In Greek mythology, Phineas (also spelled Phineus) was a King of Thrace, son of Agenor who had the gift of prophecy. Zeus, angry that Phineas revealed too much of the plans of the gods, punished him by setting him on an island with a buffet of food. He could eat none of it, however, because the harpies, vicious, winged women, stole the food out of his hands right before he could eat. This continued until the arrival of Jason and the Argonauts. They sent the winged heroes, the Boreads after the harpies. They succeeded in driving the monsters away but did not kill them, as a request from the goddess of the rainbow, Iris, who promised that Phineas would not be bothered by the harpies again. As thanks, Phineas told the Argonauts how to pass the Symplegades.

Some ancient writers recognize two Thracian kings by the name of Phineas/Phineus. The first was a son of Agenor who, like his brothers Phoenix, Cadmus, Thasus and Cilix, departed his Phoenician homeland in search of his sister Europa, who had been abducted by the god Zeus. Phineas gave up his search in Thrace, and settled on the western shores of the Black Sea, in eastern Thrace. This Phineas was the father of Thynus, Bithynus, Mariandynus and Paphlagonus, although the first two were his sons by adoption. These four men founded four kingdoms along the shores of the Black Sea - Thynia, Bithynia, Mariandyne, and Paphlagonia - but are otherwise unheard of.

The second Phineas lived several generations later, although his genealogical connection to the first Phineas is unclear. This Phineas was said to be a son of Poseidon, or of Phoenix. This is the Phineas that features in the story of Jason and the Argonauts, and was married to Cleopatra, daughter of Boreas. Phineas and Cleopatra had two sons, named Plexippus and Pandion, who were mistreated by their stepmother, Idaea, who Phineas married after the death of Cleopatra. His residence was the city of Salmydessus on the Black Sea.

Phineas was also the friend of Gene in A Separate Peace by John Knowles.

Apollodorus. Bibliotheke III, xiv, 8; Ovid. Metamorphoses VI, 424-674.


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