) and Agamēdes
). The sons of Erginus of Orchomenus, legendary
heroes of architecture. Many important buildings were attributed to them, among others the
Temple of Apollo at Delphi (Strabo, p. 421), that of Poseidon at Mantinea (Pausan. viii. 10,
2), the thalamos
of Alcmené in Thebes (ib.
ix. 11, 1), the treasuries of Augeas in Elis (Schol. ad
, 508), and Hyrieus in Boeotian Hyria (Paus.ix.37.4
). In the last named they inserted one stone so cleverly that it could be
easily removed from the outside and the treasure stolen by night. But on one occasion, when
Agamedes was caught in the trap laid by Hyrieus to discover the thief, Trophonius, to save
himself from being betrayed as his brother's accomplice, cut off the head of Agamedes. Being
pursued, however, by the king, he was swallowed up in the earth at Lebadea, and by the command
of Apollo a cult and an oracle were dedicated to him as Zeus Trophonius.
The oracle was situated in a subterranean chamber, into which, after various preparatory
rites, including the nocturnal sacrifice of a ram and the invocation of Agamedes, the
inquirers descended to receive, under circumstances of a mysterious nature, a variety of
revelations, which were afterwards taken down from their lips and duly interpreted. The
descent into the cave, and the sights which there met the eye, were so awe-inspiring that the
popular belief was that no one who visited the cave ever smiled again (Athenaeus, 614 A; cf.
, 508); and it was proverbially said of persons of grave and serious
aspect that they had been in the cave of Trophonius—a phrase that has passed into
modern literature as a classic allusion.
According to another story the brothers, after the completion of the Delphic temple, asked
Apollo for a reward, and he promised they should have on the seventh day the best thing that
could be given to man; and on that day they both died a peaceful death (Cicero,
Tusc. i. 114
; Consolatio ad Apoll.