In Greek mythology, Telegonus (//; Ancient Greek: Τηλέγονος means "born afar") was the youngest son of Circe and Odysseus and thus, brother to Agrius and Latinus or Nausithous. In some accounts, he was called the son of the nymph Calypso and Odysseus instead.
When Telegonus grew up, Circe sent him to find Odysseus, who by this time had finally returned to Ithaca from the Trojan War. Carried by a storm, he arrived to the island but thinking it was Corcyra (Corfu), Telegonus began plundering the island because of hunger. Odysseus and his oldest son, Telemachus, defended their city and Telegonus accidentally killed his father with the spine of a stingray. By the instruction of Athena, he brought the body back to Aeaea and buried it there. Telegonus took Penelope, Odysseus' widow, and Telemachus, Odysseus' son, with him. Circe made them immortal and married Telemachus, while Telegonus made Penelope his wife. With Penelope, he was the father of Italus who called the country Italy from his own name.
This is the story told in the Telegony, an early Greek epic that does not survive except in a summary, but which was attributed to Eugamon or Eugammon of Cyrene and written as a sequel to the Odyssey. Variants of the story are found in later poets: for example, in a tragedy by Sophocles, Odysseus Acanthoplex (which also does not survive), Odysseus finds out from an oracle that he is doomed to be killed by his son. He assumes that this means Telemachus, whom he promptly banishes to a nearby island. When Telegonus arrives on Ithaca, he approaches Odysseus' house, but the guards do not admit him to see his father; a commotion arises, and Odysseus, thinking it is Telemachus, rushes out and attacks. In the fighting, he is killed by Telegonus. This story has many similarities with the more well-known tale of Oedipus.
In Italian and Roman mythology, Telegonus became known as the founder of Tusculum, a city just to the southeast of Rome, and sometimes also as the founder of Praeneste, a city in the same region (modern Palestrina). Ancient Roman poets regularly used phrases such as "walls of Telegonus" (e.g. Propertius 2.32) or "Circaean walls" to refer to Tusculum.
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- Gaius Julius Hyginus, Fabulae from The Myths of Hyginus translated and edited by Mary Grant. University of Kansas Publications in Humanistic Studies. Online version at the Topos Text Project.
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