Oenomaus

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In Greek mythology, King Oenomaus (or Oinomaos, Oenamaus) of Pisa,[1] the father of Hippodamia, was the son of Ares, either by the naiad Harpina (daughter of the river god Phliasian Asopus, the armed (harpe)[2] spirit of a spring near Pisa)[3] or by Sterope, one of the Pleiades,[4] whom some identify as his consort instead.[5] He married, if not Sterope, then Evarete of Argos, the daughter of Acrisius and Eurydice. The genealogy offered in the earliest literary reference, Euripides' Iphigenia in Tauris, would place him two generations before the Trojan War, making him the great-grandfather of the Atreides, Agamemnon and Menelaus. His name Oinomaos signifies him as a wine man

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Courtship of Hippodamia

Pelops wanted to marry Hippodamia. King Oenomaus, her father, fearful of a prophecy that claimed he would be killed by his son-in-law, had killed thirteen suitors of Hippodamia after defeating them in a chariot race and affixed their heads to the wooden columns of his palace.[6] Pausanias was shown what was purported to be the last standing column in the late second century CE. Pelops came to ask for her hand and prepared to race Oenomaus. Worried about losing, Pelops went to the seaside and invoked Poseidon, his former lover.[7] Reminding Poseidon of their love ("Aphrodite's sweet gifts"), he asked Poseidon for help. Smiling, Poseidon caused a chariot drawn by winged horses to appear.[8] Pelops and Hippodamia, very much in love, devised a plan to replace the bronze linchpins attaching the wheels to the chariot axle with fake ones made of beeswax. The race began, and went on for a long time. But just as Oenomaus was catching up to Pelops and readying to kill him, the wheels flew off and the chariot broke apart. Myrtilus survived, but Oenomaus was dragged to death by his horses, although before dying he cursed Myrtilus. Pelops then killed Myrtilus (by throwing him off a cliff into the sea) after the latter attempted to claim Hippodamia.

In memory of Oenomaus, the Olympic Games were created (or alternatively the Olympic Games were in celebration of Pelops' victory). As Myrtilus died, he cursed Pelops. This was the source of the curse that haunted future generation of Pelops' children, including Atreus, Thyestes, Agamemnon, Aegisthus, Menelaus and Orestes. Also, the burial place of Myrtilus was a taraxippus in Olympia, a "horse-frightening place" during races. Oenomaus' chariot race was one legendary origin of the Olympic Games; one of its turning-posts was preserved, and round it grew an Elean legend of a burnt "house of Oenomaus", reported by Pausanias in the second century CE.[9]

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