previous next


Cecrops, a son of the soil, with a body compounded of man and serpent, was the first king of Attica, and the country which was formerly called Acte he named Cecropia after himself.1 In his time, they say, the gods resolved to take possession of cities in which each of them should receive his own peculiar worship. So Poseidon was the first that came to Attica, and with a blow of his trident on the middle of the acropolis, he produced a sea which they now call Erechtheis.2 After him came Athena, and, having called on Cecrops to witness her act of taking possession, she planted an olive tree, which is still shown in the Pandrosium.3 But when the two strove for possession of the country, Zeus parted them and appointed arbiters, not, as some have affirmed, Cecrops and Cranaus, nor yet Erysichthon, but the twelve gods.4 And in accordance with their verdict the country was adjudged to Athena, because Cecrops bore witness that she had been the first to plant the olive. Athena, therefore, called the city Athens after herself, and Poseidon in hot anger flooded the Thriasian plain and laid Attica under the sea.5 [2]

Cecrops married Agraulus, daughter of Actaeus, and had a son Erysichthon, who departed this life childless; and Cecrops had daughters, Agraulus, Herse, and Pandrosus.6 Agraulus had a daughter Alcippe by Ares. In attempting to violate Alcippe, Halirrhothius, son of Poseidon and a nymph Euryte, was detected and killed by Ares.7 Impeached by Poseidon, Ares was tried in the Areopagus before the twelve gods, and was acquitted.8 [3]

Herse had by Hermes a son Cephalus, whom Dawn loved and carried off,9 and consorting with him in Syria bore a son Tithonus, who had a son Phaethon,10 who had a son Astynous, who had a son Sandocus, who passed from Syria to Cilicia and founded a city Celenderis, and having married Pharnace, daughter of Megassares, king of Hyria, begat Cinyras.11 This Cinyras in Cyprus, whither he had come with some people, founded Paphos; and having there married Metharme, daughter of Pygmalion, king of Cyprus, he begat Oxyporus and Adonis,12 and besides them daughters, Orsedice, Laogore, and Braesia. These by reason of the wrath of Aphrodite cohabited with foreigners, and ended their life in Egypt. [4] And Adonis, while still a boy, was wounded and killed in hunting by a boar through the anger of Artemis.13 Hesiod, however, affirms that he was a son of Phoenix and Alphesiboea; and Panyasis says that he was a son of Thias, king of Assyria,14 who had a daughter Smyrna. In consequence of the wrath of Aphrodite, for she did not honor the goddess, this Smyrna conceived a passion for her father, and with the complicity of her nurse she shared her father's bed without his knowledge for twelve nights. But when he was aware of it, he drew his sword and pursued her, and being overtaken she prayed to the gods that she might be invisible; so the gods in compassion turned her into the tree which they call smyrna ( myrrh).15 Ten months afterwards the tree burst and Adonis, as he is called, was born, whom for the sake of his beauty, while he was still an infant, Aphrodite hid in a chest unknown to the gods and entrusted to Persephone. But when Persephone beheld him, she would not give him back. The case being tried before Zeus, the year was divided into three parts, and the god ordained that Adonis should stay by himself for one part of the year, with Persephone for one part, and with Aphrodite for the remainder.16 However Adonis made over to Aphrodite his own share in addition; but afterwards in hunting he was gored and killed by a boar. [5]

When Cecrops died, Cranaus came to the throne17; he was a son of the soil, and it was in his time that the flood in the age of Deucalion is said to have taken place.18 He married a Lacedaemonian wife, Pedias, daughter of Mynes, and begat Cranae, Menaechme, and Atthis; and when Atthis died a maid, Cranaus called the country Atthis.19 [6]

Cranaus was expelled by Amphictyon, who reigned in his stead;20 some say that Amphictyon was a son of Deucalion, others that he was a son of the soil; and when he had reigned twelve years he was expelled by Erichthonius.21 Some say that this Erichthonius was a son of Hephaestus and Atthis, daughter of Cranaus, and some that he was a son of Hephaestus and Athena, as follows: Athena came to Hephaestus, desirous of fashioning arms. But he, being forsaken by Aphrodite, fell in love with Athena, and began to pursue her; but she fled. When he got near her with much ado ( for he was lame), he attempted to embrace her; but she, being a chaste virgin, would not submit to him, and he dropped his seed on the leg of the goddess. In disgust, she wiped off the seed with wool and threw it on the ground; and as she fled and the seed fell on the ground, Erichthonius was produced.22 Him Athena brought up unknown to the other gods, wishing to make him immortal; and having put him in a chest, she committed it to Pandrosus, daughter of Cecrops, forbidding her to open the chest. But the sisters of Pandrosus opened it out of curiosity, and beheld a serpent coiled about the babe; and, as some say, they were destroyed by the serpent, but according to others they were driven mad by reason of the anger of Athena and threw themselves down from the acropolis.23 Having been brought up by Athena herself in the precinct,24 Erichthonius expelled Amphictyon and became king of Athens; and he set up the wooden image of Athena in the acropolis,25 and instituted the festival of the Panathenaea,26 and married Praxithea, a Naiad nymph, by whom he had a son Pandion. [7]

