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Greek Mythology
A river god, the son of Oceanus and Tethys. Alpheus fell in love with Arethusa, a follower of Artemis (also listed as a Nereid in some accounts). Frightened, Arethusa fled from Alpheus, but was unable to outrun him. She called out to Artemis to help her, and the goddess turned her into a spring, opening a tunnel under the sea from Greece to Sicily. As Arethusa became a spring, Alpheus became a river again, mingling his waters with those of Arethusa.

E2 Dictionary of Classical Mythology


The god of the river of that name, which runs between Elis and Arcadia in the Peloponnese. Like all rivers, he is the son of Oceanus and Tethys. His children are said to be Orsilochus, the father of Diocles, the king of Pheres in Messenia and, in some accounts, Phegeus of Arcadia. Various legends tell of the attempts by Alpheus to seduce Artemis and the Nymphs. Alpheus loved Artemis but she resisted his advances, so he decided to seize her by force. One day when Artemis and her Nymphs were celebrating a festival at Letrinoi he tried to approach her but she smeared her face with mud and he failed to recognize her. Another version of the story says that Alpheus pursued Artemis as far as the island of Ortygia which lies in the middle of the harbour of Syracuse.

Alpheus also loved one of the followers of Artemis, called Arethusa, and he turned himself into a hunter in order to follow her. To escape him she fled to Syracuse and the isle of Ortygia, and Alpheus went after her. Arethusa was changed into a spring and for love of her Alpheus mingled his waters with hers. (See another version of this legend under Naiads.)


Table of Sources:
- Hesiod, Theog. 338
- Hom. Il. 5, 545ff.
- Hyg. Fab. 244f
- Paus. 6, 22, 5
- schol. on Pind. Pyth. 2, 12
- Paus. 5, 7, 2
- Ovid, Met. 5, 572ff.

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