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King Echetus (Ἔχετος) exists within Greek mythology, he is the son of Euchenor (Εὐχήνωρ, gen.: Εὐχήνορος) and Phlogea (Φλόγεα), and was the cruel king of Epirus.

Mention in the Odyssey

He is mentioned in Book 18 of Homer's Odyssey, and is described as the "destroyer of all mortals" by Antinous (one of the suitors).[1]

In the book, the beggar Irus was threatened with being handed over to Echetus, who would then have had Irus' nose and ears cut off and thrown to his dogs. A story is described how Echetus had a daughter, Metope, who had an intrigue with a lover; as a punishment Echetus mutilated the lover and blinded Metope by piercing her eyes with bronze needles. He then incarcerated her in a tower and gave her grains of bronze, promising that she would regain her sight when she had ground these grains into flour.

Theories on the basis of Echetus

It is thought that he was a mythological creation, used to scare disobedient children or used as the villain in bedtime stories. An alternate theory is that Echetus was a real king around the time of Homer, and that he was quite deformed and possibly a cannibal; no evidence currently exists to support this theory, however.

References

  1. ^ Homer (800 to 600 BCE). Odyssey.  
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