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Dionysus discovered the vine,1 and being driven mad by Hera2 he roamed about Egypt and Syria. At first he was received by Proteus, king of Egypt,3 but afterwards he arrived at Cybela in Phrygia.4 And there, after he had been purified by Rhea and learned the rites of initiation, he received from her the costume and hastened through Thrace against the Indians. But Lycurgus, son of Dryas, was king of the Edonians, who dwell beside the river Strymon, and he was the first who insulted and expelled him.5 Dionysus took refuge in the sea with Thetis, daughter of Nereus, and the Bacchanals were taken prisoners together with the multitude of Satyrs that attended him. But afterwards the Bacchanals were suddenly released, and Dionysus drove Lycurgus mad. And in his madness he struck his son Dryas dead with an axe, imagining that he was lopping a branch of a vine, and when he had cut off his son's extremities,6 he recovered his senses.7 But the land remaining barren, the god declared oracularly that it would bear fruit if Lycurgus were put to death. On hearing that, the Edonians led him to Mount Pangaeum and bound him, and there by the will of Dionysus he died, destroyed by horses.8 [2]

Having traversed Thrace and the whole of India and set up pillars there,9 he came to Thebes, and forced the women to abandon their houses and rave in Bacchic frenzy on Cithaeron. But Pentheus, whom Agave bore to Echion, had succeeded Cadmus in the kingdom, and he attempted to put a stop to these proceedings. And coming to Cithaeron to spy on the Bacchanals, he was torn limb from limb by his mother Agave in a fit of madness; for she thought he was a wild beast.10 And having shown the Thebans that he was a god, Dionysus came to Argos, and there again, because they did not honor him, he drove the women mad, and they on the mountains devoured the flesh of the infants whom they carried at their breasts.11

[3] And wishing to be ferried across from Icaria to Naxos he hired a pirate ship of Tyrrhenians. But when they had put him on board, they sailed past Naxos and made for Asia, intending to sell him. Howbeit, he turned the mast and oars into snakes, and filled the vessel with ivy and the sound of flutes. And the pirates went mad, and leaped into the sea, and were turned into dolphins.12 Thus men perceived that he was a god and honored him; and having brought up his mother from Hades and named her Thyone, he ascended up with her to heaven.13 [4]

But Cadmus and Harmonia quitted Thebes and went to the Encheleans. As the Encheleans were being attacked by the Illyrians, the god declared by an oracle that they would get the better of the Illyrians if they had Cadmus and Harmonia as their leaders. They believed him, and made them their leaders against the Illyrians, and got the better of them. And Cadmus reigned over the Illyrians, and a son Illyrius was born to him. But afterwards he was, along with Harmonia, turned into a serpent and sent away by Zeus to the Elysian Fields.14 [5]

Polydorus, having become king of Thebes, married Nycteis, daughter of Nycteus, son of Chthonius, and begat Labdacus, who perished after Pentheus because he was like-minded with him.15 But Labdacus having left a year -old son, Laius, the government was usurped by Lycus, brother of Nycteus, so long as Laius was a child. Both of them16 had fled [ from Euboea] because they had killed Phlegyas, son of Ares and Dotis the Boeotian,17 and they took up their abode at Hyria, and thence having come to Thebes, they were enrolled as citizens through their friendship with Pentheus. So after being chosen commander-in-chief by the Thebans, Lycus compassed the supreme power and reigned for twenty years, but was murdered by Zethus and Amphion for the following reason. Antiope was a daughter of Nycteus, and Zeus had intercourse with her.18 When she was with child, and her father threatened her, she ran away to Epopeus at Sicyon and was married to him. In a fit of despondency Nycteus killed himself, after charging Lycus to punish Epopeus and Antiope. Lycus marched against Sicyon, subdued it, slew Epopeus, and led Antiope away captive. On the way she gave birth to two sons at Eleurethae in Boeotia. The infants were exposed, but a neatherd found and reared them, and he called the one Zethus and the other Amphion. Now Zethus paid attention to cattle-breeding, but Amphion practised minstrelsy, for Hermes had given him a lyre.19 But Lycus and his wife Dirce imprisoned Antiope and treated her despitefully. Howbeit, one day her bonds were loosed of themselves, and unknown to her keepers she came to her sons cottage, begging that they would take her in. They recognized their mother and slew Lycus, but Dirce they tied to a bull, and flung her dead body into the spring that is called Dirce after her. And having succeeded to the sovereignty they fortified the city, the stones following Amphion's lyre20; and they expelled Laius.21 He resided in Peloponnese, being hospitably received by Pelops; and while he taught Chrysippus, the son of Pelops, to drive a chariot, he conceived a passion for the lad and carried him off.22 [6]

