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In Greek mythology, Thyestes
Thyestes
(pronounced /θaɪˈɛstiːz/, Greek: Θυέστης, [tʰyéstɛːs]) was the son of Pelops
Pelops
and Hippodamia. He was a king of Olympia and father of Pelopia and Aegisthus. Thyestes and his brother, Atreus, were exiled by their father for having murdered their half-brother, Chrysippus, in their desire for the throne of Olympia. They took refuge in Mycenae, where they ascended the throne upon the absence of King Eurystheus, who was fighting the Heracleidae. Eurystheus
Eurystheus
had meant for their lordship to be temporary; it became permanent because of his death in conflict. The most popular representation of Thyestes
Thyestes
is that of the play Thyestes
Thyestes
by Seneca in 62 AD. This play is one of the originals for the revenge tragedy genre. Although inspired by Greek mythology
Greek mythology
and legend, Seneca's version is different.

Contents

1 Myth 2 Theatre 3 Inspiration for Literature 4 References

Myth[edit]

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Pelops
Pelops
and Hippodamia
Hippodamia
are parents to Thyestes. However, they were cursed by Myrtilus, a servant of King Oenomaus, the father of Hippodamia. Myrtilus
Myrtilus
was promised the right to Hippodamia's virginity and half of Pelops' kingdom, but Pelops
Pelops
denied both to him and killed him by throwing him into the sea. With his dying gasp, Myrtilus
Myrtilus
cursed their line, which is where Thyestes
Thyestes
and Atreus
Atreus
comes in. Thyestes' brother and King of Mycenae, Atreus, vowed to sacrifice his best lamb to Artemis. Upon searching his flock, however, Atreus discovered a golden lamb which he gave to his wife, Aerope, to hide from the goddess. She gave it to her lover, Thyestes, who then convinced Atreus
Atreus
to agree that whoever had the lamb should be king. Thyestes
Thyestes
produced the lamb and claimed the throne. Atreus
Atreus
retook the throne using advice he received from Hermes. Thyestes
Thyestes
agreed to give the kingdom back when the sun moved backwards in the sky, a feat that Zeus
Zeus
accomplished. Atreus
Atreus
retook the throne and banished Thyestes. Atreus
Atreus
then learned of Thyestes' and Aerope's adultery and plotted revenge. He killed Thyestes' sons and cooked them, save their hands and heads. He served Thyestes
Thyestes
his own sons and then taunted him with their hands and heads. This is the source of modern phrase "Thyestean Feast," or one at which human flesh is served. When Thyestes
Thyestes
was done with his feast, he released a loud belch, which represents satiety and pleasure and his loss of self-control. An oracle then advised Thyestes
Thyestes
that, if he had a son with his own daughter Pelopia, that son would kill Atreus. Thyestes
Thyestes
did so by raping Pelopia (his identity hidden from her) and the son, Aegisthus, did kill Atreus. However, when Aegisthus
Aegisthus
was first born, he was abandoned by his mother, ashamed of the origin of her son. A shepherd found the infant Aegisthus
Aegisthus
and gave him to Atreus, who raised him as his own son. Only as he entered adulthood did Thyestes
Thyestes
reveal the truth to Aegisthus, that he was both father and grandfather to the boy and that Atreus
Atreus
was his uncle. Aegisthus
Aegisthus
then killed Atreus. While Thyestes
Thyestes
ruled Mycenae, the sons of Atreus, Agamemnon
Agamemnon
and Menelaus, were exiled to Sparta. There, King Tyndareus
Tyndareus
accepted them as the royalty that they were. Shortly after, he helped the brothers return to Mycenae
Mycenae
to overthrow Thyestes, forcing him to live in Cytheria, where he died. As a token of good will and allegiance, King Tyndareus
Tyndareus
offered his daughters to Agamemnon
Agamemnon
and Menelaus
Menelaus
as wives, Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
and Helen respectively. When Agamemnon
Agamemnon
left Mycenae
Mycenae
for the Trojan War, Aegisthus
Aegisthus
seduced Agamemnon's wife, Clytemnestra, and the couple plotted to kill her husband upon his return. They succeeded, killing Agamemnon
Agamemnon
and his new concubine, Cassandra. Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
and Aegisthus
Aegisthus
had three children: Aletes, Erigone, and Helen who died as an infant. Seven or eight years after the death of Agamemnon, Agamemnon's son Orestes returned to Mycenae
Mycenae
and, with the help of his cousin Pylades and his sister Electra, killed both their mother, Clytemnestra, and Aegisthus. Tired of the bloodshed, the gods exonerated Orestes and declared this the end of the curse on the house of Atreus, as described in Aeschylus' play The Eumenides. However, other stories say that when Aletes and Erigone came of age and became rulers at Mycenae, Orestes returned with an army then killed his half-brother and raped his half-sister, who gave birth to a son, Penthilus. Theatre[edit] Further information: Thyestes
Thyestes
(Seneca) In the first century AD, Seneca the Younger
Seneca the Younger
wrote a tragedy called Thyestes. In 1560 Jasper Heywood, then a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, published a verse translation. Shakespeare's tragedy Titus Andronicus derives some of its plot elements from the story of Thyestes. In 1681, John Crowne wrote Thyestes, A Tragedy, based closely on Seneca's Thyestes, but with the incongruous addition of a love story. Prosper Jolyot Crebillon (1674-1762) wrote a tragedy "Atree et Thyeste" (1707), which is prominent in two tales of ratiocination by Edgar Allan Poe. In 1796, Ugo Foscolo
Ugo Foscolo
(1778–1827) wrote a tragedy called Tieste that was first presented in Venice
Venice
one year later. Caryl Churchill, a British dramatist, also wrote a rendition of Thyestes. Churchill's specific translation was performed at the Royal Court Theater Upstairs in London on June 7, 1994[1] In 2004, Jan van Vlijmen (1935–2004) completed his opera Thyeste. The libretto was a text in French by Hugo Claus, based on his 20th century play with the same title (in Dutch: Thyestes). Thyestes
Thyestes
appears in Ford Ainsworth's one-act play, Persephone. Inspiration for Literature[edit] Seneca's influence in literature is reflected through other works. In Arnold's Sonnet on Shakespeare, the influence of Seneca is apparent. "The reminiscence of Atreus’ speech in the Thyestes
Thyestes
of Seneca, which might subtend Cleopatra’s own passionate, distended rhetoric about Antony" (Edgecombe, 257).[2]

Bibliotheca Epitome 2.10-2.15 Hyginus, Fabulae, 85: Chrysippus, 86:Sons of Pelops, 88:Atreus Aeschylus' Agamemnon Edgar Allan Poe, The Purloined Letter, 140

Authority control

GND: 118622471

References[edit]

^ Seneca; Churchill, Caryl. Thyestes. : Nick Hern Books, 2014. Ebook Library. Web. 21 Oct. 2015. ^ Edgecombe, Rodney Stenning. "A Debt To Seneca In Arnold's Sonnet On Shakespeare." Notes And Queries 60.2 (

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