ALCMAEON, one of the SEVEN AGAINST THEBES, cursed by his mother, finally found refuge on an island newly formed from silt carried down by the river Achelous.

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

Alcmaeon (strong youth) In Greek mythology, son of Amphiaraus and Eriphyle and brother of Amphilochus. Alcmaeon took part in the expedition of the Epigoni against Thebes. On his return home he killed his mother at the instigation of his father, and as punishment he was driven mad and haunted by the Erinyes. Alcmaeon went to Phegeus, in Psophis, to be purified by Phegeus and was then given Phegeus’s daughter Arsinoe (or Alphesiboea). He gave her the jewels of Harmonia, which he had brought from Argos.

In a short time the crops failed, and he again went mad. Wandering, he eventually arrived at the mouth of the Achelous River. There he found an island that had not been there when his mother cursed him, and he was cured of his madness. He then married Achelous’s daughter Callirrhoë and had two sons, Acarnan and Amphoterus. Unable to resist his wife’s entreaties that she have Harmonia’s necklace and robe, he went to Phegeus in Arcadia and took them, pretending they would be dedicated at Delphi for the healing of his madness.

When Phegeus learned he had been deceived, Alcmaeon was killed. His death was avenged by his two sons. He was worshipped at a sanctuary at Thebes that was said to contain his tomb. Alcmaeon is cited in Dante’s Divine Comedy (Purgatory, canto 12; Paradise, canto 4).


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