Zethus married Thebe, after whom the city of Thebes is named; and Amphion married Niobe, daughter of Tantalus,23 who bore seven sons, Sipylus, Eupinytus, Ismenus, Damasichthon, Agenor, Phaedimus, Tantalus, and the same number of daughters, Ethodaia ( or, as some say, Neaera), Cleodoxa, Astyoche, Phthia, Pelopia, Astycratia, and Ogygia, But Hesiod says that they had ten sons and ten daughters; Herodorus that they had two male children and three female; and Homer that they had six sons and six daughters. Being blessed with children, Niobe said that she was more blessed with children than Latona. Stung by the taunt, Latona incited Artemis and Apollo against them, and Artemis shot down the females in the house, and Apollo killed all the males together as they were hunting on Cithaeron. Of the males Amphion alone was saved, and of the females Chloris the elder, whom Neleus married. But according to Telesilla there were saved Amyclas and Meliboea,24 and Amphion also was shot by them.25 But Niobe herself quitted Thebes and went to her father Tantalus at Sipylus, and there, on praying to Zeus, she was transformed into a stone, and tears flow night and day from the stone. [7]

After Amphion's death Laius succeeded to the kingdom. And he married a daughter of Menoeceus; some say that she was Jocasta, and some that she was Epicasta.26 The oracle had warned him not to beget a son, for the son that should be begotten would kill his father; nevertheless, flushed with wine, he had intercourse with his wife. And when the babe was born he pierced the child's ankles with brooches and gave it to a herdsman to expose. But the herdsman exposed it on Cithaeron; and the neatherds of Polybus, king of Corinth, found the infant and brought it to his wife Periboea.27 She adopted him and passed him off as her own, and after she had healed his ankles she called him Oedipus, giving him that name on account of his swollen feet.28 When the boy grew up and excelled his fellows in strength, they spitefully twitted him with being supposititious. He inquired of Periboea, but could learn nothing; so he went to Delphi and inquired about his true parents. The god told him not to go to his native land, because he would murder his father and lie with his mother. On hearing that, and believing himself to be the son of his nominal parents, he left Corinth, and riding in a chariot through Phocis he fell in with Laius driving in a chariot in a certain narrow road.29 And when Polyphontes, the herald of Laius, ordered him to make way and killed one of his horses because he disobeyed and delayed, Oedipus in a rage killed both Polyphontes and Laius, and arrived in Thebes. [8] Laius was buried by Damasistratus, king of Plataea,30 and Creon, son of Menoeceus, succeeded to the kingdom. In his reign a heavy calamity befell Thebes. For Hera sent the Sphinx,31 whose mother was Echidna and her father Typhon; and she had the face of a woman, the breast and feet and tail of a lion, and the wings of a bird. And having learned a riddle from the Muses, she sat on Mount Phicium, and propounded it to the Thebans. And the riddle was this:— What is that which has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed? Now the Thebans were in possession of an oracle which declared that they should be rid of the Sphinx whenever they had read her riddle; so they often met and discussed the answer, and when they could not find it the Sphinx used to snatch away one of them and gobble him up. When many had perished, and last of all Creon's son Haemon, Creon made proclamation that to him who should read the riddle he would give both the kingdom and the wife of Laius. On hearing that, Oedipus found the solution, declaring that the riddle of the Sphinx referred to man; for as a babe he is four-footed, going on four limbs, as an adult he is two-footed, and as an old man he gets besides a third support in a staff. So the Sphinx threw herself from the citadel, and Oedipus both succeeded to the kingdom and unwittingly married his mother, and begat sons by her, Polynices and Eteocles, and daughters, Ismene and Antigone.32 But some say the children were borne to him by Eurygania, daughter of Hyperphas.33 [9] When the secret afterwards came to light, Jocasta hanged herself in a noose,34 and Oedipus was driven from Thebes, after he had put out his eyes and cursed his sons, who saw him cast out of the city without lifting a hand to help him.35 And having come with Antigone to Colonus in Attica, where is the precinct of the Eumenides, he sat down there as a suppliant, was kindly received by Theseus, and died not long afterwards.36

1 As to the discovery of the vine by Dionysus and the wanderings of the god, see Diod. 3.62ff., Diod. 4.1.6ff., Diod. 4.2.5ff.; Strab. 15.1.7-9 The story of the rovings of Dionysus, and in particular of his journey to India, was probably suggested by a simple observation of the wide geographical diffusion of the vine. Wherever the plant was cultivated and wine made from the grapes, there it would be supposed that the vine-god must have tarried, dispensing the boon or the bane of his gifts to mortals. There seems to be some reason to think that the original home of the vine was in the regions to the south of the Black Sea, the Caucasus, and the Caspian Sea, where the plant still grows wild “with the luxuriant wildness of a tropical creeper, clinging to tall trees and producing abundant fruit without pruning or cultivation.” See A. de Candolle, Origin of Cultivated Plants (London, 1884), pp. 191ff. Compare A. Engler, in Victor Hehn, Kulturpflanzen und Hausthiere in ihrem Ubergang aus Asien (Berlin, 1902), pp. 85ff. But these regions are precisely those which Dionysus was supposed to have traversed on his journeys. Certainly the idea of the god's wanderings cannot have been suggested, as appears to be sometimes imagined, by the expedition of Alexander the Great to India (see F. A. Voigt, in W. H. Roscher's Lexikon der griech. und röm. Mythologie, i.1087), since they are described with geographical precision by Euripides, who died before Alexander the Great was born. In his famous play, The BacchaeEur. Ba. 13-20), the poet introduces the god himself describing his journey over Lydia, Phrygia, Bactria, Media, and all Asia. And by Asia the poet did not mean the whole continent of Asia as we understand the word, for most of it was unknown to him; he meant only the southern portion of it from the Mediterranean to the Indus, in great part of which the vine appears to be native.

