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Location of Tiryns in Argolis

"At Babylon the sanctuary of Belus still is left, but of the Babylon that was the greatest city of its time under the sun nothing remains but the wall. The case of Tiryns in the Argolid is the same. These places have been reduced by heaven to nothing. But the city of Alexander in Egypt, and that of Seleucus on the Orontes, that were founded but yesterday, have reached their present size and prosperity because fortune favors them." (Pausanias, Description of Greece 8.33.3).

"The Greeks appear apt to regard with greater wonder foreign sights than sights at home. For whereas distinguished historians have described the Egyptian pyramids with the minutest detail, they have not made even the briefest mention of the treasury of Minyas and the walls of Tiryns, though these are no less marvellous." (Pausanias, Description of Greece 9.36.5).

Tiryns is the name of a city in Argolis located southeast of the city of Argos.

The name

Some have said that the city was named after Tiryns, son of Argus 5 and Evadne 1. Argus 5, who was master of the Peloponnesus, received the kingdom from Phoroneus, called the first man. Argus 5 was son of Zeus and Niobe 1, daughter of Phoroneus and the first mortal woman with whom Zeus cohabited. Evadne 1 is the daughter of the Thracian river god Strymon 1.

The walls

Tiryns is famous for its great walls—said to be from six to 7.5 meters in thickness—which were built by the Cyclopes, regarded as different from the CYCLOPES, the one-eyed children of Uranus and Gaia. Instead these Cyclopes are said to be seven Lycian workers who walled the city during the reign of Proetus 1. The acropolis of Tiryns was later called Licymna after Licymnius, the bastard son of Electryon 1, son of Perseus 1, the founder of Mycenae. Licymnius was accidentally killed by Heracles 1's son Tlepolemus 1, who was beating a servant when Licymnius ran in between.

Feud between twins

Proetus 1 was the twin-brother of Acrisius. These brothers quarrelled with each other while still in the womb. Having become men, Acrisius drove Proetus 1 from, as they say, Argos (for what happens in Tiryns is not very different from what takes place in Argos and Mycenae, these three cities being relatively close to each other, and their history being intertwined). Proetus 1, however, came back from exile with an army of Lycians provided by his new father-in-law Iobates (or perhaps Amphianax), and occupied Tiryns. It is now, they say, that the Argive territory was divided between the quarrelling twins, and Acrisius reigned over Argos, and Proetus 1 over Tiryns, Midea, and the coastal region of Argolis.

Seer Melampus 1's rewarded richly

Proetus 1 and Stheneboea (for that was the name of his wife), had daughters: Lysippe 2, Iphinoe 1, and Iphianassa 3. These three went mad, and had to be purified by Melampus 1, who cured them of their madness, except for Iphinoe 1, who died. This Melampus 1 was a seer able to understand the language of birds and worms. He was the first to devise a cure by means of drugs and purifications. And for having healed the daughters of Proetus 1 of their madness, he received the third part of the kingdom of Argos.

Stream of gold not accepted

There are some that would not accept that Zeus turned into a stream of gold, making love to Danae (daughter of Acrisius) in that extraordinary shape. Instead they think that it was her uncle Proetus 1 who consorted with her, fathering the great Perseus 1. And they seem to suggest that this was the natural consequence of the fastidious feud between the twins.

Perseus 1 reigns in Tiryns

In any case, when Perseus 1 grew up, he accidentally killed his grandfather Acrisius. Perseus 1, as it is told, did not have the nerve to claim the inheritance of the man he had killed, so he made an agreement with Megapenthes 2 (son of Proetus and Stheneboea), exchanging kingdoms with him. In this way, Megapenthes 2 became king over the Argives, and Perseus 1 reigned over Tiryns, and Midea, which is northeast of Argos. Proetus and Stheneboea had yet another son Lernus 1, who is the father of Naubolus 3, father of Clytoneus 1, father of Nauplius 2, said to be a descendant of Nauplius 1, father of Palamedes.

Queen traps Bellerophon

Stheneboea, who sometimes is called Antia, fell in love with Bellerophon, and being rejected by him, accused him of assaulting her, and for that reason Bellerophon was banished, and came to Lycia.

Amphitryon leaves Tiryns

When Perseus 1 died, he was succeeded by his son Electryon 1, who was accidentally killed by his son-in-law Amphitryon. Amphitryon and Electryon 1's daughter Alcmena would have become king and queen of Mycenae and Tiryns, but on account of the unlucky death of Electryon 1, they were both banished by Sthenelus 3, brother of Electryon 1.

Heracles 1 born in Tiryns

Some have said that Alcmena's child Heracles 1 was born when they were exiled in Thebes. Others affirm that Heracles 1 was born in Tiryns, and that it was after he strangled the two serpents being a little child that his parents change their residence to Thebes. In any case, Zeus declared that a descendant of Perseus 1, then about to be born, would be king of Mycenae and Tiryns. And by that he meant Heracles 1, his own son by Alcmena. But when Hera heard the oath, she retarded Alcmena's delivery, and contrived that Eurystheus, also a descendant of Perseus 1, should be born a seven-month child. This is how Heracles 1 lost the throne, and Eurystheus, son of Sthenelus 3 and Nicippe 1, a daughter of Pelops 1, became king. When some time after Heracles 1 lost his mind and murdered his wife Megara in Thebes, he was told by the Pythian priestess at Delphi to dwell in Tiryns, serving Eurystheus for twelve years and to perform the LABOURS that Eurystheus requested. And being in the city with Iphitus 1, Heracles 1 lost his temper once more, and threw him down from the famous walls. Iphitus 1 is also remembered for having given Odysseus his famous bow; he had received it from his father Eurytus 4, who in turn received it from Apollo.

Tirynthians and their neighbors led by Diomedes 2

During the Trojan War, the Tirynthians were led by Diomedes 2, along with those from Argos, Eionae in eastern Peloponnesus, Hermione on the coast facing the island of Hydra in eastern Argolis, Asine, the island off the southern coast of the Argolic peninsula, Mases and Epidaurus in Argolis, and Aegina, which is an island in the Saronic Gulf.

Related sections Map of Greece, Argos 

Apd.2.1.5, 2.2.1, 2.4.1-6, 2.4.12, 2.5.1, 2.6.2; Arg.1.136; Hom.Il.2.559, 6.160; Ov.Met.7.410, 9.268, 12.564, 13.400; Hyg.Fab.57.