When Erichthonius died and was buried in the same precinct of Athena,27 Pandion28 became king, in whose time Demeter and Dionysus came to Attica.29 But Demeter was welcomed by Celeus at Eleusis,30 and Dionysus by Icarius, who received from him a branch of a vine and learned the process of making wine. And wishing to bestow the god's boons on men, Icarius went to some shepherds, who, having tasted the beverage and quaffed it copiously without water for the pleasure of it, imagined that they were bewitched and killed him; but by day31 they understood how it was and buried him. When his daughter Erigone was searching for her father, a domestic dog, named Maera, which had attended Icarius, discovered his dead body to her, and she bewailed her father and hanged herself.32 [8]

Pandion married Zeuxippe, his mother's sister,33 and begat two daughters, Procne and Philomela, and twin sons, Erechtheus and Butes. But war having broken out with Labdacus on a question of boundaries, he called in the help of Tereus, son of Ares, from Thrace, and having with his help brought the war to a successful close, he gave Tereus his own daughter Procne in marriage.34 Tereus had by her a son Itys, and having fallen in love with Philomela, he seduced her also saying that Procne was dead, for he concealed her in the country. Afterwards he married Philomela and bedded with her, and cut out her tongue. But by weaving characters in a robe she revealed thereby to Procne her own sorrows. And having sought out her sister, Procne killed her son Itys, boiled him, served him up for supper to the unwitting Tereus, and fled with her sister in haste. When Tereus was aware of what had happened, he snatched up an axe and pursued them. And being overtaken at Daulia in Phocis, they prayed the gods to be turned into birds, and Procne became a nightingale, and Philomela a swallow. And Tereus also was changed into a bird and became a hoopoe.

1 According to the Parian ChronicleMarmor Parium 2-4), with which Apollodorus is in general agreement, the first king of Attica was Cecrops, and the country was named Cecropia after him, whereas it had formerly been called Actice (sic) after an aboriginal named Actaeus. Pausanias (Paus. 1.2.6) represents this Actaeus as the first king of Attica, and says that Cecrops succeeded him on the throne by marrying his daughter. But Pausanias, like Apollod. 3.15.5, distinguishes this first Cecrops from a later Cecrops, son of Erechtheus (Apollod. 1.5.3). Apollodorus is at one with Pausanias in saying that the first Cecrops married the daughter of Actaeus, and he names her Agraulus (see below, Apollod. 3.14.2). Philochorus said, with great probability, that there never was any such person as Actaeus; according to him, Attica lay waste and depopulated from the deluge in the time of Ogyges down to the reign of Cecrops. See Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelii, x.10. Tzetzes (Chiliades v.637) and Hyginus, Fab. 48 agree in representing Cecrops as the first king of Attica; Hyginus calls him a son of the earth. As to his double form, the upper part of him being human and the lower part serpentine, see Aristoph. Wasps 438, with the Scholiast; Eur. Ion 1163ff.; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 111; Tzetzes, Chiliades v.638ff.; Scholiast on Aristoph. Plutus 773; Diod. 1.28.7, who rationalizes the fable after his usual fashion.

2 As to the contest between Poseidon and Athena for possession of Attica, see Hdt. 8.55; Plut. Them. 19; Paus. 1.24.5; Paus. 1.26.5; Ov. Met. 6.70ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 164; Serv. Verg. G. 1.12; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. vii.185; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 1, 115 (First Vatican Mythographer 2; Second Vatican Mythographer 119). A rationalistic explanation of the fable was propounded by the eminent Roman antiquary Varro. According to him, the olive-tree suddenly appeared in Attica, and at the same time there was an eruption of water in another part of the country. So king Cecrops sent to inquire of Apollo at Delphi what these portents might signify. The oracle answered that the olive and the water were the symbols of Athena and Poseidon respectively, and that the people of Attica were free to choose which of these deities they would worship. Accordingly the question was submitted to a general assembly of the citizens and citizenesses; for in these days women had the vote as well as men. All the men voted for the god, and all the women voted for the goddess; and as there was one more woman than there were men, the goddess appeared at the head of the poll. Chagrined at the loss of the election, the male candidate flooded the country with the water of the sea, and to appease his wrath it was decided to deprive women of the vote and to forbid children to bear their mother's names for the future. See Augustine, De civitate Dei xviii.9. The print of Poseidon's trident on the rock of the acropolis at Athens was shown down to late times. See Strab. 9.1.16; Paus. 1.26.5. The “sea,” which the god was supposed to have produced as evidence of his right to the country was also to be seen within the Erechtheum on the acropolis; Pausanias calls it a well of sea water, and says that, when the south wind blew, the well gave forth a sound of waves. See Hdt. 8.55; Paus. 1.26.5; Paus. 8.10.4. According to the late Latin mythographers (see the references above), Poseidon produced a horse from the rock in support of his claim, and this version of the story seems to have been accepted by Virgil (Geo. i.12ff.), but it is not countenanced by Greek writers. The Athenians said that the contest between Poseidon and Athena took place on the second of the month Boedromion, and hence they omitted that day from the calendar. See Plut. De fraterno amore 11; Plut. Quaest. Conviv. ix.6. The unlucky Poseidon also contested the possession of Argos with Hera, and when the judges gave a verdict against him and in favour of the goddess, he took his revenge, as in Attica, by flooding the country. See Paus. 2.22.4; compare Paus. 2.15.5; Polemo, Greek History, cited by the Scholiast on Aristides, vol. iii. p. 322, ed. Dindorf.

3 The olive-tree seems to have survived down to the second century of our era. See Hdt. 8.55; Dionysius of Halicarnassus, De Dinarcho Judicium 3; Paus. 1.27.3; Cicero, De legibus, i.1.2; Hyginus, Fab. 164; Pliny, Nat. Hist. xvi.240. Dionysius agrees with Apollodorus in representing the tree as growing in the Pandrosium, which is proved by inscriptions to have been an enclosure to the west of the Erechtheum. See Frazer, commentary on Pausanias, vol. ii. p. 337.

4 Compare Ov. Met. 6.72ff.

5 As to this flood, see Varro, in Augustine, De civitate Dei xviii.9; Hyginus, Fab. 164. The Thriasian plain is the plain in which Eleusis stands. See Strab. 9.1.6 Strab. 9.1.13.

6 Compare Paus. 1.2.6; Hyginus, Fab. 146; Ov. Met. 2.737ff. All these writers call the first of the daughters Aglaurus instead of Agraulus, and the form Aglaurus is confirmed by inscriptions on two Greek vases (Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum, vol. iv. p. 146, Nos. 7716, 7718).

7 Compare Paus. 1.21.4; Stephanus Byzantius and Suidas, s.v. Ἄρειος πάγος in Bekker's Anecdota Graeca, vol. i. p. 444, lines 8ff. From the three latter writers we learn that the story was told by the historians Philochorus and Hellanicus, whom Apollodorus may here be following.

8 See Eur. Ion 1258ff.; Eur. IT 945ff.; Dem. 23.66; Marmor Parium 5ff.; Paus. 1.28.5; Scholiast on Eur. Or. 1648, 1651. The name Areopagus was commonly supposed to mean “the hill of Ares” and explained by the tradition that Ares was the first to be tried for murder before the august tribunal. But more probably, perhaps, the name meant “the hill of curses.” See Frazer, note on Pausanias. i.28.5 (vol. ii. pp. 363ff.). For other legendary or mythical trials in the court of the Areopagus, see below, Apollod. 3.15.1; Apollod. 3.15.8.

9 See above, Frazer on Apollod. 1.9.4, where Cephalus is said to have been a son of Deion by Diomede; compare Apollod. 2.4.7; Apollod. 3.15.1. Pausanias also calls Cephalus a son of Deion (Paus. 1.37.6; Paus. 10.29.6), and so does Ant. Lib. 41. The Scholiast on Hom. (Od. xi.321) calls his father Deioneus. Hyginus in two passages (Hyginus, Fab. 189, 270) describes Cephalus as a son of Deion, and in another passage (Hyginus, Fab. 160) as a son of Hermes (Mercury) by Creusa, daughter of Erechtheus. Euripides tells how “Dawn with her lovely light once snatched up Cephalus to the gods, all for love”( Eur. Hipp.454ff.).

10 According to Hes. Th. 986ff. and Paus. 1.3.1, Phaethon was a son of Cephalus and the Dawn or Day. According to another and seemingly more usual account the father of Phaethon was the Sun. See Diod. 5.23; Paus. 1.4.1; Paus. 2.3.2; Lucian, Dial. Deorum xxv.1; Tzetzes, Chiliades iv.357ff.; Eustathius on Hom. Od. xi.325, p. 1689; Scholiast on Hom. Od. xvii.208; Ov. Met. 2.19ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 152, 156; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. i.221; Scholia in Caesaris Germanici Aratea, p. 421, ed. Fr. Eyssenhardt, in his edition of Martianus Capella; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 37, 93, 208 (First Vatican Mythographer 118; Second Vatican Mythographer 57; Third Vatican Mythographer iii.8.14); Serv. Verg. A. 10.189. The mother who bore him to the Sun is usually called Clymene (so Lucian, Tzetzes, Eustathius, Ovid, Hyginus, Lactantius Placidus, the Vatican mythographers, and Servius); but the Scholiast on Hom. Od. xvii.208 calls her Rhode, daughter of Asopus. Clymene herself, the mother of Phaethon, is said to have been a daughter of Ocean and Tethys (Tzetzes, Chiliades iv.359; Ov. Met. 2.156) or of Iphys or Minyas (Eustathius). Apollodorus passes over in silence the famous story how Phaethon borrowed the chariot of the Sun for a day, and driving too near the earth set it on fire, and how in his wild career he was struck dead by Zeus with a thunderbolt and fell into the river Eridanus, where his sisters mourned for him till they were turned into poplar trees, their tears being changed into drops of amber which exuded from the trees. The story is told at great length and with many picturesque details by Ovid, (Metamorph. ii.1ff.). Compare Lucretius v.396ff.; Diodorus Siculus, Lucian, the Scholiast on Homer, Hyginus, and the Latin Mythographers. Euripides wrote a tragedy on the subject, of which some considerable fragments survive. See TGF (Nauck 2nd ed.), pp. 599ff. For some similar stories, see Frazer's Appendix on Apollodorus, “Phaethon and the Chariot of the Sun.”