2 Compare Eur. Cyc. 3ff.

3 The visit of Dionysus to Egypt was doubtless invented to explain the close resemblance which the ancients traced between the worships of Osiris and Dionysus. See Hdt. 2.42; Hdt. 2.49, and Hdt. 2.144; Diod. 1.11.3, Diod. 1.13.5, Diod. 1.96.5, Diod. 4.1.6; Plut. Isis et Osiris 28, 34, and 35; Tibullus 1.7.29ff. For the same reason Nysa, the place where Dionysus was supposed to have been reared, was by some people believed to be in the neighbourhood of Egypt. See HH Dion. 8ff.; Diod. 1.15.6, Diod. 4.2.3.

4 For the association of Dionysus with Phrygia, see Eur. Ba. 58ff.; Eur. Ba. 78ff., where the chorus of Bacchanals is represented escorting Dionysus from the mountains of Phrygia to Greece. According to one account, Dionysus was reared by the great Phrygian goddess Rhea (Stephanus Byzantius, s.v. Μάσταυρα). These legends were probably intended to explain the resemblances between the Bacchic and the Phrygian religions, especially in respect of their wild ecstatic and orgiastic rites.

5 For the story of the hostility of Lycurgus to Dionysus, see Hom. Il. 6.129ff., with the Scholia; Soph. Ant. 955ff.; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 273; Hyginus, Fab. 132; Serv. Verg. A. 3.14; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. p. 39 (First Vatican Mythographer 122). According to Sophocles, it would seem that Lycurgus suffered nothing worse at the hands of his subjects than imprisonment in a cave, where his frenzy gradually subsided. According to Hyginus, Servius, and the First Vatican Mythographer, the furious king, in attempting to cut down the vines, lopped off one of his own feet or even both his legs. It appears to be a common belief that a woodman who cuts a sacred tree with an axe wounds himself in so doing. See W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, pp. 36ff. It is said that when the missionary Jerome of Prague was preaching to the heathen Lithuanians and persuading them to cut down their sacred woods, one of the converts, moved by his exhortation, struck at an ancient oak with an axe, but wounded himself in the legs and fell to the ground. See Aeneas Sylvius, Opera (Basel, 1571), p. 418 [wrongly numbered 420]. The accident to this zealous convert closely resembles the one which is said to have befallen the Edonian king in a similar attempt on the sacred vine.

6 Greek murderers used to cut off the extremities, such as the ears and noses, of their victims, fasten them on a string, and tie the string round the necks and under the armpits of the murdered men. One motive assigned for this custom, and probably the original one, was the wish by thus mutilating the dead man to weaken him so that he, or rather his ghost, could not take vengeance on his murderer (ἵνα, φασίν, ἀσθενὴς γένοιτο πρὸς τὸ ἀντιτίσασθαι τὸν φονέα, Scholiast on Soph. El. 445; διὰ τούτων ὥσπερ τὴν δύναμιν ἐκείνων [scil. τῶν ἀναιρεθέντων] ἀφαιρούμενοι, διὰ τὸ μὴ παθεῖν ἐς ὕστερόν τι δεινὸν παρ᾽ ἐκείνων, Suidas, s.v. μασχαλισθῆναι. On this barbarous custom see the Scholiast on Soph. El. 445; Suidas, s.v. μασχαλισθῆναι; Hesychius and Photius, Lexicon, s.v. μασχαλίσματα;; Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.477. According to one account (Scholiast on Soph. El. 445), the murderer fastened the extremities of his victim about his own person, but the better attested and more probable account is that he tied them about the mutilated body of his victim. Compare E. Rohde, Psyche(3), i.322-326; Jebb on Soph. El. 445, with the Appendix, pp. 211ff. The practice is perhaps illustrated by an original drawing in the Ambrosian manuscript of the Iliad, which represents the Homeric episode of Dolon (Hom. Il. 10.314ff.); in the drawing the corpse of the slain Dolon is depicted shorn of its feet and hands, which lie beside it, while Ulysses holds Dolon's severed head in his hand. See Annali dell' Instituto di Correspondenza Archeologica (Rome, 1875), tav. d'agg. R.; Baumeister, Denkmäler des klassischen Altertums, i.460ff., fig. 506. It appears to be a widespread belief that the ghost of one who has died a violent death is dangerous to his slayer, but that he can be rendered powerless for mischief by maiming his body in such a way as would have disabled him in life. For example, some of the Australian aborigines used to cut off the thumbs of the right hands of dead enemies to prevent their ghosts from throwing spears. See A. Oldfield, “The Aborigines of Australia,” Transactions of the Ethnological Society of London, iii. (1865) p. 287. In Travancore the spirits of murderers who have been hanged are thought to be very mischievous; hence, in order to prevent them from doing harm, it used to be customary to cut off the heels of the criminal with a sword or to hamstring him as he swung on the gallows. See S. Mateer, The Land of Charity (London, (1871), pp. 203ff. In Armenia, when a person falls sick soon after the death of a member of the family, it is supposed that the sickness is caused by the dead man, who cannot rest in his grave until he has drawn away one of his kinsfolk to the spirit land. To prevent this catastrophe, the body of the deceased is disinterred and decapitated, and to make assurance doubly sure the head is smashed or a needle is stuck into it and into the heart. See Manuk Abeghian, Der armenische Volksglaube (Leipsig, 1899), p. 11. In some parts of West Africa it is similarly customary to disinter and decapitate a corpse of a person whose ghost is supposed to be causing sickness, “because the deceased, having his head cut off, will not have the same strength as before, and consequently will not be in a position to trouble him (the patient).” See J. B. Labat, Relation Historique de l'Ethiopie Occidentale (Paris, 1732), i.208.

