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Lycaon (gr. Lykaon, Λυκάων), in Greek mythology, was a son of Priam and Laothoe. During the Trojan War, Lycaon was captured by Achilles while cutting branches in Priam's orchard. Achilles sold him as a slave to Euneus of Lemnos, but Eetion of Imbros bought him and took him back to Troy. Only twelve days later, he faced Achilles in battle, during Achilles' terrible wrath after the death of Patroclus. Lycaon grasped Achilles' knees and begged for mercy, either in exchange for a ransom or in memory of Patroclus' gentle nature; however, neither argument swayed Achilles, who slew him without pity. (Iliad XXI, 35–155)

Lycaon had two sons, Pandarus and Iapyx.

A second Lycaon in Greek mythology, son of Pelasgus and Meliboea, father of Oenotrus and the mythical first king of Arcadia. He was the father of Callisto and, according to some, he raised her son Arcas. He, or his fifty impious sons, entertained Zeus and set before him a dish of human flesh; the god pushed away the dish in disgust and either killed the king and his sons by lightning or turned them into wolves (Apollodorus iii. 8 ; Ovid, Metamorphoses i. 198). Some say that Lycaon slew and dished up his own son Nyctimus (Clem. Alex. Protrept. ii. 36 ; Nonnus, Dionys. xviii. 20 ; Arnobius iv. 24).

Pausanias (viii. 2) says that Lycaon sacrificed a child to Zeus on the altar on mount Lycaeus, and immediately after the sacrifice was turned into a wolf. This gave rise to the story that a man was turned into a wolf at each annual sacrifice to Zeus Lycaeus, but recovered his human form if he abstained from human flesh for ten years. The oldest city, the oldest cult (that of Zeus Lycaeus), and the first civilization of Arcadia are attributed to Lycaon. His story has been variously interpreted. According to Weizsäcker, he was an old Pelasgian or pre-Hellenic god, to whom human sacrifice was offered, bearing a non-Hellenic name similar to Avkos, whence the story originated of his metamorphosis into a wolf.

His cult was driven out by that of the Hellenic Zeus, and Lycaon himself was afterwards represented as an evil spirit, who had insulted the new deity by setting human flesh before him. Robertson Smith considers the sacrifices offered to the wolf-Zeus in Arcadia to have been originally cannibal feasts of a wolf-tribe, who recognized the wolf as their totem. Usener and others identify Lycaon with Zeus Lycaeus, the god of light, who slays his son Nyctimus (the dark) or is succeeded by him, in allusion to the perpetual succession of night and day. According to Ed. Meyer, the belief that Zeus Lycaeus accepted human sacrifice in the form of a wolf was the origin of the myth that Lycaon, the founder of his cult, became a wolf, i.e. participated in the nature of the god by the act of sacrifice, as did all who afterwards duly performed it.

Ovid I, 163.

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A second Lycaon, also in Greek mythology, was a son of Priam and Laothoe. During the Trojan War, Lycaon was captured by Achilles while cutting branches in Priam's orchard. Achilles sold him as a slave to Euneus of Lemnos, but Eetion of Imbros bought him and took him back to Troy. Only twelve days later, he faced Achilles in battle, during Achilles' terrible wrath after the death of Patroclus. Lycaon grasped Achilles' knees and begged for mercy, either in exchange for a ransom or in memory of Patroclus' gentle nature; however, neither argument swayed Achilles, who slew him without pity. (Iliad XXI, 35–155). Lycaon had two sons, Pandarus and Iapyx.


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