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The son of Zeus and Callisto, the Nymph of the hunt and the companion of Artemis. Another version of the myth makes him the son of Pan. When Callisto who was loved by Zeus, died, or, in the most familiar form of the legend, was changed into a she-bear, Zeus entrusted the child to Maia, the mother of Hermes, who brought him up. On his mother's side Arcas was the grandson of King Lycaon, who reigned over the country later known as Arcadia. One day Lycaon, in order to test the perspicacity of Zeus, is said to have served up the limbs of little Arcas, cooked and ready to be eaten. Zeus was not in the least taken in. He overturned the table and struck the house of Lycaon with lightning. Lycaon himself was changed into a wolf and Zeus put Arcas' limbs together again and restored him to life.

When Arcas was grown up, one day while he was out hunting he met his mother in the shape of a bear, and chased her. The animal took shelter in the temple of 'Lycian' Zeus. Arcas, following her, made his way into the sacred precinct. There was then a law of the country which made this kind of invasion punishable by death, but Zeus had pity on them both and to save their lives he changed them into the constellation of Ursa and its guardian, Arcturus.

Arcas was the ruler of the Pelasgians of the Peloponnese, who were called Arcadians after him. He was the successor of Nyctimus, the son of Lycaon. He taught his people to grow corn, to make bread and to spin wool. He married Meganira, the daughter of Amyclas (see Table 6 and Crocon) by whom he had two sons, Elatus and Aphidas (for a different version, see Chrysopelia). By the Nymph Erato he had a third son, Azan, and divided Arcadia between the three of them (Table 9).


Table of Sources:
- Apollod. Bibl. 3, 8, 2; 3, 9, 1
- Hyg. Fab. 224; Astron. 2, 4
- Ovid. Met. 2, 496ff.; Fast. 2, 183ff.
- Nonnus, Dion. 13, 295ff.
- Paus. 8, 4, 1ff.; 8, 9, 3ff.; 8, 36, 8ff.; 10, 9, 5ff.
- Pseudo-Eratosth. Catast. 1

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