Acamas: The Son of Theseus Who Fought and Survived the Trojan War

AcamasAcamas was born to King Theseus and Queen Phaedra of Athens along with his brother Demophon. He was said to be skillful and intelligent in warfare and undertook many adventures by himself or with his brother.

Due to his skill and war intelligence, he was chosen as one of the elite soldiers to enter the Trojan Horse and take the city. This article will cover the life of Acamas, his family, and some of his adventures.

The Adventures of Acamas

According to Greek mythology, Acamas and Diomedes, the Lord of War, were sent to negotiate the return of Helen of Sparta after Paris of Troy had abducted her to Troy. This venture proved unsuccessful as Paris refused to allow Helen to leave, thus the envoy of Acamas came back empty-handed.

This initiated the Trojan war as King Menelaus of Sparta, the rightful husband of Helen, wanted her back at all costs. While Acamas was at Troy negotiating the release of Helen, he fell in love with Laodice, the daughter of King Priam.

The couple gave birth to a boy who they named Munitis and handed him over to Aethra, grandmother of Acamas, who had gone with Helen as her handmaiden when she was kidnapped. Aethra looked after Munitis until his death from a snakebite whilst hunting in the city of Olynthus in the region of Thrace.

Acamas Trojan War

Acamas trojan warOnce Paris refused to return Helen, the Trojan War started with Menelaus summoning other Greek states to help him free Helen from Troy. Acamas fought with the Greeks and was elected as one of the elite soldiers allowed to enter the Trojan War.

He fought bravely ensuring the Greeks secured the victory and Helen safely returned to her husband. According to other myths, when the Greeks broke through and entered Troy, Acamas and his brother Demiphon captured the Trojan Palladium.

The Palladium was a carving of Pallas, the daughter of the demigod Triton. The carving was said to protect the city of Troy from falling and the Greeks had to capture it if they wanted to win the war against the Trojans. Thus, Acamas and his brother were tasked to retrieve the Palladium. However, according to Homer’s Iliad, the responsibility to capture the Palladium fell on Odysseus and Diomedes.

How Acamas Lost His Mother

As already mentioned Acamas was the son of King Theseus of Athens who lost his throne after a series of unfortunate events. Initially, his father was married to an Amazonian who was called Antigone, before marrying his mother Phaedra.

Acamas’ father had a son with Antigone, who was known as Hippolytus and when Hippolytus was young he decided to worship Artemis, the goddess of childbirth. This made Aphrodite jealous and angry because she expected the young lad to dedicate her life to her just as his father, Theseus, had done.

Therefore, Aphrodite, the goddess of love, made Queen Phaedra fall desperately in love with Hippolytus as a form of revenge. Acamas’ half-brother, Hippolytus wanted, nothing to do with his stepmother so he resisted all her advances which frustrated her.

Tired of being rejected, Phaedra committed suicide but not without leaving a note which indicated that Hippolytus had raped her. This angered Theseus who prayed to the god of the sea, Poseidon, to avenge the honor of his wife Phaedra.

Acamas Loses His Father and Goes to Exile on the Island of Euboea

Poseidon granted Theseus’s request and sent monsters to frighten Hippolytus’ horses as he rode on in a chariot. The frightened horses overturned the chariot trapping Hippolytus in the wheels and dragging him along as they run madly.

Meanwhile, Theseus learned that the note left behind by his wife was a ruse and she was the one who was making sexual advances on Hippolytus. This grieved his heart and he went in such of Hippolytus to save him from the wrath of Poseidon.

Theseus found Hippolytus half-dead and cried at what he had just done to his own son. Not long after, Hippolytus gave up the ghost and the story quickly spread among the Athenians like wildfire. Nonetheless, they became enraged and the popularity of Theseus dwindled in their eyes. This event coupled with other events led to Theseus abdicating his throne and fleeing to the island of Skyros.

There he was killed by the king of Scyros Lycomedes who feared Theseus would usurp his throne, thus, Acamas lost his father. Acamas and his brother then went into exile on the island of Euboea under the King of the Abante tribe, Elephenor. This was because Menestheus had been installed as king of Athens by the twin brothers, Castor and Polydeuces, also known as the Discouri.

The Meaning of Acamas and His Eponyms

Acamas meaning is unwearying which depicts his relentless and brave nature in the Trojan War. No wonder he is one of the few that survived the 10-year siege of the city of Troy. A promontory in Cyrus called Akamas derives its name from him while the tribe called Acamantis in the Attic Peninsula is named after him.

Conclusion

Myth of acamasSo far we’ve covered the life of Acamas from his birth to his exploits before, during and after the Trojan War.

Here is a summary of all that we have read:

  • Acamas was the son of King Theseus and Queen Phaedra of Athens and the brother of Demophon.
  • He and his brother went into exile in Euboea under King Elephenor of the Abantes.
  • Before the Trojan war, Acamas was included as an envoy to negotiate the release of Helen but this proved unsuccessful.
  • While there, he fell in love with Princess Laodice, daughter of Priam and the couple gave birth to Munitis who later died of snakebite in Olynthus.
  • He and his brother then fought in the Trojan War and helped to retrieve the Palladium which was believed to protect the city of Troy.

Though the myth of Acamas is not mentioned in Homer’s Iliad, his story can be found in the epic poem Aeneid and the Iliupersis.

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