Coming from Phocis, the travellers have reached Mycenae by the
road from Corinth, and are now standing on the high ground of
the Mycenaean citadel, in front of the palace.
The old man, looking southward, points out the chief features of
the landscape. (1) The Argive plain, which lies spread out
before them to the south and west. (2) The agora and temple of
Apollo Lyceios in the city of Argos, distant about six miles to
the south. This temple was the most conspicuous object in the
town ( Paus. 2. 19. 3); and it
may be supposed that a person standing at Mycenae could see the
building, or part of it. (3) The Heraeum, correctly described as
being on the speaker's left hand. Its site was S. E. of Mycenae,
at a distance of somewhat less than two miles.
The poet's aim was merely to group these famous places in one
view. Neither he nor his Athenian hearers would care whether the
topography was minutely accurate. W. G. Clark, in his
Peloponnesus (p. 72), illustrates this
presumable indifference by a stage direction in Victor Hugo's
Marie Tudor:—‘Palais de
Richmond: dans le fond à gauche l'Église
de Westminster, à droite la Tour de
Londres.’ But, in fact, there is only one error of
detail. The Heraeum was not visible from Mycenae (v. 8, n.).
Ἄργος in prose usu.
means the town only, the territory being “ἡἈργεία” or “ἡἈργολίς”. But poetry retained the larger sense which
Homer had made familiar. Thus in I. T. 508
Orestes says, “τὸκλεινὸνἌργοςπατρίδ᾽ἐμὴνἐπεύχομαι”, adding that he comes “ἐκτῶνΜυκηνῶν”. Cp. Eur. fr. 228. 6
(Danaüs) “ἐλθὼνἐςἌργοςᾤκισ᾽Ἰνάχουπόλιν” (came to
Argolis, and settled in the town of Argos).
Indeed Thuc. can say
παλαιὸν refers not
merely to the town, but to the associations of the land. The
oldest legends of intercourse between Greece and Asia belonged
to the shores of the Argive Gulf (cp. Her.
1. 1). Cp. Aristeides Panath. p. 188
Sophocles: The Plays and Fragments, with critical notes, commentary, and translation in English prose. Part VI: The Electra. Sir Richard C. Jebb. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press. 1894.
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