(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
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
; E. Vallas & N. Faraklas, AAA
2 (1969) 228-33PI