7 So Orestes, driven mad by the Furies of his murdered mother, is said to have recovered his senses on biting off one of his own fingers (Paus. 8.34.2). By the sacrifice he may be supposed to have appeased the anger of his mother's ghost, who was thought to be causing his madness. Compare Folk-Lore in the Old Testament, iii.240ff.

8 The king thus done to death was perhaps supposed to die in the character of the god; for Dionysus himself was said to have been rent in pieces by the Titans. See Adonis, Attis, Osiris, 3rd ed. ii.98ff.; Spirits of the Corn and of the Wild, i.24ff.

9 Compare Tzetzes, Chiliades viii.582ff.

10 In these lines Apollodorus has summarized the argument of the Bacchae of Euripides; for the death of Pentheus, see Eur. Ba. 1043ff. Compare Hyginus, Fab. 184; Ov. Met. 3.511ff., especially 701ff.; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. p. 103 (Second Vatican Mythographer 83). Aeschylus wrote a tragedy on the subject of Pentheus (TGF (Nauck 2nd ed.), pp. 60ff.).

11 The reference is to the madness of the daughters of Proetus. See above, Apollod. 2.2.2 note.

12 The story of Dionysus and the pirates is the theme of the HH Dion. Compare Ov. Met. 3.581ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 134; Hyginus, Ast. ii.17; Serv. Verg. A. 1.67; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 39, 133 (First Vatican Mythographer 123; Second Vatican Mythographer 171).

13 Compare Diod. 4.25.4. Dionysus is said to have gone down to hell to fetch up his mother Semele at Lerna, where he plunged into the Alcyonian Lake, a pool which was supposed to be bottomless and therefore to afford an easy access to the nether world. See Paus. 2.37.5; and for a description of the pool as it is at the present time, see Frazer's commentary on Pausanias, vol. v. pp. 604ff. Never having been in hell before, Dionysus did not know how to go there, and he was reduced to the necessity of asking the way. A certain Prosymnus pointed it out to the deity on condition of receiving a certain reward. When Dionysus returned from the lower world, he found that his guide had died in the meantime; but he punctually paid the promised reward to the dead man at his grave with the help of a branch of fig wood, which he whittled into an appropriate shape. This story was told to explain the similar implements which figured prominently in the processions of Dionysus. See Clement of Alexandria, Protrept. ii.34, pp. 29ff., ed. Potter; Nonnus, in Westermann's Mythographi Graeci, Appendix Narrationum, xxii.1, p. 368; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 212; Arnobius, Adversus Nationes v.28; Hyginus, Ast. ii.5. Pausanias calls the god's guide Polymnus, unless that form of the name is the mistake of a copyist for Prosymnus, as seems to be suggested by the epithet Prosymna, which was applied to Demeter in the sacred grove at Lerna, where Dionysus also had an image. See Paus. 2.37.1. However, Hyginus gives Hypolipnus as the name of the guide to hell. Every year the descent of the god through the deep water was celebrated with nocturnal rites on the reedy margin of the pool (Paus. 2.37.6). The pious Pausanias shrank from divulging the nature of the rites; but from Plutarch we learn that a lamb was thrown into the lake as an offering to the warder of hell, while on trumpets hidden in the god's leafy emblems the buglers blew blasts which, startling the stillness and darkness of night, were believed to summon up the lost Dionysus from the watery depths. See Plut. Isis et Osiris 35. Perhaps in answer to this bugle call an actor, dressed in the vine-god's garb, may have emerged dripping from the pool to receive the congratulations of the worshippers on his rising from the dead. However, according to others, the resurrection of Dionysus and his mother took place, not in the gloomy swamp at Lerna, but on the beautiful, almost landlocked, bay of Troezen, where nowadays groves of oranges and lemons, interspersed with the dark foliage of tall cypresses, fringe the margin of the calm blue water at the foot of the rugged mountains. See Paus. 2.31.2. Plutarch has drawn a visionary picture of the scene of the ascension. It was, he says, a mighty chasm like the caves sacred to Bacchus, mantled with woods and green grass and blooming flowers of every sort, and exhaling a delicious, an intoxicating, perfume, while all about it the souls of the departed circled and stooped upon the wing like flights of birds, but did not dare to cross its tremendous depth. It was called the Place of Forgetfulness. See Plut. De sera numinis vindicta 22, pp. 565ff. A pretty story was told of the device by which Dionysus induced the grim warden of the dead to release the soul of his mother from the infernal gaol. It is said that Hades consented to set her free provided that her son would send of his best beloved to replace her shade in the world of shadows. Now of all the things in the world the dearest to Dionysus were the ivy, the vine, and the myrtle; so of these he sent the myrtle, and that is why the initiated in his rites wreathed their brows with myrtle leaves. See Scholiast on Aristoph. Frogs 330. The harrying of hell is the theme of Aristophanes's amusing comedy The Frogs.

