ARGOS (Ancient city) ARGOLIS
Argos ( to Argos: Eth. Argeios, Argivus, and in the poets Argeus), is said by Strabo (viii) to have signified a plain in the language of: the Macedonians and Thessalians; and it is therefore not improbable that it contains the same root as the Latin word ager. There were several places of the name of Argos. Two are mentioned in Homer, who distinguishes them by the names of the Pelasgic Argos (to Pelasgikon Argos, Il. ii. 681), and the Achaean Argos (Argos Achaiikon, Il. ix. 141, Od. iii. 251). The Pelasgic Argos was a town or district in Thessaly. The Achaean Argos, or Argos simply, is used by Homer in three different significations:
1. To indicate the city of Argos where Diomedes reigned (Il. ii. 559, vi. 224, xiv. 119).
2. Agamemnon's kingdom, of which Mycenae was the capital (Il. i. 30, ii. 108, 287, iii. 75, vi. 152).
3. The whole of Peloponnesus, in opposition to Hellas, or Greece north of the Isthmus of Corinth (kath Hellada kai meson Argos, Od. i. 344; comp. Od. iv. 726, Il. ix. 141, 283; Strab. viii. pp. 369, 370).
In this sense Homer calls it the lasian Argos (Iason Argos, Od. xviii. 246), from an ancient king Iasus, son of Argus and Evadne (Apollod. ii. 1.2). In consequence of this use of Argos, Homer frequently employs the word Argeioi to signify the whole body of the Greeks; and the Roman poets, in imitation, use Argivi in the same manner.
In the Greek writers Argos is used to signify both the territory of the city of Argos, and more frequently the city itself.
I. Argos, the district. (See Argolis)
II. Argos, the City.
Argos (to Argos), usually called Argi(-orum) by the Romans, was situated about three miles from the sea, in the plain which has already been described. Its citadel, called Larisa or Larissa, the Pelasgic name for a citadel (Larisa, Larissa, Pans. ii. 23.8; Strab. viii; Dionys. i. 21), was a striking object, being built on an insulated conical mountain of 900 feet in height, with steep rocky sides, diversified with grassy slopes. A little to the E. of the town flowed the river Charadrus, a tributary of the Inachus.
According to the general testimony of antiquity, Argos was the most ancient city of Greece. It was originally inhabited by Pelasgians, and is said to have been built by the Pelasgic chief Inachus, or by his son Phoroneus, or by his grandson Argus. Phoroneus, however, is more commonly represented as its founder; and from him the city was called astu Phoronikon (Paus. ii. 15.5). The descendants of Inachus ruled over the country for nine generations; but Gelanor, the last king of this race, was deprived of the sovereignty by Danaus, who is said to have come from Egypt. From this Danaus was derived the name of Danai, which was applied to the inhabitants of the Argeia and to the Greeks in general (Apollod. ii.1). Danaus and his two successors Lynceus and Abas ruled over the whole of the Argeia; but Acrisius and Proetus, the two sons of Abas, divided the territory between them, the former ruling at Argos, and the latter at Tiryns. Perseus, the son of Danae, and grandson of Acrisius, founded the city of Mycenae, which now became the chief city in the Argeia (Paus. ii.15.4, 16.5; Apollod. ii.2). Eurystheus, the grandson of Perseus, was succeeded in the kingdom of Mycenae by Atreus, the son of Pelops. The latter transmitted his power to his son or grandson Agamemnon, king of men, who exercised a kind of sovereignty over the whole of the Argeian territory, and a considerable part of Peloponnesus. Homer represents Mycenae as the first city in Peloponnesus, and Argos, which was then governed by Diomedes, as a subordinate place. Orestes, the son of Agamemnon, united under his sway both Argos and Mycenae, and subsequently Lacedaemon also, by his marriage with Hermione, the daughter of Menelaus. Under Orestes Argos again became the chief city in the Argeian territory. In the reign of his successor Tisamenus, the Dorians invaded Peloponnesus, expelled Tisamenus, and became the rulers of Argos. In the three.. fold division of Peloponnesus, among the descendants of Hercules, Argos fell to the lot of Temenus.
