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Daughter of Cecrops of Athens, first priestess of Athene, honoured together with her in a sanctuary of her own, the Pandroseion, on the Acropolis of Athens. (Cp. CECROPS.)
CECROPS 38.07%
One of the aborigines of Attica, and as such represented with a human body ending in a serpent (see cut). In the later story he was erroneously represented as having come to Attica from Sais in Egypt. He was said to have been the first king of Attica, which was called after him Cecropia. He divided the rude inhabitants into twelve communities, founded the stronghold of Athens, which was called Cecropia after him, and introduced the elements of civilization, the laws of marriage and property, the earliest political arrangements, and the earliest religious services, notably those of Zeus and Athene. When Poseidon and Athene were contending for the possession of the land, Poseidon struck the rock of the acropolis with his trident, and water (or, according to another story, the horse) sprang forth; but Athene planted the first olive tree. Cecrops, on being called in to decide between them, gave judgment in favour of the goddess, as having conferred on the land the more serviceable gift. Cecrops had four children by his wife Agraulos: a son Ervsichthon, who died childless, and three daughters, Agraulos, Herse, and Pandrosos. The names of the last two show them to be the deities of the fertilizing dew; and indeed the three were regarded as in the service of Athene, and as giving fruitfulness to the fields. Pandrosos was Athene's first priestess. She had a shrine of her own (Pandroseum) in the temple of Erechtheus on the acropolis, and was invoked in times of drought with the two Attic Horae, Thallo and Carpo (see ERECHTHEUM). In her temple stood the sacred olive which Athene had created.
CERYX 24.26%
The son of Pandrosos and Hermes, and the ancestor of the Keryces of Eleusis (see CERYX, 2). Herse (or Erse) was mother, by Hermes, of the beautiful Cephalus (See CEPHALUS). She had a special festival in her honour, the Arrhephoria (see ARREPHORIA). Agraulos, mother of Alcippe, by Ares, was said in one story to have thrown herself down from the citadel during a war to save her country. It was, accordingly, in her precincts on the Acropolis that the young men of Athens, when they received their spears and shields, took their oath to defend their country to the death, invoking her name with those of the Charities Auxo and Hegemone. According to another story, Athene entrusted Erichthonius to the keeping of the three sisters in a closed chest, with the command that they were not to open it. Agraulos and Herse disobeyed, went mad, and threw themselves down from the rocks of the citadel.
The original sanctuary of the tutelary deities of Athens, Athene Pollas, (the goddess of the city) Poseidon, and Erechtheus. It was situated on the Acropolis. The old temple, said to have been built by Erechtheus, was burnt by the Persians in 480 B.C. The restoration was perhaps begun as far back as the time of Pericles, but, according to the testimony of an inscription in the British Museum (no. XXXXV), was not quite finished in 409. The new temple was, even in antiquity, admired as one of the most beautiful and perfect works of the Attic-Ionic style. It was 65 feet long and nearly 36 broad; and was divided into two main parts. Entering through the eastern portico of six Ionic pillars, one came into the cella of Athene Pollias, with an image of the goddess, and a lamp that was always kept burning. To the solid wall at the back was attached the Erechtheum proper. Here were three altars, one common to Poseidon and Erechtheus, the other to Hephaestus and the hero Butes. Connected with this, by three doors, was a small front-chamber, with seven half columns adorning the western wall, and three windows between them. This chamber was approached through a hall attached to the north side of the temple, adorned with seven Ionic columns in front, and one on each side. Under this was a cleft in the rock, said to have been made by the stroke of Poseidon's trident during his contest with Athene for the possession of the Acropolis. Corresponding to this on the south side was a small hall, supported not by pillars, but by caryatides. This was called the Hall of Core, and it probably contained the tomb of Cecrops. From it a step led down to a court, once walled round, in which were the Pandroseum (see PANDROSOS), the sacred olive tree of Athene, and the altar of Zeus Herkeios. On the east side, in front of the temple of Athene Polias, stood the altar on which the great hecatomb was offered at the Panathenaea. (See plan of ACROPLIS.)
A mythical king of Athens. According to Homer he was the son of Earth by Hephaestus, and brought up by Athene. Like that of Cecrops, half of his form was that of a snake-a sign that he was one of the aborigines. Athene put the child in a chest which she gave to the daughters of Cecrops, Agraulos, Herse, and Pandrosos, to take care of; forbidding them at the same time to open it. The two eldest disobeyed, and in terror at the serpent-shaped child (or according to another version, the snake that surrounded the child), they went mad, and threw themselves from the rocks of the Acropolis. Another account made the serpent kill them. Erechtheus drove out Amphictyon, and got possession of the kingdom. He then established the worship of Athene, and built to her, as goddess of the city (Polias), a temple, named after him the Erechtheum. Here he was afterwards worshipped himself with Athene and Poseidon. He was also the founder of the Panathenaic festival. He was said to have invented the four-wheeled chariot, and to have been taken up to heaven for this by Zeus, and set in the sky as the constellation of the charioteer. His daughters were Orithyia and Procris (see BOREAS and CEPHALUS). Originally identified with Erichthonius, he was in later times distinguished from him, and was regarded as his grandson, and as son of Pandion and Zeuxippe. His twin brother was Butes, his sisters Procne and Philomela. The priestly office fell to Butes, while Erechtheus assumed the functions of royalty. By Praxithea, the daughter of Cephissus, he Was father of the second Cecrops (see PANDION, 2), of Metion (see DAeDALUS); of Creusa (see ION), as well as of Protogoneia, Pandora, and Chthonia. When Athens was pressed hard by the Eleusinians under Eumolpus, the oracle promised him the victory if he would sacrifice one of his daughters. He chose the youngest, Chthonia; but Protogeneia and Pandora, who had made a vow with their sister to die with her, voluntarily shared her fate. Erechtheus conquered his enemies and slew Eumolpus, but was afterwards destroyed by the trident of his enemy's father, Poseidon.
Type: Standard
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