14 As to the departure of Cadmus and Harmonia to Illyria and their transformation into snakes in that country, where their tomb was shown in later ages, see Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.516ff.; Dionysius, Perieg. 390ff., with the commentary of Eustathius, Comm. on Dionysius Perieg. v.391; Strab. 1.2.39, Strab. 7.7.8; Paus. 9.5.3; Athenaeus xi.5, p. 462 B; Stephanus Byzantius, s.v. Δυρράχιον; Tzetzes, Chiliades iv.393ff.; Ov. Met. 4.563-603; Hyginus, Fab. 6; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. iii.290; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. p. 48 (First Vatican Mythographer 150). Euripides mentions the transformation of the couple into snakes, but without speaking of their banishment to IllyriaEur. Ba. 1530ff.), probably because there is a long lacuna in this part of the text. According to Hyginus, the transformation of the two into serpents was a punishment inflicted by Ares on Cadmus for killing his sacred dragon which guarded the spring at Thebes, which Hyginus absurdly calls the Castalian spring. It is a common belief, especially among the Bantu tribes of South Africa, that human beings at death are turned into serpents, which often visit the old home. There is some reason to think that the ancestors of the Greeks may have shared this widespread superstition, of which the traditional transformation of Cadmus and Harmonia would thus be an isolated survival. See Adonis, Attis, Osiris, 3rd ed. i.82ff.

15 Compare Eur. Ph. 8; Paus. 2.6.2, Paus. 9.5.4ff. Apollodorus implies that Labdacus was murdered by the Bacchanals because he set himself against the celebration of their orgiastic rites. But there seems to be no express mention of his violent death in ancient writers.

16 That is, the two brothers Lycus and Nycteus.

17 This Phlegyas is supposed to be Phlegyas, king of Orchomenus, whom Paus. 9.36.1 calls a son of Ares and Chryse. If this identification is right, the words “from Euboea” appear to be wrong, as Heyne pointed out, since Orchomenus is not in Euboea but in Boeotia. But there were many places called Euboea, and it is possible that one of them was in Boeotia. If that was so, we may conjecture that the epithet “Boeotian,” which, applied to Dotis, seems superfluous, was applied by Apollodorus to Euboea and has been misplaced by a copyist. If these conjectures are adopted, the text will read thus: “Both of them fled from Euboea in Boeotia because they had killed Phlegyas, son of Ares and Dotis, and they took up their abode at Hyria.” As to the various places called Euboea, see Stephanus Byzantius, s.v. Εὔβοια; W. Pape, Wörterbuch der griechischen Eigennamen, s.v. Εὔβοια.

18 With the following story of Antiope and Dirce compare Paus. 2.6.1ff., Paus. 9.25.3; Malalas, Chr. ii. pp. 45-49, ed. L. Dindorf; Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.1090; Nicolaus Damascenus, frag. 11, in Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, ed. C. Müller, iii.365ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 7, 8; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 32, 99ff. (First Vatican Mythographer 97; Second Vatican Mythographer 74). Euripides wrote a tragedy Antiope, of which Hyginus, Fab. 8 gives a summary. Many fragments of the play have been preserved. See TGF (Nauck 2nd ed.), pp. 410ff. In his version of the story Apollodorus seems to have followed Euripides. The legend is commemorated in the famous group of statuary called the Farnese bull, which is now in the museum at Naples. See Baumeister, Denkmäler des klassischen Altertums, i.107, fig. 113.

