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Phineus

PHINEUS, in Greek legend, son of Agenor, the blind king of Salmydessus on the coast of Thrace. He was skilled in the art of navigation, and Apollo had bestowed upon him the gift of prophecy. His blindness was a punishment from the gods for his having revealed the counsels of Zeus to mortals, or for his treatment of his sons by his first wife Cleopatra. His second wife having accused her stepsons of dishonourable proposals, Phineus put out their eyes, or exposed them to the wild beasts, or buried them in the ground up to their waists and ordered them to be scourged. Zeus offered him the choice of death or blindness. Phineus chose the latter, whereupon Helios (the sun-god), offended at the slight thus put upon him, sent the Harpies to torment him. In another story, the Argonauts (amongst whom were Calais and Zetes, the brothers of Cleopatra), on their arrival in Thrace found the sons of Phineus half-buried in the earth and demanded their liberation. Phineus refused, and a fight took place in which he was slain by Heracles, who freed Cleopatra (who had been thrown into prison) and her sons, and reinstated them as rulers of the kingdom. Tragedies on the subject of Phineus were written by Aeschylus and Sophocles. These would directly appeal to an Athenian audience, Phineus's first wife having been the daughter of Orithyia (daughter of Erechtheus, king of Athens), who had been carried off by Boreas to his home in Thrace. The punishment of Phineus would naturally be regarded as a just retribu- 1 Chronicle of Joshua Stylites, ch. 30.

2 On these and other points see Budge's introduction to his second volume, which contains also a list of the other works of Philoxenus and a number of illustrative extracts.

3 One by Martin (in Grammatica chrestomathia et glossarium linguae syriacae) and one by Guidi (La Lettera di Filosseno ai monad di Tell 'Adda).

tion for the insult put upon a princess of the royal house of Athens.

Apollodorus i. 9, 21, iii. 15, 3; Sophocles, Antigone, 966, with Jebb s notes; Dipd. Sic. iv. 43, 44; Servius on Aeneid iii. 209; Schol. on Apollonius Rhodius ii. 178.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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