We now come to the first really historical event in the history of Argos. The preceding narrative belongs to legend, the truth of which we can neither deny nor affirm. We only know that before the Dorian invasion the Argeian territory was inhabited by Achaeans, who, at some period unknown to history, had supplanted the original Pelasgic population. According to the common legend, the Dorians conquered the Peloponnesus at once, and drove out the Achaean population; but it is now generally admitted that the Dorians only slowly and gradually made themselves masters of the countries in which we find them subsequently settled; and we know in particular that in the Argeia, most of the towns, with the exception of Argos, long retained their original Achaean population.
Even after the Dorian conquest, Argos appears as the first state in Peloponnesus, Sparta being second, and Messene third. Herodotus states (i. 82), that in ancient times the whole eastern coast of Peloponnesus down to Cape Malea, including Cythera and the other islands, belonged to Argos; and the superiority of the latter is also indicated by the legend, which makes Temenus the eldest of the three Heracleids.
The power of Argos, however, was not derived exclusively from her own territory, but also from the fact of her being at the head of a league of several other important Doric cities. Cleonae, Phlius, Sicyon, Epidaurus, Troezen, Hermione, and Aegina were all members of this league, which was ostensibly framed for religious purposes, though it in reality gave Argos a political ascendency. This league, like others of the same kind, was called an Amphictyonia (Paus. iv. 5.2); and its patron god was Apollo Pythaeus. There was a temple to this god in each of the confederated cities, while his most holy sanctuary was on the Larissa, or acropolis of Argos. This league continued in existence even as late as B.C. 514, when the power of Argos had greatly declined, since we find the Argives in that year condemning both Sicyon and Aegina to pay a fine of 500 talents each, because they had furnished the Spartan king Cleomenes with ships to be employed against the Argeian territory (Herod. vi. 92). The religious supremacy continued till a later time; and in the Peloponnesian war the Argives still claimed offerings from the confederate states to the temple of Apollo Pythaeus on the Larissa (Thuc. v. 53; comip. Miller, Dorians, i. 7.1.)
The great power of Argos at an early period is attested by the history of Pheidon, king of Argos, who is represented as a lineal descendant of Temenus, and who reigned between B.C. 770 and 730. He attempted to establish his sway over the greater part of Peloponnesus, and, in conjunction with the Pisatans, he seized upon the presidency of the Olympic games in the 8th Olympiad (B.C. 747); but he was subsequently defeated by the Spartans and the Eleans.
After the time of Pheidon the power of Argos gradually declined, and Sparta eventually became the first power in Peloponnesus. The two states had long contended for the possession of the district Cynuria or Thyreatis, which separated the frontiers of Laconia and Argos. Several battles between the Lacedaemonians and Argives are recorded at an early period, and particularly a victory gained by the latter near Hysiae, which is assigned to B.C. 669 (Paus. ii. 24.7). But about B.C. 547 the Spartans obtained permanent possession of Cynuria by the memorable combat of the 300 champions, in which the Spartan Othryades earned immortal fame (Herod. i. 82;)
But the great blow, which effectually humbled the power of Argos, and gave Sparta the undisputed pre-eminence in Peloponnesus, was dealt by the Spartan king Cleomenes, who defeated the Argives with such slaughter near Tiryns, that 6000 citizens perished in the battle and the retreat (Herod. vi. 76) According to later writers, the city was only saved by the patriotism of the Argive women, who, headed by the poetess Telesilla, repulsed the enemy from the walls (Paus. ii. 20.8; Polyaen. viii. 33; Plut. de Virt. Mul. p. 245; Suid. s. v. Telesilla); but we know, from the express statement of Herodotus, that Cleomenes never attacked the city. This great defeat occurred a few years before the Persian wars (comp. Herod. vii. 148), and deprived Argos so completely of men, that the slaves got the government into their own hands, and retained possession of it till the sons of those who had fallen were grown into manhood. It is further related, that when the young citizens had grown up, they expelled the slaves, who took refuge at Tiryns, where they maintained themselves for some time, but were eventually subdued (Herod. vi. 83). These slaves, as Muller has remarked (Dorians, iii. 4.2), must have been the Gymnesii or bondsmen who dwelt in the immediate neighbourhood of the city; since it would be absurd to suppose that slaves bought in foreign countries could have managed a Grecian state. The Argives took no part in the Persian wars, partly on account of their internal weakness, and partly through the jealousy of the Spartans; and they were even suspected of remaining neutral, in consequence of receiving secret offers from Xerxes (Herod. vii. 150). But even after the expulsion of the bondsmen, the Dorian citizens found themselves compelled to give the citizenship to many of the Perioeci, and to distribute them in the immediate neighbourhood of the city (Aristot. Pol. v. 2.8). Further, in order to increase their numbers and their power, they also dispeopled nearly all the large cities in the surrounding country, and transplanted the inhabitants to Argos. In the Persian wars Tiryns and Mycenae were independent cities, which followed the command of Sparta without the consent of Argos. The Argives destroyed Mycenae in B.C. 468 (Diod. xi. 65; comp. Paus. viii. 16.5); and about the same time we may place the destruction of Tiryns, Hysiae, Midea, and the other towns in the Argeia (Paus. viii. 27.1).
