Four Sources for the Trials of Erginos and Herakles

Earlier I mentioned the problem of two heroes with the name Erginos, suggesting that it really wasn’t a problem. There, I presented mainly the narrative of his accomplishments among the Argonauts.  Here are the major sources for his defeat by Herakles.

Strabo 9.2.40

“Next the poet recites the catalog of the Orkhomenians, whom he distinguishes from the Boiotian tribe. He calls Orkhomenos “Minyan” from the tribe of the descendants of Minyas. People say that some of the Minyans left there for Iolcus and that this is why the Argonauts are called Minyans. The city appears to be ancient and to have been wealthy and very powerful. A testament to this is Homer, too. For when he numbers the places that were very wealthy he says “not as much as arrives in Orkhomenos or Egyptian Thebes. Indicative of its power is the fact that the Thebans paid a tribute to the Orkhomenians and their ruler Erginos who they say was killed by Herakles. Eteokles, one of those who ruled in Orkhomenos, was first to show both wealth and power in building the shrine of the Graces, either because he took graces, bestowed them, or for both reasons he honored the goddesses there.”

῾Εξῆς δ’ ὁ ποιητὴς μέμνηται τοῦ τῶν ᾿Ορχομενίων καταλόγου, χωρίζων αὐτοὺς ἀπὸ τοῦ Βοιωτιακοῦ ἔθνους. καλεῖ δὲ Μινύειον τὸν ᾿Ορχομενὸν ἀπὸ ἔθνους τοῦ Μινυῶν· ἐντεῦθεν δὲ ἀποικῆσαί τινας τῶν Μινυῶν εἰς ᾿Ιωλκόν φασιν, ὅθεν τοὺς ᾿Αργοναύτας Μινύας λεχθῆναι. φαίνεται δὲ τὸ παλαιὸν καὶ πλουσία τις γεγονυῖα πόλις καὶ δυναμένη μέγα· τοῦ μὲν οὖν πλούτου μάρτυς καὶ ῞Ομηρος· διαριθμούμενος γὰρ τοὺς τόπους τοὺς πολυχρηματήσαντάς φησιν „οὐδ’ ὅσ’ ἐς ᾿Ορχομενὸν ποτινίσσεται, „οὐδ’ ὅσα Θήβας Αἰγυπτίας.” τῆς δυνάμεως δέ, ὅτι Θηβαῖοι δασμὸν ἐτέλουν τοῖς ᾿Ορχομενίοις καὶ ᾿Εργίνῳ τῷ τυραννοῦντι αὐτῶν, ὃν ὑφ’ ῾Ηρακλέους καταλυθῆναί φασιν. ᾿Ετεοκλῆς δέ, τῶν βασιλευσάντων ἐν ᾿Ορχομενῷ τις, Χαρίτων ἱερὸν ἱδρυσάμενος πρῶτος ἀμφότερα ἐμφαίνει, καὶ πλοῦτον καὶ δύναμιν, ὃς εἴτ’ ἐν τῷ λαμβάνειν χάριτας εἴτ’ ἐν τῷ διδόναι κατορθῶν εἴτε καὶ ἀμφότερα, τὰς θεὰς ἐτίμησε ταύτας.

Diodorus Siculus 4.10

[Amphitryon] moved from Tiryns to Thebes. Herakles was raised and educated and after he worked especially hard in physical education, he stood apart from all of the others for strength of body and fame of spirt. While he was still young, he first liberated Thebes, giving back to the city thanks as if it were his birthplace. For at that time, the Thebans were dominated by Erginos the king of the Minyans and were forced each year to pay tribute. Herakles was not impressed by the power of these masters and he dared to perform a great deed. He expelled those of the Minyans who appeared to collect the tribute and were acting haughtily from the city. And when Erginos asked for the guilty party, Kreon, then king of the Thebans, frightened by the size of his power, was ready to handover the guilty party. But Herakles convinced his agemates to free their fatherland and removed from the temples the armor that had been dedicated there to honor the gods by their forefathers. For there was not any privately owned weaponry to be found in the city since the Minyans had disarmed the city so that no one might have the idea of rebelling. Once Herakles learned that Erginos, the Minyan king, was bringing his troops against the city, he faced them in a narrow space—thus making the greater size of the force useless—killed Erginos by himself and nearly all the men who marched with him. He fell upon the city in a surprise attack and, once he was inside the city, he burned the palace of the Minyans and razed the city.”

