Melampus | King of Argos

Melampus Greek Mythology

Melampo, in Greek mythology, was a famous diviner, who conquered, through his powers, one third of the kingdom of Argos for himself and another third for his brother.


Melampo and Bias were sons of Amythaon and Idomene, daughter of Feres. Amythaon and Feres were sons of Tyre and Creteus, the founder of Iolco.

According to another version, Idomene, Melampo's mother, was the daughter of Abas, son of Linceu. By this version, Melampo would be the nephew of Black, son of Abas.

Becoming a diviner

Amythaon was living in Pilos, in the Peloponnese, when he married Idomene. Her sons, Melampo and Bias, lived in the field, where there was an oak tree, in front of their house. There, there was a home of snakes, which the servants killed, but Melampo burned the reptiles and raised his sons.

When the snakes grew up, they cleaned his ears with their tongues, when he was sleeping. He woke up very frightened, but he heard the voices of the birds flying above him, and from what he heard he told men what would happen in the future. He also got the art of discovering the auspices, and after an encounter with Apollo at the River Alpheus, he became an excellent diviner.

According to the Egyptian priests of the time of Diodorus Sicicus, Melampo had visited Egypt, from where he had brought to Greece the rituals of the cult of Dionysus, the myths about Kronos and the War against the Titans, or, in short, all stories concerning the gods.

A wife for his brother

Bias, his brother, wished to marry Pero, daughter of Cloris and Neleus, king and founder of Pilos. Neleus was his relative, being the son of Tyre and Posidon. As there were several suitors for Pero, Neleus decided that she would marry whoever brought him the cattle of Phylacus, which were guarded by a dog that let neither man nor beast come near.

Bias asked for help from his brother Melampo, who predicted that he would be caught trying to steal the cattle and would be kept prisoner for a year. Indeed, this did happen, and near the end of the period Melampo heard the worms eating the wood talking that they had eaten almost all of it; he asked to be moved from his cell, and when the cell collapsed, Phylacus was very much in awe of him.

Realizing that Melampo was a diviner, Phylacus asked how his son, Iphyclus, could have a son.

Melampo asked for cattle as a price. Melampo sacrificed two bulls, cut them to pieces, and called the birds, when a vulture arrived, who told him that Phylacus, while castrating sheep, had left a bloody knife near Iphyclus, and the boy, frightened, had run and stuck the knife into the sacred oak, which then covered the knife with its bark.

Melampo gave the recipe for the cure: the knife was to be found, its rust removed, and given to Iphyclus to drink for ten days. Iphyclus did this, and had a son, Podarces. Melampo received the cattle, took them to Pilos, and received Pero to be his brother's wife.

King of Argos

Black and Steneboea had three daughters, Lysippe, Iphinoe and Iphianassa, but they went mad, according to Hesiod, because they did not want to accept the rituals of Dionysus or, according to Acusilau, because they had desecrated a wooden image of Hera.

Melampo, the diviner, the first who discovered the cure of diseases through remedies and purifications, promised the ladies a cure if he received a third of the kingdom.

Preto refused to pay, but his daughters continued with their madness, and other women joined in, even killing their own children. Preto then agreed to pay the price, but Melampo now asked for another third of the kingdom for his brother Bias.

Fearing that the cure would be delayed, Black accepted Melampo's terms. Melampo gathered the young men together, and took the women, from the mountains, to Sicily. Iphinoe, the oldest, died, but the other women were cured. Black gave his daughters in marriage to Melampo and Bias.

According to Pausanias and Diodorus Sicicus, the partition of Argos occurred during the reign of Anaxagoras, grandson or son of Megapente.


He had a son, Abas, whose daughter Lysimachus married Talau, son of Pero and Bias.

Melampo's descendants reigned over his third of Argos for six generations, until Amphilochus, son of Amphiarau.


In Aegostena there was an altar to Melampo, with a small statue. An annual festival was dedicated to him, with sacrifices.