau de Tours (1878)
After many adventures, Jason returned to Iolkos only to learn that his parents had been killed in the meantime by Pelias. Thirsting for revenge, Jason asked his wife, the sorceress Medea, for a ruse: she was to slaughter an old ram in front of Pelias' daughters, chop it into pieces, and revive it with magical filters in the form of a small lamb.

Impressed by the magic, Pelias' naive daughters tried to do the same to their aged father to rejuvenate him: They cut him into pieces - but this time without all the magical herbs - and accidentally murdered Pelias.

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