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Trophonius at Lebadeia Brad Nobbe Professor Guichard ARLH 495X Winter 2013 History of Virtual Enviorments

Photo Credit Leslie Lewis


Livadeia (Lebadeia), Greece Located in central Greece, Livadeia is the capital city of the regional unit Boeotia. Historically Livadeia was originally named Mideia, it then took on the name Lebadeia when Lebedos of Athens came and moved the city and its dwellers to the cities current location surrounding the banks of the river Herkyna. This site is where the oracle cave of Trophonios is believed to have been located. The river is flows from a natural spring sprouting from the mountainside. There are many remnants of marble structures at this site which would have been used for the oracle site of Trophonius. Growing form the spring the city of Livadeia has developed into dramatic landscape of historical building and picture perfect views.


First, during the night you are taken to the river Herkyna by two local thirteen year old boys , called Hermai, who rub you with oil and wash you...... (Pausanias Guide to Greece 9.39.3)


First you have to drink the water of Lethe, so you will forget all your current preoccupations. Then you drink the water of Mnemosyne, which makes you remember what you see after you go down...... (Pausanias Guide to Greece 9.39.3)


Then you proceed to the oracle, dressed in a linen tunic, and wearing stout boots.......

(Pausanias Guide to Greece 9.39.3)


The oracle is up the mountain, past the grove........ (Pausanias Guide to Greece 9.39.3)


Round it is a circular white marble base, about one metre high and the size of a very small threshing-floor....... (Pausanias Guide to Greece 9.39.3)


Their is no fixed way down to the bottom of the cave, but when someone comes to Trophonios, they bring you a thin, light ladder......... (Pausanias Guide to Greece 9.39.3)


After climbing down you find a horizontal hole between the floor and the structure........ (Pausanias Guide to Greece 9.39.3)

The descender lies with his back on the ground, holding barley cakes kneaded with honey, pushes his feet into the hole, trying hard to get his knees into it. After his knees the rest of his body is immediately sucked in, just as a large quick-flowing river will catch a man in its eddy and suck him under. (Pausanias Guide to Greece 9.39.3)


After this those who have entered the shrine learn the future, not always in the same way, but sometimes they see something, sometimes they hear it. The return upwards is by the same hole, the feet sliding out first. After his ascent from Trophonios the inquirer is again taken by the priests, who sit him on a chair called the chair of Mnemosyne, not far from the shrine, and they ask him, when he’s sitting there, all he has seen or learned. After gaining this information they then hand him over to his relatives. They lift him, paralysed with terror and unconscious both of himself and of his surroundings, and carry him to the building where he lodged before with Tykhe and the Daimon agathon [he’d had to stay there for some days before the visit to be purified while he made sacrifices to various gods, including Trophonios, Apollo, Kronos, Zeus, Hera and Demeter - these sacrifices were inspected by the priests to make sure he was a suitable candidate.] Afterwards, however, he will recover all his faculties, and the ability to laugh will come back to him. What I write is not hearsay; I have myself inquired of Trophonios and seen other inquirers. Those who have gone down into the shrine of Trophonios have to dedicate a tablet on which is written all that they have heard or seen … “(Pausanias Guide to Greece 9.39.3)


Arch. Giuseppe Conte

Arch. Giuseppe Conte

Arch. Giuseppe Conte

Arch. Giuseppe Conte

Arch. Giuseppe Conte

Arch. Giuseppe Conte

Arch. Giuseppe Conte

Arch. Giuseppe Conte

Arch. Giuseppe Conte

Arch. Giuseppe Conte



Cave of Trophonius