Copreus

Copreus

In Greek mythology, Copreus (Κοπρεύς) was King Eurystheus' herald. He announced Heracles' Twelve Labors. Copreus was said to be a son of Pelops and Hippodameia. He was a fugitive from Elis where he had killed a man called Iphitus, but Eurystheus purified him of the murder.[1] He had a son named Periphetes, who features briefly in the Iliad as a well-loved warrior speared by Hector[2] or killed by Teucer.[3] By contrast, Copreus is disparaged by Homer:

So of a sire much baser an excellent son was begotten
better in prowess of every sort, on his feet and in battle[4]

His name is usually translated as 'dung man', or something equally unflattering. However, the name 'Copreus' may originally have had more positive connotations, meaning 'grazier' or 'man of the land', and been associated with the ownership of cattle rather than just their dung (κόπρος).

Notes

  1. ^ ""He sent his commands for the labours through a herald, Copreus, son of Pelops the Eleian. This Copreus had killed Iphitus and fled to Mycenae, where he was purified by Eurystheus and took up his abode." (Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke 2.5.1).
  2. ^ Iliad 15.638.
  3. ^ "Teucer also killed Prothoon and Periphetes." (Iliad 14.515).
  4. ^ Iliad 15.641f.

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