Τίρυνθος μετῴκησεν εἰς Θήβας· ὁ δ’ ῾Ηρακλῆς τραφεὶς καὶ παιδευθεὶς καὶ μάλιστ’ ἐν τοῖς γυμνασίοις  διαπονηθεὶς ἐγένετο ῥώμῃ τε σώματος πολὺ προέχων τῶν ἄλλων ἁπάντων καὶ ψυχῆς λαμπρότητι περιβόητος, ὅς γε τὴν ἡλικίαν ἔφηβος ὢν πρῶτον μὲν ἠλευθέρωσε τὰς Θήβας, ἀποδιδοὺς ὡς πατρίδι τὰς προσηκούσας χάριτας. ὑποτεταγμένων γὰρ τῶν Θηβαίων ᾿Εργίνῳ τῷ βασιλεῖ τῶν Μινυῶν, καὶ κατ’ ἐνιαυτὸν ὡρισμένους φόρους τελούντων, οὐ καταπλαγεὶς τὴν τῶν δεδουλωμένων ὑπεροχὴν ἐτόλμησε πρᾶξιν ἐπιτελέσαι περιβόητον· τοὺς γὰρ παραγενομένους τῶν Μινυῶν ἐπὶ τὴν ἀπαίτησιν τῶν δασμῶν καὶ μεθ’ ὕβρεως εἰσπραττομένους ἀκρωτηριάσας ἐξέβαλεν ἐκ τῆς πόλεως. ᾿Εργίνου δ’ ἐξαιτοῦντος τὸν αἴτιον, Κρέων βασιλεύων τῶν Θηβαίων, καταπλαγεὶς τὸ βάρος τῆς ἐξουσίας, ἕτοιμος ἦν ἐκδιδόναι τὸν αἴτιον τῶν ἐγκλημάτων. ὁ δ’ ῾Ηρακλῆς πείσας τοὺς ἡλικιώτας ἐλευθεροῦν τὴν πατρίδα, κατέσπασεν ἐκ τῶν ναῶν τὰς προσηλωμένας πανοπλίας, ἃς οἱ πρόγονοι σκῦλα τοῖς θεοῖς ἦσαν ἀνατεθεικότες· οὐ γὰρ ἦν εὑρεῖν κατὰ τὴν πόλιν ἰδιωτικὸν ὅπλον διὰ τὸ τοὺς Μινύας παρωπλικέναι τὴν πόλιν, ἵνα μηδεμίαν λαμβάνωσιν οἱ κατὰ τὰς Θήβας ἀποστάσεως ἔννοιαν. ὁ δ’ ῾Ηρακλῆς πυθόμενος ᾿Εργῖνον τὸν βασιλέα τῶν Μινυῶν προσάγειν τῇ πόλει μετὰ στρατιωτῶν, ἀπαντήσας αὐτῷ κατά τινα στενοχωρίαν, καὶ τὸ μέγεθος τῆς τῶν πολεμίων δυνάμεως ἄχρηστον ποιήσας, αὐτόν τε τὸν ᾿Εργῖνον ἀνεῖλε καὶ τοὺς μετ’ αὐτοῦ σχεδὸν ἅπαντας ἀπέ-κτεινεν. ἄφνω δὲ προσπεσὼν τῇ πόλει τῶν ᾿Ορχομενίων καὶ παρεισπεσὼν ἐντὸς τῶν πυλῶν τά τε βασίλεια τῶν Μινυῶν ἐνέπρησε καὶ τὴν πόλιν κατέσκαψε.

