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AMYCLAE

AMYCLAE (Ἀμύκλαι: Eth.Ἀμυκλαῖος, Eth. Ἀμυκλαιεύς, Eth. Amyclaeus), an ancient town of Laconia, situated on the right or eastern bank of the Eurotas, 20 stadia S.. of Sparta, in a district remarkable for the abundance of its trees and its fertility. (Pol. 5.19; Liv. 34.28.) Amyclae was one of the most celebrated cities of Peloponnesus in the heroic age. It is, said to have been founded by the Lacedaemonian king Amyclas, the father of Hyacinthus, and to have been the abode of Tyndarus, and of Castor and Pollux, who are hence called Amyclaei Fratres. (Paus. 3.1.3; Stat. Theb. 7.413.) Amyclae is mentioned by Homer (II. 2.584), and it continned [p. 1.128]to maintain its independence as an Achaean town long after the conquest of Peloponnesus by the Dorians. According to the common tradition, which represented the conquest of Peloponnesus as effected in one generation by the descendants of Hercules, Amyclae was given by the Dorians to Philonomus, as a reward for his having betrayed to them his native city Sparta. Philonomus is further said to have peopled the town with colonists from Imbros and Lemnos; but there can be no doubt that the ancient Achaean population maintained themselves in the place independent of Sparta for many generations. It was only shortly before the first Messenian war that the town was conquered by the Spartan king Teleclus. (Strab. p. 364; Conon 36; Paus. 3.2.6.) The tale ran, that the inhabitants of Amyclae had been so often alarmed by false reports of the approach of the enemy, that they passed a law that no one should mention the subject; and accordingly, when the Spartans at last came, and no one dared to announce their approach, “Amyclae perished through silence:” hence arose the proverb Amyclis ipsis taciturnior. (Serv. ad Virg. Aen. 10.564.) After its capture by the Lacedaemonians Amyclae became a village, and was only memorable by the festival of the Hyacinthia celebrated at the place annually, and by the temple and colossal statue of Apollo, who was hence called Amyclaeus. The throne on which this statue was placed was a celebrated work of art, and was constructed by Bathycles of Magnesia. It was crowned by a great number of bas-reliefs, of which an account is given by Pausanias (3.18.9, seq.; Dict. of Biogr. art. Bathycles).

The site of Amyclae is usually placed at Sklavokhóri, where the name of Amyclae has been found on inscriptions in the walls. But this place is situated nearly 6 miles from Sparta, or more than double the distance mentioned by Polybius. Moreover, there is every probability that Sklavokhóri is a Sclavonian town not more ancient than the 14th century; and becoming a place of importance, some of its buildings were erected with the ruins of Amyclae. Accordingly Leake supposes Amyclae to have been situated between Sklavokhóri and Sparta, on the hill of Aghía Kyriakí, half a mile from the Eurotas. At this place Leake discovered, on an imperfect inscription, the letters ΑΜΥ following a proper name, and leaving little doubt that the incomplete word was ΑΜΥΚΛΑΙΟΥ. (Leake, Morea, vol. i. p. 135, seq., Peloponnesiaca, p. 162.)

hide References (5 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (5):
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.18.9
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.1.3
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.2.6
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 34, 28
    • Statius, Thebias, 7
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