Fifteen stades distant from Mycenae is on the left the Heraeum. Beside
the road flows the brook called Water of Freedom. The priestesses use it in purifications
and for such sacrifices as are secret. The sanctuary itself is on a lower part
of Euboea. Euboea is the name they give to the hill here, saying that Asterion
the river had three daughters, Euboea, Prosymna, and Acraea, and that they were
nurses of Hera.
The hill opposite the Heraeum they name after Acraea, the environs of the sanctuary they name after Euboea, and the land beneath the Heraeum after Prosymna. This Asterion flows above the Heraeum, and falling into a cleft disappears. On its banks grows a plant, which also is called asterion. They offer the plant itself to Hera, and from its leaves weave her garlands.
It is said that the architect of the temple was Eupolemus, an Argive. The sculptures carved above the pillars refer either to the birth of Zeus and the battle between the gods and the giants, or to the Trojan war and the capture of Ilium. Before the entrance stand statues of women who have been priestesses to Hera and of various heroes, including Orestes. They say that Orestes is the one with the inscription, that it represents the Emperor Augustus. In the fore-temple are on the one side ancient statues of the Graces, and on the right a couch of Hera and a votive offering, the shield which Menelaus once took from Euphorbus at Troy.
The statue of Hera is seated on a throne; it is huge, made of gold and ivory, and is a work of Polycleitus. She is wearing a crown with Graces and Seasons worked upon it, and in one hand she carries a pomegranate and in the other a sceptre. About the pomegranate I must say nothing, for its story is somewhat of a holy mystery. The presence of a cuckoo seated on the sceptre they explain by the story that when Zeus was in love with Hera in her maidenhood he changed himself into this bird, and she caught it to be her pet. This tale and similar legends about the gods I relate without believing them, but I relate them nevertheless.
By the side of Hera stands what is said to be an image of Hebe fashioned by Naucydes; it, too, is of ivory and gold. By its side is an old image of Hera on a pillar. The oldest image is made of wild-pear wood, and was dedicated in Tiryns by Peirasus, son of Argus, and when the Argives destroyed Tiryns they carried it away to the Heraeum. I myself saw it, a small, seated image. [
Of the votive offerings the following are noteworthy. There is an altar upon which is wrought in relief the fabled marriage of Hebe and Heracles. This is of silver, but the peacock dedicated by the Emperor Hadrian is of gold and gleaming stones. He dedicated it because they hold the bird to be sacred to Hera. There lie here a golden crown and a purple robe, offerings of Nero.
Above this temple are the foundations of the earlier temple and such parts of it as were spared by the flames. It was burnt down because sleep overpowered Chryseis, the priestess of Hera, when the lamp before the wreaths set fire to them. Chryseis went to Tegea and supplicated Athena Alea. Although so great a disaster had befallen them the Argives did not take down the statue of Chryseis; it is still in position in front of the burnt temple. (2.16.1-7)
MYCENAE (Mycenean palace) ARGOLIS
Ascending (from Nemea) to Tretus, and again going along the road to Argos, you see on the left the ruins of Mycenae. The Greeks are aware that the founder of Mycenae was Perseus, so I will narrate the cause of its foundation and the reason why the Argives afterwards laid Mycenae waste...(2.15.3)
...the sons of Abas, the son of Lynceus, divided the kingdom (of Argos) between themselves; Acrisius remained where he was at Argos, and Proetus took over the Heraeum, Mideia, Tiryns, and the Argive coast region. Traces of the residence of Proetus in Tiryns remain to the present day. Afterwards Acrisius, learning that Perseus himself was not only alive but accomplishing great achievements, retired to Larisa on the Peneus. And Perseus, wishing at all costs to see the father of his mother and to greet him with fair words and deeds, visited him at Larisa. Being in the prime of life and proud of his inventing the quoit, he gave displays before all, and Acrisius, as luck would have it, stepped unnoticed into the path of the quoit.
So the prediction of the god to Acrisius found its fulfillment, nor was his fate prevented by his precautions against his daughter and grandson. Perseus, ashamed because of the gossip about the homicide, on his return to Argos induced Megapenthes, the son of Proetus, to make an exchange of kingdoms; taking over himself that of Megapenthes, he founded Mycenae. For on its site the cap (myces) fell from his scabbard, and he regarded this as a sign to found a city. I have also heard the following account. He was thirsty, and the thought occurred to him to pick up a mushroom (myces) from the ground. Drinking with joy water that flowed from it, he gave to the place the name of Mycenae.
Homer in the Odyssey mentions a woman Mycene in the following verse:
Tyro and Alcmene and the fair-crowned lady Mycene. Hom. Od., unknown line
She is said to have been the daughter of Inachus and the wife of Arestor in the poem which the Greeks call the Great Eoeae. So they say that this lady has given her name to the city. But the account which is attributed to Acusilaus, that Myceneus was the son of Sparton, and Sparton of Phoroneus, I cannot accept, because the Lacedaemonians themselves do not accept it either. For the Lacedaemonians have at Amyclae a portrait statue of a woman named Sparte, but they would be amazed at the mere mention of a Sparton, son of Phoroneus.
