The city of Salmone may not be as familiar to mythology enthusiasts as other kingdoms like Troy, Crete, Thebes and Atlantis. And the reason for that is its swift destruction after just one generation of kings.
Salmone is named after its founder, King Salmoneus. Salmoneus was a son of Aeolus, the ruler of Aeolia which would later be known as Thessaly. Salmoneus had many brothers, and as a result, a very low chance of becoming King of Aeolia. Unsatisfied with being just a prince for the rest of his life, Salmoneus left Aeolia with a group of followers to create his own kingdom.
The Story of King Salmoneus
Salmoneus’ first wife was a princess of Arcadia named Alcidice, with whom he had a beautiful daughter named Tyro. Tyro captured the attention of many men, including her uncle Sisyphus, but the most important person attracted to her was Poseidon, the god of the sea.
Tyro had 2 children with Poseidon: Pelias and Neleus, who would go on to become the kings of Thessaly and Pylos respectively.
Salmoneus was overjoyed to hear that his daughter bore the children of Poseidon. Seeing himself as the grandfather of two demigods, King Salmoneus began believing that he too was divine. He became extremely proud and stopped making offerings to the gods as a good king should. That alone would have displeased the Olympians, but the arrogant king decided to take his disrespect a step further.
King Salmoneus began considering himself an equal to Zeus. he forced the people in his kingdom to worship and make offerings to him instead of the gods. In one attempt to imitate the god of the sky, he made his subjects build a bridge of brass and traveled over it in his chariot. Empty cauldrons and dried skins were attached to the back of the cart to mimic the sound of thunder. He also made people stand on either side of the bridge and throw torches into the air to imitate lightning.
Zeus was furious at this mockery of his abilities. Thus, the king of the gods decided that Salmoneus should no longer trouble himself with fake lightning. Zeus struck the impious king with a thunderbolt, destroying him on the spot.
The manner in which the city went to ruin is less clear. Some sources say that Zeus’ thunderbolt caused a fire that eventually consumed the entire city. Others say that Salmone was briefly ruled by Neleus but eventually fell apart for no specific reason. However, it is exceedingly clear that Salmoneus’ arrogance was the key factor behind his kingdom’s downfall.