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Codrus

Κόδρος). The last king of Athens. He received the sceptre from his father Melanthus, and was far advanced in years when some of the Dorian States united their forces for the invasion of Attica. The Dorian army marched to Athens and lay encamped under its walls; and the oracle at Delphi had assured them of success, provided they spared the life of the Athenian king. A friendly Delphian, named Cleomantis, disclosed the answer of the oracle to the Athenians, and Codrus resolved to devote himself for his country in a manner not unlike that which immortalized among the Romans, at a later date, the name of the Decii. He went out at the gate disguised in a woodman's garb, and falling in with two Dorians, killed one with his bill, and was killed by the other. The Athenians thereupon sent a herald to claim the body of their king, and the Dorian chiefs, deeming the war hopeless, withdrew their forces from Attica. After the death of Codrus, the nobles, taking advantage, perhaps, of the opportunity afforded by a dispute between his sons, are said to have abolished the title of King, and to have substituted for it that of Archon. This new office was to be held for life, and then transmitted to the son of the deceased. The first of these hereditary archons was Medon, son of Codrus, from whom the thirteen following archons were called Medontidae, as being his lineal descendants. See Archon.

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