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Scylla 2 cutting her father's purple hair. villenave01257: Scylla and Nisus. Drawing by Nicolas-André Monsiau 1754-1837 (Les Métamorphoses d'Ovide, Paris 1806).

Megara is a city in Greece proper, northeast of the Isthmus of Corinth.

First king

Phoroneus, king of what later was named the Peloponnesus, and said to be the first man, had a son Car, who built the citadel of Megara, calling it Caria. Car ruled the country, and was at his death buried on the road between Megara and Corinth. Some say that Car's mother was Cerdo, others say Teledice, and still others say Cinna. The Megarians themselves affirm that it was during Car's times that the city got its name, and that in those times the sanctuaries of Demeter were first made by them. However, the Boeotians claim that the city was called after Megareus 2, who came with an army from the Boeotian city of Onchestus to help Nisus 1 in his war against King Minos 2 of Crete.

Lelex 2

Twelve generations after Car, Lelex 2 arrived from Egypt and made himself the ruler of vast territories both in Megara and Peloponnesus. Some have called Lelex 2 an autochthon (a "son of the soil" see AUTOCHTHONOUS), but others call him a son of Poseidon and Libya. Lelex 2 had, by the naiad Cleocharia, several sons, among which Cleson. The latter was father of Pylas, Cleso and Tauropolis. According to the Megarians, the corpse of Ino was cast up on their coast, and Cleso and Tauropolis—the daughters of Cleson—found it and buried it. They also claim that they were the first to name her Leucothea, and to offer her sacrifice every year.

The story of Ino

Ino, a daughter of Cadmus, the founder of Thebes, was originally a mortal woman, but now lives in the depths of the sea, being called Leucothea or Leucothoe 3. While still a mortal, she plotted against the children of her husband's first wife, attempting to arrange their death. These, however, could escape to Colchis borne through the sky by the Ram with the Golden Fleece. Ino was married to Athamas 1, son of Aeolus 1. Her husband's first wife was Nephele 2, and the children who were saved by the Ram with the Golden Fleece were Phrixus 1 and Helle (see also ARGONAUTS). Athamas 1 and Ino were in charge of taking care of the child Dionysus 2, but Hera, who, out of jealousy, hated this son of Zeus and Semele, drove both Athamas 1 and Ino mad. So Athamas 1 hunted his son Learchus as if he were a deer and killed him, and Ino killed her son Melicertes: she threw him into a boiling cauldron, and carrying it with the dead child, cast herself into the sea. Melicertes became a new god, Palaemon 3, and his mother Ino was called Leucothea.

Conflict solved through murder

A conflict aroused between Pylas and his father's brother Bias 6 concerning the kingdom, which resulted in Bias 6 being killed by Pylas. Because of this crime, Pylas left Megara, and having come to the Peloponnesus, founded the city of Pylos. But some affirm that the city was built by Neleus, father of Nestor.

King Pandion 4

When Pylas left, Pandion 4 married his daughter Pylia and became king of Megara. Pandion 4, son of Cecrops 2 and Metiadusa, had reigned in Athens after his father, but was later expelled by the sons of Metion 1. According to some, Pandion 4 is father of Aegeus 1, father of Theseus, both kings of Athens. He is also the father of Pallas 5, Lycus 7, Nisus 1, and a daughter who married Sciron, son of Pylas.

Conflict solved through negotiation

After Pandion 4 there was a conflict between his son Nisus 1 and Sciron concerning the kingdom. This conflict was settled by King Aeacus of Aegina, who gave the kingship to Nisus 1, and to Sciron the command in war.

War against Crete

Nisus 1 married Habrote, a Boeotian woman, daughter of Onchestus 2 and sister of Megareus 2, and had by her three daughters: Scylla 2, Iphinoe 3 and Eurynome 6. During the reign of Nisus 1 there took place the war between Crete and Athens. So in one of his military expeditions King Minos 2 of Crete attacked Megara, and besieged the city. Now, when a city is under siege, not seldom some of the besieged find good reasons to help the assailants. And such a reason was found by the princess Scylla 2, who fell in love with the leader of the invaders, and for the sake of her passion betrayed both father and city. As it is told, King Nisus 1 had a purple hair in the middle of his head, and an oracle told that when it was pulled out he should die. So Scylla 2, who was aware of the prophecy, pulled out the hair and Nisus 1 died when he lost his vital lock, and was then turned into an osprey. But since treason gives no room for reliability, when Minos 2 had made himself master of Megara, he tied Scylla 2 by the feet to the stern of a ship and drowned her. Some say she was changed into a bird, while others say that she turned into a fish. But still others assert that her body was just cast ashore by the waves, and later buried.

