Sarpedon: The Demigod King of Lycia in Greek Mythology

Sarpedon in greek mythologySarpedon was the controversial son of Zeus and Laodameia in Greek mythology. He later became the king of Lycia through a series of good and bad fortunes. He fought on the side of the Trojans in the Trojan war and was a decorated hero who fought bravely till his death. Here we have gathered everything there is to know about Sarpedon in Greek mythology.

Sarpedon

Sarpedon was a demigod with extraordinary strength and abilities like the rest of the demigods. He was an exceptional character in Greek mythology as written by Hesiod. Sarpedon like the rest of the Greek characters has been followed and worshipped at various times for his valor and bravery. This demigod was not only a strong fighter but also a generous king of Lycia later in his life.

The character of Sarpedon is surely an interesting one but the most striking thing about Sarpedon other than his role in the Trojan war is the fact that there exist three different stories on who actually are the parents of Sarpedon.

Origin of Sarpedon

Greek mythology is famous for its stories about the formation of demigods. A demigod is formed when a god impregnates a mortal woman on Earth. The demigod is born with some powers and lives his life on Earth with the rest of the mortal beings. The demigod may or may not be mortal himself.

Among the pantheon of the Greek gods and goddesses, Zeus was the one who had the most affairs and consequently, demigods. He was known all around for his lust and hunger. One of his such adventures resulted in Sarpedon. He was born to Zeus and the mortal woman, Laodameia who was the daughter of Bellerophon. He was a brother to Minos and Rhadamanthus.

This origin story is by far the most famous one. After being born to Zeus and Laodameia, he went on to become the king of Lycia, and finally, his army joined the Trojans in the Trojan war. He died in the war defending his allies. Let us look at the other origin stories that came to light later.

Different Parents of Sarpedon

The Greek mythology is so vast that the characters can easily be mistaken for each other. The names of a lot of characters have also been repeated so many times in many different settings and scenarios that anyone could forget the reality of the character. Above, we discussed the most famous origin story of the Sarpedon. Here we are going to discuss the rest of the two:

Grandfather and Grandson Sarpedon

Sarpedon unmatched took part in the Trojan war as the king of Lycia and was later killed in the same battle is said to be the grandson of the original Sarpedon, who was the brother of Midos. No one knows who the grandfather’s parents were, but it is an interesting take on his character.

Zeus and Europa

Another famous story revolving around the parents of Sarpedon is that he was the son of Zeus and Europa. Europa was the Phoenician princess of Argive Greek origin. Zeus impregnated her, and she gave birth to Sarpedon. She was referenced in the Illiad and later by Hesiod as well.

Zeus abducted the beautiful Europa from her homeland of Tyre while transforming into a bull. He impregnated her under a Cyprus tree. Europa gave birth to three sons simultaneously: Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Sarpedon.

Europa was left alone by Zeus, and she married King Asterion, who adopted and loved the three sons as his flesh and blood. King Asterion died suddenly because of an unknown disease leaving behind the problem of ascension as all three sons were of the same age.

The matter was solved when Minos received appreciation and support from Poseidon. Minos became the new king of Crete whereas his two brothers left him. Rhadamanthus left for Boeotia where he started a family and lived the rest of his life. Sarpedon went to Lycia where his father, Zeus favored him so he became the King and later joined the Trojans in the Trojan war.

Characteristics of Sarpedon

Sarpedon was a demigod which is why his physical features were godlike. He was exceptionally a good-looking man with beautiful eyes and hair. He had tall-built with a muscular build. Hesiod explains that Sarpedon was also an amazing swordsman and with the added strength of being a demigod, he was unstoppable most of the time.

He was a fantastic king who always kept his army and city first. During the Trojan war, he rallied the idea that his participation was unnecessary and would only bring death to his people. He was begged for his help so he went into the war eventually. He led his army and many battalions in the war.

Sarpedon and the Trojan War

Sarpedon was the King of Lycia when Paris abducted Helen of Sparta. King Priam was the King of Troy at that moment. As the forces of the Greeks and their allies were marching on for Helen towards Troy, King Priam was busy convincing his allies to fight for him. One such ally was Sarpedon.

Like all great kings, Cape Sarpedon was hesitant to pick a side in a war that had nothing to do with his city and his army. King Priam begged Sarpedon to join his forces with the Trojans because, without the Lycians, the Trojans would fall very early into the battle. Eventually, Sarpedon agreed and sided with the Trojans.

