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Minyas, Minyan Orchomenus, Minyans

Location of Minyan Orchomenus in northern Boeotia (enlarge)

"You who have your home by the waters of Cephisus, who dwell in the town of beautiful horses: songful queens, Graces of splendid Orchomenus, guardians of the ancient race of Minyans, hear me; I am praying." (Pindar, Olympian Odes 14.1).

Heracles: Do they make so light of my hard warring with the Minyans?
Megara: Misfortune, to repeat it to you, has no friends.
(Euripides, Heracles 560).

Minyas is the ancestral eponym of the Minyans (or Minyae), a race which, coming from Thessaly, settled in northern Boeotia and founded the city of Orchomenus, famous in Hellas for its prosperity and power.

Minyan Orchomenus

"At Orchomenus is a sanctuary of Dionysus, but the oldest is one of the Graces. They worship the stones most, and say that they fell for Eteocles out of heaven (...) The treasury of Minyas, a wonder second to none either in Greece itself or elsewhere, has been built in the following way. It is made of stone; its shape is round, rising to a rather blunt apex; they say that the highest stone is the keystone of the whole building." (Pau.9.38.1-2).

The power of the Minyans of Orchomenus in ancient times is shown in that Thebes paid tribute to them, and the evidence of their prosperity may be derived from the words of Achilles when he refused the gifts of Agamemnon:

"Hateful in my eyes are his gifts, I count them at a hair's worth. Not though he gave me ten times, or twenty times all that now he hath, and if yet other should be added thereto I care not whence, not though it were all the wealth that goeth in to Orchomenus, or to Thebes of Egypt, where treasures in greatest store are laid up in men's houses ..." (Hom.Il.9.379).

Orchomenus was built in the district of Andreis, called after the first settler, Andreus, son of the river god Peneus (Pau.9.34.6). Andreus married Evippe 3 (daughter of Leucon 1, son of Athamas 1) and had by her a son Eteocles 2, who inherited the throne. This Eteocles 2 has been sometimes called son of Cephisus (the river in Phocis, one of the RIVER GODS). Eteocles 2 was the first to sacrifice to the CHARITES (Graces)—according to the Boeotians via Pausanias (9.35.3), who says that "it was from Eteocles of Orchomenus that we learned the custom of praying to three Graces" (and not to any other number of them). Also Theocritus says:

"O holy Graces first adored of Eteocles, O lovers of that Minyan Orchomenus which Thebes had cause to hate of old ..." (16.104).

Eteocles 2 built a temple of the CHARITES, either for receiving graces or for giving them or for both (says Strabo 9.2.40). In the sanctuary, the CHARITES were worshipped in the form of stones that fell from heaven in the time of Eteocles 2 (Pau.9.38.1).

During his reign, Eteocles 2 received Almus (son of Sisyphus) and gave him part of the land where the village Almones was founded. When Eteocles 2 died childless, Almus' family inherited the whole realm, and Phlegyas 1 became king. He was son of Chryse 1 (daughter of Almus), and of Ares. Phlegyas 1 was a warlike ruler, and he spent most of his time and fortunes ravaging his neighbors. The author of the Description of Greece says that secession from Orchomenus was accomplished by Phlegyas 1, and that later

"The Phlegyan race was completely overthrown by the god with continual thunderbolts and violent earthquakes. The remnant were wasted by an epidemic of plague, but a few of them escaped to Phocis." (Pau.9.36.3).

Phlegyas 1 had a daughter Coronis 2, who is mother of Asclepius by Apollo. However, as she preferred Ischys before Apollo, the god killed her while still pregnant but snatched the babe from the funeral pyre. Others have said that it was Artemis who punished her for insulting Apollo, and that it was Hermes who snatched the child from the pyre. Still others affirm that Asclepius' mother was not Coronis 2 but Arsinoe 2, daughter of Leucippus 2, son of Perieres 1, son either of Cynortes or of Aeolus 1. As for Ischys, he was killed by the thunderbolt of Zeus for being the lover of Coronis 2.

