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This page is part of the "tools" section of a site, Plato and his dialogues, dedicated to developing a new interpretation of Plato's dialogues. The "tools" section provides historical and geographical context (chronology, maps, entries on characters and locations) for Socrates, Plato and their time. By clicking on the minimap at the beginning of the entry, you can go to a full size map in which the city or location appears. For more information on the structure of entries and links available from them, read the notice at the beginning of the index of persons and locations.
City of Elis, in northwestern Peloponnese
The city of Pisa was said to owe its name either to the legendary hero Pisus, a son of Perieres, king of Messenia, himself a son of Æolus, son of Hellen, son of Deucalion, or to Pisa, a daughter of Endymion, king of Elis and son (or grandson) of Zeus.
But the most famous legendary king of Pisa was Oenomaus, whose story is linked to that of Pelops. Oenomaus was the son of Ares and Harpinna, a daughter of the river-god Asopus. He had a daughter named Hippodamia, who was very beautifull and, as a result, courted by many young men seeking to marry her. But Oenomaus was reluctant to let anybody marry his daughter, either because he was himself in love with her or because of an oracle who would have told him that he would be killed by his son-in-law. So, he had devised a trial to which he subjected all suitors of his daughter : they had to beat him in a chariot race to the altar of Poseidon in Corinth. He would sacrifice a ram to Zeus before starting the race and let his opponent go while so doing. But the fact is, his chariot was drawn by godly horses given him by his father Ares so that they could not be beaten by earthly horses. Besides, the suitor had to take Hippodamia with him on his chariot, which made it heavier and could distract him. Anyway, Oenomaus would always catch up on his opponent and kill him, behead him and nail his head on the door of his palace to deter future suitors.
It is after twelve suitors had been so defeated and killed that Pelops came to try his luck. When seeing him, Hippodamia fell in love with him and manage to obtain from Myrtilus, her father's chariot driver who was also in love with her, that he sabotage Oenomaus' chariot, which he did by replacing the pins that were fastening the wheels of the chariot to the axle by fake ones made of wax. As a result, the chariot broke during the race and Oenomaus, caught in the reins, was dragged by his horses to his death (unless he was killed by Pelops himself). Pelops married Hippodamia who became the mother of Atreus, Thyestes and several other children, and, through Atreus, the grandmother of Agamemnon and Menelaus, and, through one of her daughters, Astydamia, the grandmother of Amphitryon, the "earthly" father of Heracles.
Pisa was located near the site of Olympia where the Olympic games, insituted by Pelops, were held and, as a result, challenged Elis for the presidence of the games until it was destroyed by the later around 572 B. C.