A son of Stymphalus and great-grandson of Arcas.1 He was father of Cercyon by Epicaste, who also brought to him a step-son, Trophonius, who was by some believed to be a son of Apollo. According to others, Agamedes was a son of Apollo and Epicaste, or of Zeus and Iocaste, and father of Trophonius. The most common story however is, that he was a son of Erginus, king of Orchomenus, and brother of Trophonius.
These two brothers are said to have distinguished themselves as architects, especially in building temples and palaces. Among others, they built a temple of Apollo at Delphi, and a treasury of Hyrieus, king of Hyria in Boeotia.2 The Scholiast on Aristophanes3 gives a somewhat different account from Charax, and makes them build the treasury for king Augeas. The story about this treasury in Pausanias bears a great resemblance to that which Herodotus4 relates of the treasury of the Egyptian king Rhampsinitus.
In the construction of the treasury of Hyrieus, Agamedes and Trophonius contrived to place one stone in such a manner, that it could be taken away outside, and thus formed an entrance to the treasury, without anyone perceiving it. Agamedes and Trophonius now constantly robbed the treasury; and the king, seeing that locks and seals were uninjured while his treasures were constantly decreasing, set traps to catch the thief. Agamedes was thus ensnared, and Trophonius cut off his head to avert the discovery. After this, Trophonius was immediately swallowed up by the earth. On this spot there was afterwards, in the grove of Lebadeia, the so-called cave of Agamedes with a column by the side of it. Here also was the oracle of Trophonius, and those who consulted it first offered a ram to Agamedes and invoked him.5
A tradition mentioned by Cicero,6 states that Agamedes and Trophonius, after having built the temple of Apollo at Delphi, prayed to the god to grant them in reward for their labor what was best for men. The god promised to do so on a certain day, and when the day came, the two brothers died.
The question as to whether the story about the Egyptian treasury is derived from Greece, or whether the Greek story was an importation from Egypt, has been answered by modern scholars in both ways; but Müller7 has rendered it very probable that the tradition took its rise among the Minyans, was transferred from them to Augeas, and was known in Greece long before the reign of Psammitichus, during which the intercourse between the two countries was opened.
Cp. Biton and Cleobis.
- Pausanias. Description of Greece viii, 4.5, 5.3.
- ibid. ix, 37.3; Strabo. Geography ix, 421.
- Clouds, 508.
- ii, 121.
- Pausanias. Description of Greece ix, 39.4; compare Dictionary of Antiquities, 673.
- Tusculan Disputations i, 47; comp. Plutarch. De Consolatio ad Apollonium, 14.
- Orchomenos und die Minyer, p. 94 ff.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.