A son of Aphareus and Arene, the daughter of Oebalus, whence he and his brother Lynceus are called Apharetides, or Aphareidae. He was married to Marpessa, and became by her the father of Cleopatra or Alcyone.1 His mother is also called Polydora, Laocoosa, or Arne.2 His daughter was called Alcyone, because Marpessa was once carried off by Apollo, and lamented over the separation from her beloved husband, as Alcyone had once wept about Ceyx.3

Idas carried off Marpessa, the daughter of Evenus, for whose hand Apollo also was suing, and was assisted by Poseidon, who gave him a winged chariot. Evenus, who pursued him, could not overtake him, but Apollo found him in Messene, and took the maiden from him. The two lovers fought for her possession, but Zeus separated them, and left the decision with Marpessa, who chose Idas, from fear lest Apollo should desert her if she grew old.4

The two brothers, Idas and Lynceus, also took part in the Calydonian hunt,5 and in the expedition of the Argonauts.6 In the latter expedition Idas killed the boar which had destroyed Idmon in the kingdom of Lycus,7 but when he attempted to deprive Teuthras, king of Mysia, of his kingdom, he was conquered by Telephus and Parthenopaeus.8

The most celebrated part of the story of the Apharetidae is their fight with the Dioscuri, with whom they had grown up from their childhood. Once, so the story runs, the Aphareidae and Dioscuri conjointly carried off some herds from Arcadia, and Idas was requested to divide the booty into equal parts. He thereupon divided a bull into four parts, declaring that he who should have eaten his quarter first should have half the booty, and the one who should finish his next should have the other half. Idas himself not only devoured his own quarter, but also that of his brother, and then drove away the whole herd into Messenia.

The Dioscuri, however, dissatisfied with this mode of proceeding, marched into Messenia, carried off the Arcadian oxen, together with much other booty made in Messenia, and lay in ambush in a hollow oak tree to wait for Idas and Lynceus. The latter, whose eyes were so keen that he could see through every thing, discovered Castor through the trunk of the oak, and pointed him out to Idas, who killed him. Polydeuces, in order to avenge his brother, pursued them and ran Lynceus through with his spear. Idas, in return, struck Polydeuces with a stone so violently, that he fell and fainted; whereupon Zeus slew Idas with a flash of lightning.9

This fight between the Aphareidae and the Dioscuri, which is placed by some writers in Messenia, by others in Laconia, and by Ovid in the neighborhood of Aphidna, is related, with sundry variations, by Theocritus,10 Pindar,11 and Hyginus.12

The tomb of the Aphareidae was shown at Sparta as late as the time of Pausanias,13 who, however, thinks that in reality they had been buried in Messenia, where the fight had taken place.


They were represented in a painting, together with their father Aphareus, in a temple at Messene.14 Idas alone was represented on the chest of Cypselus in the act of leading Marpessa out of the temple of Apollo, who had carried her off.15