11 According to Hyginus, Fab. 142, Cinyras was a son of Paphus.

12 A different and apparently more prevalent tradition represented Adonis as the son of Cinyras by incestuous intercourse with his daughter Myrrha or Smyrna. See Scholiast on Theocritus i.107; Plut. Parallela 22; Ant. Lib. 34 (who, however, differs as to the name of Smyrna's father); Ov. Met. 10.298ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 58, 164; Fulgentius, Mytholog. iii.8; Lactantius Placidus, Narrat. Fabul. x.9; Serv. Verg. Ecl. 10.18, and Serv. Verg. A. 5.72; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. p. 60 (First Vatican Mythographer 200). Similar cases of incest with a daughter are frequently reported of royal houses in antiquity. They perhaps originated in a rule of transmitting the crown through women instead of through men; for under such a rule a widowed king would be under a strong temptation to marry his own daughter as the only means of maintaining himself legitimately on the throne after the death of his wife. See Adonis, Attis, Osiris, 3rd ed., i.43ff. The legend of the incestuous origin of Adonis is mentioned, on the authority of Panyasis, by Apollodorus himself a little lower down.

13 Compare Bion i; Cornutus, Theologiae Graecae Compendium 28; Plut. Quaest. Conviv. iv.5.3, 8; Athenaeus ii.80, p. 69 B; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 831; Aristides, Apology, ed. J. Rendel Harris (Cambridge, 1891), pp. 44, 106ff.; Prop. iii.4(5) 53ff., ed. F. A. Paley; Ov. Met. 10.710ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 248; Macrobius, Sat. i.21.4; Lactantius, Divin. Inst. i.17; Firmicus Maternus, De errore profanarum religionum 9; Augustine, De civitate Dei vi.7. There are some grounds for thinking that formerly Adonis and his Babylonian prototype Tammuz were conceived in the form of a boar, and that the story of his death by a boar was only a misinterpretation of this older conception. See Spirits of the Corn and of the Wild, ii.22f.; C. F. Burney, The Book of Judges (London, 1918), pp. xviiff., who refers to “the brilliant discovery of Ball (PSBA. xvi.1894, pp. 195ff.) that the Sumerian name of Tammuz, DUMU.ZI (Bab. Du' ûzu, Dûzu) is identical with the Turkish dōmūz ‘pig,’ and that there is thus an ‘original identity of the god with the wild boar that slays him in the developed legend.’” W. Robertson Smith, as Professor Burney points out, had many years ago expressed the view that “the Cyprian Adonis was originally the Swine-god, and in this as in many other cases the sacred victim has been changed by false interpretation into the enemy of the god” (Religion of the Semites, New Edition, London, 1894, p. 411, note). The view is confirmed by the observation that the worshippers of Adonis would seem to have abstained from eating swine's flesh. See W. W. Baudissin, Adonis und Esmun (Leipsig, 1911), p. 142, quoting SS. Cyri et Joannis Miracula, in Migne's Patrologia Graeca, lxxxvii.3, col. 3624.

14 According to Ant. Lib. 34, Smyrna, the mother of Adonis, was a daughter of Belus by a nymph Orithyia. Tzetzes mentions, but afterwards rejects, the view that Myrrha, the mother of Adonis, was a daughter of Thias (Scholiast on Lycophron 829, 831). Hyginus says that Cinyras, the father of Adonis, was king of Assyria (Hyginus, Fab. 58). This traditional connexion of Adonis with Assyria may well be due to a well-founded belief that the religion of Adonis, though best known to the Greeks in Syria and Cyprus, had originated in Assyria or rather in Babylonia, where he was worshipped under the name of Dumuzi or Tammuz. See Adonis, Attis, Osiris, 3rd ed., i.6ff.

15 As to the transformation of the mother of Adonis into a myrrh-tree, see Scholiast on Theocritus i.107; Plut. Parallela 22; Ant. Lib. 34; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 829; Ov. Met. 10.476ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 58, 164; Fulgentius, Mytholog. iii.8; Lactantius Placidus, Narrat. Fabul. x.9; Serv. Verg. Ecl. 10.18 and Aen. v.72; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. p. 60 (First Vatican Mythographer 200). The drops of gum which oozed from the myrrh-tree were thought to be the tears shed by the transformed Myrrha for her sad fate (Ov. Met. 10.500ff.).

