It is said, moreover, that as they drew nigh the coast of Attica, Theseus himself forgot, and his pilot forgot, such was their joy and exultation, to hoist the sail which was to have been the token of their safety to Aegeus, who therefore, in despair, threw himself down from the rock and was dashed in pieces. But Theseus, putting in to shore, sacrificed in person the sacrifices which he had vowed to the gods at Phalerum when he set sail, and then dispatched a herald to the city to announce his safe return.
The messenger found many of the people bewailing the death of their king, and others full of joy at his tidings, as was natural, and eager to welcome him and crown him with garlands for his good news. The garlands, then, he accepted, and twined them about his herald's staff and on returning to the sea-shore, finding that Theseus had not yet made his libations to the gods, remained outside the sacred precincts, not wishing to disturb the sacrifice.
But when the libations were made, he announced the death of Aegeus. Thereupon, with tumultuous lamentation, they went up in haste to the city. Whence it is, they say, that to this day, at the festival of the Oschophoria,1
it is not the herald that is crowned, but his herald's staff, and those who are present at the libations cry out:
‘Eleleu! Iou! Iou!’ the first of which cries is the exclamation of eager haste and triumph, the second of consternation and confusion.
After burying his father, Theseus paid his vows to Apollo on the seventh day of the month Pyanepsion; for on that day they had come back to the city in safety. Now the custom of boiling all sorts of pulse on that day is said to have arisen from the fact that the youths who were brought safely back by Theseus put what was left of their provisions into one mess, boiled it in one common pot, feasted upon it, and ate it all up together.
At that feast they also carry the so-called
‘eiresione,’ which is a bough of olive wreathed with wool, such as Theseus used at the time of his supplication, and laden with all sorts of fruit-offerings, to signify that scarcity was at an end, and as they go they sing:—
Eiresione for us brings figs and bread of the richest,
brings us honey in pots and oil to rub off from the body,
Strong wine too in a beaker, that one may go to bed mellow.
Some writers, however, say that these rites are in memory of the Heracleidae,2
who were maintained in this manner by the Athenians; but most put the matter as I have done.