Phlegyas 1 was murdered by Lycus 5 and Nycteus 2. They were sons of Hyrieus (Apd.3.10.1) (see below), but it has also been said that they were related to the Theban SPARTI, being sons of Chthonius 2 (Apd.3.5.5). After committing their crime, the brothers sought refuge in Thebes, where they were received by Pentheus 1. But after the death of Polydorus 2 (son of Cadmus and successor of Pentheus 1), they usurped power in Thebes, keeping it until the arrival of Amphion 1. Lycus 5 and his wife Dirce were then killed by the twins Amphion 1 and Zethus (Apd.3.5.5), who seized power in Thebes. But others (Hyg.Fab.8) say that Hermes forbade the twins to kill Lycus 5 while forcing the latter to yield the kingdom to them. By then Nycteus 2 had already died as a result of his military campaign against Sicyon.

Phlegyas 1 had no sons, so when he died Chryses 1 succeeded to the throne. He was son of Poseidon and Chrysogenia, daughter of Almus, and became father of Minyas, eponym of the Minyans, father of the MINYADS, and renowned for his wealth:

"The revenues that Minyas received were so great that he surpassed his predecessors in wealth, and he was the first man we know of to build a treasury to receive his riches." (Pau.9.36.4).

Minyas had a son, Orchomenus 5, who became king after him. During his kingship, he received Hyettus from Argos, who, having exacted punishment from a man (Molurus, son of Arisbas 2) who had slept with his wife, came as an exile.

Also Iasus 7 is said to have ruled Minyan Orchomenus (Hom.Od.11.283). He could have been the father of Amphion 1, the great king of Thebes who is otherwise known as son of Zeus and Antiope 3.

Orchomenus 5 was childless. So after him the kingdom reverted to Clymenus 2, son of Presbon, son of Phrixus 1, son of Athamas 1. Clymenus 2 was killed by Perieres 2 (Apd.2.4.11), a Theban charioteer of Menoeceus 1 (father of Creon 2). Pausanias says that he was killed by Thebans at a feast and for a trivial reason. So Erginus 1 (the eldest son of Clymenus 2) having succeeded his father as king of the Minyans, attacked Thebes, and being victorious, he imposed a tribute on the Thebans. Later Erginus 1 and the Minyans were defeated by Heracles 1, who removed the tribute:

Clymenus 2 (Apollodorus says) had been wounded with a cast of a stone by the charioteer in a precinct of Poseidon at Onchestus, a Boeotian city. As he was being carried dying to Orchomenus, he charged his son Erginus 1 to avenge his death. So Erginus 1 marched against Thebes, and having defeated the Thebans, he concluded a treaty that Thebes should send him tribute for twenty years, one hundred cows every year. But some time later Heracles 1 fell in with Erginus 1's heralds on their way to Thebes to demand the tribute, and he outraged them, cutting off their ears, noses, and hands. Then, having fastened them with ropes, he told them to carry that tribute to the Minyans. King Erginus 1 then marched a second time against Thebes, but was defeated, whereupon Heracles 1 compelled the Minyans to pay double the tribute to Thebes. It is in this war that Amphitryon lost his life in battle (Apd.2.4.11).

Having been crushed by Heracles 1, Erginus 1 spent all his energy and time in restoring the former Minyan wealth. The result was that he came to old age rich once again , but wifeless and childless. Wishing to correct what he perceived as shortcomings, Erginus 1 married a young wife, since the oracle of Delphi (which he consulted) had declared:

"Erginus, son of Clymenus Presboniades,
Late thou camest seeking offspring, but even now
To the old plough-tree put a new tip."

By his young wife (of unknown name), he had two sons, Trophonius and Agamedes 1, well known for their architectonic skills. They built the fourth temple of Apollo in Delphi, and the treasury for Hyrieus. This building, however, had a stone that the architects could take away from the outside whenever they wished to rob from the treasure. Unfortunately, Agamedes 1 was caught by a trap devised by Hyrieus that prevented him from leaving the building. So his brother Trophonius cut off his head, lest when day came his brother should be tortured, and he himself discovered as being involved in the thefts.