19 Compare Paus. 9.5.7ff. The two brothers are said to have quarrelled, the robust Zethus blaming Amphion for his passionate addiction to music and urging him to abandon it for what he deemed the more manly pursuits of agriculture, cattle-breeding and war. The gentle Amphion yielded to these exhortations so far as to cease to strum the lyre. See Dio Chrysostom lxxiii. vol. ii. p. 254, ed. L. Dindorf; Hor. Epist. i.18.41-44; TGF (Nauck 2nd ed.), pp. 414-416, frag. 184-188. The discussion between the two brothers, the one advocating the practical life and the other the contemplative or artistic, seems to have been famous. It is illustrated by a fine relief in which we see Amphion standing and holding out his lyre eagerly for the admiration of his athletic brother, who sits regarding it with an air of smiling disdain. See W. H. Roscher, Lexikon der griech, und röm. Mythologie, i.311.

20 Compare Hom. Od. 11.260-265 (who does not mention the miracle of the music); Ap. Rhod., Argon. i.735-741; Paus. 9.5.6-8; Prop. i.9.10, iv.2.3ff.; Hor. Carm. 3.11.2, Hor. Ars. 394-396. Apollonius represents Zethus staggering under the load of a mountain, while Amphion strolls along drawing a cliff twice as large after him by singing to his golden lyre. He seems to have intended to suggest the feebleness of brute strength by comparison with the power of genius.

21 As to the banishment and restoration of Laius, see Paus. 9.5.6; Paus. 9.5.9; Hyginus, Fab. 9.

22 Compare Athenaeus xiii.79, pp. 602ff., who says that Laius carried off Chrysippus in his chariot to Thebes. Chrysippus is said to have killed himself for shame. See the Scholiast on Eur. Ph. 1760.

23 For the story of Niobe and her children, see Hom. Il. 24.602ff.; Diod. 4.74; Paus. 1.21.3; Paus. 2.21.9; Paus. 5.11.2; Paus. 5.16.4; Paus. 8.2.5; Paus. 8.2.7; Tzetzes, Chiliades iv.416ff.; Ov. Met. 6.146ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 9, 11; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. iii.191; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. p. 50 (First Vatican Mythographer 156). Great diversity of opinion prevailed among the ancients with regard to the number of Niobe's children. Diodorus, Ovid, Hyginus, Lactantius Placidus, and the First Vatican Mythographer agree with Apollodorus as to the seven sons and seven daughters of Niobe, and from the Scholiast on Eur. Ph. 159, we learn that Aeschylus, Euripides, and Aristophanes in lost plays adopted the same numbers, but that Pherecydes agreed with Homer in reckoning six sons and six daughters, while Hellanicus allowed the lady no more than four sons and three daughters. On the other hand, Xanthus the Lydian, according to the same Scholiast, credited her with a score of children, equally divided between the two sexes. Herein he probably followed the authority of Hesiod (see Apollodorus, below), and the same liberal computation is said to have been accepted by Bacchylides, Pindar, and Mimnermus, while Sappho reduced the figure to twice nine, and Alcman to ten all told (Aulus Gellius xx.70; Ael., Var. Hist. xii.36). Aeschylus and Sophocles each wrote a tragedy Niobe, of which some fragments remain. See TGF (Nauck 2nd ed.), pp. 50ff., 228ff.; The Fragments of Sophocles, ed. A. C. Pearson, ii.94ff., frag. 442-451. The subject is rendered famous by the fine group of ancient statuary now in the Uffizi gallery at Florence. See Baumeister, Denkmäler des klassischen Altertums, iii.1674ff. Antiquity hesitated whether to assign the group to Scopas or Praxiteles (Pliny, Nat. Hist. xxxvi.28), and modern opinion is still divided on the question. See Frazer on Paus. ii.29.9 (vol. iii. p. 201). The pathetic character of the group may perhaps be held to speak in favour of Scopas, who seems to have excelled in the portrayal of the sterner, sadder emotions, while Praxiteles dwelt by preference on the brighter, softer creations of the Greek religious imagination. This view of the sombre cast of the genius of Scopas is suggested by the subjects which he chose for the decoration of the temple of Athena Alea at TegeaPaus. 8.45.5-7), and by the scanty remains of the sculptures which have been found on the spot. See Frazer, commentary on Pausanias, vol. iv. pp. 426ff. However, the late historian of Greek sculpture, Professor M. Collignon, denied that the original of this famous group, which he regarded as a copy, was either by Scopas or Praxiteles. He held that it belongs to an Asiatic school of sculpture characterized by picturesque grouping, and that it could not have been executed before the third century B.C. To the same school he would assign another famous group of sculpture, that of Dirce and the bull (above, Frazer on Apollod. 3.5.5). See M. Collignon, Histoire de la Sculpture Grecque (Paris, 1892-1897), ii.532ff. The tomb of the children of Niobe was shown at ThebesPaus. 9.16.7; compare Eur. Ph. 159ff.); but according to Statius, Theb. vi.124ff. the Mater Dolorosa carried the ashes of her dead children in twice six urns to be buried on her native Mount Sipylus. Thus the poet dutifully follows Homer in regard to the number of the children.

