Amphion ("native of two lands") and Zethus, in ancient Greek mythology, were the twin sons of Zeus by Antiope. When children, they were exposed on Mount Cithaeron, but were found and brought up by a shepherd. Their mother had abandoned them, fleeing in shame because they were the product of being raped by Zeus (her husband was either King Nycteus of Thebes or the river god Asopus). She then married Epopeus, King of Sicyon. Nycteus, unable to retrieve his wife, sent his brother Lycus to take her. He did so and gave her as a slave to his own wife, Dirce.
Amphion became a great singer and musician after Hermes taught him to play and gave him a golden lyre, Zethus a hunter and herdsman. They punished King Lycus and Queen Dirce for cruel treatment of Antiope, their mother, whom they had treated as a slave. Dirce was tied to the horns of a bull as revenge. They built and fortified Thebes, huge blocks of stone forming themselves into walls at the sound of Amphion's lyre - a feat often alluded to as an instance of the miraculous power of music. Amphion married Niobe, and killed himself after the loss of his wife and children at the hands of Apollo and Artemis (see Niobe). Zethus married Aedon, or sometimes Thebe. The brothers were buried in one grave.
Compare with Castor and Polydeuces (the Dioscuri) of Greece, and with Romulus and Remus of Rome.
Zethus, Antiope and Amphion
This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.