The introduction of so many new citizens gave new life and vigour to Argos, and soon re-established its prosperity and wealth (Diod. xii. 75); but at the same time it occasioned a complete change in the constitution. Up to this time Argos had been essentially a Doric state. It contained three classes of persons:
1. The inhabitants of the city, consisting for the most part of Dorians, originally divided into three tribes, to which a fourth was afterwards added, named Hyrnathia, containing families not of Doric origin (Muller, Dorians, iii. 5.1, 2).
2. A class of Perioeci, consisting of the ancient Achaean inhabitants. Muller (Ibid. iii. 4.2) supposes that these Perioeci were called Orneatae from the town of Orneae; but there are good reasons for questioning this statement.
3. A class of bondslaves, named Gymnesii, corresponding to the Helots of Sparta, and of whom mention has been made above.
There was a king at the head of the state. All the kings were descendants of the Heracleid Temenus down to Meltas, who was the last king of this race (Paus. ii. 19.2; Plut. Alex. Virt. 8); and after him another dynasty reigned down to the time of the Persian wars. Herodotus (vii. 149) mentions a king of Argos at this period; but the royal dignity was abolished soon afterwards, probably when the inhabitants of the neighbouring towns were received as citizens (Hermann, Griech. Staatsalt. 23. n. 6).
The royal power, however, was always very limited (Paus. ii. 9.2); for the Council (boule) possessed extensive authority. At the time of the Peloponnesian war we find Argos in the enjoyment of a democratic constitution; but of the details of this constitution we possess hardly any accounts (Thuc. v. 29, 41, 44). In the treaty of alliance between Argos and Athens, which Thucydides (v. 47) has preserved, we find mention at Argos of the Boule, the Eighty, and the Artynae (Artunai). It has been conjectured that the Eighty was a more aristocratical council, and that the Artynae may have acted as presidents to this council (Arnold, ad Thuc. l. c.); but nothing is really known of these two bodies except their names. The ostracism was one of the democratical institutions of Argos (Aristot. Pol. v. 2.5; Schol. ad Aristoph. Eq. 851). Another democratical institution was a military court, which the soldiers, on returning from an expedition, held on the river Charadrus before entering the city, in order to inquire into the conduct of their generals (Thuc. v. 60).
The Argives remained neutral during the first ten years of this war, in consequence of a truce for 30 years which they had previously formed with the Spartans (Thuc. v. 14).During this time they had increased in numbers and wealth; while Sparta had been greatly exhausted by her contest with Athens. Moreover, shortly before the expiration of the truce, the Spartans had given great offence to her Peloponnesian allies by concluding the peace with Athens, usually called the peace of Nicias (B.C. 421). The time seemed favourable to Argos for the recovery of her former supremacy in the Peloponnesus; and she accordingly formed a league against Sparta, which was joined by the Mantineians, Corinthians and Eleians, B.C. 421 (Thuc. v. 31). In the following year (B.C. 420) the Athenians also were persuaded by Alcibiades to form a treaty with Argos (Thuc. v. 43-47); but the disastrous battle of Mantineia (B.C. 418), in which the Argives and their confederates were defeated by the Spartans, not only broke up this alliance, but placed Argos in close connection with Sparta. There had always been an oligarchical party at Argos in favour of a Lacedaemonian alliance. About the time of the peace of Nicias, the Argive government had formed a separate regiment of a thousand select hoplites, consisting of young men of wealth and station, to receive constant military training at the public expense (Diod. xii. 75; Thuc. v. 67). At the battle of Mantineia this regiment had been victorious over the troops opposed to them, while the democratical soldiers had been put to the rout by the enemy. Supported by this regiment, the oligarchical party obtained the upper hand at Argos, and concluded a treaty of peace with Sparta; and in the following year (B.C. 417), assisted by some Spartan troops, they overthrew the democratical form of government by force (Thuc. v. 71--81). But they did not retain their power long. At the end of four months the people rose against their oppressors, and after a sharp contest expelled them from the city.
