Achelous is in Greek mythology, a river god who turned himself into a serpent to overcome his rival, HERACLES, for the hand of DEIANIRA. Heracles finally subdued Achelous and won the maiden. Rivers and their gods were worshiped by the Greeks, who believed them to be the offspring of the gods OCEANUS and TETHYS.
Taken from : Greek and Roman Mythology A to Z, Revised Edition – Written by Kathleen N. Daly and Revised by Marian Rengel- Copyright © 2004, 1992 by Kathleen N. Daly

Achelous (he who drives away grief?) In Greek mythology, the oldest of the river gods, son of Oceanus and Tethys; also the name of the river in northwestern Greece that forms part of the boundary between Aetolia and Acarnania. Achelous was the eldest of the 3,000 sons of Oceanus and Tethys and was the father of the Sirens. As a water god, Achelous was capable of metamorphosis and could turn himself into a serpent or an ox.

In the form of an ox, when fighting with Heracles for the possession of Deianira, he lost one horn, which was later returned in exchange for the horn of Amalthea. Achelous was worshipped all over Greece and its colonies, especially Rhodes, Italy, and Sicily. At Dodona the oracle’s answers always contained an injunction to sacrifice to Achelous. Ovid’s Metamorphoses (book 8) tells of the god.

Milton refers to the horn of Achelous in his Animadversions Upon the Remonstrant’s Defence, in which he writes: “Repair the Acheloian horn of your dilemma how you can.” Rubens portrays the god in his painting The Feast of Achelous.


Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow
Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante