The Children of Odysseus, Part 6: Babies with Princesses

For the past several weeks, we have been looking at the children of Odysseus.

Here’s the full list, 17 names for sons (for, I think, 13 individuals) and a daughter:

Telemakhos and Arkesilaos/Ptoliporthes (Penelope) [Eustathius/Pausanias]
Agrios, Latinus and Telegonos (Kirke [Hesiod]) or Auson [Lykophron]
Rhomos, Antias, Ardeas (Kirke) [Dionysus of Halicarnassos]
Nausithoos and Nausinoos (Kalypso) [Hesiod]
Leontophron or Dorukles or Euryalos (Euippê, Epirote Princess) [Eustathius]
Polypoitês (Kallidikê, Thesprotian Princess) [Proklos]
Leontophronos (Daughter of Thoas, Aitolian Princess) [Apollodoros]

And one daughter:

Kassiphone (Kirke) [Lykophron]

The primary children emphasize certain themes: his ‘core’ family in the Homeric Odyssey; his association with western settlements and travel through his children with the goddesses; and the Homeric Odyssey’s willingness to suppress or ignore details inconsonant with its aims. (And, although it is possible some of the children are ‘later’ than our Odyssey tradition, it seems unlikely that this is true for all of them.)

One of the things we can also see is that Odysseus provides a genealogical touchstone for cities outside of the Greek center (observed by Irad Malkin among others) and that in this capacity he often overlaps with Herakles (directly or through their heirs). In his pairing with various princess we also get an idea of his (1) post-Odyssean career; (2) the various ways in which his mythical genealogy spreads; and (3) his malleability as a mythical character. In turn this also helps us learn a bit more about the strategies of our Odyssey which silences most of these traditions but acknowledges the continuation of Odysseus’ tale after the epic’s end.

(And, perhaps, our desire for the tale to go on indefinitely)

Odysseus’ children with princesses are all sons and there are three women, all of them located on Greece’s west coast. We can choose to understand these as variations on the same theme. Conceivably, these are the events barely alluded to when Teiresias prophesies in the Odyssey that Odysseus will have to go on another journey inland.


Leontophron or Dorukles or Euryalos (Euippê, Epirote Princess)


In his commentary to the Odyssey (2.117), Eustathius tells us about Odysseus’ son with the Princess of Epirus, Euippê: “According to Lysimachos, Odysseus’ son with Euippe the Thesprotian was named Leontophron, one others call Dorucles; and Sophocles says that Euryalos was born from her, the man Telemakhos killed” (κατὰ δὲ Λυσίμαχον υἱὸς αὐτῷ ἐξ Εὐίππης Θεσπρωτίδος Λεοντόφρων, ὃν ἄλλοι Δόρυκλόν φασί. Σοφοκλῆς δὲ ἐκ τῆς αὐτῆς Εὐρύαλον ἱστορεῖ, ὃν ἀπέκτεινε Τηλέμαχος).


Though part of this story is ascribed to Sophocles, the fullest account we have of it is in Parthenius’ Narrationes Amatoriae (3) where he describes Odysseus venturing to Epiros to find some oracles:


“Odysseus didn’t only do wrong concerning Aiolos, but also after going to sea, once he murdered the suitors, he arrived at Epirus in search of some oracles and he ruined Tyrimmas’ daughter, Euippê who received him kindly and entertained him with all willingness. Euryalos was born to her from him. When he came of age, his mother sent him to Ithaka with some signs sealed up in a tablet. By chance, Odysseus wasn’t there and Penelope, once she learned these things and because she had guessed about the affair with Euippê already persuaded Odysseus when he returned—but before he knew anyt of these things—to kill him because he [Euryalos] was plotting against him”



