Adrastus (/əˈdræstəs/; Ancient Greek: Ἄδραστος Adrastos)
or Adrestus (Ionic Ἄδρηστος, Adrēstos), traditionally
translated as 'inescapable', was a legendary king of
the war of the Seven Against Thebes.
2.1 Seven against Thebes
2.2 Second war against Thebes
Adrastus was a son of
Talaus and Lysimache. Pausanias calls his
mother Lysianassa, and Hyginus calls her Eurynome. He was one
of the three kings at Argos, along with Iphis and Amphiaraus, the
husband of Adrastus's sister Eriphyle. He was married either to
Amphithea, daughter of Pronax, or to Demonassa. His daughters Argea
Polynices and Tydeus, respectively. His other
children include Aegiale, Aegialeus, and Cyanippus.
During a feud between the most powerful houses in Argos,
slain by Amphiaraus, and
Adrastus was expelled from his dominions and
fled to Polybus, then king of Sicyon. When Polybus died without heirs,
Adrastus succeeded him on the throne of Sicyon, and during his reign
he is said to have instituted the Nemean Games.
According to Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greece by Edward E.
Adrastus is the son of
Lysimache (daughter of
Abas). He married Amphitheia, daughter of his brother Pronax, and
became the father of a son, Aegialeus, and four daughters: Aegialeia,
who became the wife of Diomedes (son of Tydeus); Argeia, who became
the wife of Polyneices (son of Oedipus); Deipyle, who became the wife
Tydeus (son of Oeneus); and Eurydice, who became the wife of the
Trojan king, Ilus (son of Tros).
Seven against Thebes
Adrastus became reconciled to Amphiaraus, gave
him his sister
Eriphyle in marriage, and returned to his kingdom of
Argos upon the swift immortal horse Arion, a gift of Heracles. During
the time he reigned there it happened that
Polynices of Thebes, both fugitives from their native countries, met
Argos near the palace of Adrastus, and came to words and from words
to blows. On hearing the noise,
Adrastus hastened to them and
separated the combatants, in whom he immediately recognised the two
men that had been promised to him by an oracle as the future husbands
of two of his daughters, for one bore on his shield the figure of a
boar, and the other that of a lion, and the oracle was that one of his
daughters was to marry a boar and the other a lion. Adrastus,
therefore, gave his daughter
Deipyle to Tydeus, and Argeia to
Polynices, and at the same time promised to lead each of these princes
back to his own country.
Adrastus now prepared for war against Thebes,
Amphiaraus foretold that all who should engage in it should
perish, with the exception of Adrastus.
During the Seven against Thebes, in which
Adrastus was joined by six
other heroes, Polynices, Tydeus, Amphiaraus, Capaneus, Hippomedon, and
Parthenopaeus. Instead of
Polynices other legends mention
Eteoclus and Mecisteus. This war ended as unfortunately as Amphiaraus
had predicted, and
Adrastus alone was saved by the swiftness of his
After the battle, Creon, king of Thebes, ordered that none of the
fallen enemies were to be given funeral rites. Against his order,
Polynices and was put to death, but
Athens to petition Theseus, the city's king, to attack Thebes and
force the return of the bodies of the remaining five. Theseus
initially refused but was convinced by his mother, Aethra, who had
been beseeched by the mothers of the fallen, to put the matter to a
vote of the citizens. The Athenians marched on Thebes and conquered
the city but inflicted no additional damage, taking only what they
came for, the five bodies. They were laid upon a funeral pyre and
Adrastus eulogized each.
Second war against Thebes
Ten years after this,
Adrastus persuaded the seven sons of the heroes
who had fallen in the war against Thebes to make a new attack upon
that city, and
Amphiaraus now declared that the gods approved of the
undertaking, and promised success. This war is celebrated in
ancient story as the War of the Epigoni. Thebes was taken and razed to
the ground, after the greater part of its inhabitants had left the
city on the advice of Tiresias. The only Argive hero that
fell in this war was Aegialeus, the son of Adrastus. After having
built a temple of Nemesis in the neighborhood of Thebes, he set out on
his return home. But, weighed down by old age and grief at the death
of his son, he died at
Megara and was buried there. After his
death he was worshipped in several parts of Greece, as at Megara,
Sicyon where his memory was celebrated in tragic choruses, and
The legends about
Adrastus and the two wars against Thebes have
furnished ample materials for the epic as well as tragic poets of
Greece, and some works of art relating to the stories about
Adrastus are mentioned in Pausanias.
Adrastus the female patronymic "Adrastine" was formed.
^ "Ἄδραστος". An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
^ Bibliotheca i. 9. § 13
^ a b Pausanias, ii. 6. § 3
^ Hyginus, Fabulae 69
^ Comp. Schol. ad Eurip. Phoen. 423
Iliad ii. 572
^ Pindar, Nemean Odes ix. 30, &c.
^ a b Herodotus, v. 67
^ Barthell, Edward E. Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greece. University
of Miami Press, 1971 (Original from the University of Virginia),
ISBN 0-87024-165-6, pp. 105–106.
^ Schmitz, Leonhard (1867). "
Adrastus (1)". In Smith, William.
Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 1. Boston.
^ Bibliotheca iii. 6. § 1, &c.
^ Hyginus, Fabulae 69, 70
Iliad xxiii. 346, &c.
^ Pausanias, viii. 25. § 8
^ Bibliotheca iii. 6
^ Bibliotheca iii. 7. § 1
^ Pausanias, ix. 9. § 1
^ Pausanias, ix. 9. § 2
^ Bibliotheca iii. 7. § 2
^ Bibliotheca iii. 7. § 24
^ Herodotus, v. 61
^ Strabo, vii. p. 325
^ Pausanias, i. 43. § 1
^ Pausanias, l.c.
^ Pausanias, i. 30. § 4
^ Pausanias, ix. 9. § 3
^ Pausanias, iii. 18. § 7, x. 10. § 2
Iliad v. 412
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Smith, William, ed. (1870). "
Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
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