Amphiaraus on his chariot.

In Greek mythology, Amphiaraus (/ˌæmfiəˈrəs/; Ancient Greek: Ἀμφιάραος Amphiaraos, "doubly cursed" or "twice Ares-like"[1]) was the king of Argos along with Adrastus and Iphis.


Amphiaraus was the son of Oecles and Hypermnestra. He was, according to others, the son of Apollo and Hypermnestra. By Eriphyle, sister of Adrastus, Amphiaraus became the father of Alcmaeon and Amphilochus. Alcmaeon's son, Klytios, was the founder of the Klytidiai, a clan of seers in Elis who interpreted the oracles of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia.[2] Pyrrho, the founder of the Hellenistic philosophy of Pyrrhonism, was likely a member of this clan.[3]

In certain traditions, Amphiaraus was said to have had several daughters, Eurydice, Demonissa and Alcmena,[4] or according to another source a daughter, Alexida.[5]


Amphiaraus was a seer, and greatly honored in his time. Both Zeus and Apollo favored him, and Zeus gave him his oracular talent. In the generation before the Trojan War, Amphiaraos was one of the heroes present at the Calydonian Boar Hunt.[6]

The material of the tragic war of the Seven Against Thebes was taken up from several points of view by each of the three great Greek tragic poets. Eriphyle persuaded Amphiaraus to take part in the raiding venture, against his better judgment, for he knew he would die.[7] She had been persuaded by Polynices, who offered her the necklace of Harmonia, daughter of Aphrodite, once part of the bride-price of Cadmus, as a bribe for her advocacy. Amphiaraus reluctantly agreed to join the doomed undertaking, but aware of his wife's corruption, asked his sons, Alcmaeon and Amphilochus, to avenge his inevitable death by killing her, should he not return. He had foreseen the failure and for this reason did not agree to join first.[8] On the way to the battle, Amphiaraus repeatedly warned the other warriors that the expedition would fail,[9] and blamed Tydeus for starting it. He would eventually prevent Tydeus from being immortalized by Athena because of this. Despite this, he was possibly the greatest leader in the attack. During the battle, Amphiaraus killed Melanippus. In the battle, Amphiaraus sought to flee from Periclymenus, the "very famous"[10] son of Poseidon, who wanted to kill him, but Zeus threw his thunderbolt, and the earth opened to swallow Amphiaraus together with his chariot.[11] Thus chthonic hero Amphiaraus was propitiated and consulted at his sanctuary.


Marble votive relief of a chariot race, from Oropos, beginning of the 4th century BCE (Pergamonmuseum, Berlin).

Alcmaeon killed his mother when Amphiaraus died. He was pursued by the Erinyes as he fled across Greece, eventually landing at the court of King Phegeus, who gave him his daughter Alphesiboea in marriage. Exhausted, Alcmaeon asked an oracle how to avoid the Erinyes and was told that he needed to stop where the sun was not shining when he killed his mother. That was the mouth of the river Achelous, which had been silted up. Achelous himself, god of that river, promised him his daughter, Callirrhoe in marriage if Alcmaeon would retrieve the necklace and clothes which Eriphyle wore when she persuaded Amphiaraus to take part in the battle. Alcmaeon had given these jewels to Phegeus who had his sons kill Alcmaeon when he discovered Alcmaeon's plan.

In a sanctuary at the Amphiareion of Oropos, northwest of Attica, Amphiaraus was worshipped with a hero cult. He was considered a healing and fortune-telling god and was associated with Asclepius. The healing and fortune-telling aspect of Amphiaraus came from his ancestry: he descended from the great seer Melampus. After making a sacrifice of a few coins, or sometimes a ram, at the temple, a petitioner slept inside[12] and received a dream detailing the solution to the problem.

Etruscan tradition inherited by the Romans is doubtless the origin of a son for Amphiaraus named Catillus who escaped from the slaughter at Thebes and led an expedition to Italy, where he founded a colony where eventually appeared the city of Tibur (now Tivoli), named after his eldest son Tiburtus.


In the Python, the first book to describe Pyrrhonist philosophy, the book's author, Timon of Phlius first meets Pyrrho on the grounds of the temple of Amphiaraus. The symbolism of this may be due to Pyrrho being a member of the Klytidiai, a clan of seers in Elis who interpreted the oracles of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. The founder of the clan was Klytios, the grandson of Amphiaraus.[13]

Popular cultureEdit


  1. ^ Karl Kerenyi, The Heroes of the Greeks 1959:296.
  2. ^ Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio 6.17.6
  3. ^ Dee L. Clayman, Timon of Phlius: Pyrrhonism into Poetry ISBN 3110220806 2009 p51
  4. ^ Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio 5.17.7–8
  5. ^ Plutarch, Quaestiones Graecae 23
  6. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1.8.2: "Atalanta was the first to shoot the boar in the back with an arrow, and Amphiaraus was the next to shoot it in the eye; but Meleager killed it by a stab in the flank..."; it was not arbitrarily nor by chance that Amphiaraus the seer shot the boar in the eye.
  7. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3.8.2
  8. ^ Roman, L., & Roman, M. (2010). Encyclopedia of Greek and Roman mythology., p. 57, at Google Books
  9. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3.6.2
  10. ^ Karl Kerenyi (The Heroes of the Greeks, 1959, p. 300) noted that the name would also be a suitable epithet for Hades.
  11. ^ Pindar, Nemean Odes 9
  12. ^ See Incubation (ritual).
  13. ^ Dee L. Clayman, Timon of Phlius: Pyrrhonism into Poetry ISBN 3110220806 2009 p51
  14. ^ Amphiaraos at The LiederNet Archive
  15. ^ Otto Erich Deutsch. Schubert Thematic Catalogue. 1978. p. 118
  16. ^ Lieder, Band 8 at


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