Aeacus (also spelled Eäcus, Greek "polytonic|Αἴακος", "bewailing" or "earth borne"fact|date=October 2008) was a mythological king of the island of Aegina in the Saronic Gulf.

He was son of Zeus and Aegina, a daughter of the river-god Asopus. [Citation
last = Schmitz
first = Leonhard
author-link =
contribution = Aeacus
editor-last = Smith
editor-first = William
title = Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
volume = 1
pages = 22-23
publisher =
place = Boston
year = 1867
contribution-url =
] He was born in the island of Oenone or Oenopia, to which Aegina had been carried by Zeus to secure her from the anger of her parents, and whence this island was afterwards called Aegina. [Apollodorus, iii. 12. § 6] [Gaius Julius Hyginus, "Fabulae" 52] [Pausanias ii. 29. § 2] [comp. Nonn. Dionys. vi. 212] [Ovid, "Metamorphoses" vi. 113, vii. 472, &c.] According to some accounts Aeacus was a son of Zeus and Europa. Some traditions related that at the time when Aeacus was born, Aegina was not yet inhabited, and that Zeus changed the ants (polytonic|μύρμηκες) of the island into men (Myrmidons) over whom Aeacus ruled, or that he made men grow up out of the earth. [Hesiod, "Fragm." 67, ed. Gottling] [Apollodorus, iii. 12. § 6] [Pausanias, "l.c."] Ovid, on the other hand, supposes that the island was not unin­habited at the time of the birth of Aeacus, and states that, in the reign of Aeacus, Hera, jealous of Aegina, ravaged the island bearing the name of the latter by sending a plague or a fearful dragon into it, by which nearly all its inhabitants were carried off, and that Zeus restored the population by changing the ants into men. [Ovid, "Metamorphoses" vii. 520] [comp. Hygin. "Fab." 52] [Strabo, viii. p. 375]

These legends are nothing but a mythical account of the colonization of Aegina, which seems to have been originally in­habited by Pelasgians, and afterwards received colonists from Phthiotis, the seat of the Myrmi­dons, and from Phlius on the Asopus. Aeacus while he reigned in Aegina was renowned in all Greece for his justice and piety, and was fre­quently called upon to settle disputes not only among men, but even among the gods themselves. [Pindar, "Isthmian Odes" viii. 48, &c.] [Pausanias, i. 39. § 5] He was such a favourite with the latter, that, when Greece was visited by a drought in consequence of a murder which had been committed, the oracle of Delphi declared that the calamity would not cease unless Aeacus prayed to the gods that it might. [Diodorus Siculus, iv. 60, 61] [Apollodorus, iii. 12. § 6] Aeacus prayed, and it ceased in consequence. Aeacus himself showed his gratitude by erecting a temple to Zeus Panhellenius on mount Panhellenion, [Pausanias, ii. 30. § 4] and the Aeginetans afterwards built a sanctuary in their island called Aeaceum, which was a square place enclosed by walls of white marble. Aeacus was believed in later times to be buried under the altar in this sacred enclosure. [Pausanias, ii. 29. § 6]

A legend preserved in Pindar relates that Apollo and Poseidon took Aeacus as their assistant in building the walls of Troy. [Pindar, "Olympian Odes" viii. 39, &c.] When the work was completed, three dragons rushed against the wall, and while the two of them which attacked those parts of the wall built by the gods fell down dead, the third forced its way into the city through the part built by Aeacus. Hereupon Apollo prophesied that Troy would fall through the hands of Aeacus's descandants, the Aeacidae.

Aeacus was also believed by the Aeginetans to have surrounded their island with high cliffs to protect it against pirates. [Pausanias, ii. 29. § 5] Several other incidents connected with the story of Aeacus are mentioned by Ovid. [Ovid, "Metamorphoses" vii. 506, &c., ix. 435, &c] By Endeïs Aeacus had two sons, Telamon and Peleus, and by Psamathe a son, Phocus, whom he preferred to the two others, both of whom contrived to kill Phocus during a contest, and then fled from their native island.

After his death Aeacus became one of the three judges in Hades, [Ovid, "Metamorphoses" xiii. 25] [Horace, "Carmen" ii. 13. 22] and accord­ing to Plato especially for the shades of Europeans. [Plato, "Gorgias" p. 523] [Isocrates, "Evag." 5] In works of art he was represented bearing a sceptre and the keys of Hades. [Apollodorus, iii. 12. § 6] [Pindar, "Isthmian Odes" viii. 47, &c.] Aeacus had sanctuaries both at Athens and in Aegina, [Pausanias, ii. 29. § 6] [Hesychius "s.v."] [Schol. "ad Pind. Nem." xiii. 155] and the Aeginetans regarded him as the tutelary deity of their island. [Pindar, "Nemean Odes" viii. 22]

In "The Frogs" (405 BC) by Aristophanes, Dionysus descends to Hades and announces himself as Heracles. Aeacus laments Heracles's theft of Cerberus and sentences Dionysus to Acheron and torment by hounds of Cocytus, Echidna, the Tartesian eel, and Tithrasian Gorgons.

Alexander the Great traced his ancestry (through his mother) to Aeacus.




External links

* [ Greek Mythology Link (Carlos Parada) - Aeacus]

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  • Aeacus —   [lateinisch], griechischer Mythos: Aiakos …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Aeacus — [ē′ə kəs] n. [L < Gr Aiakos] Gr. Myth. a king of Aegina who, after he dies, becomes one of the three judges of the dead in the lower world, with Minos and Rhadamanthus …   English World dictionary

  • AEACUS — I. AEACUS Iovis ex Europa, sive ex Aegina fil. Hie apud Oenopiam (sic quidem legitur, sed nisi mendum sit apud Strabonem, Oenonem legendum est) regnâsse dicitur, quem, ex nomine matris, Aeginam nominavit. Ovid. Met. l. 7. Fab. 25. Oenopiam… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Aeacus — /ee euh keuhs/, n. Class. Myth. a judge in Hades, a son of Zeus and grandfather of Achilles. * * * ▪ Greek mythology       in Greek mythology, son of Zeus and Aegina, the daughter of the river god Asopus; Aeacus was the father of Telamon and… …   Universalium

  • Aeacus — noun Etymology: Latin, from Greek Aiakos Date: circa 1510 a son of Zeus who is given the Myrmidons as followers and becomes on his death a judge of the underworld …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Aeacus — /ˈiəkəs/ (say eeuhkuhs) noun Greek Legend a son of Zeus; grandfather of Achilles and a judge in the lower world. Compare Minos, Rhadamanthys …   Australian English dictionary

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