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In the Attic view, ‘"the suppliant of the Benign Goddesses"
Oedipus and Attica.
at Colonus had not only become, like them, a beneficent agency, but had also been adopted into an Attic citizenship outlasting death. Sophocles expresses this feeling by the passage in which Theseus proclaims his formal acceptance of the new Athenian (631). The permanent identification of Oedipus with Attica is strikingly illustrated by a passage of the rhetor Aristeides, about 170 A.D.1 He is referring to the men of olden time who fell in battle for Greece; the souls of those men, he says, have become guardian spirits of the land; “"aye, and protect the country no less surely than Oedipus who sleeps at Colonus, or any whose grave, in any other part of the land, is believed to be for the weal of the living."” We remember how, by command of oracles, the relics of Theseus were brought from Scyros to Athens, and those of Orestes from Tegea to Sparta,—victory in war being specially named, in the latter instance, as dependent on the local presence of such relics. So, too, the grave of the Argive Eurystheus in Attica was to be a blessing for the land (Eur. Her. 1032). Nor did this belief relate merely to the great heroes of mythology; a similar power was sometimes ascribed to the graves of historical men. Thus, as we learn from Aristeides, the tomb of Solon in Salamis was popularly regarded as securing the possession of that island to Athens.

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170 AD (1)
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  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Euripides, Heracles, 1032
    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 631
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