Myth and History Mythology The myth of Oenomaos

The myth of Oenomaos

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Oenomaos, son of Arpanna  and of Alxion (or of god Mars, according to the legents in  poem-writers) was ruling the area of Pissa in Ileia. Oinomaus has received an prophecy  from the Delphi Oracle, claiming that when he will marry his daughter his life will end.

He therefore, announced that he will marry his daughter Ippodameia, to the candidate that he will defeat him in an chariot-race, starting from the Temple of Zeus in Olympia and finishing at the Temple of Poseidon by the Isthmia in Corinth and under the condition that the candidate would have to carry Ippodameia on his chariot.

It was also agreed, that if the candidate was defeated, Oinomaus would assassinate him.

Because the horses of Oinomaos were a gift by his father Mars, they had  mythic  powers  and so Oinomaus was always defeating the candidates.

He  had killed 13 candidates (or 18 acc to other sources) when Pelops, son of Tandalos from Lydia of Asia, appeared to compete for the  beautiful Ippodameia. 

With the assistance of Myrtilos, son of Hermes, who was the  helper in the chariot of Oinomaus, Pelops won the race. Myrtilos replaced the nails  of the front axle  of the chariot of the king or he did not put any nails at all. When the race started the chariot of Oinomaos turned off  and he was killed. Pelops married Ippodameia, he became king of Pissa and he conquered Olympia from the Epeians. 

Those 13 races of Oinomaus’  competition with the  candidates  are considered the very beginning of the games in Olympia.

 

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