previous next


The poet next mentions the Orchomenians in the Catalogue, and distinguishes them from the Bœotian nation. He gives to Orchomenus the epithet Minyeian from the nation of the Minyæ. They say that a colony of the Minyeians went hence to Iolcus,1 and from this circumstance the Argonauts were called Minyæ. It appears that, anciently, it was a rich and very powerful city. Homer bears witness to its wealth, for in his enumeration of places of great opulence, he says, ‘Not all that is brought to Orchomenus, or to Ægyptian Thebes.’2 Of its power there is this proof, that the Thebans always paid tribute to the Orchomenians, and to Erginus their king, who it is said was put to death by Hercules. Eteocles, one of the kings that reigned at Orchomenus, first displayed both wealth and power. He built a temple dedicated to the Graces, who were thus honoured by him, either because he had been fortunate in receiving or conferring favours, or perhaps for both these reasons.

[For one who was inclined thus to honour these goddesses, must have been naturally disposed to be a benefactor, and he must have possessed the power. But for this purpose wealth is required. For he who has not much cannot give much, nor can he who does not receive much possess much; but when giving and receiving unite, then there is a just exchange. For a vessel which is simultaneously emptied and filled is always full; but he who gives and does not receive cannot succeed in either giving or receiving, for the giver must desist from giving from failure of means. Givers also will desist from giving to him who receives only, and confers no benefits, so that he must fail in receiving. The same may be said of power. For independently of the common saying,

“ That money is the thing most highly valued,
And has the greatest influence in human affairs,3

Euripides, Phœn. 422
we may examine the subject more in detail. We say, for example, that kings have the greatest power, (μάλιστα δύνσθσι,) whence the name, dynasty. Their power is exerted by leading the multitude whither they like, by persuasion or by force. Their power of persuasion chiefly rests in doing acts of kindness; for persuasion by words is not princely, but belongs to the orator. By princely persuasion, I mean, when kings direct and lead men whither they please by acts of kindness. They persuade by acts of kindness, but compel by means of arms. Both power and possessions may be purchased by money. For he has the largest body of forces, who is able to maintain the largest; and he who has the largest possessions, can confer the greatest benefits.4] The spot which the present lake Copaïs occupies, was formerly, it is said, dry ground, and was cultivated in various ways by the Orchomenians, who lived near it; and this is alleged as a proof of wealth.

1 See below, ch. v. § 15.

2 Il. ix. 381.

3 Euripides, Phœn. 422.

4 Probably an interpolation

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1877)
load focus English (1924)
hide References (3 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: