Nauplius (mythology)

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In Greek mythology, Nauplius[pronunciation?] (Greek: Ναύπλιος) was the name of two characters, one descended from the other. The name may originally have been applied to one character, the founder of the city of Nauplia (modern Nafplion) in Argolis. Ancient mythographers realized that the birth of Nauplius I as a grandson of Danaus was incompatible with the stories connected to Nauplius as it relates to Palamedes and the Trojan War, which occurred many generations after Danaus ruled in Argolis.[1] So a genealogy was created to link the two characters named Nauplius: Nauplius I - Proetus - Lernus - Naubolus - Clytoneus - Nauplius II.[2] (Note that Proetus here is apparently not the same as Proetus, son of Abas). The author of the Bibliotheca still holds that there was only one Nauplius, the son of Poseidon, suggesting that he had a fantastically long life span and explicitly identifying him with the father of Palamedes.[3] Hyginus too equates the Argonaut Nauplius with the son of Poseidon and Amymone.[4]

Nauplius (son of Poseidon)[edit]

This Nauplius was the son of the god Poseidon by Amymone, daughter of Danaus.[3][5] This Nauplius reputedly founded Nauplia,[6] of which the inhabitants Pausanias believed were descendants of the Egyptians who had once arrived with Danaus to Argolis,[7] he was renowned as an expert seafarer, and possibly the inventor of seafaring as a practice; a harbor equipped by him to function as a port was said to have been named in his honor.[8] According to Pherecydes, he was father of Damastor, through him grandfather of Peristhenes and great-grandfather of Dictys and Polydectes.[9]

Nauplius (son of Clytoneus)[edit]

Nauplius,son of Clytoneus

This is the more famous Nauplius, and was great-great-grandson of his namesake, the founder of Nauplia. Like Nauplius I, Nauplius II also ruled over Nauplia (although other accounts say he ruled in Euboea), this Nauplius was counted among the Argonauts,[2][4][10] and was one of those who volunteered to steer the Argo after Tiphys' death.[11] He was credited with discovery of the constellation Ursa Major,[12] the Cretan king Catreus, fearful of the possibility of being killed by one of his own children, gave his two daughters, Aerope and Clymene, to Nauplius to sell them away. Instead, Nauplius married Clymene and gave Aerope in marriage to Atreus (or Pleisthenes); Clymene later bore to Nauplius three sons, named Palamedes, Oeax and Nausimedon. Some authors held that Nauplius' wife was named Philyra or Hesione;[13] in a local Tegean version, Auge was also given to Nauplius by her father to be drowned in the sea as she had been raped by Heracles and was about to give birth to Telephus.[14]

Nauplius' son Palamedes fought in the Trojan War, but was killed by fellow Achaeans as a result of Odysseus' intrigues. Nauplius went to Troy to demand justice for the death of his son, however no one listened. Consequently, Nauplius swore revenge against King Agamemnon and the other Greek leaders, as the Greeks were sailing home from Troy after the close of the war, Nauplius lit beacon fires along the perilous coastline of Euboea, and many ships were shipwrecked as a result.[15] Before this point, he also convinced many of the lonely wives of the Greek commanders to be unfaithful to their husbands, and to conspire against them - including Clytemnestra, (Agamemnon's wife) who joined with Aigisthos, Aegiale (wife of Diomedes) who committed adultery with Cometes and others, and Meda (wife of Idomeneus) who was unfaithful with Leucos.[16][17][18][19] Oeax and Nausimedon were apparently killed by Pylades as they arrived to aid Aegisthus.[20]

According to Plutarch, a location on Euboea was referred to as "The Youth's Conventicle" because when Nauplius came to Chalcis as a suppliant, both being prosecuted by the Achaeans and charging against them, the city's people provided him with a guard of young men, which was stationed at this place.[21]


  1. ^ Cf. Strabo, Geography, 8. 6. 2
  2. ^ a b Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 1. 136 ff.
  3. ^ a b Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, 2. 1. 5
  4. ^ a b Hyginus, Fabulae, 14
  5. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae, 169
  6. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2. 38. 2
  7. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece, 4. 35. 2
  8. ^ Scholia on Euripides, Orestes, 54
  9. ^ Scholia on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 4. 1091
  10. ^ Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica, 1. 372
  11. ^ Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 2. 896
  12. ^ Theon in scholia on Aratus, Phaenomena 27
  13. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, 2.1.5; 3.2.2
  14. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8. 48. 7
  15. ^ Apollodorus, Library, 2.1
  16. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, Epitome of Book 4, 6. 7 - 11
  17. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae, 116
  18. ^ Tzetzes on Lycophron, 384
  19. ^ Ipg 86 Apollodorus, and Hyginus. Apollodorus' Library and Hyginus' Fabulae: Two Handbooks of Greek Mythology. Trans. R. Scott Smith and Stephen Trzaskoma. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2007
  20. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1. 22. 6, without mention of the sons' names
  21. ^ Plutarch, Quaestiones Graecae, 33