Argos, Greece

An Important Ancient Greek Polis

The Sanctuary of Apollo Lyceios, Aspis Acropolis, with the castle of Larissa in the background, Argos, Peloponnese, Greece. Greek civilization

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Located by the Gulf of Argolis, Argos (Ἄργος) is an important polis of Greece in the southern section, the Peloponnese, specifically, in the area called the Argolid. It has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The inhabitants were known as Ἀργεῖοι (Argives), a term that is sometimes used for all the Greeks. Argos competed with Sparta for prominence in the Peloponnese but lost.

The Gods and Heros of Argos

Argos was named for an eponymous hero. The more familiar Greek heroes Perseus and Bellerophon are also connected with the city. In the Dorian invasion, when the descendants of Heracles, known as the Heraclidae, invaded the Peloponnese, Temenus received Argos for his lot. Temenos is one of the ancestors of the Macedonian royal house from which came Alexander the Great.

Argives worshiped the goddess Hera in particular. They honored her with an Heraion and annual festival. There were also sanctuaries of Apollo Pythaeus, Athena Oxyderces, Athena Polias, and Zeus Larissaeus (located on the Argive acropolis known as Larissa). The Nemean Games were held in Argos from the end of the fifth century BCE to the late fourth because the sanctuary of Zeus at Nemea had been destroyed; then, in 271 BCE, Argos became their permanent home.

Telesilla of Argos was a female Greek poet who wrote around the turn of the fifth century BCE. She is best known for rallying the women of Argos against the attacking Spartans under Cleomenes I, in about 494 BCE.

Argos in Literature

In the period of the Trojan War, Diomedes ruled Argos, but Agamemnon was his overlord, and so the whole Peloponnese is sometimes referred to as Argos.

The Iliad Book VI mentions Argos in connection with mythological figures Sisyphus and Bellerophon:

" There is a city in the heart of Argos, pasture land of horses, called Ephyra, where Sisyphus lived, who was the craftiest of all mankind. He was the son of Aeolus, and had a son named Glaucus, who was father to Bellerophon, whom heaven endowed with the most surpassing comeliness and beauty. But Proetus devised his ruin, and being stronger than he, drove him from the land of the Argives, over which Jove had made him ruler."

Some Apollodorus references to Argos:


Ocean and Tethys had a son Inachus, after whom a river in Argos is called Inachus.
But Argus received the kingdom and called the Peloponnese after himself Argos; and having married Evadne, daughter of Strymon and Neaera, he begat Ecbasus, Piras, Epidaurus, and Criasus, who also succeeded to the kingdom. Ecbasus had a son Agenor, and Agenor had a son Argus, the one who is called the All-seeing. He had eyes in the whole of his body, and being exceedingly strong he killed the bull that ravaged Arcadia and clad himself in its hide; and when a satyr wronged the Arcadians and robbed them of their cattle, Argus withstood and killed him.
Thence [Danaus] came to Argos and the reigning king Gelanor surrendered the kingdom to him; and having made himself master of the country he named the inhabitants Danai after himself.


Lynceus reigned over Argos after Danaus and begat a son Abas by Hypermnestra; and Abas had twin sons Acrisius and Proetus by Aglaia, daughter of Mantineus.... They divided the whole of the Argive territory between them and settled in it, Acrisius reigning over Argos and Proetus over Tiryns.


  • Howatson, MC, and Ian Chilvers. "Argos". The Concise Oxford Companion to Classical Literature. Oxford: Oxford Univ. P, 1996.
  • Schachter, Albert "Argos, Cults" The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Ed. Simon Hornblower and Anthony Spawforth. Oxford University Press, 2009.
  • Kelly, Thomas. “The Traditional Enmity Between Sparta and Argos: The Birth and Development of a Myth.” The American Historical Review, vol. 75, no. 4, 1970, pp. 971–1003.
  • Rose, Mark. "Reviving Nemea's Games". Archaeology, Apr. 6, 2004.
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Gill, N.S. "Argos, Greece." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, Gill, N.S. (2020, August 28). Argos, Greece. Retrieved from Gill, N.S. "Argos, Greece." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 8, 2023).