After these events, the kingdom of Minyan Orchomenus was taken by Ascalaphus 1 and Ialmenus 1, sons of Ares and Astyoche 5, daughter of Actor 7, son of Azeus, son of Clymenus 2. Of the sons of Clymenus 2 (Erginus 1, Stratius 3, Arrhon 1, Pyleus, and Azeus), Azeus was the youngest. Ascalaphus 1 and Ialmenus 1 are found among the ARGONAUTS, the SUITORS OF HELEN, and the ACHAEAN LEADERS. Ascalaphus 1 was killed by Deiphobus 1 (son of Priam 1) during the Trojan War, but his brother Ialmenus 1 is reported by Strabo (9.2.42), to have colonized the Pontus (Black Sea) after the sack of Troy.

Rulers of Orchomenus

Line of Athamas 1

Line of Sisyphus

Andreus & Evippe 3 (granddaughter of Athamas 1, son of Aeolus 1)

Eteocles 2 (son of Andreus and Evippe 3)

Almus (son of Sisyphus, son of Aeolus 1) received by Eteocles 2

Phlegyas 1 (son of Chryse 1, daughter of Almus)

Chryses 1 (son of Chrysogenia, daughter of Almus)

Minyas (son of Chryses 1)

Orchomenus 5 (son of Minyas)

Clymenus 2 (son of Presbon, son of Phrixus 1, son of Athamas 1, son of Aeolus 1)

Erginus 1

Ascalaphus 1 and Ialmenus 1 (descendants of Clymenus 2)

The Minyans

Strabo (9.2.40) says that some of the Minyans emigrated to Iolcus (the city in Thessaly on the coast of the Gulf of Pagasae), and suggests that this could be the reason why the ARGONAUTS were called Minyans. The captain of the expedition, Jason, could be regarded as a full-blooded Minyan if he indeed were the son of Alcimede 1, daughter of Clymene 3, daughter of Minyas, as Apollonius Rhodius says (at least two other women are called mothers of Jason):

"So many then were the helpers who assembled to join the son of Aeson. All the chiefs the dwellers thereabout called Minyans, for the most and the bravest avowed that they were sprung from the blood of the daughters of Minyas; thus Jason himself was the son of Alcimede who was born of Clymene the daughter of Minyas." (Argonautica 1.228).

Ascalaphus 1 and Ialmenus 1 were both Minyans and ARGONAUTS in a strict sense, but they do not appear in Apollonius Rhodius' list of ARGONAUTS (only Apollodorus includes them).

The poem The Returns , as read by Pausanias 10.29.6, confirms that Clymene 3 was daughter of Minyas. But the identity of Alcimede 1 is more uncertain. In any case, such a direct relation to Minyas as suggested by Apollonius Rhodius, is applicable only to Iphiclus 1 and Jason in his own list of ARGONAUTS. The Orchomenian rulers are ultimately descendants of Aeolus 1 (through Athamas 1 and Sisyphus), and in that sense the Minyans are Aeolids. Any Aeolid may or not be called 'Minyan' depending on the context, but still 16 out of 55 ARGONAUTS in Apollonius Rhodius' list may count Aeolus 1 as their ancestor: Acastus, Admetus 1, Arius 1, Castor 1, Erginus 2, Idas 2, Iphiclus 2, Lacoon, Leodocus, Lynceus 1, Meleager, Menoetius 2, Periclymenus 1, Polydeuces, Talaus, and Tiphys (see complete lists at ARGONAUTS).

It is told that when the ARGONAUTS came to Libya they were driven into the Syrtis, quicksands in Libya, carrying their ship overland to Lake Tritonis. There was no return for ships once they had come far within Syrtis:

"For on every hand are shoals, on every hand masses of seaweed from the depths; and over them the light foam of the wave washes without noise." (Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4.1235).

Since there is no outlet from Lake Tritonis to the sea, they could do nothing. Then the ARGONAUTS propitiated the gods with a golden tripod on the shore, and Triton appeared to them in the form of a youth. Triton showed them the way out, and presented the Argonaut Euphemus 1 with a clod of earth.

Later, Euphemus 1 had a dream. It seemed to him that the clod of earth was being suckled by milk, and that from it a little woman grew. And this woman Euphemus 1 desired and embraced in love, although he pitied her as though she were a maiden whom he fed with his own milk. But then she comforted him, saying that she was daughter of Triton and Libya, and exhorting him to restore her to the sea near Anaphe (one of the Cyclades, north of Crete and east of Thera). She then promised him to return, and prepare a home for his descendants.

