ausible account I have heard is this. Theseus invaded Thesprotia to carry off the wife of the Thesprotian king, and in this way lost the greater part of his army, and both he and Peirithous （he too was taking part in the expedition, being eager for the marriage） were taken captive. The Thesprotian king kept them prisoners at Cichyrus.
Among the sights of Thesprotia are a sanctuary of Zeus at Dodona and an oak sacred to the god. Near Cichyrus is a lake called Acherusia, and a river called Acheron. There is also Cocytus, a most unlovely stream. I believe it was because Homer had seen these places that he made bold to describe in his poems the regions of Hades, and gave to the rivers there the names of those in Thesprotia. While Theseus was thus kept in bonds, the sons of Tyndareus marched against Aphidna, captured it and restored Menestheus to the kingdom.
Now Menestheus took no account of the children of Theseus, who had secretly withdrawn to Elephenor in Euboea, but he was aware
t it into Greece from Thesprotia. And it is my opinion that when Heracles sacrificed to Zeus at Olympia he himself burned the thigh bones of the victims upon wood of the white poplar. Heracles found the white poplar growing on the banks of the Acheron, the river in Thesprotia, and for this reason HomerHom. Il. 13.389, and Hom. Il. 16.482. calls it “Acheroid.”
So from the first down to the present all rivers have not been equally suited for the growth of plants and trees. Tamarisks grow best and in the greatest numbers by the Maeander; the Boeotian Asopus can produce the tallest reeds; the persea tree flourishes only in the water of the Nile. So it is no wonder that the white poplar grew first by the Acheron and the wild olive by the Alpheius, and that the dark poplar is a nursling of the Celtic land of the Celtic Eridanus.
Now that I have finished my account of the greatest altar, let me proceed to describe all the altars in Olympia. My narrative will follow in dealing with th
f the picture, the one on the left, shows Odysseus, who has descended into what is called Hades to inquire of the soul of Teiresias about his safe return home. The objects depicted are as follow. There is water like a river, clearly intended for Acheron, with reeds growing in it; the forms of the fishes appear so dim that you will take them to be shadows rather than fish. On the river is a boat, with the ferryman at the oars.
Polygnotus followed, I think, the poem called the Minyad. For in this chest such as they are wont to make for Demeter. All I heard about Tellis was that Archilochus the poet was his grandson, while as for Cleoboea, they say that she was the first to bring the orgies of Demeter to Thasos from Paros.
On the bank of Acheron there is a notable group under the boat of Charon, consisting of a man who had been undutiful to his father and is now being throttled by him. For the men of old held their parents in the greatest respect, as we may infer, among other instances,