Callirrhoe (daughter of Achelous)
In Greek mythology, Callirrhoe (//; also Callirhoe) was the daughter of the river god Achelous. She was betrothed of Alcmaeon, son of Amphiaraus of Argos, and mothered by him two sons, Amphoterus and Acarnan.
Because of Callirhoe's senseless passion for the robe and necklace of Harmonia, Alcmaeon trying to get them was killed. She then requested of Zeus that her small sons Amphoterus and Acarnan might immediately grow up in order to avenge their father's murder by the hands of Phegeus' sons.
The following passage recounts the story of Callirhoe as it relates to the fate of Alcmaeon and her children by him.
But Alcmaeon was visited by the Fury of his mother's murder [Eriphyle], and going mad he first repaired to Oicles in Arcadia, and thence to Phegeus at Psophis. And having been purified by him he married Arsinoe, daughter of Phegeus, and gave her the necklace and the robe [i.e. of Harmonia]. But afterwards the ground became barren on his account, and the god bade him in an oracle to depart to Achelous and to stand another trial on the river bank.
At first he repaired to Oeneus at Calydon and was entertained by him; then he went to the Thesprotians, but was driven away from the country; and finally he went to the springs of Achelous, and was purified by him, and received Callirrhoe, his daughter, to wife. Moreover he colonized the land which the Achelous had formed by its silt, and he took up his abode there.
But afterwards Callirrhoe coveted the necklace and robe, and said she would not live with him if she did not get them. So away Alcmaeon hied to Psophis and told Phegeus how it had been predicted that he should be rid of his madness when he had brought the necklace and the robe to Delphi and dedicated them. Phegeus believed him and gave them to him.
But a servant having let out that he was taking the things to Callirrhoe, Phegeus commanded his sons, and they lay in wait and killed him. When Arsinoe upbraided them, the sons of Phegeus clapped her into a chest and carried her to Tegea and gave her as a slave to Agapenor, falsely accusing her of Alcmaeon's murder.
Being apprized of Alcmaeon's untimely end and courted by Zeus, Callirrhoe requested that the sons she had by Alcmaeon might be full grown in order to avenge their father's murder. And being suddenly full-grown, the sons went forth to right their father's wrong.
Now Pronous and Agenor, the sons of Phegeus, carrying the necklace and robe to Delphi to dedicate them, turned in at the house of Agapenor at the same time as Amphoterus and Acarnan, the sons of Alcmaeon; and the sons of Alcmaeon killed their father's murderers, and going to Psophis and entering the palace they slew both Phegeus and his wife. They were pursued as far as Tegea, but saved by the intervention of the Tegeans and some Argives, and the Psophidians took to flight. Having acquainted their mother with these things, they went to Delphi and dedicated the necklace and robe according to the injunction of Achelous. Then they journeyed to Epirus, collected settlers, and colonized Acarnania.
Alcmaeon, after killing his mother [Eriphyle], fled from Argos and came to Psophis, which was still called Phegia after Phegeus, and married Alphesiboea, the daughter of Phegeus. Among the presents that he naturally gave her was the necklace. While he lived among the Arcadians his disease did not grow any better, so he had recourse to the oracle at Delphi. The Pythian priestess informed him that the only land into which the avenging spirit of Eriphyle would not follow him was the newest land, one brought up to light by the sea after the pollution of his mother's death.
On discovering the alluvial deposit of the Achelous he settled there, and took to wife Callirhoe, said by the Acarnanians to have been the daughter of Achelous. He had two sons, Acarnan and Amphoterus; after this Acarnan were called by their present name (so the story runs) the dwellers in this part of the mainland, who previously were called Curetes. Senseless passions shipwreck many men, and even more women.
Callirhoe conceived a passion for the necklace of Eriphyle, and for this reason sent Alcmaeon against his will to Phegia. Temenus and Axion, the sons of Phegeus, murdered him by treachery. The sons of Phegeus are said to have dedicated the necklace to the god in Delphi, and it is said that the expedition of the Greeks to Troy took place when they were kings in the city that was still called Phegia. The people of Psophis assert that the reason why they took no part in the expedition was because their princes had incurred the enmity of the leaders of the Argives, who were in most cases related by blood to Alcmaeon, and had joined him in his campaign against Thebes.
- Apollodorus, The Library Book 3.7.6 ff, with an English Translation by Sir James George Frazer, F.B.A., F.R.S. in 2 Volumes. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1921.
- Pausanias, Description of Greece 8.24.8-10 with an English Translation by W.H.S. Jones, Litt.D., and H.A. Ormerod, M.A., in 4 Volumes. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1918.