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Sarpedon: Wikis


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In Greek mythology, Sarpedon (Greek: Σαρπηδὠν; gen.: Σαρπηδόνος) referred to at least three different people.


Son of Zeus and Europa

The first Sarpedon was a son of Zeus and Europa, and brother to Minos and Rhadamanthys. He was raised by King Asterion and then banished by Minos, and sought refuge with his uncle, King Cilix. Sarpedon conquered the Milyans, and ruled over them; his kingdom was named Lycia, after his successor, Lycus, son of Pandion II.

Son of Zeus and Laodamia

The death of Sarpedon, depicted in Lycian attire, at the hands of Patroclus. Red-figure hydria from Heraclea, c.400 BCE.

The second Sarpedon was a son of Zeus and Laodamia, daughter of Bellerophon, and also a Lycian King. Sarpedon became king when his uncles withdrew their claim to Lycia. He fought on the side of the Trojans, with his cousin Glaucus, during the Trojan War becoming one of Troy's greatest allies and heroes.

He scolded Hector in the Iliad claiming that he left all the hard fighting to the allies of Troy and not to the Trojans themselves and made the point to say that the Lycians had no reason to fight the Greeks, or no real reason to hate them, but because he was a faithful ally to Troy he would do so and fight his best anyway. When the Trojans attacked the newly built wall by the Greeks, Sarpedon led his division (which also included Glaucus and Asteropaios) to the forefront of the battle and caused Ajax and Teucer to shift their attention from Hector's attack to that of Sarpedon's forces. He personally held up the battlements and was the first to enter the Greek encampment. This attack allowed Hector to break through the Greek wall. It was during this action that Sarpedon delivered a noblesse oblige speech to Glaucus (12.310-28), stating that they had been the most honoured kings, therefore they must now fight the most to repay that honour and prove themselves and repay their loyal subjects. While he was preparing to plunge into battle, he told Glaucus that together they would go on to glory: if they were successful, the glory would be their own; if not, the glory of whoever stopped them would be the greater.

The death of Sarpedon, depicted on the obverse of Euphronios krater, c.515 BCE.

When Patroclus entered the battle in the armour of Achilles, Sarpedon met him in combat. Zeus debated with himself whether to spare his son's life even though he was fated to die by the hand of Patroclus. He would have done so had Hera not reminded him that other gods' sons were fighting and dying and other gods' sons were fated to die as well. If Zeus should spare his son from his fate, another god might do the same; therefore Zeus let Sarpedon die while fighting Patroclus, but not before killing the only mortal horse of Achilles. During their fight, Zeus sent a shower of bloody raindrops over the Trojans' heads expressing the grief for the impending death of his son.

Sarpedon carried away by Sleep and Death, by Henry Fuseli, 1803.

When Sarpedon fell, mortally wounded, he called on Glaucus to rescue his body and arms. Patroclus withdrew the spear he had embedded in Sarpedon, and as it left Sarpedon's body his spirit went with it. A violent struggle then ensued over the body of the fallen king. The Greeks succeeded in gaining his armour (which was later given as a prize in the funeral games for Patroclus), but Zeus had Apollo rescue the corpse. Apollo took the corpse and cleaned it, then delivered it to Slumber (Hypnos)and Death (Thanatos), who took it back to Lycia for funeral honours.

One account holds that the first and second Sarpedon are both the same man, and that Zeus granted Sarpedon an extraordinarily long life that had to end at the Trojan War. However, the favoured account is that Sarpedon, brother of Minos, and Sarpedon, who fought at Troy, were different men who lived generations apart. A genealogical link is provided between the two Sarpedons, through Laodamia. Laodamia is said to have married Evander, son of the first Sarpedon, and to have presented Evander with a son named Sarpedon (in reality her son by Zeus).

See: Iliad books: II, IV, XII, XVI.

There is also an asteroid named after the Trojan hero, 2223 Sarpedon.

Son of Poseidon

A third Sarpedon was a Thracian son of Poseidon, and brother to Poltys, King of Aenus. Unlike the other two Sarpedons, this Thracian Sarpedon was not a hero, but an insolent individual who was killed by Heracles.

See also


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

SARPEDON, in Greek legend, son of Zeus and Laodameia, Lycian prince and hero of the Trojan war. He fought on the side of the Trojans, and after greatly distinguishing himself by his bravery, was slain by Patroclus. A terrible struggle took place for the possession of his body, until Apollo rescued it from the Greeks, and by the command of Zeus washed and cleansed it, anointed it with ambrosia, and handed it over to Sleep and Death, by whom it was conveyed for burial to Lycia, where a sanctuary (Sarpedoneum) was erected in honour of the fallen hero. Virgil (Aen. i. loo) knows nothing of the removal of the body to Lycia. In later tradition, Sarpedon was the son of Zeus and Europa and the brother of Minos. Having been expelled from Crete by the latter, he and his comrades sailed for Asia, where he finally became king of Lycia. Euripides (Rhesus, 29) confuses the two Sarpedons.

See Homer, Iliad, V. 479, xii. 292, xvi. 419-683; Apollodorus iii. I, 2; Appian, Bell. civ. iv. 78; Herodotus i. 173., with Rawlinson's notes.

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