In Greek mythology, Lityerses (Λιτυέρσης) was an illegitimate son of Midas (or of Comis) dwelling in Celaenae, Phrygia. He challenged people to harvesting contests and beheaded those he beat, putting the rest of their bodies in the sheaves. Heracles won the contest and killed him, then threw his body into the river Maeander.[1][2][3] He was also known as the reaper of men. One source describes him as a glutton who could eat "three asses' panniers" of food and drink "a ten-amphora cask" of wine at a time.[4]

The Phrygian reapers used to celebrate his memory in a harvest-song which bore the name of Lityerses.[2] The song for Lityerses was, according to one tradition, a comic version of the lament sung by the Black Sea people, the Mariandyni for Bormos, a son of wealthy man.[5]

Theocritus in his tenth Idyll gives a specimen of a Greek harvest-song addressed to Demeter, which is called 'the Song of the Divine Lityerses'. In this song, there is no mention of the legend; it is indeed only an ordinary reaping-song.


  1. ^ Scholia on Theocritus, Idyll 10. 41
  2. ^ a b Suda s. v. Lityersēs
  3. ^ Hesychius of Alexandria s. v. Lityersas
  4. ^ Athenaeus, Banquet of the Learned, 10. 415b, quoting Sositheus
  5. ^ The ritual lament in Greek tradition By Margaret Alexiou, Dimitrios Yatromanolakis, Panagiotis Roilos Page 58 ISBN 0-7425-0757-2