Hippocoon of Sparta

In Greek mythology, Hippocoön (Ancient Greek: Ἱπποκόων) was a Spartan king.

Hippocoon was the son of the Spartan King Oebalus and Bateia. His brothers (or half-brothers) were Tyndareus (who was also the father of Helen) and Icarius.

Names of Hippocoön's sons include Lycon, Alcinous, Dorycleus, Scaeus, Enarophorus, Eurytus, Bucolus, Euteiches, Lycaethus, Hippothous, Tebrus, Hippocorystes, Alcimus, Dorceus, Sebrus, Eumedes, Enaesimus, Alcon and Leucippus (the last three were among the Calydonian hunters).

Diodorus Siculus states that there were twenty of them, but gives no individual names.

When their father died, Tyndareus became king. Hippocoön, with the help of his sons, overthrew him, took the throne and expelled his brothers from the kingdom. The rule of Hippocoon though was a troubled one, for he soon found himself with an enemy in the form of the Greek hero Heracles.

The first cause of animosity of Heracles towards Hippocoon came about because the king of Sparta refused to cleanse Heracles for the killing of Iphitus, son of King Eurytus, during a bout of madness. Keep in mind that Kings in Ancient Greece had the power to absolve crimes, and Heracles visited many kings during his life for absolution, but the refusal of Hippocoon did not sit well with Heracles.

The second reason being that it was also said that the sons of Hippocoon had killed the one time companion of Heracles, Oeonus son of Licymnius, with cudgels, after Oeonus had killed one of their dogs in self-defence.

A third reason for animosity came about when the sons of Hippocoon attempted to assist Neleus and his sons in the defence of Pylos, against the attack of Heracles; although this assistance did not save Neleus nor Pylos.

After Pylos had fallen Heracles would march on Sparta and Lacedaemon gaining assistance from Cepheus and his 20 sons. The war between the army of Heracles and the Spartans was a fierce one, and although Heracles lost many of his allies, including Cepheus and 17 of his sons, Heracles would put to the sword Hippocoon and all 20 sons of the King of Sparta.

With the throne of Sparta now vacant after the death of Hippocoon, Heracles would place Tyndareus upon the throne, although some say that Heracles told Tyndareus was only holding the throne until the return of Heracles, or his descendants.

The name Hippocoön in Greek Mythology

In Greek mythology, the name Hippocoön refers to several characters:

Hippocoon, in one account, father of Neleus, who is otherwise called son of Cretheus or Poseidon.

Hippocoon, a Spartan king, father of Enarephoros and brother of Tyndareus from whom Hippocoon seized the kingship, then exiled Tyndareus.

Hippocoon, the great-grandfather of Amphiaraus. The lineage is as follows: Zeuxippe, daughter of this Hippocoön, married Antiphates and gave birth to Oecles and Amphalces; Oecles, in his turn, married Hypermnestra, daughter of Thespius, and to them were born Iphianeira, Polyboea and Amphiaraus.

Hippocoon, a Thracian counsellor and a kinsman of Rhesus, who fought at Troy. Awakened by Apollo, he is the first to discover the damage caused by Odysseus and Diomedes in the Thracian camp.

Hippocoon, in the Aeneid, son of Hyrtacus, one of the participants in the archery contest at Anchises's funeral games. His arrow misses, striking the mast to which the target dove is tied.


Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3.10.4, all three are called sons of Oebalus and Bateia

Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio 3.1.4, Tyndareus' s mother is Gorgophone

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3.10.5

Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio 3.14.6 & 3.15.1

Hyginus, Fabulae 173

Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica 4.33.5

Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio 3.1.4 & 3.15.2

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.7.3

Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio 3.15.4

Hyginus, Fabulae 10 & 14.4

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3.10.5

Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica 4.68.5

Homer, Iliad 10.218

Virgil, Aeneid 5.492–545

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