In Greek mythology, Thamyris (Ancient Greek: Θάμυρις) was a Thracian singer. Thamyris was the son of Philammon and the nymph Argiope from Mount Parnassus. One account makes him the father of Menippe who became the mother of Orpheus by Oeagrus (John Tzetzes, Chiliades).


Early years

When Philammon refused to take Argiope into his house as his wife, the girl left Peloponnese and went to the country of the Odrysians in Thrace where she gave birth to a son, Thamyris. When the boy reached puberty, he became so accomplished in singing to the cithara that the Scythians made him their king even though he was an interloper.

Contest with Muses

Thamyris was so proud of his skill and boasted that he could outsing the Muses. When he competed with the goddesses in singing, he was defeated and as punishment for his presumption, they blinded him by slashing out his eyes. They also took away his ability to make poetry and to play the lyre. This outline of the story was told in the Iliad.

This allusion is taken up in Euripides' Rhesus, in the Library attributed to Apollodorus, and in the Scholia on the Iliad. These later sources add the details that Thamyris had claimed as his prize, if he should win the contest, the privilege of having sex with all the Muses (according to one version) or of marrying one of them; and that after his death he was further punished in Hades. The story legendarily demonstrates that poetic inspiration, a gift of the gods, can be taken away by the gods.

According to Diodorus the mythical singer Linus took three pupils: Heracles, Thamyris, and Orpheus, which neatly settles Thamyris' legendary chronology. When Pliny the Elder briefly sketches the origins of music he credits Thamyris with inventing the Dorian mode and with being the first to play the cithara as a solo instrument with no voice accompaniment.

Thamyris is said to have been a lover of Hyacinth and thus to have been the first man to have loved another male. In this case, ​some sources tell of how it was Apollo who told the Muses about the boastful claim of Thamyris, for Apollo perceived Thamyris to be a love rival for the god when it came to Hyacinth. Indeed it was said that Thamyris was the first man to fall in love with other males; and thus Apollo had a reason to get rid of Thamyris, his own grandson.

Thamyris from Thebes

Thamyris is also the name of a Theban who was killed by Actor.

Thamyris or Timarete, the famous Ancient Female Painter

Timarete (Greek: Τιμαρέτη) (or Thamyris, Tamaris, Thamar; 5th century BC), was an ancient Greek painter.

She was the daughter of the painter Micon the Younger of Athens. According to Pliny the Elder, she "scorned the duties of women and practised her father's art."

At the time of Archelaus I of Macedon she was best known for a panel painting of the goddess of Diana that was kept at Ephesus. Ephesus had a particular reverence for the goddess Diana. While it is no longer extant, it was kept at Ephesus for many years.

One of the six female artists of antiquity mentioned in Pliny the Elder's Natural History (XL.147-148) in A.D. 77: Timarete, Irene, Calypso, Aristarete, Iaia, Olympias. They are mentioned later in Boccaccio's De mulieribus claris.


John Tzetzes. Chiliades, 1.12 line 306

Conon, Narrations 7

Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio 4.33.3

Iliad 2.594-600.

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library 1.3.3; Scholia on the Iliad 2.595.

Diodorus Siculus, 3.67.

Pliny. Natural History, 7.204.

Pseudo-Apollodorus, 1. 3.3.

Pliny the Elder Naturalis historia xxxv.35.59, 40.147.


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