Aepytus Son of Merope Kills Polyphontes. A.M. 2873.

WAG 7701


This is one of a group of drawings by British artist and book illustrator Edward Francis Burney, depicting scenes from Greek and Roman history and mythology. Aepytus was one of the three sons of Merope and Cresphontes, King of Arcadia. During a revolt Cresphontes and two of his sons were killed by Polyphontes, who then forced Merope to marry him. Aepytus was absent during the revolt and lived, but Polyphontes was aware of his survival and offered a reward for his murder. However, Aepytus grew to adulthood and returned home to avenge his father. Aepytus came to Polyphontes under a false name and claimed to have killed Cresphontes' remaining son. He was invited into the palace as a guest, and while he slept Merope came to kill him, believing him to be her son's murderer. However, an old servant who had recognised Aepytus warned her that it was actually her son using a false identity. Merope suggested to Polyphontes that as a gesture of hospitality, the guest should be invited to participate in a sacrifice. When Aepytus was given the axe to make the sacrifice, he instead used it to kill Polyphontes and reclaim his father's kindgom. Here Aepytus is pictured reunited with Merope, standing over Polyphontes with the axe in hand.