Phoroneus was a culture-hero of the Argolid, known as the fire-bringer and the primordial king of Argos.
He was the primordial king in the Peloponnesus, authorized by Zeus: "Formerly Zeus himself had ruled over men, but Hermes created a confusion of human speech, which spoiled Zeus' pleasure in this Rule". Phoroneus introduced both the worship of Hera and the use of fire and the forge. Poseidon and Hera had vied for the land: when the primeval waters had receded, Phoroneus "was the first to gather the people together into a community; for they had up to then been living as scattered and lonesome families".
His daughter Phthia became the mother of Achaeus by Zeus.
Phoroneus was said to have been married to Cerdo and fathered a number of children with her: Agenor, Niobe, Phthia, Iasus, Apis, Car, Chthonia, Clymenus, Sparton, Lyrcus and Europs, an illegitimate son. An unnamed daughter of his is said to have consorted with Hecaterus.
His successor was Argus, who was Niobe's son, either by Zeus or Phoroneus himself. He was also the father of Apis, who may have also ruled Argos. He was worshipped in Argos with an eternal fire that was shown to Pausanias in the 2nd century CE, and funeral sacrifices were offered to him at his tomb-sanctuary. Lycaon (the son of his daughter Niobe), later became the king of Argos.