city time legend
MYCENYE, one of the most ancient cities of Greece, was situated in the north-eastern extremity of the fertile Argive plain - pixy 'Apycos i.771-ofkroLo. Its situation is be the work of a rather later time. There can therefore be little doubt that the two towns were the strongholds of a single race, Tiryns commanding the sea - coast and Mycenm the inner country. The city of Argos, on the other hand, has no remains to connect it with this early Mycenaean race ; and legend tells of the rivalry between the dynasties of the Pelopidm at Mycenro and of the Prcetidm at Argos. The long warfare between the two cities lasted till 468 B.C., when Mycenm was dismantled and its inhabitants dispersed. The city never revived ; Strabo asserts that no trace of it remained in his time, but Pausanias describes the ruins.
Subjoined are the most important monuments. 1. The "Treasuries " of Atreus and his sons, as Pausanias calls them. They were subterranean buildings of beehive shape, in the side of the hill southwest of the city ; one of them is still almost perfect. A sloping passage, apOttos, led to the doorway, with its ornamented columns, at the base of the building. The great circular chamber inside was probably covered with plates of bronze ; a door in one side admitted to a second smaller chamber. Such buildings, which are found in other parts of Greece - e.g., Orchomenus, Sparta, Attica, Iolcus, &c. - were undoubtedly the sepulchres of noble families.
The graves discovered by Dr Schliemann in 1876 within the city wall. They are enclosed within a circular 71 epipoXos with a single entrance, and the place was therefore a holy place in the ancient Mycemean time ; on the other hand the part of the city wall which encloses them is a later addition to the original wall. At some period before 463 B.C. this addition was built ; before that time the irepEgoXos was outside the wall. Some heroes of the race were worshipped here by the ancient inhabitants, but their names are not recorded by any trustworthy authority. In the time of Pausanias, six centuries after Mycenu was destroyed, local legend maintained that these were the graves of Atreus, Agamemnon, Cassandra and her children, and Eurymedon ; but it is uncertain whether this was the original legend, or a later tale that grew under the influence of Greek literature.
The Lion - Gate. The principal entrance to the city is approached by a 46,aos, flanked on each side by the city wall and leading up to a gateway. Over the entrance is placed a triangular slab of stone on which are carved two lions in relief ; they are rampant, facing one another, but separated by an upright column. The art of this relief shows no resemblance to archaic Greek art ; it is foreign in character, the work of an immigrant race, which brought with it a well-developed civilization.
Greek legend always maintains that the Pelopidm of Mycerue came from Phrygia, and this is corroborated by the evidence of archisology. The objects found in excavations, and the sculptured ornament on the doorways of the " Treasuries " and over the Lion-Gate, all point to foreign influence and particularly to Asia Minor. The same type of the two lions and the column has been recently found over the entrance to a colossal sepulchre in the rocks near the south-western corner of the Sangarius valley in Phrygia. Legend and remains alike show that a rich and powerful dynasty of foreign origin ruled at Mycenm ; the only early remains in the Greek world that equal them in interest are the ruins of ancient Troy. It is precisely these two cities which are described in the Homeric poems as the two great cities of the Greek world.