In Greek mythology Peleus was the son of Aeacus, King of Aegina.
Peleus and Telamon, his brother, killed their half-brother, Phocus and fled Aegina to escape punishment. In Phthia, Peleus was purified by Eurytion and married Antigone, Eurytion's daughter. Peleus accidentally killed Eurytion during the hunt for the Calydonian Boar and fled Phthia.
Peleus was purifed of the murder of Eurytion in Iolcus by Acastus. In Iolcus, Peleus lost a wrestling match in the funeral games of Pelias, Acastus' father, to Atalanta. Astydameia, Acastus' wife, fell in love with Peleus but he scorned her. Bitter, she sent a messenger to Antigone to tell her that Peleus was to marry Acastus' daughter; Antigone hanged herself.
Astydameia then told Acastus that Peleus had tried to rape her. Acastus took Peleus on a hunting trip and hid his sword, then abandoned him right before a group of centaurs attacked. Chiron, the wise centaur, returned Peleus' sword and Peleus managed to escape. He pillaged Iolcus and dismembered Astydameia, then marched his army between the pieces.
After Antigone's death, Peleus married the sea-nymph Thetis and fathered Achilles by her. As a wedding present, Poseidon gave Peleus two immortal horses: Balius and Xanthus. Their wedding, however, was also the beginning of the quarrel that led to the judgement of Paris.
According to legend, Thetis had tried to make Achilles invincible by dipping him in the river Styx, but forgot to wet the heel she held him by, leaving him vulnerable so he could be killed by a blow to that heel. Homer, however, deliberately makes no mention of this; Achilles can not be a hero if he is not at risk. In an earlier and less popular version of the story, Thetis anointed the boy in ambrosia and put him on top of a fire to burn away the mortal parts of his body. She was interrupted by Peleus and abandoned both father and son in a rage. Peleus gave him to Chiron to raise.
There are two versions of Peleus' death.
- The sons of Acastus exiled him from Phthia and he died
- He was reunited with Thetis and made immortal.