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Tydeus 2

As Tydeus 2 kills Ismene 2 (daughter of Oedipus), her lover Theoclymenus 4 escapes from the scene. RV-1402: Ismene von Tydeus bedroht (nach Mon. d. I. VI Taf. 14). Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher (Göttingen, 1845- Dresden, 1923), Ausfürliches Lexikon der griechisches und römisches Mythologie, 1884.

Theseus: What! did you give Argive maids to foreigners?
Adrastus: Yes, to Tydeus, and to Polynices, who was Theban-born.
Theseus: What induced you to select this alliance?
Adrastus: Dark riddles of Phoebus stole away my judgment. (Euripides, Suppliants 135ff.).

Tydeus 2 left his country Calydon after committing a crime, and came to Argos where he married one of the king's daughters. Yet this new position involved him in the foreign war that was his end.


Tydeus 2's father was King Oeneus 2 of Calydon, the man who assembled the CALYDONIAN HUNTERS in order to have corrected through them his own negligence towards a goddess; but it is uncertain who his mother was. For some say that after Althaea's death (who hanged herself after having caused the death of her son Meleager) Oeneus 2 married Periboea 5, daughter of Hipponous 1, whereas others say that he, by the will of Zeus, fell in love with his own daughter Gorge 2; one of these two women then was Tydeus 2's mother. When Tydeus 2 became a young man, he was forced to leave his country and go into exile for having murdered one man, either his own uncle Alcathous 1 or his brother Olenias, or many men, the sons of Melas 1 and cousins of Tydeus 2 who had plotted against Oeneus 2: Pheneus, Euryalus 4, Hyperlaus, Antiochus 2, Eumedes 2, Sternops, Xanthippus 2, and Sthenelaus 1. Whichever the crime was, Tydeus 2's uncle Agrius 3, who on a later occasion plotted against Oeneus 2 and deposed him, now attempted to prosecute Tydeus 2, who fled to Argos.

Meeting with another exile

In the meantime, Oedipus' son Polynices, betrayed and banished from Thebes by his brother Eteocles 1 came to this same city of Argos. And on his arrival by night to the palace of King Adrastus 1, he met Tydeus 2, who had fled from Calydon, and both engaged in a fight, waking up with their noises the king who parted them. Some say that Adrastus 1 compared them to wild beasts because they came to blows about a bed. But others say that when Adrastus 1, after letting them into his palace, examined the boar and lion in their shields (for Polynices adorned it with a lion, and Tydeus 2 with a boar; although some have said that there was "a lion's skin with shaggy mane" upon Tydeus 2's shield—Euripides, Phoenician Women 1120), and remembered the words of a seer who had told him to yoke his daughters in marriage to a boar and a lion. And since Adrastus 1 was a man of omens, and believed not only that these come from heaven, but also that they are easy to understand, he, interpreting the seer's words the best he could, thought that these two gentlemen were a gift from the gods, and that they had come to aid his work. That is why he exclaimed in happiness:

"I have found, O Fortune, that the gods are gods indeed." (Adrastus 1. Statius, Thebaid 1.510).

... and decided to marry the two exiles to his daughters. This is how Tydeus 2 and Polynices, who had started the rainy evening not knowing where they would sleep, saw themselves resting among high cushions in couches arrayed with purple and embroidery of gold. And already the next day, the king offered them his daughters as wives, promising at the same time that he would restore them both to their native lands, Polynices first. In this manner, Tydeus 2 married Adrastus 1's daughter Deipyle, and engaged himself in the army of the SEVEN AGAINST THEBES.