24 Compare Paus. 2.21.9, Paus. 5.16.4, according to whom Meliboea was the original name of Chloris; but she turned pale with fear at the slaughter of her brothers and sisters, and so received the name of Chloris, that is, the Pale Woman. As to the marriage of Chloris with Neleus, see Hom. Od. 11.281ff.

25 The ancients differed as to the death of Amphion. According to one account, he went mad (Lucian, De Saltatione 41), and in attempting to attack a temple of Apollo, doubtless in order to avenge the death of his sons on the divine murderer, he was shot dead by the deity (Hyginus, Fab. 9). According to Ov. Met. 6.271ff., he stabbed himself for grief.

26 For the tragic story of Laius, Jocasta or Epicasta, and their son Oedipus, see Hom. Od. 11.271-280, with the Scholiast on Hom. Od. 11.271; Eur. Ph. 1-62; Diod. 4.64; Paus. 9.2.4; Paus. 9.5.10ff.; Paus. 10.5.3ff.; Scholiast on Eur. Ph. 1760; Hyginus, Fab. 66, 67. In Homer the mother of Oedipus is named Epicasta; later writers call her Jocasta. The mournful tale of Oedipus is the subject of Sophocles's two great tragedies, the Oedipus Tyrannus and the Oedipus Coloneus. It is also the theme of Seneca's tragedy Oedipus. From the Scholiast on Hom. Od. 11.271-280 we learn that the story was told by Androtion. Apollodorus's version of the legend closely follows Sophocles and is reproduced by Zenobius, Cent. ii.68 in a somewhat abridged form with certain verbal changes, but as usual without acknowledgment. Some parallel stories occur in the folklore of other peoples. See Frazer's Appendix to Apollodorus, “The Oedipus Legend.”

27 Sophocles calls her Merope (Soph. OT 775), and so does Seneca, Oedipus 272, 661, 802. But, according to Pherecydes, the wife of Polybus was Medusa, daughter of Orsilochus (Scholiast on Soph. OT 775).

28 The name Oedipus was interpreted to mean “swollen foot.” As to the piercing of the child's ankles, see Soph. OT 718; Eur. Ph. 26ff.; Diod. 4.64.1; Paus. 10.5.3; Hyginus, Fab. 66; Seneca, Oedipus 812.

29 The “narrow road” is the famous Cleft Way (Paus. 10.5.3ff.) now called the Crossroad of Megas (Stavrodromi tou Mega), where the road from Daulis and the road from Thebes and Lebadea meet and unite in the single road ascending through the long valley to Delphi. At this point the pass, shut in on either hand by lofty and precipitous mountains, presents one of the wildest and grandest scenes in all Greece; the towering cliffs of Parnassus on the northern side of the valley are truly sublime. Not a trace of human habitation is to be seen. All is solitude and silence, in keeping with the tragic memories of the spot. Compare Frazer, commentary on Paus. 10.5.3 (vol. v. pp. 231ff.) As to the Cleft Way or Triple Way, as it was also called, and the fatal encounter of the father and son at it, see Soph. OT 715ff.; Soph. OT 1398ff.; Eur. Ph. 37ff.; Seneca, Oedipus 276ff.

30 Compare Paus. 9.5.4.

31 As to the Sphinx and her riddle, see Hes. Th. 326ff. (who says that she was the offspring of Echidna and Orthus); Soph. OT 391ff.; Eur. Ph. 45ff.; Diod. 4.64.3ff.; Paus. 9.26.2-4; Scholiast on Eur. Ph. 45; Hyginus, Fab. 67; Seneca, Oedipus 92ff. The riddle is quoted in verse by several ancient writers. See Athenaeus x.81, p. 456 B; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 7; Anth. Pal. xiv.64; Argument to Soph. OT, p. 6, ed. R. C. Jebb; Argument to Eur. Ph.; and Scholiast on Eur. Ph. 50 (Scholia in Euripiden, ed. E. Schwartz, vol. i. pp. 243ff. 256). Outside of Greece the riddle seems to be current in more or less similar forms among various peoples. Thus it is reported among the Mongols of the SelengaR. G. Latham, Descriptive Ethnology, i.325), and in GasconyJ. F. Bladé, Contes populaires de la Gascogne, i.3-14). Further, it has been recently recorded, in a form precisely similar to the Greek, among the tribes of British Central Africa: the missionary who reports it makes no reference to the riddle of the Sphinx, of which he was apparently ignorant. See Donald Fraser, Winning a primitive people (London, 1914) p. 171, “What is it that goes on four legs in the morning, on two at midday, and on three in the evening? Answer: A man, who crawls on hands and knees in childhood, walks erect when grown, and with the aid of a stick in his old age.”