Apollodorus, Bibl. 2.68-71

“When Herakles arrived from the hunt, heralds arrived sent by Erginos so that they might seek reparations from the Thebans. The Thebans sent tribute for this reason: Menoikeos’ charioteer, named Periêrês, struck Klumenos the king of the Minyans with a stone and wounded him in the precinct of Poseidon at Ongkhêstos. When he was brought back to Orkhomenos half-dead he ordered his son Erginos to avenge his death as he died. Erginos attacked Thebes and forced them to make a treaty after killing many of them: they would send tribute to him for twenty years, a hundred bulls a year. Herakles tortured those heralds when he came upon them as they traveled to Thebes for the tribute. He cut off their ears and noses and hands and bound them by cords around their necks.

He told them to take this back as tribute for Erginos and the Minyans. Enraged over these things, Erginos led another army against Thebes. But Herakles took weapons from the Athenians, led the battle, killed Erginos, routed the Minyans and forced them to pay double the tribute to Thebes. During the battle, Amphitryon died while fighting nobly. For his excellence, Herakles received Kreon’s oldest daughter Megara and she gave him three children: Thêrimakhos, Kreontiadês, and Dêikoôn.”

ἀνακάμπτοντι δὲ αὐτῷ ἀπὸ τῆς θήρας συνήντησαν κήρυκες παρὰ ᾿Εργίνου πεμφθέντες, ἵνα παρὰ Θηβαίων τὸν δασμὸν λάβωσιν. ἐτέλουν δὲ Θηβαῖοι τὸν δασμὸν ᾿Εργίνῳ δι’ αἰτίαν τήνδε. Κλύμενον τὸν Μινυῶν βασιλέα λίθῳ βαλὼν Μενοικέως ἡνίοχος, ὄνομα Περιήρης, ἐν ᾿Ογχηστῷ Ποσειδῶνος τεμένει τιτρώσκει· ὁ δὲ κομισθεὶς εἰς ᾿Ορχομενὸν ἡμιθνὴς ἐπισκήπτει τελευτῶν ᾿Εργίνῳ τῷ παιδὶ ἐκδικῆσαι τὸν θάνατον αὐτοῦ. στρατευσάμενος δὲ ᾿Εργῖνος ἐπὶ Θήβας, κτείνας οὐκ ὀλίγους ἐσπείσατο μεθ’ ὅρκων, ὅπως πέμπωσιν αὐτῷ Θηβαῖοι δασμὸν ἐπὶ εἴκοσιν ἔτη, κατὰ ἔτος ἑκατὸν βόας. ἐπὶ τοῦτον τὸν δασμὸν εἰς Θήβας τοὺς κήρυκας ἀπιόντας συντυχὼν ῾Ηρακλῆς ἐλωβήσατο· ἀποτεμὼν γὰρ αὐτῶν τὰ ὦτα καὶ τὰς ῥῖνας, καὶ διὰ σχοινίων τὰς χεῖρας δήσας ἐκ τῶν τραχήλων, ἔφη τοῦτον ᾿Εργίνῳ καὶ Μινύαις δασμὸν κομίζειν. ἐφ’ οἷς ἀγανακτῶν ἐστράτευσεν ἐπὶ Θήβας. ῾Ηρακλῆς δὲ λαβὼν ὅπλα παρ’ ᾿Αθηνᾶς καὶ πολεμαρχῶν ᾿Εργῖνον μὲν ἔκτεινε, τοὺς δὲ Μινύας ἐτρέψατο καὶ τὸν δασμὸν διπλοῦν ἠνάγκασε Θηβαίοις φέρειν. συνέβη δὲ κατὰ τὴν μάχην ᾿Αμφιτρύωνα γενναίως μαχόμενον τελευτῆσαι. λαμβάνει δὲ ῾Ηρακλῆς παρὰ Κρέοντος ἀριστεῖον τὴν πρεσβυτάτην θυγατέρα Μεγάραν, ἐξ ἧς αὐτῷ παῖδες ἐγένοντο τρεῖς, Θηρίμαχος Κρεοντιάδης Δηικόων.


