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(Group Γεφυραῖοι), an Athenian family or clan, to which Harmodius and Aristogeiton belonged. (Hdt. 5.55.) The account they gave of themselves was that they came originally from Eretria. Herodotus believed them to be of Phoenician descent, and to have been of the number of those who followed Cadmus into Boeotia. He states (comp. Strab. ix. p.404) that they obtained the territory of Tanagra for their portion, and that being driven thence by the Boeotians, they came to Athens, where they were admitted to the rights of citizenship, subject only to a few trifling disqualifications. (Hdt. 5.57; Suid. s. v. Γεφυρίς.) The place of their settlement was on the banks of the Cephisus, which separated the territory of Athens from that of Eleusis, and their name, according to the Etymologicon Magnum, was derived from the bridge (γέφυρα), which was built over the river at this point. Such a notion, however, is quite untenable, since (to mention no other reason) "bridge " appears to have been a comparatively recent meaning of γέφυρα. It is just possible that the name may have contained the idea of separation. We find that there were temples at Athens, which belonged peculiarly to these Gephyraei, to the exclusion of the rest of the Athenians, especially one to Demeter ACHAEA, whose worship they seem to have brought with them from Boeotia. (Hdt. 5.61; comp. Plut. de Is. et Osir. 69; Lobeck, Aglaoph. p. 1225.) Suidas (s. v. Δόρυ κηρύκειον) speaks of the Athenians having been ordered by an oracle, when they were assailed by Eumolpus, to send away every tenth man of the Gephyraei to Delphi; for it is clear that οἱ δεκατευθέντες is the right reading of the passage in question. (Comp. Eustath. ad Il. iii. p. 408; Lobeck, Aglaoph. p. 214.) Those who were thus offered to the god were sent probably as sacred slaves for the service of the temple. (Comp. Miller, Dor. 2.2.14.)


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  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 5.55
    • Herodotus, Histories, 5.61
    • Herodotus, Histories, 5.57
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