In Greek mythology, Broteas (Βροτέας) was the ugly son of Tantalus and Euryanassa , whose other offspring were Niobe and Pelops. He carved the most ancient image of the Great Mother of the Gods (Cybele), an image that in Pausanias' day (2nd century AD) was still held sacred by the Magnesians. The sculpture was carved into the rock-face of the crag Coddinus, north of Mount Sipylus, whose daemon was one of the mythographers' candidates for Broteas' grandfather [1].

In Greek mythology, Athos, one of the Gigantes, threw a mountain at Zeus (or Poseidon) who knocked it to the ground near Macedonia. This mountain was the holy peak of Mount Athos.

The rock-cut carving mentioned by Pausanias is still to be seen above the road about 6 or 7 km east of Manisa (the modern Magnesia ad Sipylum), though the head has partly cleaved away, from natural causes. The figure 8-10 metres high carved on a cliff-face a hundred meters above the marshy plain, has come to be confused with a nearby natural rock formation associated with Niobe, the "Niobe of Sipylus" (Suratlu Tash), also mentioned by Pausanias[2].

Apart from the badly damaged head, the sitting figure is clear enough to be made out by a non-professional. The goddess with the polos headgear holds her breasts with her hands; a vague trace of four Hittite hieroglyphics could be seen on a squared section to the right of her head. The site is Hittite, second millennium BC.

Nearby, other archaeological sites traditionally associated with the House of Tantalus since Antiquity are also in fact Hittite. Some 2 km E of Akpınar there are another two monuments on Mount Sipylus, which are also mentioned by Pausanias: the tomb of Tantalus (Christianized as "Saint Charalambos' tomb") and the "throne of Pelops", in fact a rocky altar.

Broteas was consumed on a pyre as a propitiating sacrifice. The mythic rationale, that he was a famous hunter who (1) refused to honor Artemis, who (2) drove him mad, to (3) immolate himself—combines three familiar mythemes. Compare the hunter Actaeon, whose sacrifice is also justified as retribution.

The heir of Broteas was named Tantalus, like his grandfather.



  • Pausanias, Greece, iii.22.4.
  • Apollodorus, Epitome, i.24; ii.2.
  • Ovid, Ibis, line 517 (with scholiast noted by Graves).
  • Manisa / Magnesia on Sipylus

Robert Graves, 1960. The Greek Myths section 108.

Mythology Images

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