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Background Material for Menander's Arbitration (Epitrepontes)
compiled by John Porter, University of Saskatchewan

Notice: This material is the copyrighted property of the author and should not be reproduced without the author's permission.

The following excerpts present summaries of the myths of Auge and Alope which would seem to be based upon the plots of two of Euripides' plays, now lost. Compare the plots and various plot elements of these stories with those of Menander's Arbitration.

Euripides' Auge (Moses Chorenensis Progymn. 3.3)

A festival of Minerva [Athena] was being celebrated in a certain city of Arcadia, in the course of which Hercules [Heracles] had doings with Auge, daughter of Aleus and priestess of Minerva, while she was leading the choral dances in the nocturnal rites. As evidence of his deed he left her a ring. Pregnant by him, she bore Telephus, who got his name from what followed. Auge's father, incensed at the discovery of her illicit affair, exposed Telephus in a deserted location, where he was nursed by a deer. Auge, however, he handed over to be drowned in the sea. Hercules once again was brought to that region on business and, having recognized his involvement in the affair from the ring, saved the child that he had fathered and rescued the mother herself from the very brink of death. Later Teuthras is said to have taken Auge as his wife on the instruction of Apollo's oracle, and to have adopted Telephus as his son.

Euripides' Alope (Hyginus Fab. 187)

Alope, daughter of Cercyon and a girl of exceeding beauty, was embraced by Neptune [Poseidon]. Out of this embrace she bore a child, which, without her father's knowledge, she gave to her nurse to expose. When it had been exposed, a mare came and nursed it. A certain shepherd, in search of the mare, saw the child and took it up. After he had taken the baby, clad in its royal garments, to his hut, one of his fellow shepherds asked that he give the baby to him, which the first shepherd did - but without its regal dress. A dispute fell out between the two shepherds when the one who had received the baby demanded the insignia of its birth [i.e. the garment] and the first shepherd refused to yield them. They sought out King Cercyon and began to argue their respective cases. The shepherd who had received the child began to demand back the insignia. When these were brought, however, and Cercyon recognized them as having been torn from a dress belonging to his daughter, the nurse (afraid of the king's anger) confessed that the baby was Alope's. Cercyon ordered that his daughter be shut away and starved to death, and that the baby be cast out. Once again the mare nursed the baby, once again shepherds found it and took it up, thinking it to have survived and been raised by the will of the gods. They gave the child the name Hippothoös. Theseus, passing by on his way from Troezen, killed Cercyon. Hippothoös, however, went to Theseus and demanded his ancestral realms. Theseus gladly granted them to him once he learned that Hippothoös was the son of Neptune, whence he traced his own descent. Moreover, Neptune transformed the body of Alope into the spring which today bears her name.

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