Monuments reported by ancient authors AMFIARION (Ancient sanctuary) ATTICA, EAST - GTP - Greek Travel Pages

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Monuments reported by ancient authors (3)

Ancient oracles

Oracles of Amphiaraus

Oracles of Amphiaraus. Thebes and Oropus (on the Euripus) contended for the honour of possessing the spot in which the hero Amphiaraus was swallowed up by the earth. Hence there were two oracles at which he was invoked: one between Thebes and Potniae, the other in a narrow valley close to the sea, between Oropus and Psaphis (Strabo, ix. 1, § 22). The first was the one consulted by Croesus; it was among the seven to which he proposed his test question, and it was even said to have given an answer not altogether wrong (Herod. i. 46, 49). Hence the Thebans possessed the golden shield and spear presented by Croesus (Herod. i. 52) to this oracle; they placed these gifts, however, not in the temple of Amphiaraus, but in the temple of Apollo Ismenius. Moreover, the Thebans would not themselves consult this oracle; they affirmed that the hero was their ally, and that they would not disturb his impartiality (Herod. viii. 134). This looks like a pretext to cover a feeling of hostility; Amphiaraus had fought against the Thebans. Pausanias (ix. 8, § 2) tells us that the grass round this temple, and the columns of it, were the scene of a perpetual miracle; cattle would not crop the one, nor birds settle upon the other: doubtless as a proof of the genuineness of the tradition attached to the spot. The oracles were given through dreams to persons sleeping in the temple (Herod. viii. 134): they had to prepare themselves for this incubutio by fasting one day, and by abstaining from wine for three days (Philostr. Vit. Apoll. ii. 37).
At the other oracle, that of Oropus, were two sacred wells and an altar of elaborate workmanship (Pausan. i. 34, § § 2 sqq.). It was especially consulted by the sick, who had to purify themselves and sacrifice a ram; on the skin of which they afterwards slept in the temple. The means of recovery was then supposed to be intimated to them in dreams. If they recovered, they had to throw some pieces of money into the well within the sanctuary. The sacred ground alleged to belong to this oracle was the subject of a curious controversy, which occasioned the speech of Hyperides pro Euxenippo.

This text is from: A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890) (eds. William Smith, LLD, William Wayte, G. E. Marindin). Cited July 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Ancient sanctuaries

Sanctuary of Amphiaraus

About twelve stades from the city (of Oropus) is a sanctuary of Amphiaraus. The divinity of Amphiaraus was first established among the Oropians. The Oropians have both a temple and a white marble statue of Amphiaraus. The altar shows parts.

Ancient sacred springs

Amphiaraus spring

The Oropians have near the temple a spring, which they call the Spring of Amphiaraus; they neither sacrifice into it nor are wont to use it for purifications or for lustral water. But when a man has been cured of a disease through a response the custom is to throw silver and coined gold into the spring, for by this way they say that Amphiaraus rose up after he had become a god.

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