16 According to another version of the story, Aphrodite and Persephone referred their dispute about Adonis to the judgment of Zeus, and he appointed the Muse Calliope to act as arbitrator between them. She decided that Adonis should spend half the year with each of them; but the decision so enraged Aphrodite that in revenge she instigated the Thracian women to rend in pieces Calliope's son, the musician Orpheus. See Hyginus, Ast. ii.6. A Scholiast on Theocritus (Id. iii.48) reports the common saying that the dead Adonis spends six months of the year in the arms of Persephone, and six months in the arms of Aphrodite; and he explains the saying as a mythical description of the corn, which after sowing is six months in the earth and six months above ground.

17 Compare Paus. 1.2.6.

18 According to the Parian ChronicleMarmor Parium 4-7), Deucalion reigned at Lycorea on Mount Parnassus, and when the flood, following on heavy rains, took place in that district, he fled for safety to king Cranaus at Athens, where he founded a sanctuary of Rainy Zeus and offered thank-offerings for his escape. Compare Eusebius, Chronic. vol. ii. p. 26, ed. A. Schoene. We have seen that, according to Apollod. 3.8.2, the flood happened in the reign of Nyctimus, king of Arcadia.

19 Compare Paus. 1.2.6; Eusebius, Chronic. vol. ii. p. 28, ed. A. Schoene.

20 Compare the Parian Chronicle, Marmor Parium 8-10; Paus. 1.2.6; Eusebius, Chronic. vol. ii. p. 30, ed. A. Schoene. The Parian Chronicle represents Amphictyon as a son of Deucalion and as reigning, first at Thermopylae, and then at Athens; but it records nothing as to his revolt against Cranaus. Pausanias says that Amphictyon deposed Cranaus, although he had the daughter of Cranaus to wife. Eusebius says that Amphictyon was a son of Deucalion and in-law of Cranaus.

21 Compare Paus. 1.2.6.

22 With this story of the birth of Erichthonius compare Scholiast on Hom. Il. 2.547 (who agrees to a great extent verbally with Apollodorus); Eur. Ion 20ff.; Eur. Ion 266ff.; Eratosthenes, Cat. 13; Nonnus, in Westermann's Mythographi Graeci, Appendix Narrationum, 3, pp. 359ff.; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 111; Antigonus Carystius, Hist. Mirab. 12; Etymologicum Magnum, s.v. Ἐρεχθεύς, p. 371.29; Hyginus, Fab. 166; Hyginus, Ast. ii.13; Serv. Verg. G. 3.113; Fulgentius, Mytholog. ii.14; Lactantius, Divin. Inst. ii.17; Augustine, De civitate Dei xviii.12; Scholia in Caesaris Germanici Aratea, p. 394, ed. Fr. Eyssenhardt (in his edition of Martianus Capella); Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 41, 86ff., 88 (First Vatican Mythographer 128; Second Vatican Mythographer 37, 40). The story of the birth of Erichthonius was told by Euripides, according to Eratosthenes, Cat. 13 and by Callimachus, according to the Scholiast on Hom. Il. 2.547. Pausanias was plainly acquainted with the fable, though he contents himself with saying that Erichthonius was reported to be a son of Hephaestus and Earth (Paus. 1.2.6; Paus. 1.14.6). As C. G. Heyne long ago observed, the story is clearly an etymological myth invented to explain the meaning of the name Erichthonius, which some people derived from ἔρις, “strife,” and χθών, the ground,” while others derived it from ἔριον, “wool,” and χθών, “the ground.” The former derivation of “eri” in Erichthonius seems to have been the more popular. Mythologists have perhaps not sufficiently reckoned with the extent to which false etymology has been operative in the creation of myths. “Disease of language” is one source of myths, though it is very far from being the only one.

