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LEBADEIA (Levadhia) Boiotia, Greece.

Capital city of the nome, situated at the mouth of the gorges of the Herkyna on the foothills N of Mt. Helikon and near the W end of Lake Kopais.

The city was famous from the 6th c. B.C. for its Oracle of Trophonios, which, together with those of Delphi, Abai in Phokis, Dodona, and the Amphiareion, was one of the five great Greek oracles. It was consulted by Croesus (550 B.C.), Mardonios (480), and later by Paulus Aemilius (168 B.C.). Pausanias describes it in detail (9.39.5-13). Together with Koroneia and Haliartos, the city formed one of the 11 Boiotian districts from 447-387 and from 371-338 B.C., then became an autonomous city in the Boiotian Confederacy. It was sacked by Lysander in 395 B.C., then again by Mithridates' forces in 86 B.C. Flourishing once again from the 2d c. A.D., it developed in the Byzantine period, thanks to its strategic position and its cotton industry.

The ancient city, very little of which remains, was situated on the right bank of the Herkyna, N of the modern town, at the foot of the acropolis which has been placed at Trypolithari. In recent excavations some 4th c. buildings have been discovered at Levadhia. The river Herkyna flows S of the town in a deep narrow gorge between Mt. Haghios Ilias to the W and Mt. Granitsa (formerly Laphystios) to the E. There are several abundant springs on both sides of the valley; people consulting the oracle drank the waters of Lethe and Mnemosyne. In the rock on the left bank are hollow niches for statues and a square chamber (4 m each side, 3 m high) with two seats, possibly the Sanctuary of Agathos Daimon and Agathe Tyche. At the W end of the gorge the lower tower of the mediaeval fortress is apparently built over the Temple of Trophonios.

On Mt. Haghios Ilias, on whose slopes the Catalans built a fortress in the 14th c. that can still be seen, was the Sacred Grove, near the Chapel of the Panagia, the Oracle of Trophonios, and the Temple of Zeus Basileus. Recently discovered by Greek archaeologists, the site of the oracle is a few m SW of the Temple of Zeus. It consists of a well ca. 4 m deep and 2 m in diameter (approximately the dimensions given by Pausanias). At the bottom of the well, in the middle, is a cavity the width of a man's body; it extended toward the SW underneath the wall of the well. The cave was sealed with a rough stone. In its present state the somewhat careless construction looks as if it dates from the 3d c. A.D. The identification seems certain.

The Temple of Zeus Basileus, which was never finished, is in almost complete ruin. The E foundations and some carved blocks have just been uncovered. Construction was begun, or perhaps resumed, between 175 and 171 B.C. with money offered by Antiochos IV Epiphanes, king of Syria. Several inscriptions give the building plan in detail. It was apparently a large Doric temple, peripteral, oriented E-W, with an apse in the rectangle of the sekos and a cross-wall with three doors in it. It may have been intended for ceremonies involving processions around an inner altar. The Boiotian Confederacy started the Basileia festivals at Lebadeia, to commenorate the Spartans' defeat at Leuktra in 371; held in Panamos month (August-September), they included athletic contests and horse races. Foreign delegations, notably from Athens, took part in the religious ceremonies.


Pieske in RE (1924) s.v. Lebadeia; A. Bon in BCH 61 (1937) 194ff (château médiéval); Radke in RE (1939) s.v. Trophonios; J. Jannoray in BCH 64-65 (1940-41) 36ff, 274; J. A. Bundgaard, ClMed 8 (1946) 1-43; G. Roux, MusHelv 17 (1960) 175-84P; N. Papahadjis, Pausaniou Hellados Periegesis V (1969) 224-34MPI; E. Vallas & N. Faraklas, AAA 2 (1969) 228-33PI.


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