The Argives now renewed their alliance with the Athenians, and commenced erecting long walls, in order to connect their city with the sea; but before they had time to finish them, the Lacedaemonians invaded their territory, and destroyed the walls (Thuc. v. 82, 83). During the remainder of the Peloponnesian war the Argives continued faithful to the Athenian alliance, and sent troops to the Athenian armies (Thuc. vi. 29, vii. 57, viii. 25).
At a later time the Argives were always ready to join the enemies of Sparta. Thus they united with Athens, Thebes, Corinth, and the other states to oppose Sparta in the war which was set on foot by the Persian king in B.C. 395; and even when Athens assisted Sparta against the Thebans, the Argives would not make cause with their old allies, but fought on the side of the Thebans against their ancient enemy, B.C. 362 (Xen. Hell. vii. 5. 5) It was about this time that party hatred perpetrated the greatest excesses at Argos. The oligarchical party having been detected in an attempt to overthrow the democracy, the people became so exasperated that they put to death most of the men of wealth and influence in the state. On this occasion 1200 men, or, according to another statement, 1500, were slain; and even the demagogues shared the same fate. This state of things was called by the name of Skutalismos, or club-law (Diod. xv. 58; Plut. Praec. Reip. Ger. p. 814, b.; Muller, Ibid. iii. 9.1)
Little requires to be said respecting the subsequent history of Argos. The most memorable occurrence in its later history is the attempt of Pyrrhus to surprise the city, in which he met with his death (Plut. Pyrrh. 34;). Like many of the other cities in Peloponnesus, Argos was now governed by tyrants, who maintained their power by the support of the Macedonian kings; but when Aratus had succeeded in liberating Sicyon and Corinth, he persuaded Aristomachus, the tyrant of Argos, voluntarily to resign his power; and the Argives then joined the Achaean league, B.C. 229 (Pol. ii. 44; Plut. Arat. 35). Argos fell for a time into the hands of Cleomenes (Pol. ii. 52), and subsequently into those of Nabis, tyrant of Sparta, and his cruel wife (Pol. xvii. 17; Liv. xxxii. 18); but. with the exception of these temporary occupations, it continued to belong to the Achaean league till the final conquest of Greece by the Romans, B.C. 146 (Strab. viii).
Argos was one of the largest and most populous cities in Greece. We have already seen that in the war with Cleomenes it lost 6000 of its citizens; but at the time of the Peloponnesian war it had greatly increased in numbers. Lysias, in B.C. 402, says that Argos equalled Athens in the number of her citizens (Dionys. Lys. p. 531); and there were probably not less than 16,000 Athenian citizens at that time. But 16,000 citizens will give a total free population of 66,000. If to these we add the slaves and the Perioeci, the aggregate calculation cannot have been less than 110,000 persons for Argos and its territory (Clinton, F. H. vol. ii. p. 424, seq.)
Few towns in Greece paid more attention to the worship of the gods than Argos. Hera was the deity whom they reverenced above all others. This goddess was an Achaean rather than a Dorian divinity, and appears in the Iliad as the guardian deity of the Argives; but her worship was adopted by the Dorian conquerors, and was celebrated with the greatest honours down to the latest times. Even in B.C. 195 we find Aristaenus, the general of the Achaean league, invoking, Juno regina, cujus in tutela Argi sunt (Liv. xxxiv. 24). The chief temple of this goddess, called the Heraeum, was situated between Argos and Mycenae, but much nearer to the latter than to the former city; and in the heroic age, when Mycenae was the chief city in the Argeia, the inhabitants of this city probably had the management of the temple (Grote, vol. i. pp. 226, 227). In the historical age the temple belonged to the Argives, who had the exclusive management of its affairs. The high priestess of the temple held her office for life; and the Argives counted their years by the date of her office (Thuc. ii. 2). Once in four years, probably in the second year of every Olympiad, there was a magnificent procession from Argos to this temple, in which almost the whole population of the city took part. The priestess rode in a chariot, drawn by two white oxen (Herod. i. 31; Cic. Tusc. i. 4. 7;). Respecting the site of this temple, which was one of the most magnificent in Greece, some remarks are made...(see Heraeum).
