previous next

Erechtheus the earthborn, though by genealogists made the son or grandson of Erichthonius, is really his double, the son of Earth and Hephaestus, and foster-child of Athene (cf. ch. 41. 2 n., 53. 1 n.). For the ἱερὸς λόγος cf. Apollod. iii. 14. 6 and Il. ii. 547δῆμον Ἐρεχθῆος μεγαλήτορος, ὅν ποτ᾽ Ἀθήνη θρέψε Διὸς θυγάτηρ, τέκε δὲ ζείδωρος ἄρουρα, κὰδ δ᾽ ἐν Ἀθήνῃς εἷσεν, ἑῷ ἐν πίονι νηῷ: ἔνθα δέ μιν ταύροισι καὶ ἀρνειοῖς ἱλάονται κουροῖ Ἀθηναίων”. Traditionally he is an ancient king of Athens (cf. 44. 2), founder of the worship of Athena, conqueror of Eumolpus of Eleusis, &c., but he is also identified with Poseidon. [For arguments against the identification cf. Farnell, G.C. iv. 47-54.] So a seat in the Dionysiac theatre (Block E. 1; C. I. A. iii. 276) belongs to the priest Ποσειδῶνος Γαιηόχου καὶ Ἐρεχθέως, cf. the altar of Poseidon in the Erechtheum, ‘on which they sacrifice also to Erechtheus’ (Paus. i. 26. 5), and a dedication to Poseidon Erechtheus found there (C. I. A. i. 387). Butes, brother of Erechtheus and worshipped in his shrine (Paus. l. c.), is the son of Poseidon and Oreithyia, the daughter of Erechtheus, originally a sea-nymph (cf. vii. 189. 2 n.).

ἐλαίη. For the sacred olive as the life-tree of the state cf. Harrison, Cl. Rev. ix. 89, 90. As round the world-ash in the Edda twines the great snake Igdrasil, so the Attic serpent may have coiled round the sacred olive (Macan). The sacred olive (Paus. i. 27. 2 (cf. Frazer); Apollod. iii. 14. 2) stood in the Pandroseum just west of the Erechtheum proper (Philoch. ap. Dionys. Hal. de Dinarcho, 3; F. H. G. i. 409).

θάλασσα: the well of sea-water which, when the south wind blew, gave forth the sound of breakers (Paus. l.c.), is believed to be the large cistern beneath the Erechtheum proper, i. e. the western division. H. certainly speaks as if both olive and sea were in an actual shrine of Erechtheus presumably ruined by the Persians, but the olive seems to have been outside the later Erechtheum, which was not begun till about 420 B. C.; cf. also v. 72. 3 n.; viii. 51. 2 n. The myth (cf. Apollod. iii. 14. 1) was that Poseidon came first, and, striking with his trident, created the salt well on the Acropolis (sup.), then Athena made the olive (sup.); cf. μαρτύρια θέσθαι (inf.); and the land was adjudged to Athena by the witness of Cecrops. The scene was represented on the west gable of the Parthenon (Gardner, op. cit., p. 293 f.; Collignon, S. G. ii. 34 f.) at the moment of Athena's triumph. There seems no earlier authority for the legend, which may be a reminiscence of a struggle between the worshippers of Poseidon and of Athene (cf. Farnell, op. cit. i. 270).

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide References (6 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (6):
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 3.14.1
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 3.14.2
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 3.14.6
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.26.5
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.27.2
    • Homer, Iliad, 2.547
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: