A son of Pelasgus by Meliboea, the daughter of Oceanus, and king of Arcadia.1 Others call him a son of Pelasgus by Cyllene,2 and Dionysius of Halicarnassus3 distinguishes between an elder and a younger Lycaon, the former of whom is called a son of Aezeus and father of Deianeira, by whom Pelasgus became the father of the younger Lycaon.
The traditions about him place Lycaon in very different lights, for according to some, he was a barbarian who even defied the gods,4 while others describe him as the first civiliser of Arcadia, who built the town of Lycosura, and introduced the worship of Zeus Lycaeus. It is added that he sacrificed a child on the altar of Zeus, and that during the sacrifice he was changed by Zeus into a wolf.5
By several wives Lycaon became the father of a large number of sons, some say fifty, and others only twenty-two; but neither their number nor their names are the same in all accounts.6 The sons of Lycaon are said to have been notorious for their insolence and impiety, and Zeus visited them in the disguise of a poor man, with a view to punish them. They invited him to a repast, and on the suggestion of one of them, Maenalus, they mixed in one of the dishes set before him the entrails of a boy whom they had murdered. According to Ovid, Zeus was recognized and worshiped by the Arcadian people, but Lycaon, after a vain attempt to kill the god, resolved to try him with the dish of human flesh.7 However, Zeus pushed away the table which bore the horrible food, and the place where this happened was afterwards called Trapezus. Lycaon and all his sons, with the exception of the youngest (or eldest), Nyctimus, were killed by Zeus with a flash of lightning, or according to others, were changed into wolves.8
- Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library iii, 8.1.
- Scholiast on Euripides' Orestes, 1642.
- i, 11, 13.
- Ovid. Metamorphoses i, 198 ff.
- Pausanias. Description of Greece viii, 2.1; comp. Ovid. Metamorphoses i, 237.
- Pseudo-Apollodorus, Dionysius, ll.cc.; Pausanias. Description of Greece viii, 3.1; Eustathius on Homer, p. 313.
- Tzetzes on Lycophron, 481; Eratosthenes. Catasterismi, 8.
- Ovid, Tzetzes. ll.cc.; Pausanias. Description of Greece viii, 3.1.
- Pseudo-Apollodorus, l.c.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.