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01 Pergamon Acropolis 2Pergamon's Greek Mythology
by Elizabeth Willoughby

One cannot discuss ancient Greece without including Greek mythology. Here are a couple of convoluted stories related to Pergamon and Asklepieios.

Pergamon's founding father

Pergamon is named after Pergamus, the son of Neoptolemos and his concubine Andromakhe, whom Neoptolemos had taken during the Trojan War after Achilles killed her husband, Hector.

Mythology says, however, that it was not Pergamus who founded Pergamon, but rather Telephus, the son of Heracles and Auge, who was the daughter of King Aleus of Tegea.

When an oracle tells King Aleus that one of Auge's children will fatally damage him, he sends his daughter away to become a priestess. Nevertheless, Heracles manages to get her pregnant, and then the varying myths get confusing.

Here's one version: King Aleus sends pregnant Auge away on a ship. She is found by King Teuthras of Mysia, who brings her into his harem. Once she gives birth to Heracles' child, she abandons it in the forest, but Heracles finds the baby and names it Telephus.

When Telephus grows up, he somehow manages to kill two of King Aleus' sons, although Telephus doesn't realize that they are his uncles, fulfilling the prophecy. After fighting in the Trojan War, he returns home with his army and succeeds Teuthras as King of Mysia and establishes Pergamon.

Asclepius, god of health and life

Apollo, the god of sun and son of Zeus, falls in love with Coronis, daughter of King Phlegyas of Lapith, and the two become lovers. Pregnant with Apollo's son Asclepius, Coronis falls in love with Ischys and cheats on Apollo, who is informed of the affair by the white crow he has assigned to keep an eye on Coronis.

Angered by the betrayal, Apollo sends his twin sister, Artemis, to kill Coronis; incensed at the bird for the message, he curses the crow by turning it black.

Artemis kills Coronis and Ischys and lights the bodies on a funeral pyre. Apollo has his son removed from Coronis' womb before she is completely burned, and gives the child, Asclepius, to centaur Chiron to raise. Chiron teaches him reading, writing and medicine.

King Phlegyas takes revenge for his daughter's murder by burning the Apollo Temple, so Apollo kills him and sends him to Tartaros (hell). Meanwhile, Asclepius is out and about curing the ill, which angers Hades, god of the underworld, who complains to Zeus. Zeus talks to Asclepius, his grandson, but Asclepius continues attending to the ill, so Zeus kills him with a thunderbolt.

Myths are strange things. Don't mess with Greek gods.

This article was originally published in October 2015  here at Examiner.com.
Read about the Pergamon Acropolis of Acient Greece and its sanctuary of Asklepieion here.

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