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Ancient literary sources (2)
Unassailable sacred town of Athena
Now as for Alalcomenae, the poet mentions it, but not in the Catalogue:
"Argive Hera and Alalcomenian Athena."
It has an ancient temple of Athena which is held in great honor; and they say,
at least, that the goddess was born there, just as Hera was born in Argos, and
that it was because of this that the poet named them both in this way, as natives
of these places. And it was because of this, perhaps, that he did not mention
in the Catalogue the men of Alalcomenae, since, being sacred, they were excused
from the expedition. And in fact the city always continued unravaged, although
it was neither large nor situated in a secure position, but in a plain. But all
peoples, since they revered the goddess, held aloof from any violence towards
the inhabitants, so that when the Thebans, at the time of the expedition of the
Epigonoi, left their city, they are said to have fled for refuge to Alalcomenae,
and to Tilphossius, the mountain, a natural stronghold that lies above it; and
at the base of this mountain is a spring called Tilphossa, and the monument of
Teiresias, who died there at the time of the flight (Strab. 9,2,36).
This extract is from: The Geography of Strabo (ed. H. L. Jones, 1924), Cambridge. Harvard University Press. Cited Jan 2003 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.
- Perseus: Strabo, Geography
Alalcomenae is a small village, and it lies at the very foot of a mountain of
no great height. Its name, some say, is derived from Alalcomeneus, an aboriginal,
by whom Athena was brought up; others declare that Alalcomenia was one of the
daughters of Ogygus. At some distance from the village on the level ground has
been made a temple of Athena with an ancient image of ivory.
Sulla's treatment of the Athenians was savage and foreign to the Roman character,
but quite consistent with his treatment of Thebes and Orchomenus. But in Alalcomenae
he added yet another to his crimes by stealing the image of Athena itself. After
these mad outrages against the Greek cities and the gods of the Greeks he was
attacked by the most foul of diseases. He broke out into lice, and what was formerly
accounted his good fortune came to such an end. The sanctuary at Alalcomenae,
deprived of the goddess, was hereafter neglected.
In my time yet another incident added to the ruin of the temple. A large and strong
ivy-tree grew over it, loosening the stones from their joints and tearing them
apart. Here too there flows a river, a small torrent. They call it Triton, because
the story is that beside a river Triton Athena was reared, the implication being
that the Triton was this and not the river in Libya, which flows into the Libyan
sea out of lake Tritonis.(Paus. 9.33.5-7)
Not far from Alalcomenae is a grove of oaks. Here the trunks of the oaks are the
largest in Boeotia... (Paus. 9.3.4)
Before reaching Coroneia from Alalcomenae we come to the sanctuary of Itonian
Athena... (Paus. 9.34.1)
This extract is from: Pausanias. Description of Greece (ed. W.H.S. Jones, Litt.D., & H.A. Ormerod, 1918). Cited April 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.
- Alalkomenai: Perseus Encyclopedia