In Greek mythology, Thespius (/ˈθɛspiəs/; Ancient Greek: Θέσπιος Théspios) or Thestius (/ˈθɛsəs, ˈθɛstiəs/; Ancient Greek: Θέστιος)[1][2] was a legendary founder and king of Thespiae, Boeotia. His life account is considered part of Greek mythology.


He was reportedly son of Erechtheus, King of Athens, and Praxithea.[3] His maternal grandparents were Phrasimus and Diogenia, the daughter of the river god Cephissus.[4] He married Megamede, daughter of Arneus. They supposedly had fifty daughters together, although Thespius may have fathered some of the daughters from unnamed mistresses with Megamede being their stepmother.[5] The daughters are often referred to as the Thespiades, also being the subject of an 1853 painting by Gustave Moreau.

All his daughters came of marrying age but Thespius seems to have sought no husband for them; he instead desired grandchildren from the hero Heracles. When Heracles was assigned to kill a lion (not to be confused with the Nemean Lion), Thespius offered his fifty daughters as a prize. The hunt for the lion lasted fifty days, and during each night of the hunt Heracles slept with each of the fifty daughters, who in turn each gave birth to one son.[6]

Alternate sources claim that Heracles slept with the daughters in a single night. In this version, only forty-nine slept with the hero, with the fiftieth being destined to serve as a virgin priestess of a temple to Heracles, as a punishment for her refusal to sleep with him.[7] In another version there were fifty-one grandsons of Thespius, of which forty colonized the island of Sardinia.[8]


Gustave Moreau, "Daughters of Thespius"

The Bibliotheca of Pseudo-Apollodorus[9] lists the following daughters and grandchildren. The grandchildren were all Heracleidae in the wider sense of the term.

According to Hellanicus, a certain Sthephanephoros ("crown bearer") was called one of the sons of Heracles who were born from the daughters of Thestios.[10]

Daughter Grandson Daughter Grandson Daughter Grandson Daughter Grandson Daughter Grandson
Aeschreis Leucones Clytippe Eurycapys Eurytele Leucippus Lysippe Erasippus Phyleis Tigasis
Aglaia or Aeglaea Antiades Elachia Buleus Exole Erythras Marse Bucolus Praxithea Nephus
Anthea Unknown child Eone Amestrius Heliconis Phalias Meline Laomedon Procris Antileon


Anthippe Hippodromus Epilais Astyanax Hesychia Oestrobles Menippis Entelides Pyrippe Patroclus
Antiope Alopius Erato Dynastes Hippo Capylus Nice Nicodromus Stratonice Atromus
Argele Cleolaus Euboea Olympus

(father of Marsyas)

Hippocrate Hippozygus Nicippe Antimachus Terpsicrate Euryopes
Asopis Mentor Eubote Eurypylus Iphis Celeustanor Olympusa Halocrates Tiphyse Lyncaeus
Calametis Astybies Eurybia Polylaus Laothoe Antiphus Oria Laomenes Toxicrate Lycurgus
Certhe Iobes Euryce (Euryte?) Teleutagoras Lyse Eumedes Panope Threpsippas Xanthis Homolippus
Chryseis Onesippus Eurypyle Archedicus Lysidice Teles Patro Archemachus Unnamed daughter Creon


  1. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9. 27. 7
  2. ^ Harpocration, Lexicon of the Ten Orators s.v. Stephanephoros
  3. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9. 26. 6; scholia on Homer, Iliad, 2. 498 call him son of Teuthras or Cepheus
  4. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 15. 1
  5. ^ So in Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 4. 29. 2
  6. ^ Apollodorus Bibliotheca 2. 4. 10
  7. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9. 27. 7
  8. ^ Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 4. 29. 1, 4–6
  9. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 7. 8
  10. ^ Harpocration, Lexicon of the Ten Orators s.v. Stephanephoros as cited in Hellanicus, Phoronis Book 10 and Atthis Book 2