A Heroic Judge of the Gods

Antoninos Liberalis, 4

Kragaleus: Nikander reports this in his Metamorphoses as Athanadas does in his Ambrakian Issues. Kragaleus the son of Dryops inhabited Dryopis near the Baths of Herakles, springs which the stories claim Herakles created when he clubbed the side of the moountain. Kragaleus was already old and judged to be just and far by his neighbors. When he was grazing his cattle, Apollo, Artemis, and Herakles came to him for a judgment about Ambrakia in Epiros.

Apollo was insisting that the city was his because his son Melaneus, the king of the Dryopes, had conquered all of Epiros and then had two children himself, Eurutos and Ambrakia, where the city got its name. Besides, he  had done a lot of great things for the city. For the Sisyphidai, commanded by him, went to the city to correct the Ambrakians for the war they had waged against the Epirotes and Gorgon, the brother of Kupselos took a colony army against Ambrakia from Korinth to follow his own oracle. In addition, also in accordance with his oracle, the Abrakians had revolted against the tyrant Phalaikos and, thanks to this, the masses destroyed him. Altogether, Apollo was often the one who brought an end to civil way, strife, and conflict and he promoted fair laws, order, and justice instead, which is why to this day he is respected as the Pythian Savior at feasts and festivals.

Artemis was stopping the quarrel with Apollo because she believed that she held Ambrakia with his blessing. She claimed the city according this argument. When Phalaikos was the tyrant of the city and no one could get rid of him because of fear, she had a lion cub appear to him when he was hunting. He accepted the cub into his hands and its mother jumped out of the woods, leapt upon him, and ripped his chest wide open. In this way, The Ambrakians escaped slavery and were hailed Artemis Leader. They had a bronze statue of the Huntress made and placed the animal beside it.

But the Herakles was demonstrating that Ambrakia belonged to him along with all of Epiros. For when the Kelts, Khaones, Thesprotians, and all the Epirotes attacked him, he overpowered them at the time when they joined him in the plot to steal Geryon’s cattle. At a later time, a group came from Korinth to found a colony and once they uprooted the earlier inhabitants took up the settlement of Ambrakia. All the Korinthians come from Herakles.

Once Kragaleus listened thoroughly to all these arguments, he decided that the city was Herakles’. Apollo touched him with his hand out of anger and turned him to a rock where he stood. So the Ambrakians sacrifice to Apollo the Savior, but they judge that their city belongs to Herakles and his descendants and they offer sacrificial rites to Kragaleus the hero even today, following a festival to Herakles.”

