ORCHOMENUS, the name borne by two cities of ancient Greece.
I. A Rmotian city, situated in the angle between the Cephissus and its tributary the Melas, on a long narrow hill which projects south from Mount Aeontium. Its position is exceedingly strong, being defended on every side by precipice or marsh or river, and it was admirably suited to be the stronghold of an early kingdom. The acropolis is at the north end of the hill, on a peak which is overhung by Acontium, but at a distance sufficient to be safe from an enemy with the weapons of early warfare posted on the mountain. At the foot of the acropolis are the springs of the Melas. Orchomenus was the capital of the Minym, a race famous in the half-legendary history of early Beeotia ; the sway of the Minyae once extended over Bceotia, including even Thebes, but the /Mk Bceotians who made Thebes their stronghold broke the power of the Orchomenian kings. The most remarkable relic of the early power of Orchomenus is the so-called "treasury," which is said to be the oldest in Greece. It was larger than the buildings of similar style at Mycente (see MYCENiE), and the admiration which Pausanias expresses for it is justified by the beautiful ornamentation, especially of the roof, which has been brought to light by Schliemann's excavations. The monument, undoubtedly the tomb of some ancient ruler, or of a dynasty, lies outside the city walls. The worship of the Charites (see GRACES) was the great cultus of Orchomenus, and the site of the temple is now occupied by a chapel, the Koi,,uncrts ri.js Hacay;.as. The Charites were worshipped under the form of rude stones, which had fallen from heaven during the reign of Eteocles ; and it was not till the time of Pausanias that statues of the goddesses were placed in the temple. Near this was another temple dedicated to Dionysus, in whose festival, the 'A-ypcoil•ta, are apparent the traces of human sacrifice in early times. The city was destroyed by the Thebans in the 4th century ; the men were slain, and the women and children sold as slaves. About thirty years later, after the battle of Chronea, (338 me.), Philip of Macedon restored the city. The name is spelt on the dialectic inscriptions and coins 'Epx4uevos. It is mentioned in the Homeric catalogue.
II. An Arcadian city, situated in a district of the same name, north of Mantinea, and west of Stymphalus. The district was mountainous, but embraced two valleys, - the northern containing a lake which is drained, like all Arcadian lakes, by a kaiabothron; the southern lying under the city, separated from Mantinea by a mountain ridge called Anehisia. The old city occupied a strong and lofty situation ; in the time of Strabo it was a ruin, but Pausanias mentions that a new town was built below the old. A primitive wooden image of Artemis Cedreatis stood in a large cedar tree outside the city. Orchomenus is mentioned in the Homeric catalogue with the epithet 7oXiipoiXos. It sent soldiers to Thennopyke and to Platma. The native form of the name was 'Epx,rip,cvos.