23 With this story of the discovery of Erichthonius in the chest compare Eur. Ion 20ff.; Eur. Ion 266ff.; Paus. 1.18.2; Antigonus Carystius, Hist. Mirab. 12; Ov. Met. 2.552ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 166; Hyginus, Ast. ii.13; Fulgentius, Mytholog. ii.14; Lactantius, Divin. Inst. i.17; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 41, 86ff., 88 (First Vatican Mythographer 128; Second Vatican Mythographer 37, 40). Apollodorus apparently describes the infant Erichthonius in the chest as a purely human babe with a serpent coiled about him. The serpent was said to have been set by Athena to guard the infant; according to Eur. Ion 20ff., there were two such guardian serpents. But according to a common tradition Erichthonius was serpent-footed, that is, his legs ended in serpents. See Nonnus, in Westermann's Mythographi Graeci, Appendix Narrationum 3, p. 360; Etymologicum Magnum, s.v. Ἐρεχθεύς, p. 371.47; Hyginus, Fab. 166; Serv. Verg. A. 3.113; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 41, 87 (First Vatican Mythographer 128, Second Vatican Mythographer 37). Indeed, in one passage (Astronom. ii.13) Hyginus affirms that Erichthonius was born a serpent, and that when the box was opened and the maidens saw the serpent in it, they went mad and threw themselves from the acropolis, while the serpent took refuge under the shield of Athena and was reared by the goddess. This view of the identity of Erichthonius with the serpent was recognized, if not accepted, by Pausanias; for in describing the famous statue of the Virgin Athena on the acropolis of Athens, he notices the serpent coiled at her feet behind the shield, and adds that the serpent “may be Erichthonius” (Paus. 1.24.7). The sacred serpent which lived in the Erechtheum on the acropolis of Athens and was fed with honey-cakes once a month, may have been Erichthonius himself in his original form of a worshipful serpent. See Hdt. 8.41; Aristoph. Lys. 758ff., with the Scholiast; Plut. Them. 10; Philostratus, Im. ii.17.6; Hesychius, s.vv. δράκαυλος and οἰκουρὸν ὄφιν; Suidas, s.v. Δράκαυλος; Etymologicum Magnum, s.v. δράκαυλος, p. 287; Photius, Lexicon, s.v. οἰκουρὸν ὄφιν; Eustathius on Hom. Od. i.357, p. 1422, lines 7ff. According to some, there were two such sacred serpents in the Erechtheum (Hesychius, s.v. οἰκουρὸν ὄφιν). When we remember that Cecrops, the ancestor of Erichthonius, was said, like his descendant, to be half-man, half-serpent (above, Apollod. 3.14.1), we may conjecture that the old kings of Athens claimed kinship with the sacred serpents on the acropolis, into which they may have professed to transmigrate at death. Compare The Dying God, pp. 86ff.; and Frazer on Paus. 1.18.2 (vol. ii. pp. 168ff.). The Erechtheids, or descendants of Erechtheus, by whom are meant the Athenians in general, used to put golden serpents round the necks or bodies of their infants, nominally in memory of the serpents which guarded the infant Erechthonius, but probably in reality as amulets to protect the children. See Eur. Ion 20-26, Eur. Ion 1426-1431. Erechtheus and Erichthonius may have been originally identical. See Scholiast on Hom. Il. 2.547; Etymologicum Magnum, s.v. Ἐρεχθεύς, p. 371.29; C. F. Clinton, Fasti Hellenici, vol. i. p. 61 note (n).

24 “The precinct” is the Erechtheum on the acropolis of Athens. It was in the Erechtheum that the sacred serpent dwelt, which seems to have been originally identical with Erichthonius. See the preceding note.

25 That is, the ancient image of Athena, made of olive-wood, which stood in the Erechtheum. See my note on Paus. 1.26.6 (vol. ii. pp. 340ff.).

26 Compare the Parian Chronicle, Marmor Parium 18; Harpocration, s.v. Παναθήναια; Eratosthenes, Cat. 13; Hyginus, Ast. ii.13, who says that Erichthonius competed at the games in a four-horse car. Indeed, Erichthonius was reputed to have invented the chariot, or, at all events, the four-horse chariot. See the Parian Chronicle, Marmor Parium 18, 21; Eusebius, Chronic. vol. ii. p. 32, ed. A. Schoene; Verg. G. 3.113ff.; Fulgentius, Mytholog. ii.14. According to some, he invented the chariot for the purpose of concealing his serpent feet. See Serv. Verg. G. 3.113; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 41, 87 (First Vatican Mythographer 127; Second Vatican Mythographer 37). The institution of the Panathenaic festival was by some attributed to Theseus (Plut. Thes. 24), but the Parian ChronicleMarmor Parium 18), in agreement with Apollodorus, ascribes it to Erichthonius; and from Harpocration, s.v. Παναθήναια we learn that this ascription was supported by the authority of the historians Hellanicus and Androtion in their works on Attica. Here, therefore, as usual, Apollodorus seems to have drawn on the best sources.

27 Compare Clement of Alexandria, Protrept. iii.45, p. 39, ed. Potter, who gives a list of legendary or mythical personages who were said to have been buried in sanctuaries or temples. Amongst the instances which he cites are the graves of Cinyras and his descendants in the sanctuary of Aphrodite at Paphus, and the grave of Acrisius in the temple of Athena on the acropolis of Larissa. To these examples C. G. Heyne, commenting on the present passage of Apollodorus, adds the tomb of Castor in a sanctuary at SpartaPaus. 3.13.1), the tomb of Hyacinth under the image of Apollo at Amyclae (Paus. 3.19.3), and the grave of Arcas in a temple of Hera at MantineaPaus. 8.9.3). “Arguing from these examples,” says Heyne, “some have tried to prove that the worship of the gods sprang from the honours paid to buried mortals.”

28 Compare Paus. 1.5.3, who distinguishes two kings named Pandion, first, the son of Erichtonius, and, second, the son of Cecrops the Second. This distinction is accepted by Apollodorus (see below, Apollod. 3.15.5), and it is supported by the Parian ChronicleMarmor Parium 22, 30). Eusebius also recognizes Pandion the Second, but makes him a son of Erechtheus instead of a son of Cecrops the Second (Eus. Chronic. bk. i. vol. i. col. 185, ed. A. Schoene). But like Cecrops the Second, son of Erectheus (below, Apollod. 3.15.5), Pandion the Second is probably no more than a chronological stopgap thrust into the broken framework of tradition by a comparatively late historian. Compare R. D. Hicks, in Companion to Greek Studies, ed. L. Whibley, 3rd. ed. (Cambridge, 1916), p. 76.

