), according to Apollodorus (3.14.1
, &c.) the first king of Attica, which derived from him its name Cecropia, having previously borne the name of Acte.
He is described as an autochthon, and is accordingly called a γηγενής
, the upper part of whose body was human, while the lower was that of a dragon. Hence he is called διφυής
(Hyg. Fab. 48
; Ant. Lib. 6
; Diod. 1.28
; Aristoph. Wasps 438
; Ov. Met. 2.555
.) Some ancients referred the epithet διφυής
to marriage, of which tradition made him the founder.
He was married to Agraulos, the daughter of Actaeus, by whom he had a son, Erysichthon, and three daughters, Agraulos, Herse, and Pandrosos. (Apollod. l.c.; Paus. 1.2.5
In his reign Poseidon called forth with his trident a well on the acropolis, which was known in later times by the name of the Erechthean well, from its being enclosed in the temple of Erechtheus. (Paus. 1.26.6
; Hdt. 8.55
The marine god now wanted to take possession of the country; but Athena, who entertained the same desire, planted an olivetree on the hill of the acropolis, which continned to be shewn at Athens down to the latest times ; and as she had taken Cecrops as her witness while she planted it, he decided in her favour when the possession of Attica was disputed between her and Poseidon, who had no witness to attest that he had created the well. Cecrops is represented in the Attic legends as the author of the first elements of civilized life, such as marriage, the political division of Attica into twelve communities, and also as the introducer of a new mode of worship, inasmuch as he abolished the bloody sacrifices which had until then been offered to Zeus, and substituted cakes (πέλανοι
) in their stead. (Paus. 8.2.1
; Strab. ix. p.397
; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 1156
The name of Cecrops occurs also in other parts of Greece, especially where there existed a town of the name of Athenae, such as in Boeotia, where he is said to have founded the ancient towns of Athenae and Eleusis on the river Triton, and where he had a heroum at Haliartus. Tradition there called him a son of Pandion. (Paus. 9.33.1
; Strab. ix. p.407
.) In Euboea, which had likewise a town Athenae, Cecrops was called a son of Erechtheus and Praxithea, and a grandson of Pandion. (Apollod. 3.15
. §§ 1, 5; Paus. 1.5.3
.) From these traditions it appears, that Cecrops must be regarded as a hero of the Pelasgian race; and Müller justly remarks, that the different mythical personages of this name connected with the towns in Boeotia and Euboea are only multiplications of the one original hero, whose name and story were transplanted from Attica to other places.
The later Greek writers describe Ceerops as having immigrated into Greece with a band of colonists from Sais in Egypt. (Diod. 1.29
; Schol. ad Arist. Plut.
But this account is not only rejected by some of the ancients themselves, but by the ablest critics of modern times. (Müller, Orchom.
p. 123; Thirlwall, Greece,
i. p. 66, &c.)