Landscapes & Myths of Boeotia

When visitors proceed to the second hall, they have a chance to stroll around the natural landscape of Boeotia with the help of a large three-dimensional map and digital show.

This section is dedicated to the most important Boeotian myths, with artifacts illustrating their mythical protagonists or at least referring to them. Boeotia was the cradle of many famous myths, in which Thebes and Orchomenos stand out in particular as the birthplaces of gods and heroes or as the sites of mythical events.

The skyphos with relief scenes in showcase 2 illustrates the founding myth of Thebes by Kadmos, son of the king of Phoenicia.

In the following showcases 3 and 4, and on stand 1 are representations of the Sphinx, a winged monster with the head of a woman and the body of a lioness, which Oedipus destroyed.

The best-loved hero of the Greeks, Herakles, was born and brought up in Thebes. Many centuries after these mythical “events”, the Thebans preserved the ruins of a house near the Elektrai Gates, where they believed the hero had been born.

Herakles’ fate destined twelve labours for his glory, as well as a number of lesser feats. In showcases 5-11 and on stand 2 are objects that depict his labours, such as the black kylixes from a Boeotian workshop of the 5th c. BC, bearing a scene from his labours, with the lion of Nemea and the bull.

His seemingly agonizing death on the pyre of Oete led to his immortality and

secured for him a place among the gods. In memory of this mythical event, near today’s village of Pavliani on the slopes of Mount Oete, the pious would gather every year and throw sacrificial animals and various dedications (weapons, tools, bronze figurines and clay vases) onto a spectacular bonfire. The visitor can see some of these objects in showcase 8.

The god Dionysos, son of Zeus and Semele who was the daughter of King Kadmos, hailed from Thebes but, unlike Herakles, was not brought up there. A host of real or imaginary creatures comprised the Dionysiac thiasos, the company of Dionysos. Satyrs were mythical beings, spirits of mountains and forests: ugly, hairy, with a tail and sometimes horse’s legs; they were lively and mischievous. The company of Dionysos also included the Mainads, mortal women, and his wife Ariadne. Showcases 15-20 display the vases with representations of Dionysos and his company.

As the tour of section 2 ends, and just before visitors leave the area, there is a large timeline on the wall and an interactive digital application that will prepare them for a tour of the Boeotian past.