29 Here Apollodorus differs from the Parian Chronicle, which dates the advent of Demeter, not in the reign of Pandion, but in the reign of his son Erechtheus (Marmor Parium 23ff.). To the reign of Erechtheus the Parian Chronicle also refers the first sowing of corn by Triptolemus in the Rharian plain at Eleusis, and the first celebration of the mysteries by Eumolpus at EleusisMarmor Parium 23-29). Herein the Parian Chronicle seems to be in accord with the received Athenian tradition which dated the advent of Demeter, the beginning of agriculture, and the institution of the Eleusinian mysteries in the reign of Erechtheus. See Diod. 1.29.1-3. On the other hand, the Parian Chronicler dates the discovery of iron on the Cretan Mount Ida in the reign of Pandion the First (Marmor Parium 22ff.). He says nothing of the coming of Dionysus to Attica. The advent of Demeter and Dionysus is a mythical expression for the first cultivation of corn and vines in Attica; these important discoveries Attic tradition referred to the reigns either of Pandion the First or of his son Erechtheus.

30 See above, Apollod. 1.5.1.

31 The implication is that their wassailing had taken place by night. The Greek μεθ᾽ ἡμέραν regularly means “by day” as opposed to “by night”; it is not to be translated “the day after.” See Hdt. 2.150, οὐ νυκτὸς ἀλλὰ μετ᾽ ἡμέρην ποιεύμενον; Plat. Phaedrus 251d, ἐμμανὴς οὖσα οὔτε νυκτὸς δύναται καθεύδειν οὔτε μεθ᾽ ἡμέραν. Compare Apollod. 1.9.18, Apollod. 3.5.6νύκτωρ καὶ μεθ᾽ ἡμέραν), Apollod. 3.12.3; Apollod. E.4.5; Apollod. E.7.31μεθ᾽ ἡμέραν μὲν ὑφαίνουσα, νύκτωρ δὲ ἀναλύουσα).

32 With this story of the first introduction of wine into Attica, and its fatal consequences, compare Scholiast on Hom. Il. 22.29; Ael., Var. Hist. vii.28; Nonnus, Dionys. xlvii.34-245; Hyginus, Fab. 130; Hyginus, Ast. ii.4; Statius, Theb. xi.644-647, with the comment of Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. v. 644; Serv. Verg. G. 2.389; Probus on Verg. G. 2.385; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 6, 94ff. (First Vatican Mythographer 19; Second Vatican Mythographer 61). The Athenians celebrated a curious festival of swinging, which was supposed to be an expiation for the death of Erigone, who had hanged herself on the same tree at the foot of which she had discovered the dead body of her father Icarius (Hyginus, Ast. ii.4). See Hesychius, s.v. Αἰώρα; Etymologicum Magnum, s.v. Αἰώρα;; Athenaeus xiv.10, p. 618 EF; Festus, s.v. “Oscillantes,” p. 194, ed. C. O. Muller. Compare The Dying God, pp. 281ff. However, some thought that the Erigone whose death was thus expiated was not the daughter of Icarius, but the daughter of Aegisthus, who accused Orestes at Athens of the murder of her father and hanged herself when he was acquitted (so Etymologicum Magnum, l.c.; compare Apollod. E.6.25 with the note). Sophocles wrote a play Erigone, but it is doubtful to which of the two Erigones it referred. See The Fragments of Sophocles, ed. A. C. Pearson, vol. i. pp. 173ff. The home of Icarius was at IcariaStephanus Byzantius, s.v. Ἰκαρία. From the description of Statius, Theb. xi.644-647 we infer that the place was in the woods of Marathon, and in accordance with this description the site has been discovered in a beautiful wooded dell at the northern foot of the forest-clad slopes of Mount Pentelicus. The place is still appropriately named Dionysos. A rugged precipitous path leads down a wild romantic ravine from the deserted village of Rapentosa to the plain of Marathon situated at a great depth below. Among the inscriptions found on the spot several refer to the worship of Dionysus. See Frazer, commentary on Pausanias, vol. ii. pp. 461ff., compare p. 442.

33 This tradition of marriage with a maternal aunt is remarkable. I do not remember to have met with another instance of such a marriage in Greek legend.