It was jealousy which caused the Argives to destroy Mycenae. For at the time of the Persian invasion the Argives made no move, but the Mycenaeans sent eighty men to Thermopylae who shared in the achievement of the Lacedaemonians. This eagerness for distinction brought ruin upon them by exasperating the Argives. There still remain, however, parts of the city wall, including the gate, upon which stand lions. These, too, are said to be the work of the Cyclopes, who made for Proetus the wall at Tiryns. (2.15.2-5)
In the ruins of Mycenae is a fountain called Persea; there are also underground chambers of Atreus and his children, in which were stored their treasures. There is the grave of Atreus, along with the graves of such as returned with Agamemnon from Troy, and were murdered by Aegisthus after he had given them a banquet. As for the tomb of Cassandra, it is claimed by the Lacedaemonians who dwell around Amyclae. Agamemnon has his tomb, and so has Eurymedon the charioteer, while another is shared by Teledamus and Pelops, twin sons, they say, of Cassandra, whom while yet babies Aegisthus slew after their parents. Electra has her tomb, for Orestes married her to Pylades. Hellanicus adds that the children of Pylades by Electra were Medon and Strophius. Clytemnestra and Aegisthus were buried at some little distance from the wall. They were thought unworthy of a place within it, where lay Agamemnon himself and those who were murdered with him. (2.15.2-75)
Fifteen stades distant from Mycenae is on the left the Heraeum. Beside the road flows the brook called Water of Freedom...(2.17.1)
MYCENAE (Mycenean palace) ARGOLIS
General description, fortified by Perseus, origin of name, walls and gates built by Cyclopes, Electryon king of, Eurystheus king of, throne of, seized by Sthenelus, Herakles brings the Nemean lion to, Copreus is purified at, underground treasures of Atreus and his children at, Menelaus comes to Agamemnon at, Mycenaean troops in Trojan war, Agamemnon and Cassandra murdered at, Clytaemnestra and Aegisthus murdered at, graves of Atreus, Agamemnon, Clytaemnestra and others at, Orestes returns to, suzerain of Corinth and of Sicyon, destroyed by Argives, Orestes migrates to Arcadia from, its inhabitants disperse to various places, its fall and desolation, Menelaus comes to port in, eighty Mycenaeans sent to Thermopylae to meet Xerxes.
Now Mycenae is no longer in existence, but it was founded by Perseus, and Perseus
was succeeded by Sthenelus, and Sthenelus by Eurystheus; and the same men ruled
over Argos also. Now Eurystheus
made an expedition to Marathon
against Iolaus and the sons of Heracles, with the aid of the Athenians,
as the story goes, and fell in the battle, and his body was buried at Gargettus,
except his head, which was cut off by Iolaus, and was buried separately at Tricorynthus
near the spring Marcaria below the wagon road. And the place is called "Eurystheus'
Head." Then Mycenae fell to the Pelopidae who had set out from Pisatis,
and then to the Heracleidae, who also held Argos.
But after the naval battle at Salamis
the Argives, along with the
Cleonaeans and Tegeatans,
came over and utterly destroyed Mycenae, and divided the country among themselves.
Because of the nearness of the two cities to one another the writers of tragedy
speak of them synonymously as though they were one city; and Euripides, even in
the same drama, calls the same city, at one time Mycenae, at another Argos,
as, for example, in his Iphigeneia and his Orestes. (Strabo 8.6.18)
IREON (Ancient sanctuary) ARGOS - MYKINES
The same summer also the temple of Hera at Argos was burnt down, through Chrysis, the priestess, placing a lighted torch near the garlands and then falling asleep, so that they all caught fire and were in a blaze before she observed it. Chrysis that very night fled to Phlius for fear of the Argives, who, agreeably to the law in such a case, appointed another priestess named Phaeinis. (Thuc.4.133.2)
MYCENAE (Mycenean palace) ARGOLIS
What enabled Agamemnon to raise the armament was more, in my opinion, his superiority in strength, than the oaths of Tyndareus, which bound the Suitors to follow him. Indeed, the account given by those Peloponnesians who have been the recipients of the most credible tradition is this. First of all Pelops, arriving among a needy population from Asia with vast wealth, acquired such power that, stranger though he was, the country was called after him; and this power fortune saw fit materially to increase in the hands of his descendants. Eurystheus had been killed in Attica by the Heraclids. Atreus was his mother's brother; and to the hands of his relation, who had left his father on account of the death of Chrysippus, Eurystheus, when he set out on his expedition, had committed Mycenae and the government. As time went on and Eurystheus did not return, Atreus complied with the wishes of the Mycenaeans, who were influenced by fear of the Heraclids,-besides, his power seemed considerable, and he had not neglected to court the favour of the populace,-and assumed the sceptre of Mycenae and the rest of the dominions of Eurystheus. And so the power of the descendants of Pelops came to be greater than that of the descendants of Perseus. To all this Agamemnon succeeded. He had also a navy far stronger than his contemporaries, so that, in my opinion, fear was quite as strong an element as love in the formation of the confederate expedition. The strength of his navy is shown by the fact that his own was the largest contingent, and that of the Arcadians was furnished by him; this at least is what Homer says, if his testimony is deemed sufficient. . .Now Mycenae may have been a small place, and many of the towns of that age may appear comparatively insignificant, but no exact observer would therefore feel justified in rejecting the estimate given by the poets and by tradition of the magnitude of the armament.
This extract is from: Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. Richard Crawley. London, J. M. Dent; New York, E. P. Dutton. 1910.
Cited Sept. 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.
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