Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greece

Greek Heroes » Pelias

Pelias, the power-loving King of Iolcos

Family of Pelias

Pelias was a son of greek god Poseidon and the mortal Tyro. Pelias had a twin brother with the name Neleus and a half-brother called Aeson, who was the father of the Greek hero Jason.

The early years of Pelias

In their infancy, Pelias and Neleus were abandoned by their mother on a mountain and were raised by a mare and a bitch respectively (and later on by a shepherd). One day, the mare kicked Pelias on the face and left a big mark on his cheek. According to the legend, Pelias took his name from this bruise,since "Pelios" means black, bruised in Ancient Greek.

Pelias, Jason and the Kingdom of Iolcos

Later on in their lives, the two twins were accepted by their mother and started arguing about the kingdom of Iolcos. Pelias , passionate to overthrow his brother Aeson, sought an oracle to foretell him the future. The oracle adviced him to beware a man coming from the country wearing a single sandal. So Pelias decided to kill all the descendants of Aeson, except of the infant Jason, whom his mother pretended to be still-born.

Jason grew up in Mount Pelion and his upbringing was undertaken by the wise centaur Chiron.

When Jason came of age, he returned to Iolcos in order to claim the throne of the city, wearing only one sandal.So Pelias sent  him on a journey in search of the Golden Fleece in order to win back the throne.

The Death of Pelias

The Murder of Pelias by His Daughters, Detail of a painting by Georges Moreau de Tours (1878)
After plenty of adventures, Jason returned to Iolcos, only to discover that his parents were killed by Pelias in the meantime. Thirsty for revenge, Jason asked from his wife, the enchantress Medea, to do a trick: to slaughter an old ram in front of Pelias' daughters, chop it into pieces and revive it with magical filters  in the form of a little lamb. Impressed by the magic, the naive daughters of Pelias tried to do the same to their aged father in order to rejuvenate him: they sliced him into pieces- but without all the magical herbs this time-and murdered Pelias accidentally.