Pausanias, 9.37

“It was fate for the line of Almos to end—Orkhomenos left no son and the kingship went to Klumenos, the son of Presbon the son of Phrixos. Of Klumenos’ children, the oldest was Erginos and after him came Stratios, Arrôn, Puleos and the youngest Azeus. Theban men murdered Klumenos at the festival of Poseidon at Onkhestos after they fell into a rage over a small pretense. The oldest of the children of Klumenos, Erginos, took the kingship. Immediately he and his brothers gathered a force and attacked Thebes. They defeated them in battle and agreed that the Thebans should pay tribute each year for Klumenos’ murder. But when Herakles matured in Thebes, the Thebans freed themselves from the tribute and the Minyans suffered greatly in war.

Erginos, once his people suffered the worst, made peace with Herakles, sought to restore his previous wealth and prosperity and ignored everything else—as a result he arrived at old age childless and unmarried. But once he gathered wealth, he desired to have children. When he went to Delphi and asked about children, the oracle responded to him:

Erginos, child of Klumenos, the son of Presbon

You come seeking progeny too late, but even now

Add a new tip to the old plow.

For this reason he married a young wife and had Trôphonios and Agamêdês. It is alleged that Trophônios is Apollo’s son and not Erginos’, which I believe along with anyone who has gone to the Trophônion in search of an oracle. They say that these men once they grew up, became expert at building temples for gods and palaces for men. They built the temple for Apollo at Delphi and the treasury of Hurieus. There, they fashioned one of the stones so they could remove it externally and they kept stealing things from the storehouse. Hurieus was speechless as he looked upon unmoved keys and seals as the amount of the treasure declined. So, he set nets or some other device over the vessels which stored the gold and silver to ensnare anyone who came in and touched the stores. A trap held Agamemedes as he entered, but Trophônios beheaded him so that when the day came when his brother was tortured he would not be indicated as taking part in the crime.

The earth opened up and took Trophônios at the place in the Lebadeian grove which is called the pit of Agamêdês with a monument beside it. Askalaphos and Ialmenos, sons of Ares allegedly, and of Astuokhê the daughter of Actor son of Azeus, Kluomenos’ son. The Minyans were led by them in the expedition against Troy.

ἔδει δὲ ἄρα παυσθῆναι καὶ τὸ ῎Αλμου γένος· οὐχ ὑπολείπεται γὰρ παῖδα ᾿Ορχομενός, καὶ οὕτως ἐς Κλύμενον τὸν Πρέσβωνος τοῦ Φρίξου περιῆλθεν ἡ ἀρχή.

Κλυμένου δὲ γίνονται παῖδες, πρεσβύτατος μὲν ᾿Εργῖνος, ἐπὶ δὲ αὐτῷ Στράτιος καὶ ῎Αρρων καὶ Πύλεος, νεώτατος δὲ ᾿Αζεύς. Κλύμενον μὲν ἐν τῇ ἑορτῇ τοῦ ᾿Ογχηστίου Ποσειδῶνος Θηβαίων φονεύουσιν ἄνδρες ἐξ ἀφορμῆς μικρᾶς ἐς ἅπαν θυμοῦ προαχθέντες· ᾿Εργῖνος δὲ ὁ πρεσβύτατος τῶν Κλυμένου παίδων τὴν βασιλείαν παραλαμβάνει. δύναμιν δὲ αὐτίκα αὐτός τε καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ συλλέξαντες ἦλθον ἐπὶ τὰς Θήβας· καὶ μάχῃ μὲν ἐκράτησαν, τὸ δὲ ἀπὸ τούτου χωροῦσιν ἐς ὁμολογίαν Θηβαίους κατὰ ἔτος ἕκαστον τελεῖν δασμὸν τοῦ Κλυμένου φόνου. ῾Ηρακλέους δὲ ἐπιτραφέντος ἐν Θήβαις, οὕτω τοῦ δασμοῦ τε ἠλευθερώθησαν οἱ Θηβαῖοι καὶ οἱ Μινύαι μεγάλως τῷ πολέμῳ προσέπταισαν· ᾿Εργῖνος δὲ ἅτε κεκακωμένων ἐς τὸ ἔσχατον τῶν πολιτῶν πρὸς μὲν τὸν ῾Ηρακλέα ἐποιήσατο εἰρήνην, πλοῦτον δὲ τὸν πρότερον καὶ εὐδαιμονίαν ἐκείνην ἀνασώσασθαι ζητῶν ἠμέλησεν ἁπάντων ὁμοίως τῶν ἄλλων, ὥστε καὶ ἔλαθεν ἄγαμος καὶ ἄπαις ἀφικόμενος ἐς γῆρας. ὡς δὲ αὐτῷ χρήματα συνείλεκτο, ἐνταῦθα ἐπεθύμησέν οἱ γενέσθαι παῖδας· ἐλθόντι δὲ ἐς Δελφοὺς καὶ ἐρομένῳ περὶ παίδων χρᾷ τάδε ἡ Πυθία·