Κραγαλεύς· ἱστορεῖ Νίκανδρος ῾Ετεροιουμένων ᾱ καὶ ᾽Αθανάδας ᾽Αμβρακικοῖς. Κραγαλεὺς ὁ Δρύοπος ὤικει γῆς τῆς Δρυοπίδος παρὰ τὰ λοῦτρα τὰ ῾Ηρακλέους, ἃ μυθολογοῦσιν ῾Ηρακλέα πλήξαντα τῆι κορύνηι τὰς πλάκας τοῦ ὄρους ἀναβαλεῖν. (2) ὁ δὲ Κραγαλεὺς οὗτος ἐγεγόνει γηραιὸς ἤδη καὶ τοῖς ἐγχωρίοις ἐνομίζετο δίκαιος εἶναι καὶ φρόνιμος· καὶ αὐτῶι νέμοντι βοῦς προσάγουσιν ᾽Απόλλων καὶ ῎Αρτεμις καὶ ῾Ηρακλῆς κριθησόμενοι περὶ ᾽Αμβρακίας τῆς ἐν ᾽Ηπείρωι. (3) καὶ ὁ μὲν ᾽Απόλλων ἑαυτῶι προσήκειν ἔλεγε τὴν πόλιν, ὅτι Μελανεὺς υἱὸς ἦν αὐτοῦ, βασιλεύσας μὲν Δρυόπων καὶ πολέμωι λαβὼν τὴν πᾶσαν ῎Ηπειρον, γεννήσας δὲ παῖδας Εὐρυτον καὶ ᾽Αμβρακίαν, ἀφ᾽ἧς ἡ πόλις ᾽Αμβρακία καλεῖται· καὶ αὐτὸς μέγιστα χαρίσασθαι ταύτηι τῆι πόλει. (4) Σισυφίδας μὲν γὰρ αὐτοῦ προστάξαντος ἀφικομένους κατορθῶσαι τὸν πόλεμον ᾽Αμβρακιώταις τὸν γενόμενον αὐτοῖς πρὸς ᾽Ηπειρώτας· Γόργον δὲ τὸν ἀδελφὸν Κυψέλου κατὰ τοὺς αὐτοῦ χρησμοὺς λαὸν ἔποικον ἀγαγεῖν εἰς ᾽Αμβρακίαν ἐκ Κορίνθου· Φαλαίκωι δὲ τυραννοῦντι τῆς πόλεως αὐτοῦ κατὰ μαντείαν ᾽Αμβρακιώτας ἐπαναστῆσαι, καὶ παρὰ τοῦτο <τοὺς> πολλοὺς ἀπολέσαι τὸν Φάλαικον· τὸ δὲ ὅλον αὐτὸς ἐν τῆι πόλει παῦσαι πλειστάκις ἐμφύλιον πόλεμον καὶ ἔριδας καὶ στάσιν, ἐμποιῆσαι <δ᾽>ἀντὶ τούτων [δ᾽] εὐνομίαν καὶ θέμιν καὶ δίκην, ὅθεν αὐτὸν ἔτι νῦν παρὰ τοῖς ᾽Αμβρακιώταις Σωτῆρα Πύθιον ἐν ἑορταῖς καὶ εἰλαπίναις ἄιδεσθαι. (5) ῎Αρτεμις δὲ τὸ μὲν νεῖκος κατέπαυε τὸ πρὸς τὸν ᾽Απόλλωνα, παρ᾽ ἑκόντος δὲ ἠξίου τὴν ᾽Αμβρακίαν ἔχειν. ἐφίεσθαι γὰρ τῆς πόλεως κατὰ πρόφασιν τοιαύτην· ὅτε Φάλαικος ἐτυράννευε τῆς πόλεως, οὐδενὸς αὐτὸν δυναμένου κατὰ δέος ἀνελεῖν, αὐτὴ κυνηγετοῦντι τῶι Φαλαίκωι προφῆναι σκύμνον λέοντος, ἀναλαβόντος δὲ εἰς τὰς χεῖρας ἐκδραμεῖν ἐκ τῆς ὕλης τὴν μητέρα καὶ προσπεσοῦσαν ἀναρρῆξαι τὰ στέρνα τοῦ Φαλαίκου, τοὺς δ᾽ ᾽Αμβρακιώτας ἐκφυγόντας τὴν δουλείαν ῎Αρτεμιν ῾Ηγεμόνην ἱλάσασθαι, καὶ ποιησαμένους ᾽Αγροτέρης εἴκασμα παραστήσασθαι χάλκεον αὐτῶι θῆρα. (6) ὁ δὲ ῾Ηρακλῆς ἀπεδείκνυεν ᾽Αμβρακίαν τε καὶ τὴν σύμπασαν ῎Ηπειρον οὖσαν ἑαυτοῦ. πολεμήσαντας γὰρ αὐτῶι Κελτοὺς καὶ Χάονας καὶ Θεσπρωτοὺς καὶ σύμπαντας ᾽Ηπειρώτας ὑπ᾽ αὐτοῦ κρατηθῆναι, ὅτε τὰς Γηρυόνου βοῦς συνελθόντες <ἐβούλευον> ἀφελέσθαι· χρόνωι δ᾽ὕστερον λαὸν ἔποικον ἐλθεῖν ἐκ Κορίνθου καὶ τοὺς πρόσθεν ἀναστήσαντας ᾽Αμβρακίαν συνοικίσαι· Κορίνθιοι δὲ πάντες εἰσὶν ἀφ᾽ ῾Ηρακλέους. (7) ἃ διακούσας ὁ Κραγαλεὺς ἔγνω τὴν πόλιν ῾Ηρακλέους εἶναι, ᾽Απόλλων δὲ κατ᾽ ὀργὴν ἁψάμενος αὐτοῦ τῆι χειρὶ πέτρον ἐποίησεν ἵναπερ εἱστήκει, ᾽Αμβρακιῶται δὲ ᾽Απόλλωνι μὲν Σωτῆρι θύουσι, τὴν δὲ πόλιν ῾Ηρακλέους καὶ τῶν ἐκείνου παίδων νενομίκασι, Κραγαλεῖ δὲ μετὰ τὴν ἑορτὴν ῾Ηρακλέους ἔντομα θύουσιν ἄχρι νῦν.

Ambrakian raunioita.
Some Ambracian ruins




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