Οὐ μόνον δὲ ᾿Οδυσσεὺς περὶ Αἴολον ἐξήμαρτεν,
ἀλλὰ καὶ μετὰ τὴν ἄλην, ὡς τοὺς μνηστῆρας ἐφόνευσεν,
εἰς ῎Ηπειρον ἐλθὼν χρηστηρίων τινῶν ἕνεκα τὴν
Τυρίμμα θυγατέρα ἔφθειρεν Εὐίππην, ὃς αὐτὸν οἰκείως
τε ὑπεδέξατο καὶ μετὰ πάσης προθυμίας ἐξένιζεν. παῖς
δὲ αὐτῷ γίνεται ἐκ ταύτης Εὐρύαλος.
τοῦτον ἡ
μήτηρ, ἐπεὶ εἰς ἥβην ἦλθεν, ἀποπέμπεται εἰς ᾿Ιθάκην
συμβόλαιά τινα δοῦσα ἐν δέλτῳ κατεσφραγισμένα. τοῦ
δὲ ᾿Οδυσσέως κατὰ τύχην τότε μὴ παρόντος Πηνελόπη
καταμαθοῦσα ταῦτα καὶ ἄλλως δὲ προπεπυσμένη τὸν
τῆς Εὐίππης ἔρωτα πείθει τὸν ᾿Οδυσσέα παραγενόμενον,
πρὶν ἢ γνῶναί τι τούτων ὡς ἔχει, κατακτεῖναι τὸν
Εὐρύαλον ὡς ἐπιβουλεύοντα αὐτῷ.


There are some really interesting motifs here: first, we have a more contriving Penelope; the general knowledge of Odysseus’ affairs; and the theme of a son looking for his father repeated from tales like those of Theseus and Odysseus’ own Telegonus (not to mention the reflex of this found in the Odyssey where Telemachus too much search for Odysseus—note, he didn’t need to bring any sealed documents). I also feel badly for Euippê here. But we should perhaps not make too much of Parthenios’ account—he also has Odysseus corrupting Aiolos’ daughter Polymêlê. But note also the difference between Eustathius’ account and Parthenios’: in the former, Telemachus kills the bastard brother. Parthenios does seem more tragic.

The name Leontophron isn’t attested elsewhere (but is probably attracted here from the other narrative). The name Doryklos does appear in Asclepiades (fr. 8, Schol. Ap. Rhodes) where he is in the family of Agênor and is a song of Phoinix (whence the Phoenicians). In Apollodorus (3.125), he is listed as son of Hippokoôn, who drove Ikarios (Penelope’s father) and Tyndarios (Helen’s father) from Sparta. In this same tale, it is Herakles who kills Hippokoôn and his children.


Why bring this up? This admittedly minor name, Dorukles, is thus associated tendentiously with Odysseus’ family, Herakles and a broader geographic range. This doesn’t really prove anything, but it does illustrate to me why or how the name might come to be re-purposed for one of Odysseus’ sons on the geographical margins.


Polypoitês (Kallidikê, Thesprotian Princess)


What Odysseus does after the Odyssey is more often set in Thesprotia than Epirus (although, to be honest, the places are not too far apart) and mostly known from the summary attributed to Proklos (although some assumed an epic called the Thesprotis):

“After [the events of the Odyssey], Odysseus went to The Thesprotians and married Kallidikê the princess of the Thesprotians. When there was a war between the Thesprotians and the Brygoi, Odysseus led them. Ares was working against Odysseus and Athena stood against him. Apollo intervened in their conflict. After the death of Kallidikê, Polypoitês, Odysseus’ son, received the kingdom, and Odysseus returned to Ithaka.:


Proklos (see also Apollodoros E.7.34)

καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα εἰς Θεσπρωτοὺς ἀφικνεῖται καὶ γαμεῖ Καλλιδίκην βασιλίδα τῶν Θεσπρωτῶν.
ἔπειτα πόλεμος συνίσταται τοῖς Θεσπρωτοῖς πρὸς Βρύγους, ᾿Οδυσσέως ἡγουμένου· ἐνταῦθα ῎Αρης τοὺς περὶ τὸν ᾿Οδυσσέα τρέπεται, καὶ αὐτῷ εἰς μάχην ᾿Αθηνᾶ καθίσ-ταται· τούτους μὲν ᾿Απόλλων διαλύει.
μετὰ δὲ τὴν Καλλιδίκης τελευτὴν τὴν μὲν βασιλείαν διαδέχεται Πολυποίτης ᾿Οδυσσέως υἱός, αὐτὸς δ’ εἰς ᾿Ιθάκην ἀφικνεῖται.

Here we find some common traits: Odysseus has a son with a princess inland in North-central Greece. Unlike with the daughter of Tyrimmas, however, Odysseus marries this one and lives with her long enough for their son to grow up and for him to wage war protecting the town. One understands why the Homeric Odyssey might not be interested in this tale.