᾿Εργῖνε Κλυμένοιο πάι Πρεσβωνιάδαο,

ὄψ’ ἦλθες γενεὴν διζήμενος, ἀλλ’ ἔτι καὶ νῦν

ἱστοβοῆι γέροντι νέην ποτίβαλλε κορώνην.

λαβόντι δὲ αὐτῷ νέαν γυναῖκα κατὰ τὸ μάντευμα  Τροφώνιος γίνεται καὶ ᾿Αγαμήδης. λέγεται δὲ ὁ Τροφώνιος ᾿Απόλλωνος εἶναι καὶ οὐκ ᾿Εργίνου· καὶ ἐγώ τε πείθομαι καὶ ὅστις παρὰ Τροφώνιον ἦλθε δὴ μαντευσόμενος. τούτους φασίν, ὡς ηὐξήθησαν, γενέσθαι δεινοὺς θεοῖς τε ἱερὰ κατασκευάσασθαι καὶ βασίλεια ἀνθρώποις· καὶ γὰρ τῷ ᾿Απόλλωνι τὸν ναὸν ᾠκοδόμησαν τὸν ἐν Δελφοῖς καὶ ῾Υριεῖ τὸν θησαυρόν. ἐποίησαν δὲ ἐνταῦθα τῶν λίθων ἕνα εἶναί σφισιν ἀφαιρεῖν κατὰ τὸ ἐκτός· καὶ οἱ μὲν ἀεί τι ἀπὸ τῶν τιθεμένων ἐλάμβανον· ῾Υριεὺς δὲ εἴχετο ἀφασίᾳ, κλεῖς μὲν καὶ σημεῖα τὰ ἄλλα ὁρῶν ἀκίνητα, τὸν δὲ ἀριθμὸν ἀεὶ τῶν χρημάτων ἐλάττονα. ἵστησιν οὖν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀγγείων, ἐν οἷς ὅ τε ἄργυρος ἐνῆν καὶ ὁ χρυσός οἱ,πάγας ἤ τι καὶ ἄλλο ὃ τὸν ἐσελθόντα καὶ ἁπτόμενον τῶν χρημάτων καθέξειν ἔμελλεν. ἐσελθόντος δὲ τοῦ ᾿Αγαμήδους τὸν μὲν ὁ δεσμὸς κατεῖχε, Τροφώνιος δὲἀπέτεμεν αὐτοῦ τὴν κεφαλήν, ὅπως μὴ ἡμέρας ἐπισχούσης ἐκεῖνος γένοιτο ἐν αἰκίαις καὶ αὐτὸς μηνυθείη μετέχων τοῦ τολμήματος. καὶ Τροφώνιον μὲν ἐνταῦθαἐδέξατο ἡ γῆ διαστᾶσα, ἔνθα ἐστὶν ἐν τῷ ἄλσει τῷ ἐν Λεβαδείᾳ βόθρος τε ᾿Αγαμήδους καλούμενος καὶ πρὸς αὐτῷ στήλη· τὴν δὲ ἀρχὴν τῶν ᾿Ορχομενίων ἔσχεν ᾿Ασκά-λαφος καὶ ᾿Ιάλμενος ῎Αρεως εἶναι λεγόμενοι, μητρὸς δὲ ᾿Αστυόχης ἦσαν τῆς ῎Ακτορος τοῦ ᾿Αζέως τοῦ Κλυμένου· καὶ ὑπὸ τούτοις ἡγεμόσι Μινύαι στρατεύουσιν ἐς Τροίαν

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