Chrysippus (mythology)

Chrysippus (mythology)

In Greek mythology, Chrysippus (Greek: Χρύσιππος) was a divine hero of Elis in the Peloponnesus, the bastard son of Pelops king of Pisa in the Peloponnesus and the nymph Axioche. He was kidnapped by the Theban Laius, his tutor, who was escorting him to the Nemean Games, where the boy planned to compete. Instead, Laius ran away with him to Thebes and raped him, a crime for which he, his city, and his family were later punished by the gods. Chrysippus's death was related in various ways. One author who cites Peisandros as his source claims that he killed himself with his sword out of shame.[1]

Hellanikos and Thucydides write that he was killed out of jealousy by Atreus and Thyestes, his half-brothers, who cast him into a well. They had been sent by their mother, Hippodamia, who feared Chrysippus would inherit Pelops's throne instead of her sons. Atreus and Thyestes, together with their mother, were banished by Pelops and took refuge in Mycenae. There Hippodamia hung herself. Another version has Hippodamia committing the deed herself, on behalf of her sons Atreus and Thyestes. She waited until Laius and Chrysippus were asleep together, and then used the knife of Laius to slay Chrysippus. Chrysippus, however, did not die at once, and was able to tell Pelops that the real murderer was his stepmother.

The death of Chrysippus is sometimes seen as springing from the curse that Myrtilus placed on Pelops for his betrayal, as Pelops threw him from a cliff after he helped Pelops win a race.

Euripides wrote a play called Chrysippus whose plot covered Chrysippus' death. The play is now lost. The play was given in the same trilogy that included The Phoenician Women.


  1. ^ Gantz, p. 489.

Vase E 65 in London, showing Chrysippus and Zeuxo

Modern sources

  • Gantz, Timothy (1993). Early Greek Myth. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 
  • Kerenyi, Karl (1959). The Heroes of the Greeks. New York/London: Thames and Hudson. 

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