According to Proklos, this Thesprotian interlude was related in Eugammon’s lost Telegony and provides the time period necessary for Telegonos to grow up and come to Ithaka in search of his father. In some accounts, his Thesprotian trip is not the same trip he takes to satisfy the rage of Poseidon. The new marriage, war, and divine battle, seem to be appropriate to an independent local tradition (not that I have any evidence of one). Apollodorus, nevertheless, has Odysseus meeting Kallidikê after he travels through Epirus to get to Thesprotia, a convenient way to combine the two traditions.


Leontophronos (Daughter of Thoas, Aitolian Princess)


The final son-princess pair appear only in the story presented at the end of Apollodorus’ epitome (7.40)


There are some who say that when Odysseus was being accused by the family members of the suitors he killed, he took Neoptolemus as he judge who was king of the islands near Epirus. They also say that Neoptolemus, because believed that if Odysseus were out of the way he could gain control of Kephellania, decided upon exile for Odysseus and that he went to Aitolia to Thoas the son of Andraimôn and married his daughter. He died when he was on old man and left behind a child named Leontophonos.


εἰσὶ δὲ οἱ λέγοντες ἐγκαλούμενον Ὀδυσσέα ὑπὸ τῶν οἰκείων ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀπολωλότων δικαστὴν Νεοπτόλεμον λαβεῖν τὸν βασιλεύοντα τῶν κατὰ τὴν Ἤπειρον νήσων, τοῦτον δέ, νομίσαντα ἐκποδὼν Ὀδυσσέως γενομένου Κεφαλληνίαν καθέξειν, κατακρῖναι φυγὴν αὐτοῦ, Ὀδυσσέα δὲ εἰς Αἰτωλίαν πρὸς Θόαντα τὸν Ἀνδραίμονος παραγενόμενον τὴν τούτου θυγατέρα γῆμαι, καὶ καταλιπόντα παῖδα Λεοντοφόνον ἐκ ταύτης γηραιὸν τελευτῆσαι.


Some clear themes here: continued antipathy between Achilles’ line and Odysseus; more travels to North-central Greece; an imagined fallout from the death of the suitors; Odysseus dying away from Ithaka. This name—Leontophonos, killer of the lion—is listed in Theocritus, among others, (Idyll 25) as an epithet of Herakles, which gives us another possuble overlap between the two heroes.

The use of Thoas here is intriguing. He is listed in the catalogue as the leader of the Aitolians (2.638) but he is also marked out for being exceptional in speech (Iliad 15.281-4):


“Then Thoas the son of Andraimon spoke among them.
Of the Aitolians he was the most knowledgeable with the spear
And best at running. But few Achaeans could surpass him in the assembly
Whenever the young men used to make a contest of words.”


Τοῖσι δ’ ἔπειτ’ ἀγόρευε Θόας ᾿Ανδραίμονος υἱός,
Αἰτωλῶν ὄχ’ ἄριστος ἐπιστάμενος μὲν ἄκοντι
ἐσθλὸς δ’ ἐν σταδίῃ· ἀγορῇ δέ ἑ παῦροι ᾿Αχαιῶν
νίκων, ὁππότε κοῦροι ἐρίσσειαν περὶ μύθων·

I suspect that part of what draws Odysseus and Thoas into the same genealogical orbit is this similarity offered in the Iliad—they are both masters of words. This may be a stretch, but given that he is a king of an area in north central Greece who survived the Trojan war, it makes sense that some people would bring him and Odysseus back together. More interesting? Diomedes, who is sometimes paired with Odysseus, was rightfully a heir to the throne of the Aitolians. The clan of Oeneus expelled Tydeus. The heir, Meleager, died. And that’s how Thoas became king.

But this poor princess doesn’t even get a name–so, at best, I imagine this being a late variation or some sort of imaginative fan fiction.

2 thoughts on “The Children of Odysseus, Part 6: Babies with Princesses

  1. Amazing! It’s getting difficult to keep track of all the offspring and goings on. One thing that struck me when reading the account of Euryalos in Parthenius was the use of the sealed tablet. This has echoes of the tablet which Bellerophon took to Lycia

    He gave him grievous symbols, having scratched in a folded tablet many deadly ones.

    πόρεν δ᾽ ὅ γε σήματα λυγρὰ
    γράψας ἐν πίνακι πτυκτῷ θυμοφθόρα πολλά,

    So my curiosity was aroused as to whether Parthenius or his source was just imitating this passage or whether there were other examples of pre-alphabetical writing that had survived in the oral tradition.

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