In Greek mythology, Mopsus was the name of two famous seers:

Mopsus, son of Manto and Rhacius or Apollo

Mopsus, a celebrated seer and diviner, was the son of Manto, daughter of the mythic seer Tiresias and Rhacius of Caria or of Apollo himself, the oracular god.

Walter Burkert (Burkert 1992:52) noted the Eastern connections of the name Mopsus, which appears in a Hittite report, as Muksus. He instanced an eighth-century bilingual inscription from Karatepe in Cilicia, which attested a king from the "house of Mopsos", given in hieroglyphic Luwian as Moxos and in Phoenician as Mopsos, in the form mps.

Mopsus— and perhaps a tradition of his heirs, like the Melampodidae, the Iamidae from Olympia or the Eumolpidae at Eleusis— officiated at the altars of Apollo at Klaros; and from his unerring wisdom and discernment gave rise to the proverb, "more certain than Mopsus". He distinguished himself at the siege of Thebes; but he was held in particular veneration at the court of Amphilochus, at Colophon in Ionia, on the coast of Asia Minor adjacent to Caria.

The twelfth-century Byzantine mythographer John Tzetzes[2] reports anecdotes of the prowess of Mopsus. Having been consulted, on one occasion, by Amphilochus, who wished to know what success would attend his arms in a war which he was going to undertake, he predicted the greatest calamities; but Calchas, who had been the soothsayer of the Greeks during the Trojan War, promised the greatest successes. Amphilochus followed the opinion of Calchas, but the prediction of Mopsus was fully verified. This had such an effect upon Calchas that he died soon after. His death is attributed by some to another mortification of the same nature. The two soothsayers, jealous of each other's fame, came to a trial of their skill in divination. Calchas first asked his antagonist how many figs a neighboring tree bore; ten thousand and one, replied Mopsus. The figs were gathered, and his answer was found to be true. Mopsus now, to try his adversary, asked him how many young ones a certain pregnant sow would bring forth, and at what time. Calchas confessed his inability to answer, whereupon Mopsus declared that she would be delivered on the morrow, and would bring forth ten young ones, of which only one would be a male. The morrow proved the veracity of his prediction, and Calchas died through the grief which his defeat produced.[3]Amphilochus subsequently having occasion to visit Argos, entrusted the sovereign power to Mopsus, to keep it for him during the space of a year. On his return, however, Mopsus refused to restore to him the kingdom, whereupon, having quarreled, they engaged and slew each other.[4]. According to another legend reported by Tzetzes, [5] he was slain by Hercules.

Mopsus was venerated as founder in several cities, among them Mopsuestia in Cilicia, the oracle at Klaros and at Mallos.

Mopsus, the Argonaut

Mopsus, son of Ampyx and a nymph (sometimes named as Chloris), born at Titaressa in Thessaly, was also a seer and augur. According to Pindar, Mopsus was the king of Thrace during an invasion of Amazons, and killed their Queen Myrine in single combat, defeating the invaders with the help of Sipylus, the Scythian.

He was one of two seers among the Argonauts (together with Idmon), and was said to have understood the language of birds, having learnt augury from Apollo. While fleeing across the Libyan desert from angry sisters of the slain Gorgon Medusa, Mopsus died from the bite of a viper that had grown from a drop of Medusa's blood. Medea was unable to save him, even by magical means. The argonauts buried him with a monument by the sea, and a temple was later erected on the site.[6]

Ovid (Metamorphoses VIII.316) places him also at the hunt of the Calydonian Boar, although the hunt occurred after the Argonauts' return



  • Charles Anthon, A Classical Dictionary (1842).
  • Walter Burkert, 1992. The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Early Archaic Greece (Cambridge:Harvard University Press) p 52.
  • John Lempriere, 1850. Lemprière's Classical Dictionary. ("Mopsus," p.422). (London. Bracken Books) Reprint 1994. paperback. ISBN 1-85891-228-8

Mythology Images

Retrieved from ""
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License