A son of Poseidon (or Cretheus)1 and Tyro. The latter, a daughter of Salmoneus, was in love, in her youth, with the river god Enipeus, and Poseidon assuming the appearance of Enipeus, visited her, and became by her the father of Pelias and Neleus. Afterwards she was married to Cretheus, her father's brother; she became by him the mother of Aeson, Pheres, and Amythaon2 Pelias and Neleus were exposed by their mother, and one of them was struck by a mare which passed by, so that his face became black, and a shepherd who found the child called him Pelias (from πελιόω, pelioō);3 and the other child which was suckled by a she-dog, was called Neleus, and both were brought up by the shepherd.

When they had grown up to manhood, they discovered who their mother was, and Pelias killed Sidero, the second wife of Salmoneus and step-mother of Tyro, at the altar of Hera, because she had ill used her step-daughter Tyro.

After the death of Cretheus, Pelias did not allow his step-brother Aeson to undertake the government of the kingdom, and after expelling even his own brother Neleus he ruled at Iolcus,4 whereas according to others, he did not reign at Iolcus till after Aeson's death, and even then only as the guardian of Jason, the son of Aeson.5 It is probably in allusion to his conduct towards his own brothers that Hesiod6 calls him ὑβριστή (hybristē). He married, according to some,7 Anaxibia, the daughter of Bias, and according to others, Philomache, the daughter of Amphion, by whom he became the father of Acastus, Pisidice, Pelopia, Hippothoe and Alcestis.8

Besides these daughters of Pelias (the Peliades), several others are mentioned, such as Medusa,9 Amphinome, Evadne,10 Asteropeia and Antinoe.11 The Peliades were represented on the chest of Cypselus, where however the name of Alcestis alone was written.12 After the murder of their father, they are said to have fled from Iolcus to Mantineia in Arcadia, where their tombs also were shown.13 Jason, after his return from Colchis, gave Alcestis in marriage to Admetus, Amphinome to Andraemon, and Evadne to Canes,14 though according to the common story, Pelias himself gave Alcestis to Admetus.

After Pelias had taken possession of the kingdom of Iolcus, he sent Jason, the son of his step-brother Aeson, to Colchis to fetch the golden fleece, and as he did not anticipate his return, he murdered Aeson and his son Promachus. After the return of Jason, Pelias was cut to pieces and boiled by his own daughters, who had been told by Medea that in this manner they might restore their father to vigor and youth. His son, Acastus, held solemn funeral games in his honor at Iolcus, and expelled Jason and Medea from the country.15

Pelias is further mentioned as one of the first who celebrated the Olympian games.16


On a lost painting of the underworld by Polygnotus at Delphi, Pelias was shown, seated on a throne. He is as such portrayed on various Greek vases. Sometimes he is shown leaning on a staff while Medea is planning her revenge.