In Greek mythology, Dorus (Ancient Greek: Δῶρος) is a son of Hellen who was the eponymous founder of the Dorians.[1] Each of Hellen's sons founded a primary tribe of Greece: Aeolus the Aeolians, Dorus the Dorians and Xuthus the Achaeans (from Xuthus's son Achaeus) and Ionians (from Xuthus's adopted son Ion, in truth a son of the god Apollo), aside from his sister Pandora's sons with Zeus. According to the Bibliotheke, "Dorus received the country over against Peloponnese and called the settlers Dorians after himself."[2]

Dorus was killed by Apis when he tried to invade the Peloponnese. According to Karl Kerenyi, the Dorians recalled that three times Heracles had aided their "oldest king", Aigimios, "under whom they had not yet emigrated to the Peleponnesos."[3] Kerenyi's source is the Bibliotheca (II.7.7), who though he is late, was working with ancient materials lost to us.

The eponymous figure of "Dorus" is a back-formation: all tribal groups have myths of an "original', whose name is the eponym of the tribe, even tribal eponyms in Genesis. The oldest are essentially eponyms of extended families, who were worshipped in archaic cults into Roman times.[4] A man's name, Dōrieus, occurs in the Linear B tablets at Pylos,[5] one of the regions invaded and subjected by the Dorians. Whether it had the ethnic meaning of "the Dorian" is unknown. Modern derivations of "Dorians" do not depend on a figure of Dorus: see Name of the Dorians. Centuries later, the figure of Dorus was invoked by Diodorus Siculus in the common way to explain the presence in Crete during the historical period of Dorian cities of mixed population:

The third people[6] to cross over to the island, we are told, were Dorians, under the leadership of Tectamus the son of Dorus; and the account states that the larger number of these Dorians was gathered from the regions about Olympus, but that a part of them consisted of Achaeans from Laconia, since Dorus had fixed the base of his expedition in the region about Cape Malea. And a fourth people to come to Crete and to become intermixed with the Cretans, we are told, was a heterogeneous collection of barbarians who in the course of time adopted the language of the native Greeks.[7]

An important descendance of aristocratic clans, some of which survived into Classical times, was from Heracles. Diodorus invokes a son of Dorus in accounting for the mythic theme of the "return" of the Heracleidae:

The rest of the Heracleidae, they say, came to Aegimius, the son of Dorus, and demanding back the land which their father had entrusted to him, made their home among the Dorians.[8]


  1. He was the son of Hellen by a nymph Orseis, according to Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke I.7.3; "And from Hellen the war-loving king sprang Dorus and Xuthus and Aeolus delighting in horses" (Hesiodic Catalogue of Women fragment 9. Another parentage offered for Dorus in Bibliotheke was as son of Apollo and Phthia; in this context he was the father of Xanthippe. Another placement of Dorus among the Hellenes descended from Hellen was as the son of Xuthus and Creusa.
  2. Bibliotheke, I.7.3.
  3. Kerenyi. The Heroes of the Greeks, p. 184.
  4. Walter Burkert, Greek Religion devotes a chapter VI.1.2 to "Clan and family mysteries".
  5. Pylos tablet Fn867 records it in the dative case as do-ri-je-we, *Dōriēwei, a third or consonant declension noun with stem ending in w. An unattested plural, *Dōriēwes, would have become Dōrieis by loss of the w and contraction, but in the tablet, which is concerned with contribution of grain to a temple, it is simply a man's name.
  6. After Eteocretans and Pelasgians.
  7. Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History V.80.2.
  8. Diodorus, IV.58.6

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