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Pelops
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Pelops

In Greek mythology, Pélops was a son of Tantalus and Dione, and father of Pittheus, Plisthenes, Atreus and Thyestes. By the nymph Axioche, he was father of Chrysippus. He had another son, Copreus.

Pelops’ father was Tantalus, king of Sipylus. Wanting to make an offering to the Olympians, Tantalus cut Pelops into pieces and made his flesh into a stew, then served it to the gods. Demeter accepted the offering and ate the left shoulder, the cut of honor. The other gods held off from eating of the boy’s body and brought Pelops back to life, his shoulder replaced with one made of ivory. After his resurrection, Pelops was more beautiful than before; Poseidon fell in love with him, took him up to Olympus and made the youth his lover, teaching him to drive the divine chariot. Later, Zeus threw Pelops out of Olympus, angry that his father, Tantalus, had stolen the food of the gods, given it to his subjects back on Earth and revealed the secrets of the gods.

Pelops, a man now, wanted to marry Hippodamia. King Oenamaus of Pisa or Olympia, her father, had killed thirteen suitors of Hippodamia after beating them in a chariot race. He did this because he loved her himself or, alternatively, because a prophecy claimed he would be killed by his son in law. Pelops came to ask for her hand, and got ready to race Oenomaus. Worried about losing, he went to the seaside and invoked Poseidon, his old lover. Reminding Poseidon of their love (“Aphrodite’s sweet gifts”) he asked Poseidon for help. Smiling, Poseidon caused a chariot drawn by winged horses to appear. Still unsure of himself, Pelops (or alternatively, Hippodamia herself) convinced Oenomaus' charioteer, Myrtilus, a son of Hermes, (by promising him half of Oenomaus’ kingdom and the first night in bed with Hippodameia), to help him win. The night before the race, while Myrtilus was putting the chariot together, he replaced the bronze linchpins attaching the wheels to the chariot axle with fake ones made of beeswax. The race started, and went on for a long time. But just as Oenomaus was catching up to Pelops and getting ready to kill him too, the wheels flew off and the chariot broke up. Myrtilus survived but Oenomaus was dragged to his death by his horses. Pelops then killed Myrtilus because he had attempted to rape Hippodamia. As Myrtilus died, he cursed Pelops for his betrayal. This was the source of the curse that destroyed his family (two of his sons, Atreus and Thyestes killed a third, Chrysippus, who was his favorite son and was meant to inherit the kingdom; Atreus and Thyestes were banished by him together with Hippodamia, their mother, who then hanged herself) and haunted Pelops' children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren including Atreus, Thyestes, Agamemnon, Aegisthus, Menelaus and Orestes.

Pelops soon controlled the entire Peloponnesus (which means “Pelops’ island) and then took Oenomaus' kingdom in Pisa.

During the Trojan War, Pelops' bones were brought to Troy by the Greeks because an oracle claimed they would be able to win by doing so.

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