So after consulting with Jason, the admiral of the ARGONAUTS, Euphemus 1 cast the clod into the sea. From it rose the island Calliste (later called Thera, and today called Santorini) where the descendants of Euphemus 1 (and of the crew of the "Argo," that is, the so called Minyan clan) came after being expelled from Lemnos by the Tyrrhenians or by the Pelasgians. But first they sailed away from Lemnos to Sparta in Lacedaemon where they appeared as suppliants, camping at Taygetum. The Lacedaemonians received them because the DIOSCURI had been in the ship's company of the "Argo," and so the Minyans were allowed to mingle with the Lacedaemonians, receiving land and being distributed among the Lacedaemonian tribes. The Minyans married Lacedaemonian women, and gave in marriage to others the women they had brought from Lemnos.

This seems nice, but as time went by the Lacedaemonians found the Minyans insolent, who demanded equal right to the kingship. So they seized them and cast them into prison, having in mind to kill them. But the Spartan wives of the Minyans asked permission to enter the prison and visit their husbands; and when permission was granted, they gave their husbands their own garments, and themselves put on the men's clothing. Thus the Minyans, disguised as women, got out of prison and camped at Taygetum again.

It was then that Theras interceded, promising to lead the Minyans out of the country to the island of Calliste. Eurysthenes 1 and Procles 2 (kings and founders of the Spartan royal houses, counted among the HERACLIDES), in spite of their mutual enmity, combined to help Theras, who was their mother's brother and their guardian as well, to found a colony in Calliste. This is how part of the Minyans left Lacedaemon with thirty-oared ships, but the greater part migrated to the district of Triphylia—between Elis and Messenia (Hdt.4.148).

Now, in Calliste lived the descendants of Membliarus since Cadmus left Membliarus in the island. But when Theras landed, they gave up the kingship to him of their own accord as they considered that the family of Theras went back to Cadmus himself. Theras (son of Autesion 1, son of Tisamenus 1, son of Thersander 1, son of Polynices, son of Oedipus, son of Laius 1, son of Labdacus 1, son of Polydorus 2, son of Cadmus) renamed the island and called it Thera after himself.

The Mynians appear as colonists elsewhere as well. Teos in Ionia is said to have been founded by Athamas 4, a descendant of Athamas 1 (Pau.7.3.6; Strab.14.1.3).


MINYADS are called those daughters of Minyas who refused to honour Dionysus 2 and were punished by the god. Some affirm that the MINYADS were Alcathoe (or Alcithoe), Arsippe, and Leucippe 4 (Lib.Met.10; Aelian, Varia Historia 3.42), others say Alcathoe and Leuconoe 1 (Ov.Met.4.1ff.), and still others Alcathoe, Arsinoe 5, and Leucippe 4 (Plu.GQ.38). Plutarch says that the MINYADS, becoming insane, conceived a craving for human flesh, and drew lots to decide whose children should be eaten. The lot then fell upon Leucippe 4 to contribute her son Hippasus 11 to be torn to pieces. Plutarch also tells what happened to the descendants of the MINYADS:

" ... every year, at the festival of the Agrionia, there takes place a flight and pursuit of them by the priest of Dionysus with sword in hand. Any one of them that he catches he may kill, and in my time the priest Zoilus killed one of them." (Plutarch, Moralia Greek Questions 38).

According to Antoninus Liberalis, the MINYADS reproached other women their joining the MAENADS. So Dionysus 2, coming to them as a young girl, exhorted them to honour the cult and mysteries of the god. But the MINYADS, paying no attention to the young girl's words, angered the god who then turned into a bull, a lion and a leopard. Terrified by these and other miraculous events, the MINYADS cast lots, and decided that Leucippe 4's son Hippasus 11 should be torn into pieces. After that they joined the MAENADS in the mountains, but were turned into birds by Hermes. Ovid says that the MINYADS denied that Dionysus 2 was the son of Zeus. So they refused to join a Bacchic festival, staying at home without interrupting their household tasks:

"While other women are deserting their tasks and thronging this so-called festival, let us also, who keep to Pallas (Athena), a truer goddess, lighten with various talk the serviceable work of our hands, and to beguile the tedious hours, let us take turns in telling stories, while all the others listen." (Ov.Met.4.37).

