The Chase Between Laelaps and the Teumessian Fox

The Chase Between Laelaps and the Teumessian Fox

The story of Laelaps and the Teumessian Fox is one of paradox. It’s part of the Greek mythology and it refers to a dog and fox. The dog could catch every prey and the fox could never be caught by anyone. See the paradox? But how could one solve it? Leave it to Zeus with that one. The two creatures had their own stories, but in the end, they converged into one.

The Teumessian Fox was a gigantic fox named after Teumessus, a place near Thebes. Some ancient writers said that this fox was actually a monstrous child of Typhon and Echidna. However, this is not a universal belief. Dionysus was the one who set it loose, leaving it to ravage Thebes and kill the citizens. The reason for this is not entirely clear. Sources say that Dionysus wanted to punish them for a crime.

The inhabitants of Thebes though they could try and placate the fox. Thus, they sent out a child sacrifice every month, in the hopes that everyone would be safe. It did not work. Therefore, they asked for the help of Amphitryon. After a few unsuccessful attempts, he eventually decided he needed the help of Laelaps.

The Chase Between Laelaps and the Teumessian FoxThe Chase Between Laelaps and the Teumessian Fox

Amphitryon promised the owner of Laelaps a share of the profits from the expedition. Cephalus, the owner of the dog, agreed, because he needed an absolution for one of his crimes. In any case, Cephalus agreed to lend him Laelaps, the they let him loose to chase after the fox.

The chase went on but Laelaps could not catch the Teumessian Fox. However, the fox could escape the hound either. Zeus was watching all of this unfold up from Mount Olympus. He saw the paradox taking place and decided he could not let the chase continue. Therefore as Laelaps and the Teumessian Fox were running around, he changed them both into stone.

From here, he made the pair of them into two separate constellations. These are the Canis Major and Canis Minor. Some legends say that this legendary chase continues in the night sky.


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