The central character of Mysians was Telephus. This can be inferred from the mention in the play (fr. 145) of Oeum, a village near Telephus’ birthplace Tegea in Arcadia, and also from Aristotle’s criticism (Poetics 1460a30–32) of “the man in Mysians who came from Tegea to Mysia without ever speaking”—for though Sophocles also wrote a play called Mysians in which a man, almost certainly Telephus, arrives in Mysia from abroad, we know that in Sophocles’ play this man immediately asks a native what country he is in (Sophocles fr. 411). The Aeschylean Telephus had been silent because he was under blood-pollution (cf. Eumenides 448–450), having killed his maternal uncles, the sons143
ἰὼ Κάικε Μύσιαί τ᾿ ἐπιρροαί
Strabo 13.1.70 (εἰπεῖν Αἰσχύλον κατὰ τὴν εἰσβολὴν τοῦ ἐν Μυρμιδόσι [so codd.: Μυσοῖς Pauw] προλόγου); Macrobius, Saturnalia 5.20.16 (play not named); Sacerdos, Ars Grammatica 3.4 (play not named); Zenon Papyrus 59651 (author and play not named)144
ποταμοῦ Καΐκου χαῖρε πρῶτος ὀργεών, εὐχαῖς δὲ σῴζοις δεσπότας παιωνίοις
Photius, Lexicon s.v. ὀργεῶνες; Suda o511
of Aleos; the play may well have included his purification (cf. fr. 144, which is addressed to a priest). In several accounts Telephus either arrives in Mysia together with his mother Auge, or is reunited with her there; if Aeschylus used such a version, Auge may have acted as Telephus’ spokesperson.
Telephus (q.v.) is widely thought to have been a sequel to Mysians.
Recent studies: C. Preiser, Euripides: Telephos (Hildesheim, 2000) 51–52.143
Hail, Caïcus,1 and you tributary streams of Mysia!144
Greeting, chief priest of the river Caïcus, and may you bring safety to your masters1 by your prayers for their health!
- 1The chief river of Mysia.
- 2Taplin, Stagecraft 424, shrewdly notes that we need not rule out Telephus as the speaker of these words, if he was at this point alone on stage.
- 1i.e., presumably, the Mysian royal house; several versions of the Telephus story mention a king Teuthras, who usually marries Auge and eventually bequeaths his kingdom to Telephus.