Similar cases

Something similar happened to King Pterelaus of Taphos, whom Poseidon had made immortal by implanting a golden hair in his head. For when Amphitryon ravaged the islands of the Taphians or Teleboans, Pterelaus' daughter Comaetho 1 fell in love with him, betraying his father, and was killed by Amphitryon once he had won victory. Also Pisidice 4, princess of Methymna in Lesbos, fell in love with Achilles when he was besieging the city, and promised to put the town into his possession if he would take her to wife. At first he agreed, but when the town was in his power, he bade his soldiers stone her to death. And Leucophrye, when her father's town was besieged, fell in love with the assailant, the Lycian Leucippus 8, a descendant of Bellerophon, and betrayed the town to her father's enemies.

Location of Megara

Ally becomes king

During the Cretan war, Megareus 2 came from Boeotia with an army in order to help Nisus 1 and was killed in battle. However, some affirm that he married Nisus 1's daughter Iphinoe 3, had children by her—Evippus 3, Timalcus and Evaechme 1—and succeeded Nisus 1 as king of Megara. Some say Megareus 2 was son of Poseidon and Oenope, others call him son of Hippomenes 1, and still others son of Onchestus 2, after whom the city Onchestus was named in Boeotia. The Megarians say Megareus 2 became king of the city because they ignore altogether the war against the Cretans and the capture of the city by Minos 2 during the reign of Nisus 1.

Descent of Megareus 2

Of the sons of Megareus 2, Evippus 3 was killed by the Cithaeronian Lion, and Timalcus, they say, was killed by Theseus during the campaign of the DIOSCURI against Aphidnae, but this seems unlikely, since Theseus is reported to have been in the Underworld at that time. Megareus 2 promised to give his daughter Evaechme 1 and his kingdom to him who killed the Cithaeronian Lion, which was done by Alcathous 3, son of Pelops 1 and Hippodamia 3, who already had been married to Pyrgo 1. So Evaechme 1 became the second wife of Alcathous 3, and he became, through that marriage, king of Megara after Megareus 2. Alcathous 3 is said to have restored (with Apollo's help, who placed his lyre on a stone), the walls of Megara which had been destroyed during the Cretan invasion. They say that if the stone is hit with a pebble it sounds just as a lyre does when struck.

Death of two princes

Ischepolis, son of Alcathous 3, is counted among the CALYDONIAN HUNTERS, and was killed by the wild beast during the hunt. His brother Callipolis was the first to hear of his death. So he came running to meet Alcathous 3 and tell him the bad news when Alcathous 3 was preparing a fire to sacrifice to Apollo. Judging this was no time for sacrifices when his brother had died, Callipolis flung the logs from the altar, but Alcathous 3, who had not yet heard of the death of Ischepolis, thought Callipolis acted as an impious man, and out of anger, killed his son by striking his head with one of the logs that had been flung from the altar. In order to purify Alcathous 3 for having killed his son, Astycratea and Manto 2 came to Megara. These were daughters of the seer Polyidus 1, son of Coeranus 1, son of Abas 3, son of the seer and king of Argos Melampus 1, son of Amythaon 1, son of Cretheus 1, son of Aeolus 1, son of the eponym of the Hellenes Hellen 1, son of Deucalion 1, who survived the Flood.

Famous citizen and last king

The seer Calchas is said to have dwelt in Megara, and Agamemnon came to the city to pay him a visit and convince him to join the expedition against Troy. A son of Agamemnon, the greedy and violent Hyperion 3, is said to have been the last king of Megara. After him the Megarians decided to abandon monarchy, and be ruled by elected magistrates.

The Art of understanding oracles

The Megarians are also said to have asked the oracle at Delphi in what way they could be prosperous. The oracle then replied that they would fare well if they took counsel with the majority. They thought that by "majority" the oracle meant the dead, so they built a council chamber so that the grave of their heroes was within it.

Related sections Map of Greece

Some mentions of Megara: Apd.3.15.5, 3.15.8; Apd.Ep.1.2; Arg.2.747; Hyg.Fab.198; Nonn.25.155.