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Headword: Λυκάων
Adler number: lambda,797
Translated headword: Lykaon, Lukaon, Lycaon
Vetting Status: high
[Lykaon,] the son of Pelasgos, king of the Arcadians, justly guarded the instructions of his father. And because he too wanted to keep his subjects from injustice he said that Zeus came to him all the time, in the guise of a mortal guest, to inspect both the just and unjust. And one time, preparing to entertain the god [at dinner] (as he put it), he made a sacifice.[1] Those present at the sacrifice wanted to know whether they really were going to having a god as their guest; and, since Lycaon had fifty sons, as they say, from many wives, they sacrificed one of his children and mixed him in with the meat of the sacrifice, so that they would not fail to learn whether a god was really coming. Then great storms and lightning strikes were sent by the divine, and they say all the child’s murderers perished.
Greek Original:
Λυκάων, ὁ Πελασγοῦ υἱὸς, βασιλεὺς Ἀρκάδων, ἐφύλαττε τὰ τοῦ πατρὸς εἰσηγήματα ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ. ἀποστῆσαι δὲ βουλόμενος καὶ αὐτὸς τῆς ἀδικίας τοὺς ἀρχομένους ἔφη τὸν Δία ἑκάστοτε φοιτᾶν παρ' αὐτὸν, ἀνδρὶ ξένῳ ὁμοιούμενον, εἰς ἔποψιν τῶν δικαίων τε καὶ ἀδίκων. καί ποθ', ὡς αὐτὸς ἔφη, μέλλων ὑποδέχεσθαι τὸν θεόν, θυσίαν ἐπιτελεῖν. τῶν δὲ υἱῶν αὐτοῦ πεντήκοντα ὥς φασιν ὄντων ἐκ πολλῶν γυναικῶν, βουλόμενοι γνῶναι οἱ τῇ θυσίᾳ παρόντες, εἰ τῷ ὄντι θεὸν μέλλουσι ξενοδοχεῖν, θύσαντές τινα παῖδα ἐγκατέμιξαν τοῖς τοῦ ἱερείου κρέασιν, ὡς οὐ λήσοντες, εἴπερ ὄντως θεὸς ἔπεισιν. ὑπὸ δὲ τοῦ δαιμονίου χειμώνων μεγάλων καὶ κεραυνῶν ῥαγέντων, φασὶ τοὺς αὐτόχειρας ἅπαντας τοῦ παιδὸς ἀπολέσθαι.
Greek mythology knew of three men called Lykaon (see OCD(4) s.v. Lycaon): a son of Priam killed at Troy by Achilles in Homer, Iliad 21.34-135; another Trojan, the father of Pandaros (Iliad 2.826-7); and the Arkadian king of the present entry.
This version of the Lykaon myth is Nicolaus of Damascus FGrH 90 F38 (preserved in Constantinus VII Porphyrogenitus, On Virtues and Vices 1.340). In this version the impiety of Lykaon's people is emphasized; in other versions Lykaon himself is the impious figure and is punished by being turned into the wolf (lykos) which echoes his name.
Apollodorus, also, credits him with 'fifty' sons, though Pausanias (8.3.1-5) could name only 28.
For the myth and primary source references, see Graves (1955), sect. 38. For general bibliography on Greek myth see web address 1, and for primary source citations and translations of key passages concerning myths see the Theoi site at web address 2.
[1] The transmitted text of this short sentence has no main verb, but Jacoby notes the proposal of Va(lckenaer) to emend the closing infinitive ἐπιτελεῖν to ἐπιτελεῖ .
Graves, R. The Greek Myths, 2 vols., George Braziller: New York, 1955
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2
Keywords: biography; children; ethics; food; geography; historiography; mythology; religion; women
Translated by: Abram Ring on 23 February 2006@19:18:27.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (tweaked tr; augmented headword, notes, keywords) on 24 February 2006@03:38:29.
Catharine Roth (tweaked translation, raised status) on 24 February 2006@11:35:39.
David Whitehead (tweaked tr; cosmetics) on 29 August 2007@04:39:45.
David Whitehead (more keywords; tweaking) on 23 April 2013@06:27:52.
David Whitehead on 5 August 2014@03:54:02.


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