1st Edition

Transformations of Pelops Myths, Monuments, and Cult Reconsidered

By András Patay-Horváth Copyright 2023
    308 Pages 31 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume is the first monograph in English dedicated to the study of the Greek mythical hero Pelops. While popular in antiquity, Pelops’ popularity has since faded; this book presents a comprehensive treatment of his character and legacy.

    Ancient tradition held that Pelops was the son of Tantalus and the ancestor of the Atreids, Agamemnon and Menelaos, who appear in the Homeric poems as leaders of the Greek forces against Troy. After arriving in Greece from the east, Pelops was eventually worshipped in Olympia, became the eponym of the Peloponnese, and was celebrated as one of the founders of the Olympic Games. However, his character is morally problematic, his family were heavily condemned, and few tales about Pelops exist. Patay-Horváth takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of this obscure figure, presenting and analyzing written sources and depictions of Pelops, the etymology of his name, the history of his mythical family, and the afterlife of his myths. Drawing on folklore and ethnography, art and archaeology, linguistics and geography, this volume provides a detailed and accessible overview of both old and new theories about Pelops, his descendants, and his legacy.

    Transformations of Pelops is suitable for students and scholars of ancient Greek history and mythology, classical philology, and archaeology.

    Introduction; PART I Pelops and His Family; 1. Childhood and Marriage; 2. Successful Ruler and Miserable Father; PART II The Making of Pelops from Different Perspectives; 3. Folklore and Ethnography – Resurrection and the Missing Shoulder Blade; 4. Art and Archaeology – Olympia and the Cult of Pelops; 5. Linguistics and Geography – The Hero of the Peloponnese; PART III Pelops Afterwards; 6. Modest Remembering and Occasional Revival; 7. Popularity due to an Ancient Mistake; Conclusion; Guide to Further Reading; Appendix: Selected Sources on Pelops and his Descendants.


    András Patay-Horváth is archaeologist and lecturer in ancient history at Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest). His field of interest is ancient Olympia with special emphasis on the temple of Zeus. He has published a few contributions related to Pelops and his most recent book was The Origins of the Olympic Games (2015).

    "Over the last two decades András Patay-Horváth has established himself as the world expert on Pelops, who supposedly gave his name to the Peloponnese. With the publication of this wide-ranging, lucid, skilfully-argued and well-illustrated book, Patay-Horváth’s challenging ideas about the hero and his origins (was he once an aurochs?) are brought together for the first time in a convenient and accessible form in English." - Daniel Ogden, University of Exeter