by Dr. Alena Trckova-Flamee, Ph.D.
Aleus, who was the son of Apheidas and the grandson of Arcas, became the king of the Arcadian city Tegea in the Peloponnese. He married Neaera, the daughter of Pereus, and he had by her four children. Their son Cepheus later succeeded Aleus as the ruler of Tegea and was the ally of Heracles in the expedition against Sparta. The second son Lycurgus was sometimes also mentioned as the king of Tegea and his son was known as a member of the expedition with Jason to Colchis. Amphidamas and Auge were the other children of Aleus.
Once, when Aleus was visiting Delphi, the oracle told him that the brothers of his wife would be killed by his grandson. Because of this Aleus ordered his daughter Auge to become a priestess and threatened her with a certain death if she would ever have a child. Thus Auge served the goddess Athena Alea in her temple at Tegea, which was founded by Aleus (aleo in Greek means to grind flour from wheat).
One day Heracles arrived at Tegea and Aleus entertained him with wine. Heracles became intoxicated and violated Auge. She became pregnant and gave birth to a boy whom she concealed in the temple. Because of this profanation, the country was visited by a famine. The Pythia of Delphi reported that the sacred place of Athena Alea had been desecrated because Auge, the priestess of Athena Alea, had given birth to a boy.
Aleus ordered that the child was to be abandoned on Mount Parthenion. There it was suckled by a deer (hence the boy's name, Telephus) and later found by herdsmen. Aleus was reluctant to kill his own daughter so he called upon king Nauplius of Euboea to drown her. Nauplius sold her to slavers from Caria instead, who in turn sold her to king Teuthras of Mysia. According to another version of the myth, Aleus had Auge and her baby put in a chest and thrown in the sea. They arrived — with the help of the goddess Athena — at Mysia in Asia Minor, where Teuthras married her and adopted her son Telephus. The boy was later venerated there as the forefather of Pergamon's royal lineage. This story is represented in the small frieze of the Pergamon Altar in the Berlin Museum.
The myth about Aleus and his daughter Auge is related to an historical event and explains the migration of the Greek colonists from the region Arcadia to Mysia in Asia Minor.
- Appolodorus. The Library i, 7.4 a; iii, 9.1.
- Pausanias. Description of Greece viii, 4, 5-6a, 23.1, 47, 2.