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Chapter 23

Chapter 23- Legends of Athens

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Classical Studies
CLAS 104
Ronald Kroeker

Chapter 23 – Theseus and the Legends of Attica Wednesday, July 17, 2013 3:04 PM The Early Kings and Their Legends Cecrops, Erichthonius, and Erechtheus • Athenians boasted they “sprung from earth” – autochthonous • According to them, Cecrops, their earliest king, sprung from earth • Serpent shaped in the lower half of his body • Founder of Attica – called Cecropia after himself • In his time, contest between Poseidon and Athena took place ( for possession of Attica) • Erichthonius • Partly serpent shaped and sprung from the earth • Born from when Hephaestus attempted to violate Athena and his semen fell on the ground. • Athena put him in a chest and gave to the daughters of Cecrops, Pandrosos, Auglauros and Herse, forbidding them to look inside • The sisters looked and were madden by the serpent shaped figure, hurled themselves off Acropolis • Athena took him back, and he was king of Athens, credited with instituting the great annual festival of Panathenaea and set up wooden statue of Athena on Acropolis • Erechtheus • Grandson of Ericthonius and confused with him • Successor as king of Athens • Form of Poseidon • Athena prophesised, after his death he will be worshipped at his own cult-site, under title of Posiedon-Erechtheus he will be offered sacrifices of bulls • Temple on Acropolis known as “Erechtheum” –dedicated jointly to Athena Polias ( Athena as Guardian of the City ) and Erechtheus • Known as “the temple in which is the ancient statue” • Successfully defended Athens in earliest war, the attack of the Eleusinians led by the Thracian Eumolpus – son of Poseidon and ancestor of the hereditary priests of Eleusis • w/ approval of wife Praxithea, he sacrificed one of his daughters to secure his victory for Athens • killed Eumolpus and thus was killed by Poseidon • Sacrifice of daughter is a central theme in Euripides’ tragedy Erechtheus. • Euripides Ion, Ion’s mother Creusa (one of Erechtheus’ daughters) gives a different version, all daughters sacrificed except for her. • Daughters of Cecrops ( Athena entrusted infant Erichthonius). Three : Aglauros (Bright), Herse (dew), Herse (all-dew). • Ovid tells : Herse was loved by Hermes, first noticed by Aglauros • Aglauros asked him for gold for helping him to get Herse. She angered Athena for this and Athena was already mad at her because she opened the chest of Erichthonius • Athena filled her with envy and so Aglauros tried preventing (out of envy) Hermes from being with Herse. Hermes turned her into a rock and he slept with Herse. They had a son named Cephalus Cephalus and Procris • Cephalus was loved by Eos (Dawn) • Later legends he is husband of Procris ( daughter of Erechtheus) • Tempted by Aurora (Latin form of Eos), who also loved him • Cephalus tried seducing her and when he was almost successful he reveled himself • Procris was ashamed of him and so she went and joined Artemis • Artemis gave her a hound, Laelaps, that always caught its quarry (meaning prey) and a javelin (kind of like a spear) never missed its mark. • Later Procris returned home to Cephalus, bringing magic gifts • Ovid tells the tragedy in Metamorphoses • Cephalus goes to hunt every day and after getting tired he sits underneath a tree and whispers “Aura come relive me of my stress” • He uses words of endearment and someone overheard him thinking he was calling a nymph and told Procris about it. • Next day, when Cephalus went to hunt and said the same thing he heard someone sobbing. • Meanwhile a leaf fell on him and he thought it was an animal so he picked up his javelin and aimed and it hit Procris who died • Cephalus was very upset that he wounded her and she said to him don’t let Aura take my place. • He explained to her that Aura was not a person but simply a cool breeze he was asking for but it was no use since she died. Philomela, Procne, and Tereus • Successor of Erichtonius was Pandion ( famous for daughters Philomela and Procne) • Thracian King Tereus came to help Pandion in a war against Thebes, rewarded with hand of Procne • Took her back to Thrace and had Itys • Philomela came to visit Procne, Tereus violated her, cut her tounge and locked her up in a remote building in the forest • Philomela ( according Ovid's Metamorphoses) weaved the story using threads and asked a servant to take it to Procne • Procne understood the story and decided to rescue Philomela and then take revenge from Tereus by killing Itys • Procne and Philomela together killed Itys in a forest. They then cooked him up and served him to Tereus who later realized what he had eaten • Tereus when he saw them he turned into a bird Epops while rushing towards them in anger The Ion of Euripides • Pandion was said to be succeeded by Erechtheus ( myths discussed earlier) • Daughters were Creusa, heroine of Euripides play Ion • The only daughter who did not get sacrificed by her father before the battle against Eumolpus • Loved by Apollo and bore him a son, Ion. She exposed him out of fear for her father • Ion was saved by Hermes at Apollo's request, taken to a Delphi and served as a temple servant • Creusa became wife to Xuthus • They were childless and consulted an Oracle at Delphi about this who told them to greet as son the first person they saw outside the temple • The person was Ion, Creusa did not know this and thought he was the bastard son of Xuthus and attempted to kill him • Athena intervened and mother and son recognized each other • Ion then became the ancestor of the four Ionic tribes Orithyia and Boreas and Their Children • Orithyia, daughter of Erechtheus • Loved by North Wind, Boreas • He carried her off to Thrace • She became mother of winged heroes Zetes and Calais ( prominent in Argonauts expedition) and daughters Cleopatra and Chione • Phineus married Cleopatra • Chione became mother of Eumolpus ( expedited against Athens), Poseidon his father Theseus ( IMPORTANT) • Aegeus ( king of Athens) another form of Poseidon • Threatened by his brother Pallas • Being childless, he was told by a Delphic Oracle to not "undo the wineskin's mouth" until he returned home • Asked Pittheus ( his friend), king of Troezen, for advice • Pittheus understood the oracle and made Aegeus drunk and gave him Aethra to lie with • Told Aethra that if her child was a boy she must raise him without saying who his father was • She would have to send him to Athens when he got older to lift a rock by himself, under which Aegeus would leave a sword and a pair of sandals as tokens by which he could recognize his son. • Theseus national Hero of Attica and Athens focal point of his legends • Deeds similar to those of Heracles Theseus' Six Labors on His Journey from Troezen to Athens • Theseus chose the land route • At Epidaurus he killed the brigand Periphetes - generally called Club Man, son of Hephaestus • Theseus took the club for himself • At Isthmus of Corinth he killed the robber Sinis called Pityocamptes ( Pine Bender) from the way in which he killed his victims. Theseus killed him in the same way Sinis killed h
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