This way of neglecting the god's rites was convenient for the poet, who makes the MINYADS tell the stories he himself had in mind while they spin their wool. So they narrate the misfortunes of Pyramus and Thisbe, and the story of Hermaphroditus, and how Hephaestus caught Ares and Aphrodite in his net with links of bronze and how the goddess avenged herself by ruining the love affairs of Helius, who had spied on her. But when the MINYADS were done with their tales, both gods and poet turned them into bats. Aelian asserts that the MINYADS refused to join the divine madness of the Boeotian women, and rebelled against the dance in honour of Dionysus 2 for love of their husbands. So they stayed at their looms, toiling industriously in honour of Athena, the patron deity of crafts. And as they sat and worked, ivy and vines began to envelop the looms while snakes made their lair in the baskets of wool. Although wine and milk started dropping down from the ceiling, they still refused to worship the god. And then, being out of their minds, they tore to pieces the little boy of Leucippe 4, whereupon they went to join the MAENADS. But, being polluted by murder, they were chased by the MAENADS. After these events, the MINYADS changed their shapes: one turned into a crow, another into an owl, and a third into a bat.






Chryses 1 &

Aeolus 1 &

Orchomenus 3 &


Minyas' father was either Chryses 1, or Aeolus 1, or Orchomenus 3, or Poseidon. His mother is unknown.

Chryses 1 succeeded Phlegyas 1 as king of the Phlegyans, a people living in Thessaly. Chryses 1 was son of Poseidon and Chrysogenia, daughter of Almus, son of Sisyphus and Merope 1, daughter of Atlas and Pleione.

Orchomenus 3 is only known for being the father of Minyas.

Euryanassa 1

Orchomenus 5

Euryanassa 1, mother of Clymene 3, was daughter of Hyperphas.

Orchomenus 5 became king of the Minyan Orchomenians, but died childless.

Clymene 3

Clymene 3 is mother, either by Phylacus 1 or by Cephalus 1, of Alcimede 1 and Iphiclus 1. She is also mother of Atalanta, by Iasus 1. (For Cephalus 1, see Procris 2).

Leuconoe 1

The daughters of Minyas (the MINYADS) became insane, and conceived a craving for human flesh. They drew lots for their children, and the lot falling upon Leucippe 4, she then had to contribute her son Hippasus 11 to be torn to pieces.

Leuconoe 1 was turned into a bat, and Alcathoe into a bird or else a bat. Arsippe and Leucippe 4 were turned into birds by Hermes. This happened because the MINYADS refused to honour Dionysus 2.

Leucippe 4


Alcathoe (Alcithoe)

Arsinoe 5

Genealogical Charts

Names in this chart: Actor 7, Aeolus 1, Aeson, Agamedes 1, Alcimede 1, Almus, Andreus 1, Apollo, Ares, Ascalaphus 1, Asclepius, Astyoche 5, Athamas 1, Azeus, Chryse 1, Chryses 1, Chrysogenia, Clymene 3, Clymenus 2, Coronis 2, Cretheus 1, Deimachus 1, Deion, Deucalion 1, Diomedia, Enarete, Erginus 1, Eteocles 2, Evippe 3, Hellen 1, Hippasus 11, Ialmenus 1, Iphiclus 1, Ischys, Jason, Leucippe 4, Leucon 1, Medea, MINYADS, Minyas, Orchomenus 5, Orseis, Peneus, Phlegyas 1, Phrixus 1, Phylacus 1, Poseidon, Presbon, Protesilaus, Pyrrha 1, Salmoneus, Sisyphus, Trophonius, Tyro.

Related sections Aeolus 1, Sisyphus, Athamas 1, ARGONAUTS  

Aelian.3.42; Arg.3.1093; Hdt.4.145.1ff.; Hes.CWE.84; Lib.Met.10; Ov.Met.4.1, 4.168; Pau.9.36.4, 10.29.6; Plu.GQ.38.

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