In the city itself there were also two temples of Hera, one of Hera Acraea on the ascent to the Acropolis (Paus. ii. 24.1), and the other of Hera Antheia in the lower part of the city (Paus. ii. 22.1). But the temple of Apollo Lyceius is described by Pausanias (ii. 19.3) as by far the most celebrated of all the temples in the city. Tradition ascribed its foundation to Danaus. It stood on one side of the Agora (Thuc. v. 47), which Sophocles therefore calls the Lyceian Agora of the wolf-slaying god (tou lukoktonou theou agora Lukeios, Soph. Electr. 6; comp. Plut. Pyrrh. 31; Leake, Morea, vol. ii. p. 401, seq.). There was also a temple of Apollo Pythaeus on the Acropolis,which, as we have already seen, was a common sanctuary for the Dorian states belonging to the ancient Argive confederacy (Paus. ii. 24.1; Thuc. v. 53.) There were temples to several other gods in Argos; but we may pass them over, with the exception of the temples of Zeus Larissaeus and of Athena, both of which crowned the summit of the acropolis (Paus. ii. 24.3; Strab. viii.6).
The great number of temples, and of statues with which they were adorned, necessarily led to the cultivation of the fine arts. Argos became the seat of one of the most celebrated schools of statuary in Greece. It rose to the greatest renown in the 5th century, B.C., under Ageladas, who was the teacher of Pheidias, Myron, and Polycleitus, three of the greatest sculptors in antiquity. Music was also cultivatedwith success at Argos at an early period ; and in the reign of Darius the Argives were reckoned by Herodotus (iii. 131) the best musicians in Greece. Sacadas, who flourished about this period (B.C. 590--580), and who was one of the most eminent of the Greek musicians, was a native of Argos. Sacadas obtained distinction as a poet as well as a musician; and the Argive Telesilla, who was contemporary with Cleomenes, was so celebrated as a poetess as to be classed among those who were called the Nine Lyric Muses (Dict. of Biogr. art. Sacadas and Telesilla). But after this time we find no trace of the pursuit of literature at Argos. Notwithstanding its democratical constitution, and the consequent attention that was paid to public affairs, it produced no orator whose fame descended to posterity (Cic. Brut. 13). The Argives had the character of being addicted to wine (Aelian, V. H. iii. 15; Athen. x. d).
The remains of Argos are few, but still sufficient to enable us to fix the position of some parts of the ancient city, of which Pausanias has left us a minute account. The modern town of Argos is situated wholly in the plain, but it is evident from the existing remains of the ancient walls, that the mountain called Larissa was included within the ancient city. On the summit of this mountain there are the ruins of a Gothic castle, the walls of which are built upon those of the ancient acropolis. The masonry of the ancient parts of the building is solely or chiefly in the more regular or polygonal style. There are, however, considerable vestiges of other lines of wall, of massive Cyclopian structure, on the sides and base of the hill connecting the citadel with the lower town (Mure, vol. ii. p. 184). Euripides, in more than one passage, alludes to the Cyclopian walls of Argos (Argos, hina teiche laina Kuklopi ourania nemontai, Troad. 1087; Argeia teiche kai Kuklopian polin, Here. Fur. 15). It appears from the ancient substructions that the ancient acropolis, like the modern citadel, consisted of an outer wall or rampart, and of an inner keep or castle. The latter occupied a square of about 200 feet.
From either end of the outer fortification, the city walls may be traced on the descent of the hill. As no remains of the city walls can be traced in the plain, it is difficult to form an estimate of the dimensions of the ancient city; but Leake conjectures that it could not have been less than 5 miles in circumference.
We learn from Livy that Argos had two citadels ( nam duas [arces] habent Argi, Liv. xxxiv. 25). This second citadel was probably situated at the extremity of the hill, which forms the north-eastern projection of the mountain of Larissa, and which rises to about one-third of the height of the latter. The ridge connecting this hill with the Larissa is called Deiras (Deiras) by Pausanias (ii. 24.1). The second citadel was called Aspis (Aspis, Plut. Pyrrh. 32, Cleom. 17, 21), since a shield was suspended here as the insignia of the town; whence the proverb hos ten en Argei aspida kathelon (Zenob. vi. 52; Plut. Prove. Alexand. 44; Suid.; Muller, Doricans, App. vi.9).