The army at Nemea

Since an attempt to reconciliation between the Theban brothers failed, the army of the SEVEN advanced to Nemea where they, being scorched by thirst, sought for water. King of Nemea was at the time Lycurgus 3 (son of Pheres 1, son of Cretheus 1, son of Aeolus 1, son of Hellen 1, son of Deucalion 1, the man who survived The Flood). Lycurgus 3, who some call Lycus 11, was father of the child Opheltes 1, and in charge of this child was Hypsipyle, his nurse. This Hypsipyle had been queen of the Lemnian women, but was afterwards sold into slavery by them, the reason being that, when the Lemnian women decided to kill their husbands and all men in Lemnos because of their having taken Thracian wives, Hypsipyle secretly spared her father. But this was not yet public when the ARGONAUTS arrived to Lemnos, and Jason, their captain, fell in love with her and had children by her. One of them, Euneus 1, became later king of Lemnos, and is known for having sent ships from the island with cargoes of wine for the Achaeans during the Trojan War. But now, years after the expedition of the ARGONAUTS, and years before the Trojan War, when the SEVEN came to Nemea looking for water, Hypsipyle showed them the way to a spring, and in doing so she left behind the little prince Opheltes 1, who was devoured by a dragon. When Lycurgus 3 learned what had happened to his son and wished to execute Hypsipyle on the spot, it was Tydeus 2 who saved her who had given water to the army. And shortly after (for these coincidences occur), Hypsipyle's sons Euneus 1 and Thoas 9, arriving to Nemea in search for their mother, put and end to their long separation.

Tydeus 2 ambassador

After celebrating the Nemean games in honor of the dead prince, the army came to Cithaeron (the mountain between Boeotia and Attica) whence Tydeus 2 was sent as ambassador to Thebes to tell Eteocles 1 to cede the kingdom to Polynices as he had previously agreed with his brother; for their covenant was that each should rule alternately for one year at a time. So Tydeus 2, holding the ambassador's branch of olive at the palace at Thebes, told King Eteocles 1:

"... it were more right that envoys should go hence to your brother, now that your year is finished, and that you in due course should put off your state and contentedly leave your throne.."

and making no attempt to soft diplomacy he added:

"But since your darling passion is to reign, and power exerts its flattering charm, we summon you ... Set a term to your prosperity ... I warn you, unlearn of your own will the joys of ruling, and in patient exile merit your return." (Tydeus 2 to Eteocles 1. Statius, Thebaid 2.393ff.).

This speech was not what Eteocles 1 could deem persuasive, but then neither brother nor mother nor covenant had changed his determination:

"The fortune that is my right, the sceptre that due privilege of years has assigned me, I hold, and will hold long." (Eteocles 1 to Tydeus 2. Statius, Thebaid 2.425).

The ambush

And since the speeches in this embassy soon turned into insults and threats, Tydeus 2 hasted away, hurling from him the branch of olive. It was then that Eteocles 1 sent a band of fifty soldiers after him to lay an ambush and kill Tydeus 2. Among these were Acamas 6, Chromis 5, Chthonius 5, Cydon 3, Deilochus 1, Dorylas 3, Gyas 3, Halys 3, Lampus 6, Lycophontes 2, Menoetes 7, Pentheus 2, Periphas 9, Phaedimus 2, Phegeus 5, Phylleus, Polyphontes 2, and Theron 3; all these men Tydeus 2 slew, sparing only Maeon 1 (son of Haemon 1 and Antigone 2) so that he should bear testimony to the Thebans, letting them know that all that had taken part in the ambush had perished. As this embassy had only a deadly effect, the army approached the walls of Thebes, and each commander was stationed in front of each of the seven gates, with the whole host behind them. It is not clear which gate Tydeus 2 assailed, whether it was the Crenidian, or the Homoloidian, or the Proetidian. In any case he got killed; for it had been prophesied that all who joined Adrastus 1 against Thebes would perish.

Lost immortality

So after having killed many warriors—among which Aon, Atys 2 (bethrothed from childhood to Oedipus' daughter Ismene 2), Chromis 8, Clonius 5, Deilochus 2, Hippotades, Idas 8 (from Onchestus), the charioteer Phlegyas 5, Pholus 3, Prothous 7, Pterelas 3, and Thoas 10—Tydeus 2 also killed Ismene 2 (daughter of Oedipus), at Athena's instigation, while she was having intercourse with Theoclymenus 4. And last he killed Melanippus 1, but was himself mortally wounded by him in the belly. As Tydeus 2 lay almost dead, Athena approached with a medicine she had received from Zeus, and by which she intended to make him immortal. But then Amphiaraus cut off the head of Melanippus 1 and gave it to Tydeus 2, who opened it and gulped up the brains. So when Athena saw his barbarian behavior, she withheld the intended privilege, and that is why Tydeus 2, although remembered, is not counted among the immortals, remembrance being one thing and immortality another.