The war started and Sarpedon got into the battlefield. He fought with all his might to defend his allies and take his soldiers back home safely after the war. He became a high-ranking defender of Troy and was given the honor to fight alongside Aeneas, and just behind Hector. He surely brought a lot of respect and honor to his name after fighting with such bravery.

The Death of Sarpedon

Sarpedon fought in the Trojan War, the greatest war in Greek mythology. This war was also his last war of life. He was killed in cold blood by Patroclus. Patroclus entered the battlefield in Achilles’ armor. Patroclus slew Sarpedon in one on one combat.

His body lay their dirt as the world around him continued to fight. Zeus debated with himself whether he should spare the life of his son but was reminded by Hera that he should not mess with his son’s fate because then the other gods and demigods involved in the war would ask for the same treatment and favor so Zeus let him die. Sarpedon died in the field but just before dying, he killed the only mortal horse of Achilles which was a great win for him.

Zeus sent a shower of bloody raindrops over the Greeks for killing his son, Sarpedon. This was the way he expressed his grief and loss.

Sarpedon and Apollo

Sarpedon’s body lay soulless on the battlefield when Apollo came to it. Zeus had sent Apollo to retrieve the body of his son and take it far away from the war. Apollo took Sarpedon’s body and cleaned it well. Later he gave it to Sleep (Hypnos) and Death (Thanatos) who took it to Lycia for his final funeral processions and mourning.

This was the end of Sarpedon. Even though he was not an important figure in Greek mythology bit you will surely hear his name in the background or in the periphery, supporting another character’s story in the mythology. His most significant war achievement is the slaying of Achilles’ only mortal horse.

The Cult of Sarpedon

Sarpedon was a Lycian king, and his people loved him. After he died in the Trojan war, the people of Lycia built a great shrine and temple in the memory of their great king. The people formed a cult called the cult of Sarpedon. People celebrated the life of Sarpedon yearly on his birthday and kept his name alive. The cult was known as the embodiment of Sarpedon.

They helped the people live better lives and worshipped Sarpedon as a god. Some people speculate that Sarpedon was buried in the same temple, which increases the importance and sanctity of the temple. Nonetheless, some remnants of Lycia can be found in the world today.

FAQ

Who Was King Minos of Crete?

King Minos of Crete was the brother of Sarpedon. He was given the Kingship of Creteafter Poseidon sided with him in the case of ascension to the throne. Minos is more famous than Sarpedon because of his association with Poseidon.

Conclusion

Sarpedon was just another character in Greek mythology, but you read about him a lot of times in the literature because of his connection to essential characters. Sarpedon was an exceptional warrior who participated in the infamous Trojan War as the King of Lycia. He was born in Crete but later went to Lycia. Here are the main points from Sarpedon’s life:Sarpedon what was his role

  • Sarpedon has three origin stories in Greek mythology. The first and the most authentic of them all states that he was the son of Zeus and Laodameia and the brother of Minos and Rhadamanthus.
  • The second one states that he was the grandson of the original Sarpedon who was the brother of Minos. Finally, the third one says that he was the son of Zeus and Europa.
  • He left Crete when Minos became the king. He went to Lycia, where with the help of Zeus and his blessings, he became the king of Lycia. He was living a good life there until the Trojan war started.
  • King Priam asked him to join forces, and after much hesitation, Sarpedon and his army joined their allies, the Trojans. He killed the mortal horse of Achilles. He was a decorated soldier in the war but was killed in combat by Achilles’ friend, Patroclus.
  • Zeus sent bloody raindrops at the Greeks after they killed his son because that’s all he could do. He could not spare his life because it was his fate to die in the war alongside many other mortals and immortals.

Here we come to the end of Sarpedon. He was a demigod with exceptional abilities as explained by Hesiod. We hope you find everything that you were looking for.

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One Comment

  1. This is all largely inaccurate. The idea of “demigods” is an invention by Apollodorus the mythographer, who tried to smoothe out the fragmented and contradictory mythological tradition and make it make sense, as mythographers always do. The “different parentage” traditions are actually about different figures who happen to have the same name, Sarpedon. Late mythographers such as Apollodorus tied themselves in knots trying to make different variants of myths and different traditions somehow fit together, and all this about Sarpedon being born in Crete and moving to Lycia etc. is just more of that. Sarpedon may have had a cult, but many heroes did.

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