There are considerable remains of the theatre, which was excavated on the southern slope of the Larissa. In front of the western wing of the theatre there are some brick ruins of the Roman period. At the south-western end of the Larissa there are remains of an aqueduct, which may be traced two miles beyond the village of Belissi to the NW.
The Agora appears to have stood nearly in the centre of the city. In the middle of the Agora was the monument of Pyrrhus, a building of white marble; on which were sculptured the arms worn by this monarch in his wars, and some figures of elephants. It was erected on the spot where the body of Pyrrhus was burnt; but his remains were deposited in the neighbouring temple of Demeter, where he died, and his shield was affixed above the entrance (Paus. ii. 21.4). A street named Coele (Koile, Pans. ii. 23.1) appears to have led from the Agora to the Larissa, the ascent to which was by the ridge of Deiras. At the foot of the hill Deiras was a subterraneous building, which is said to have once contained the brazen chamber (ho chalkous thalamos) in which Danae was confined by her father Acrisius (Paus. ii. 23.7; comp. Soph. Antig. 948; comp. Hor. Carm. iii. 16. 1). The gymnasium, called Cylarabis (Kularabis), from the son of Sthenelus, was situated outside the city, at a distance of less than 300 paces according to Livy (Paus. ii. 22.8; Liv. xxxiv. 26; Plut. Cleom. 17). The gate which led to it was called Diamperes (Diamperes). It was through this gate that Pyrrhus entered the city on the night of his death (Plut. Pyrrh. 32) The king fell near the sepulchre of Licymnius in a street leading from the agora to the gymnasium. (Plut. Pyrrh. 34; Paus. ii. 22.8)
The principal gates of Argos appear to have been:
1. The gate of Eileithyia, so called from a neighbouring temple of this goddess, leading to Mycenae and Cleonae (Paus. ii. 18.3)
2. The gate of Deiras (hai pulai hai pros te Deiradi), leading to Mantineia. In the ridge, called Deiras, Leake observed an opening in the line of the ancient walls, which marks precisely the position of this gate (Paus. ii. 25.1)
3. The gate leading to Tegea (Paus. ii. 24.5)
4. The gate leading to Temenium.
5. The gate Diamperes, leading to Tiryns, Nauplia and Epidaurus.
6. A gate leading to the Heraeum.
This extract is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited May 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
TIMENION (Ancient port) ARGOS
Temenium (Temenion), a town in the Argeia, at the upper end of the Argolic gulf, built by Temenus, the son of Aristomachus. It was distant 50 stadia from Nauplia (Paus. ii. 38.2), and 26 from Argos (Strab. viii. p. 368). The river Phrixus flowed into the sea between Temenium and Lerna (Paus. ii. 36.6, ii. 38.1). Pausanias saw at Temenium two temples of Poseidon and Aphrodite and the tomb of Temenus (ii. 38.1). Owing to the marshy nature of the plain, Leake was unable to explore the site of Temenium; but Ross identifies it with a mound of earth, at the foot of which, in the sea, are remains of a dam forming a harbour, and upon the shore foundations of buildings, fragments of pottery, &c. (Leake, Morea, vol. ii. p. 476; Ross, Reisen im Peloponnes, p. 149; Curtius, Peloponnesos, vol. ii. p. 383.)
This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited September 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
ARGOS (Ancient city) ARGOLIS
City of northern Peloponnese.
Argos was one of the most important cities of Peloponnese, rival of Sparta for the leadership of that region. Indeed, at the start of his Histories, Herodotus presents it as once a city that had “in every respect the first place in the country nowadays called Greece” (Histories, I, 1). And, in the Homeric world, Agamemnon, the leader of the Greek expedition against Troy, is often presented as king of Argos, or of the Argives, and the word “Argives (Argeioi)”, inhabitants of Argos, is often used as synonym of “Greeks”. In fact it is hard to separate the stories relating to Argos itself from those relating to Argolis as a whole or to other cities of Argolis, such as Tirynthus or Mycenae, which helps explain why Agamemnon can be seen by Homer as sometimes king of Argos and at other times as king of Mycenae.
