This legendary curse began with Pelops, founder of the House of Atreus in the Peloponnese, and father of Atreus. Pelops angered Hermes, messenger of the Greek gods, by killing Hermes' son. Hermes cursed the family, and the effects of this were felt in the next generation.Pelops' sons quarrelled endlessly over property and wives; two of them, Atreus and Thyestes, fought with particular bitterness and Thyestes was exiled. Later, Atreus pretended to be reconciled with his brother and invited him to a banquet. There he was served a dinner; after Thyestes had finished eating, Atreus told him that the meat was in fact his own dead children. It was said that the sun stopped in the sky in horror at this deed.
The curse continued for two more generations, with Thyestes' surviving son helping to kill Atreus' son, Agamemnon. In the end the feud had to be stopped by divine intervention.