Pelops (muddy face) In Greek mythology, a hero, son of Tantalus and Atlas’s daughter, Dione; brother of Niobe; father of Atreus and Thyestes. When he was a child, his father killed him, cooked him, and served him at a feast of the gods to test whether a god would recognize human flesh. Only Demeter, mourning the loss of Persephone, ate part of Pelops’s shoulder bone. Hermes reconstructed Pelops’s body, and Demeter gave him an ivory shoulder to replace the one she had eaten. As a man, Pelops fell in love with Hippodameia. To win her hand, he had to enter a chariot race against her father, Oenomaus. He won by bribing Oenomaus’s charioteer, Myrtilus, to remove the axle pin of Oenomaus’s chariot just before the race. After his victory Pelops killed Myrtilus, either to avoid paying him or perhaps to silence the only witness to his crime, by casting him in the ocean afterward called Myrtoan, Myrtilus, or Oenomaus. His tale appears in Pindar, Appollonius, Hyginus, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses (book 6). The preparations for the chariot race appear on the east pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia.


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