In ancient Greek tradition, Sparta was founded by Lacedaemon, son of Zeus and Taygete, a daughter of Atlas and one of the Pleiades; it was named after Lacedaemon's wife, who was the daughter of the River Eurotas.
(Taygete is the eponymn of the principal mountain range of Laconia, the Taygetus, which divides Lacedaemon from Messenia. Eurotas is the name of Laconia's principal river, and Sparta was located on its western bank.)
The event to which this tradition alludes is the "coming of the Greeks" — the entry around 2000 bce into the Balkan Peninsula of Greek-speaking people whose culture develops into Mycenaean civilization (1600-1200 bce). Their principal centers in the Peloponnese were Mycenae, Tiryns, Argos and Pylos.
In Greek legend Mycenae was founded by the hero Perseus, ruler of Tiryns, who was better known for decapitating the Gorgon
Andromeda. The walls of Mycenae and Tiryns were constructed by the mythical giants known as Cyclopes, and the term
is still used to designate a style of masonry characterized by the use of massive boulders.
Perseus was the great-grandson of Sparta and Lacedaemon and a son of Zeus. Among the sons of Perseus and Andromeda were Alcaeus, Electryon, Mestor and Sthenelus:
Alcaeus was the father of Amphitryon; Electryon inherited the rule of Mycenae and Tiryns until he was killed accidentally by his nephew and son-in-law Amphitryon; Mestor was the ancestor of the Taphians; and Sthenelus seized the throne of Mycenae and Tiryns from Amphitryon upon the death of Electryon, using the excuse that the killing of Electyon had rendered Amphitryon impure.
- (We are not told why Electryon inherited the kingdom in preference to Alcaeus, but Ampitryon emerges as its rightful ruler after his death both as the son of the eldest son of Perseus and because Electryon committed the kingdom to him when he went off on a campaign against the Taphians who, as descendents of Mestor, had disputed his right to the kingdom.)