previous next


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.1 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 them2 had fled [ from Euboea] because they had killed Phlegyas, son of Ares and Dotis the Boeotian,3 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.4 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.5 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 lyre6; and they expelled Laius.7 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.8

1 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.

2 That is, the two brothers Lycus and Nycteus.

3 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.

4 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.

5 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.

6 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.

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

8 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.

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 (Sir James George Frazer)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Euboea (Greece) (7)
Boeotia (Greece) (4)
Thebes (Greece) (2)
Sicyon (Greece) (2)
Hyria (Italy) (2)
Thebes (Greece) (1)
Peloponnesus (Greece) (1)
Naples (Italy) (1)
Farnese (Italy) (1)
Dotis (Hungary) (1)
Chryse (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (17 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: