|© 1998 Bernard SUZANNE
|Last updated December 6, 1998
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This page is part of the "tools" section of a site, Plato and his dialogues, dedicated to developing a new interpretation of Plato's dialogues. The "tools" section provides historical and geographical context (chronology, maps, entries on characters and locations) for Socrates, Plato and their time. By clicking on the minimap at the beginning of the entry, you can go to a full size map in which the city or location appears. For more information on the structure of entries and links available from them, read the notice at the beginning of the index of persons and locations.
City of Argolis, in northeastern Peloponnese,
southwest of Corinth (area
In this city were held every two years (in July the second and fourth year of each Olympiad) the Nemean games, in honor of Zeus. These games were fourth in fame among the panhellenic games after the Olympic (also to Zeus), the Pythian (to Apollo) and the Isthmian (to Poseidon). Nemea was the site of the first of Heracles' 12 labors, his fight against the lion, and some ascribed to him the creation of the games. But the more "official" origin was ascribed to Adrastus, the king of Argos who led the ill-fated expedition of the Seven against Thebes to try and help Polynices, one of Oedipus' sons, regain the kingship his brother Eteocles refused to hand him over when time came. Reaching Nemea on their way toward Thebes, Adrastus and his companions asked water to Hypsipyle, the exiled queen of the island of Lemnos, who had once been the wife of Jason but was now a slave at the service of Lycurgus, the king of the place, serving as a nurse to Opheltes, his baby son. To help them, the nurse, forgetting an oracle stating that the baby should not be put on the ground until he could walk, laid the baby for a minute on the grass near a fountain, where he was killed by the snake guarding it. The games were then instituted by Adrastus as part of Opheltes' funerals and as a propitiatory ceremony to the his memory, and the seven princes took part in their first occurrence.