In mythology, the first king of Argos is the River-God Inachus, a son of the Titans Oceanus and his sister and wife Tethys. He was chosen as arbitrator between Hera and Poseidon in their fight for the dominion over the country and decided in favor of Hera. Hera indeed, as she herself claims in the Iliad, was the protector of Argos, where she had a very ancient temple, the Heraion. In Peloponnesian legends, Inachus is said to have been the father of Phoroneus, the first human being, who is sometimes presented as the one who decided between Hera and Poseidon and introduced the cult of Hera in Peloponnese. He was also credited for teaching men to gather in cities and use fire. He was the father of Niobe, the mother of all living beings and the first mortal who was loved by Zeus, from whom she had a son named Argus, credited for teaching men how to cultivate wheat, and who became king of Peloponnese, then called as a whole Argos after him, a name that was later restricted to the city of Argos and the surrounding region of Argolis.
Among the descendants of Inachus was Io, who is either said to be the daughter of Iasos, or directly the daughter of Inachus. Epaphus, the son of Zeus and Io, married Memphis, the daughter of the River-God Nile, from which he had a daughter named Libya. From Poseidon, Libya had twins, Agenor and Belus. Agenor became the father of Cadmus, Phoenix and Europa, while Belus had two sons, Danaus and Aegyptus. Danaus had fifty daughters, the Danaides, while Aegyptus had fifty sons. Afraid of these boys, Danaus fled with his daughters and reached Argos where he overthrew the king of the time, Gelanor, last descendant of Phoroneus, to become king in his place. But, after he had settled in Argos, his fifty nephews came after him to claim his daughters as wives. Danaus gave his consent, though he was not convinced by the boy's plea of goodwill, but, during the wedding night, at their father's command, all the daughters murdered their bridegrooms, except the first-born, Hypermestra, who spared her husband Lynceus. After that, to find willing husbands for his daughters, Danaus had to offer them as prizes in games that he organized. Eventually, the Danaides, along with their father Danaus, were all killed by Lynceus to avenge his brethren. In Hades, as a penalty for their crime, the Danaides were condemned to pour eternally water in bottomless vessels. Danaus was said to have built the citadel of Argos, in which his tomb was still visible in historical times.
Lynceus then became king of Argos. From Hypermestra he had a son, Abas, who became the father of twins that reproduced the hatred between their grandfathers Danaus and Aegyptus: Acrisius and Proetus. They fought for the kingship of Argos after the death of their father, and Acrisius got Argos, while Proetus settled in nearby Tirynthus. Acrisius had a daughter named Danae and, when he asked the oracle for a son, he was told that it would be his daughter who would have a son and that this son would kill him. So he jailed Danae, but this didn't prevent Zeus from falling in love with her and making her pregnant in her jail by taking the form of a shower of gold. Danae secretly gave birth in her jail to a son named Perseus, and her father didn't learn of it until one day, the infant made noise while playing and Acrisius heard him. Unwilling to kill the baby, yet hoping to save his life, Acrisius put his daughter and her son in a wooden box and abandonned them to the sea. The raft drifted until it landed in the island of Seriphos, where the baby and his mother were taken care of by a fisherman named Dictys, who became Perseus' adoptive father.
From Andromeda Perseus had many children, including Alcaeus and Electryon. The former was the father of Amphitryon and the later of Alcmene, the earthly parents of Heracles. Perseus was also, through another of his sons, Sthenelus, who became king of Mycenae, the grandfather of Eurystheus, Heracles' rival for the kingdom of Mycenae who imposed upon him the 12 labors.
Back in Argos, Megapenthes had a son, Anaxagoras, and a daughter, Iphiarina. Anaxagoras succeeded his father as king of Argos. Anaxagoras was succeeded on the throne of Argos by his son Alector, then by Alector's son Iphis. Melampous married Iphianassa, one of Proetus' daughters he had cured, while Bias married the other, Lysippe, though he had been married earlier to Pero, the daughter of his uncle Neleus, king of Pylos, and sister of Nestor, with whom he had had several children. It is a son he had had with Pero, Talaus, who succeeded him.
