Pelops in Greek mythology was king of Pisa, his father was Tantalus (Myth of Tantalus), who was the founder of the House of Atreus. Pelops is revered in Olympia, where the fundamental myth of the Olympic Games (Article about the Olympic Games) is the cult of Pelops. In the temple at Olympia, Pelops had a sanctuary. The cult is believed to be of Anatolian origin, but there is a thesis that it may have been originally worshiped in Phrygia or Lydia

Myth of Pelops

After Tantalus’ death in the city of Sipil, his son Pelops, so miraculously saved by the gods, began to rule. But he did not rule for long in his native Sipil. The Trojan king Il waged war against the Pelops. This war ended unhappily for Pelops. The strong king of Troy defeated him. Pelops had to leave his homeland. He loaded all his treasures on high-speed ships and embarked with his faithful companions on a long journey by sea to the shores of Greece. Pelops reached the peninsula in the southernmost part of Greece and settled there. Since then, this peninsula began to be called by the name of the Pelops – Peloponnese.

Pelops once saw in his new homeland the beautiful Hippodamia, the daughter of Enomai, the king of Pisa. Enomay’s daughter captivated the hero with her beauty and he decided to marry her.

It was not easy to get the hand of Hippodamia. Enomai was foretold by an oracle that he would die at the hands of his son-in-law. To prevent this oris, Enomai decided not to marry his daughter. But how to proceed? How to refuse all candidates who wanted the hand of Hippodamia? Many heroes came to Enomai to ask for his daughter. He would insult them if he refused them for no reason. Enomai finally found a way out. He announced that he would give Hippodamia as a wife only to the hero who defeated him in a chariot race; but if he himself emerges victorious, the vanquished must pay with his life. Enomai decided to do so because in all of Greece there was no equal in the art of driving a chariot, and his horses were faster than the strong north wind Boreas. The king of Pisa could be sure that no hero would defeat him. However, many Greek heroes did not stop at the danger of losing their lives by dying at the hands of the cruel Enomai. One by one they came to his palace, ready to compete with him only to get Hippodamia for a wife – she was so beautiful. An evil fate befell them all – Enomai killed them and pounded their heads on the doors of his palace, so that every newcomer, seeing how many glorious heroes have fallen from the hand of Enomai, knows in advance what fate awaits him. And that didn’t stop the hero Pelops. He decided to get Hippodamia at any cost and set off for the palace of the hard-hearted king Enomai.

Enomai greeted Pelops sternly and told him:

Pelops’ Throne in the Yarikkaya area of Mount Sipilus

“Do you want to get my daughter Hippodamia for a wife? Didn’t you see how many glorious heroes lost their heads in the dangerous race? Take a good look, and you will not escape their fate!”

“I am not frightened by the fate of the fallen heroes,” Pelops replied to the king. “I believe the Olympic gods will help me! With their help I will receive Hippodamia for a wife.”

“A terrible smile twisted Enomai’s lips; he had heard such words many times!”

“Listen then, Pelops,” he said, “here are the conditions for the race: the road starts from the city of Pisa, passes through the whole Peloponnese to Isthmus itself, and ends at the altar of the ruler of the seas, Poseidon; this altar is not far from Corinth. If you reach the altar first, you are the victor; but woe to you if I catch up with you on the road! Then my spear will pierce you, as many heroes have already pierced, and you will ingloriously descend into the dark realm of Hades. I will make you only one discount, I have made it to everyone else: you will set off on the road before me, and I will first sacrifice to the great Thunderer and only then will I get on my chariot. So hurry as far as you can while I offer the sacrifice.”

Pelops withdrew from Enomai. He realized that only with cunning would he succeed in defeating the cruel king. Pelops could find a helper. He went secretly to Enomai’s coachman Myrtil, son of Hermes, and, promising him rich gifts, asked him not to put pins in the axles, so that the wheels would fly out of Enomai’s chariot and keep the king on the road. Myrtle hesitated for a long time, but in the end Pelops seduced him with the rich gifts and Myrtle promised to do what he asked him to do.

The morning came. The rising pink-fingered Eos gilded the firmament. Here the radiant Helios appeared in the sky with his golden chariot. Hey, the race will start now. Pelops prayed to the great earthquake Poseidon to help him and jumped into the chariot. King Enomai approached the altar of Zeus and signaled to Pelops that he could leave. Pelops rode the horses at full speed. The wheels of his chariot thunder on the stones. Horses fly like birds. Pelops quickly hides in a cloud of dust. His love for Hippodamia and fear for his life make him fly. Here, in the distance behind him, the roar of Enomai’s chariot can be heard. The rumble is getting clearer. The king of Pisa catches up with Tantalus’ son. The king’s horses are carried like a storm, the dust from the wheels of his chariot whirls like a whirlwind. Pelops whips the horses; they are tolerated even faster. The air is blowing in Pelops’s ears because of the furious flight of the horses, but can he escape from the horses of Enomai, aren’t the royal horses faster than the north wind! Enomai is getting closer and closer. Pelops can already feel the hot breathing of Enomai’s horses behind him; turning slightly, he sees the king swinging his spear with triumphant laughter. Pelops prayed to Poseidon and the ruler of the boundless sea heard his request. The wheels protrude from the axles of Enomai’s chariot; she turns and the hard-hearted king of Pisa falls to the ground. Enomai was beaten in the fall; the darkness of death covered his eyes.

Triumphant, Pelops returned to Pisa, married Hippodamia, and conquered the entire kingdom of Enomai. And when he came to Pelops Myrtle, the coachman of Enomaia, and asked for half of his kingdom as a reward, Pelops was tired of saying goodbye to that half. The insidious son of Tantalus cunningly lured Myrtil to the seashore and pushed him off the high cliff into the stormy waves. Falling from the rock, Myrtle cursed Pelops and all his descendants. No matter how hard Tantalus ‘son tried to soften Myrtle’s angry soul, no matter how hard he tried to calm his father Hermes’ anger, it was all in vain. Myrtle’s curse was fulfilled. Since then, innumerable misfortunes have haunted the descendants of Pelops, and with their evil deeds they have incurred the punishment of the gods.

Exposed according to Ovid’s poem “Metamorphoses” and verses by Pindar