32 Compare Eur. Ph. 55ff.; Diod. 4.64.4; Hyginus, Fab. 67.

33 This account is adopted by Paus. 9.5.10ff.; and by the Scholiast on Eur. Ph. 1760, who cites Pisander as his authority. According to another version, Oedipus, after losing Jocasta, married Astymedusa, who falsely accused her stepsons of attempting her virtue. See Scholiast on Hom. Il. iv.376; Eust. on Homer, Il. iv.376, p. 369; Scholiast on Eur. Ph. 53.

34 Compare Hom. Od. 11.277ff.; Soph. OT 1235ff. According to Seneca, in one passage (Sen. Oedipus, 1034ff.), Jocasta stabbed herself to death on the discovery of her incest. But Euripides makes Jocasta survive her two sons and stab herself to death on their dead bodies. See Eur. Ph. 1455-1459. Herein he was perhaps followed by Seneca in his tragedy, for in the fragments of that play ( Seneca, Oedipus 443ff.) Seneca represents Jocasta attempting to make peace between Eteocles and Polynices on the battlefield; but the conclusion of the play is lost. Similarly Statius describes how Jocasta vainly essayed to reconcile her warring sons, and how she stabbed herself to death on learning that they had fallen by each other's hands. See Statius, Theb. vii.474ff., xi.634ff.

35 A curious and probably very ancient legend assigned a different motive for the curses of Oedipus. It is said that his sons used to send him as his portion the shoulder of every sacrificial victim, but that one day by mistake they sent him the haunch (ἰσχίον) instead of the shoulder, which so enraged him that he cursed them, praying to the gods that his sons might die by each other's hands. This story was told by the author of the epic Thebaid . See Scholiast on Soph. OC 1375; Zenobius, Cent. v.43. A different cause of his anger is assigned by Athenaeus xi.14, pp. 465ff., also on the authority of the author of the Thebaid .

36 The coming of Oedipus and Antigone to Colonus Hippius in Attica, together with the mysterious death of Oedipus, are the subject of Sophocles's noble tragedy, Oedipus Coloneus. As to the sanctuary of the Eumenides, see that play, Soph. OC 36ff. The knoll of Colonus is situated over a mile from Athens, and it is doubtful whether the poet intended to place the death and burial of Oedipus at Colonus or at Athens itself, where in later times the grave of Oedipus was shown in a precinct of the Eumenides, between the Acropolis and the Areopagus (Paus. 1.28.7). See Frazer, notes on Paus. i.28.7, i.30.2, vol. ii. pp. 366ff., 393ff.; R. C Jebb on Soph. OC pp. xxx.ff.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus Tyrannus, 1186-1222
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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (74):
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 2.2.2
    • Euripides, Bacchae, 13
    • Euripides, Bacchae, 1530
    • Euripides, Bacchae, 58
    • Euripides, Bacchae, 78
    • Euripides, Bacchae, 1043
    • Euripides, Cyclops, 3
    • Euripides, Phoenician Women, 26
    • Euripides, Phoenician Women, 37
    • Euripides, Phoenician Women, 45
    • Euripides, Phoenician Women, 1
    • Euripides, Phoenician Women, 1455
    • Euripides, Phoenician Women, 159
    • Euripides, Phoenician Women, 55
    • Euripides, Phoenician Women, 8
    • Herodotus, Histories, 2.144
    • Herodotus, Histories, 2.42
    • Herodotus, Histories, 2.49
    • Hesiod, Theogony, 326
    • Homer, Iliad, 6.129
    • Homer, Odyssey, 11.260
    • Homer, Odyssey, 11.271
    • Homer, Odyssey, 11.277
    • Homer, Odyssey, 11.281
    • Homeric Hymns, Hymn 7 to Dionysus, 1
    • Homeric Hymns, Hymn 1 to Dionysus
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.21.3
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.21.9
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.31.2
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8.2.5
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.16.7
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.25.3
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.5.3
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.5.7
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.5.3
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.28.7
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.37.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.37.5
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.37.6
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.6.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.6.2
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 5.11.2
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 5.16.4
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8.2.7
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8.34.2
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8.45.5
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.26.2
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.2.4
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.36.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.5.10
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.5.4
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.5.6
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.5.9
    • Sophocles, Antigone, 955
    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 36
    • Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 1235
    • Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 1398
    • Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 391
    • Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 715
    • Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 718
    • Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 775
    • Homer, Iliad, 10.314
    • Homer, Iliad, 24.602
    • Strabo, Geography, 1.2.39
    • Strabo, Geography, 7.7.8
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 3.581
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 4.563
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 6.146
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 6.271
    • Servius, Commentary on the Aeneid of Vergil, 1.67
    • Servius, Commentary on the Aeneid of Vergil, 3.14
    • Horace, Ars Poetica, 394
    • Sextus Propertius, Elegies, 1.9
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 3.511
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