Another with identical name

Tydeus 1 is an Argonaut. One mythographer has counted one Tydeus of Olenus in Aetolia among the ARGONAUTS. Yet this Tydeus, despite his name and country of origin, could hardly be the same as the better known Tydeus, who is the son of Oeneus 2, the father of Diomedes 2, and the man who perished in the war of the SEVEN AGAINST THEBES. For Oeneus 2 begot Tydeus after the death of his first wife Althaea, who killed herself after having caused the death of their son Meleager, himself an Argonaut. So if Tydeus was born after the death of Meleager, who was an Argonaut, he could not have accompanied his brother in that same expedition.


Parentage (two versions)




Oeneus 2 & Periboea 5

Oeneus 2 & Gorge 2

Oeneus 2 was king in Calydon.
Periboea 5 is said to have been either seduced by Hippostratus and sent by her father Hipponous 1 from Olenus in Achaea to Oeneus 2 with an injunction to put her to death, or sent back to Oeneus 2 who had made her pregnant.
Gorge 2 was daughter of Oeneus 2 and Althaea.


Diomedes 2

Deipyle is daughter of Adrastus 1 and Amphithea 1, daughter of Pronax, son of Talaus (see also Argos).

Comaetho 4

Comaetho 4 married Aegialeus 1 (son of Adrastus 1 and one of the EPIGONI) and had a son by him, Cyanippus, counted among the ACHAEAN LEADERS.

Genealogical Charts

Names in this chart: Abas 2, Abas 3, Achelous, Adrastus 1, Aegialeus 1, Aegialia, Aegyptus 1, Aeolia, Aeolus 1, Aethlius, Aetolus 2, Aezeius, Agenor 6, Aglaia 2, Alcidice, Alcyone 1, Aleus, Althaea, Amphictyon, Amphinomus 3, Amphion 1, Amphithea 1, Amythaon 1, Anchinoe, Antiope 3, Aphidas 1, Apollo, Arcas 1, Argyphia, Atlas, Belus 1, Bias 1, Callisto, Calyce 1, Calydon, Chloris 1, Chromia, Cleoboea 1, Clonia, Comaetho 4, Cometes 2, Cretheus 1, Cyanippus, Cyrene, Danaus 1, Daunus, Daunus' Daughter, Deianira 4, Deimachus 1, Deipyle, Deucalion 1, Diomedes 2, Diomedes 3, Dione 3, Dorus 2, Elephantis, Enarete, Endymion, Epaphus 1, Epicasta 1, Euryte 2, Eurythemis, Gorge 2, Hellen 1, Hippodamas 1, Hippodamas 3, Hippolytus 6, Hypermnestra 1, Hyrieus, Idomene, Io, Iphianira, Itonus 1, Libya, Lycaon 2, Lycaon 6, Lynceus 2, Lysimache 1, Mantineus 1, Megapenthes 2, Melampus 1, Memphis 2, Neleus, Nilus, Niobe 1, Niobe 2, Nonacris, Nycteus 2, Oeneus 2, Orseis, Pelasgus 1, Peneus, Perimede 1, Pero 2, Pheres 1, Phorbus, Phoroneus, Phthia 2, Pleione, Pleuron, Pluto 3, Polyxo 3, Porthaon, Poseidon, Proetus 1, Pronax, Pronoe 2, Protogenia 1, Pyrrha 1, Salmoneus, Stheneboea, Talaus, Tantalus 1, Teledice, Thestius 1, Tydeus 2, Tyro, Venilia, Xanthippe 1, Zeus.


Aes.Sev.375ff.; Apd.1.8.5, 3.6.3-6; Hdt.5.67; Hyg.Fab.70, 97; Pau.9.18.1; QS.1.770; Stat.Theb.2.370, 4.113; Try.159; Vir.Aen.6.479.