After the fall of his father Tantalus, Pelops became ruler over the Anatolian regions of Paphlagonia, Lydia and Phrygia.
It came to be that a horde of barbarian tribes invaded the town of Paphlagonia and forced Pelops to return back to his ancestral home near Mount Sipylus.
However, his return to Lydia would prove to be anything but peaceful for the young man, for shortly after entering his homeland, the region was fiercely attacked by King Ilus of Troy.
Fearing the impending assault of the approaching army, Pelops gathered up his riches and took flight across the Aegean Sea into the city of Pisa. Wanting to start a new life for himself, Pelops decided to take the beautiful Princess Hippodamia as his bride.
But unfortunately this would prove to be no easy task, for years before it had been prophesied to her father King Oenomaus, that one day he would lose his life at the hands of his future son-in-law.
In order to escape this most unpleasant fate, Oenomaus declared that Hippodamia would only be given in marriage to the first suitor who could successfully beat him in a chariot race.
Any participant that took part in the contest and failed to defeat the king would be immediately decapitated. Their heads would then be firmly placed atop of the many wooden columns that lined the front of the palace.
To guarantee a victory for himself, Pelops sought the help of Myrtilus, a son of Hermes and the trusted charioteer of the king. For his cooperation, Pelops promised to reward Myrtilus with half of Oenomaus’ kingdom along with the priviledge of being the first man to make entrance into Hippodamia’s bedchamber.
Finding the offer to tempting to resist, Myrtilus agreed, and on the night before the great race slyly replaced one of Oenomaus’ bronze linchpins with one made of beeswax.
The competition began as normal, but just as the two men approached the finish line the faulty pin caused the wheels to break away from the axletree and Oenomaus’ chariot was destroyed. Though Pelops was not hurt in the accident, the unlucky king was tragically dragged to death by his powerful team of horses.
When Myrtilus came forward to collect Hippodamia as his reward, Pelops took hold of the charioteer and threw him off of a high cliff and into the sea below. As Myrtilus fell to his death, he called out and placed an evil curse upon Pelops and all of his descendants.
One can say that this curse of Myrtilus had quite a bit of merit, as death and destruction did indeed fill the lives of many of Pelop’s children and grandchildren.
Please see my pages on Atreus and Thyestes, Agamemnon, and Orestes, to see more examples of the hardships that plagued the future generations of Pelops.