Melampous had several sons, including Antiphates who succeeded him, and Abas, whose daughter Lysimache, in one tradition, married Talaus and was the mother of Adrastus. When Polybus died without children, he left his throne to Adrastus. Having become king of Sicyon, Adrastus made peace with his cousin Amphiaraus and recovered his share of the throne of Argos; and, though he never completely forgave his cousin, he gave him his sister Eriphyle in marriage, under the condition that, in case of future disagreement, they would rely on her arbitration, a condition that turned out to be fateful to Amphiaraus later. To help Polynices recover his throne, Adrastus asked the help of members of the three royal families of Argos, the sons of Bias, Melampous and Proetus. The seven princes who took part in the expedition against Thebes were, aside from Adrastus, their leader, Polynices and Tydeus: Canapeus, son of Hipponous, Hippomedon, Parthenopaeus, and finally, Amphiaraus.
Bernard Suzanne (page last updated 1999), ed.
This extract is cited July 2003 from the Plato and his dialogues URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks.
ARGOS (Ancient city) ARGOLIS
Argos. A titular see of Peloponnesian Greece, from the fifth to the twelfth century, about twenty miles southwest of Corinth. It was considered the oldest city of Greece and was once the head of the Doric League, and in its time one of the largest and most populous of the Greek cities.
Argos was famous in Greek antiquity for the worship of Hera, and her great temple, the Heraeum (fully excavated in 1831), was considered one of the most magnificent monuments of Greek architecture. In the fifth century, B.C., the city was also famous for its temple of Apollo, the chief Doric sanctuary, and as the seat of celebrated schools of sculpture and music, especially the flute.
In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries it was the seat of a diocese, being then held successively by the French Dukes of Athens and the Byzantines; in 1463 it passed under Ottoman rule.
Thomas J. Shahan, ed.
Transcribed by: Tim Drake
This extract is cited June 2003 from The Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent online edition URL below.
The city lies at the foot of two hills a few km from the sea, dominating
the Argive plain. Described by Pausanias, it has been cited many times by historians
and orators, as well as by epic and tragic poets.
The earliest of the Pelasgian settlements, it was also the most important. Legend very soon associated it with a goddess (Hera), the cow (Io), and the wolf (Danaos). The Danaans were portrayed as invaders, succeeded in their turn by the Achaians possibly at the beginning of the second millennium. In any event, the region was already divided at the time of Perseus the Danaid. Argos still played a major role in the two campaigns of the Achaians against Thebes; however, the Trojan expedition was led by Agamemnon, king of Mycenae. The rivalry with Sparta, which was to dominate the next centuries, may go back to Orestes.
After the Dorian invasions Argos once again flourished under the tyrant Pheidon; it may have been he who introduced into Greece a sort of money in the form of spits, or obeloi (second half of the 8th c.). Then when Sparta eclipsed Argos and grew at its expense, it joined almost every one of the anti-Lakonian leagues until Flaminus rescued it from Nabis (195 B.C.). Argos does not seem to have suffered under the Romans, and in spite of the pillaging of the Goths the life of the city never stopped.
We know nothing of how the city was laid out in any period of antiquity. There is evidence of a Neolithic settlement in the S region, and of one from the Early Helladic period on the Aspis (to the N). This hill most probably was the Middle Helladic acropolis. The Larissa, which dominates the site to the NW, apparently was fortified only in the Mycenaean period. The only other finds from the 2d millennium are a few remains of dwellings at the foot of the hills and some tombs, many of them cut in the rock and particularly rich in Late Helladic III B.
Grave-offerings, the chief evidence of the next centuries, once again become extremely plentiful about Pheidon's time; the museum has a unique collection of the original Geometric ware of Argos as well as a cuirass found beside a helmet with a crest shaped like a crescent, both exceptionally well preserved. On the other hand, the sculpture schocls of archaic and classical Argos, so renowned in antiquity, have left practically no trace on the site.
Some topographical locations can be determined: that of the Temple of Pythian Apollo, with its manteion, and the Temple of Athena Oxyderkes, on the W flank of the Aspis; that of the temples and citadel of the Larissa; hewn in the E side of that hill, one of the finest theaters in Greece (end of the 4th c.); farther S, under a Roman odeum, the remains of a theater with straight banks of seats, built before the 4th c., perhaps as a meeting place for the assembly. The discovery of an Aphrodision next to the odeum enables us to interpret Pausanias' description and to presume that the foundations of a square hypostyle hall (the boule?) and a long 5th c. portico almost opposite the theater belong to the agora. Changes made to the theater, the odeum, the building of great baths as well as villas (mosaics are in the museum) point to sustained activity in the 1st-2d and 4th-5th c. A.D.
J. F. Bommelaer, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains 61 image(s), bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.
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