Peleus - Greek King

Image ID: 1624109 [Peleus tries to subdue the Nereid Thetis] (1894)
Image ID: 1624109 [Peleus tries to subdue the Nereid Thetis] (1894). NYPL Digital Gallery

Definition: Peleus was the son of Aeacus, King of Aegina and the father of the great Greek hero Achilles. Peleus' mother was Endeis. Peleus was banished along with his brother Telamon for murdering their step-brother Phocus. Eurytion of Phthia, uncle of Peleus and Telamon, received Peleus and gave him his daughter Antigone as wife along with a third of his land. Peleus accompanied Eurytion on the Calydonian boar hunt and killed him by accident.

Peleus then fled to Iolcus.

When Peleus arrived in Iolcus, Acastus was holding funeral games for his father, King Pelias (note that the two names are similar, but Pelias is the king who sent Jason after the golden fleece). Astydameia (also spelled Astydamia), the wife of Acastus, fell in love with Peleus and when Peleus scorned her, Astydameia sent a message to Peleus' wife Antigone that led Antigone to commit suicide. Peleus later killed, dismembered and dishonored the corpse of Astydameia.

Following the death of his first wife, Antigone, Peleus married Polydora, a granddaughter of Perseus (slayer of Medusa) and Andromeda and then the nymph Thetis -- when Zeus gave up on her. It was to their wedding that the goddess of discord, Eris, was not invited. The result was the apple of discord, the Judgment of Paris and the Trojan War. Peleus and Thetis had a son, Achilles.

The goddess Demeter had once tried to make a mortal child immortal by dipping him in fire.

When Demeter was caught in the act, the mortal mother was horrified, but not nearly as angry as the interrupted and rebuffed goddess. A similar event happened in the household of Peleus. When he became agitated by his wife's attempt to make their son Achilles immortal, Thetis took off, leaving Peleus to take care of the boy.

Peleus turned him over to the centaur Chiron who had helped him once before when Peleus was in trouble because of Astydameia.