Tydeus & Diomedes

Two later military campaigns set out from the Argolid – one against Thebes, the other against Troy. Both involved the family of the hero Tydeus. Banished from Calydon for shedding family blood, Tydeus, the brother of Meleager, sought sanctuary in Argos, and in his absence his father Oineus was deposed. Argos’ King Adrastus recognized Tydeus’ potential, made him his son-in-law and vowed to help return him to his kingdom. He did the same for Polyneices, who had been driven out of Thebes by his brother Eteocles.

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Raising a great army, Polyneices marched on Thebes with Tydeus as one of his seven generals. Tydeus won great glory, overcoming fifty Thebans who ambushed him, but after killing the Theban Melanippus, he greedily devoured his fallen victim’s brains. When Tydeus died soon after, Athene, disgusted at this behaviour, renounced her intention to grant him immortality.

Ten years later, the sons of those Argives who had fallen in the Theban war mounted a successful campaign of their own. Among them was Tydeus’ son, Diomedes. After conquering Thebes, Diomedes marched on Calydon and reinstated his grandfather Oineus to the throne, before returning to become king of Argos. As one of Helen’s suitors, Diomedes fought at Troy, earning a high reputation among Greece’s finest warriors, a wise counsellor and trustworthy lieutenant. He even fought the gods when they intervened in battle (wounding Aphrodite on the wrist and facing off Apollo) and took part in the raid to steal Troy’s talismanic statue of Athene. One of those handpicked to conceal themselves inside the Trojan Horse, he was instrumental in the city’s sack.

But Diomedes’ homecoming was unhappy. In his absence, his wife had been prodigiously unfaithful, and she and her current lover prevented Diomedes from entering Argos. Instead, he sailed to Italy, founded many cities (including modern Brindisi) and married the daughter of the local king. Some say he did not die but vanished under miraculous circumstances, his comrades transformed into birds. He was subsequently worshipped as a god.

After a succession of disastrous kings, Argos was annexed by Orestes, Agamemnon’s son, after which it passes from mythology.

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