Shakespeare's Myths

Ixion, also Yxion, Ixeon, Ixioun, Ixyon, Yrion, Ysion, Yxioun, Exione


Related Entries
Centaurs, Danaids, Jupiter, Juno, Orpheus, Prometheus, Tantalus, Tityus


Ixion was a Lapith, a king of Thessaly, who is well known for his punishment: he was bound to a wheel in the Underworld. Because he committed a terrible crime against a relative, Ixion was the first man guilty of kin-slaying in classical mythology.

When Ixion asked for the hand of Dia, a daughter of Deioneus (or Eioneus), he promised his father-in-law many bridal gifts. But after the wedding, he did not keep his promise. Worse, he pushed Deioneus into a fiery pit. No-one would purify Ixion of his fault, an act of treachery and ungratefulness.

But Jupiter, out of pity, cleansed him at last. Ixion was brought to Olympus and introduced at the table of the gods. Then, ungrateful for this divine favour, he lusted after Jupiter’s wife, Juno, and tried to seduce her. Juno reported the attempt to Jupiter, who fashioned a cloud in her shape and tricked Ixion into lying with it. The Centaurs sprang from this union of the cloud-woman and Ixion. The latter could not refrain from boasting of his success with Juno. He was expelled from Olympus and consigned to the Underworld for punishment. Jupiter bound Ixion (or had Mercury bind him) to a wheel that would eternally spin in Tartarus.

How to cite

Gaelle Ginestet.  “Ixion.”  2009.  In A Dictionary of Shakespeare’s Classical Mythology (2009-), ed. Yves Peyré.

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