The Ancient Library

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On this page: Amphion and Zethus – Amphiprostylus – Amphithalamos – Amphitheatron



Acarnania. Later legend represents him as taking part in the Trojan War, and on the fall of Troy going to Cilicia with Mopsus (q.v.), and there founding a famous oracle at Mallus. At last the two killed each other while fighting for the possession of it.

Amphion and Zethus. The Boeotian Dios­curi, twin sons of Antiope (q.v.) by Zeus, though the later legend makes Zethus a son of Epopeus. Exposed on Mount Cithaeron, they are found and brought up by a shep­herd ; when grown up, they recognise their

ZETHUS AND AMPHION. (Rome, Spada Palace.)

mother, who has fled from imprisonment at Thebes, where she has been ill-treated by Dirce, the wife of Lycus who governs Thebes as guardian to Lai'us. They avenge their mother by tying her tormentress to the horns of a bull, which drags her to death. They then cast her corpse into a spring near Thebes, which takes from her the name of Dirce. Seizing the sovereignty by slaying Lycus, or, according to another account, having it given up to them by Lycus at the bidding of Hermes, they

fortify Thebes with walls and towers, be­cause (says Homer), despite their strength, they could no more inhabit the wide town without a wall to defend it. Zethus brings up the stones with his strong arm, while Amphion, a harper of more than mortal skill, fits them together by the music of his lyre. Zethus marries Thebe, the daughter of Asopus, or, according to another account, Aedon, daughter of Pandareos (}.«.); Am­phion is the luckless husband of Niobe, and after seeing the ruin of his family, is said to have killed himself, and to have been been buried in one grave with his brother at Thebes. The punishment of Dirce is the subject of the marble group by Apollo-nius and Tauriscus, known as the Fai~nese Bull (now at Naples). (For cut, see dirce, and comp, sculpture.)

[In the Antiope of Euripides, and else­where, the two brothers were sharply con­trasted with one another, Zethus being the rude and strong and active huntsman, Amphion the gentle and contemplative musician. This contrast is exemplified in works of art, especially in the fine relief in the Spada Palace. (See cut)].

Amphiprostylus. A temple with an open colonnade at each end. See temples.

Amphithalamds. A bedroom in a Greek dwelling-house. See house.

Amphitneatr'5n. A circular theatre, i.e. a building in which the space for spectators entirely surrounds that where the spectacle is exhibited. These buildings, designed for combats of gladiators and wild beasts (venationes), were first erected in Italy, but in Campania sooner than at Rome. The first known at Rome were temporary wooden structures, like that of Scribonius Curio, who in b.c. 50 made an amphitheatre out of two revolving theatres by joining them back to back, or that of Caesar in 46. The first stone amphitheatre, erected by Statilius Taurus in B.C. 29, was burnt down in the fire of Nero, who then built a wooden one again. A second one of stone was begun by Vespasian, consecrated by Titus, a.d. 80, and finished by Domitian (all three of the Flavian gens). The ruins of this Amphitheatmm Flavium, which was 158 feet high, and accommodated 87,000 spectators, are the famous Colos­seum. In the provinces too the large towns had their amphitheatres, o." which the best preserved are those of Verona and Capua in Italy, Aries and Nimes in France. Of this last our first two illustra­tions give the elevation and the ground-plan

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