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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 “ Ἀργεία” or “ Ἀργολίς”. But poetry retained the larger sense which Homer had made familiar. Thus in I. T. 508 Orestes says, “τὸ κλεινὸν Ἄργος πατρίδ᾽ ἐμὴν ἐπεύχομαι”, adding that he comes “ἐκ τῶν Μυκηνῶν”. Cp. Eur. fr. 228. 6 (Danaüs) “ἐλθὼν ἐς Ἄργος ᾤκισ᾽ Ἰνάχου πόλιν” (came to Argolis, and settled in the town of Argos). Indeed Thuc. can say (6. 105),Λακεδαιμόνιοι ἐς τὸ Ἄργος ἐσέβαλον” .

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 “Ἀργεῖοι παλαιότατοι τῶν Ἑλλήνων ἀξιοῦσιν εἶναι”.

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hide References (3 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (3):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.19.3
    • Thucydides, Histories, 6.105
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