34 For the tragic story of Procne and Philomela, and their transformation into birds, see Zenobius, Cent. iii.14 (who, to a certain extent, agrees verbally with Apollodorus); Conon 31; Ach. Tat. 5.3, 5.5; Tzetzes, Chiliades vii.459ff.; Paus. 1.5.4; Paus. 1.41.8ff.; Paus. 10.4.8ff.; Eustathius on Hom. Od. xix.518, p. 1875; Hyginus, Fab. 45; Ov. Met. 6.426-674; Serv. Verg. Ecl. 6.78; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. v.120; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 2, 147 (First Vatican Mythographer 8; Second Vatican Mythographer 217). On this theme Sophocles composed a tragedy Tereus, from which most of the extant versions of the story are believed to be derived. See The Fragments of Sophocles, ed. A. C. Pearson, vol. ii. pp. 221ff. However, the version of Hyginus differs from the rest in a number of particulars. For example, he represents Tereus as transformed into a hawk instead of into a hoopoe; but for this transformation he had the authority of Aesch. Supp. 60ff. Tereus is commonly said to have been a Thracian, and the scene of the tragedy is sometimes laid in Thrace. Ovid, who adopts this account, appears to have associated the murder of Itys with the frenzied rites of the Bacchanals, for he says that the crime was perpetrated at the time when the Thracian women were celebrating the biennial festival (sacra trieterica) of Dionysus, and that the two women disguised themselves as Bacchanals. On the other hand, Thuc. 2.29 definitely affirms that Tereus dwelt in Daulia, a district of Phocis, and that the tragedy took place in that country; at the same time he tells us that the population of the district was then Thracian. In this he is followed by Strab. 9.3.13, Zenobius, Conon, Pausanias, and Nonnus (Dionys. iv.320ff.). Thucydides supports his view by a reference to Greek poets, who called the nightingale the Daulian bird. The Megarians maintained that Tereus reigned at Pagae in Megaris, and they showed his grave in the form of a barrow, at which they sacrificed to him every year, using gravel in the sacrifice instead of barley groats (Paus. 1.41.8ff.). But no one who has seen the grey ruined walls and towers of Daulis, thickly mantled in ivy and holly-oak, on the summit of precipices that overhang a deep romantic glen at the foot of the towering slopes of Parnassus, will willingly consent to divest them of the legendary charm which Greek poetry and history have combined to throw over the lovely scene. It is said that, after being turned into birds, Procne and Tereus continued to utter the same cries which they had emitted at the moment of their transformation; the nightingale still fled warbling plaintively the name of her dead son, Itu! Itu! while the hoopoe still pursued his cruel wife crying, Poo! poo! (ποῦ, ποῦ, “Where? Where?”). The later Roman mythographers somewhat absurdly inverted the transformation of the two sisters, making Procne the swallow and the tongueless Philomela the songstress nightingale.

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.

load focus Greek (Sir James George Frazer)
hide References (89 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (3):
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (86):
    • Aeschylus, Suppliant Maidens, 60
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Epitome, e.4.5
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Epitome, e.6.25
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Epitome, e.7.31
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 3.12.3
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 3.15.8
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 3.5.6
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 1.5.1
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 1.5.3
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 1.9.18
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 2.4.7
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 3.14.1
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 3.14.2
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 3.15.1
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 3.15.5
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 3.8.2
    • Aristophanes, Wasps, 438
    • Demosthenes, Against Aristocrates, 66
    • Euripides, Hippolytus, 454
    • Euripides, Ion, 1163
    • Euripides, Ion, 1258
    • Euripides, Ion, 20
    • Euripides, Ion, 1426
    • Euripides, Ion, 266
    • Euripides, Iphigeneia in Taurus, 945
    • Herodotus, Histories, 2.150
    • Herodotus, Histories, 8.41
    • Herodotus, Histories, 8.55
    • Hesiod, Theogony, 986
    • Homer, Iliad, 22.29
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.29.6
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.14.6
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.27.3
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.28.5
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.37.6
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.5.3
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.13.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.4.8
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.18.2
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.21.4
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.24.5
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.24.7
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.26.5
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.26.6
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.2.6
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.3.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.41.8
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.4.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.5.4
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.15.5
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.22.4
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.3.2
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.19.3
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8.10.4
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8.9.3
    • Plato, Phaedrus, 251d
    • Strabo, Geography, 9.1.13
    • Homer, Iliad, 2.547
    • Strabo, Geography, 9.1.16
    • Strabo, Geography, 9.1.6
    • Strabo, Geography, 9.3.13
    • Aristophanes, Lysistrata, 758
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 10.298
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 10.476
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 10.500
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 10.710
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 2.156
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 2.19
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 2.552
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 2.737
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 6.426
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 6.70
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 6.72
    • Servius, Commentary on the Aeneid of Vergil, 10.189
    • Servius, Commentary on the Aeneid of Vergil, 3.113
    • Servius, Commentary on the Aeneid of Vergil, 5.72
    • Vergil, Georgics, 3.113
    • Thucydides, Histories, 2.29
    • Servius, Commentary on the Eclogues of Vergil, 10.18
    • Servius, Commentary on the Eclogues of Vergil, 6.78
    • Servius, Commentary on the Georgics of Vergil, 1.12
    • Servius, Commentary on the Georgics of Vergil, 2.389
    • Servius, Commentary on the Georgics of Vergil, 3.113
    • Plutarch, Theseus, 24
    • Plutarch, Themistocles, 10
    • Plutarch, Themistocles, 19
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: