Learchus (Greek: Λέαρχος) or Learches is a figure in Greek mythology and was the son of Athamas and Ino as well as the brother of Melicertes.

Learchus or Learches
Member of the Athamantian Royal House and also of Theban lineage
Atamante preso dalle Furie by Arcangelo Migliarini (1801) at Roma, Accademia di San Luca
AbodeAthamantia in Boeotia
Personal information
ParentsAthamas and Ino
SiblingsMelicertes Helle, Phrixus, Schoeneus, Leucon, Ptous (half siblings)


The story of Learchus is part of the Theban Cycle which was elaborated by Ovid in his Metamorphoses. He was killed as a boy by his father, Athamas, whom Hera drove insane as punishment for having received and raised Dionysus, the illegitimate son of Zeus and Semele, Ino's sister.

Athamas, blinded by the madness, exchanged Learchus for a lion (or a ram/ fawn, in other versions) and killed him. After this, Athamas went in frenzied pursuit of Ino, who jumped into the sea with their other son, Melicertes. Ovid adds some details to this story, saying, for instance, that Learchus had spontaneously stretched out his arms to his father to hug him, not knowing that he was mad and would slay him.

Dante cites this myth as an example of insanity in his Inferno.


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