- Athens legendary history is confused
- Several characters with the same name turn up in different generations of the earl
- > probs because later Greek mythographers tried to fill in gaps and fashion a coherent
- > In particular, many Theseus’
- - > additions made in 6th and 5th centuries BC when athens became an important mili-
tary power and cultural center.
Cecrops, Erichthonius, And the Daughters of Cecrops
- Stories of first kings are complicated and even self-contradictory
- The athenians made 3 claims about their origins:
- > That they were descended from a mortal named Cecrops
- > That they were autochonous ‘sprung from earth’ like grasshoppers
- - > certain high officials wore golden grasshopper pins in their hair in celebration of this
- > and that there were descended from Athena (even though she was a virgin)
- - > where Athens got it’s name
- The claim of autochthony and descent from Cecrops are brought together in the story
that Cecrops simply sprang from the earth with the form of a snake beneath the waist
and a man above
- The snake often symbolized the origin from the eart
- The Giants, also born from the earth, were represented in Greek art with the tails of
- In golden age Cecrops introduced the arts of civilization and monogamous marriage to
- He taught them to worship zeus
- To abandon human sacrifice
- > although a later king Erechtheus sacrificed his own daughter
- To build cities
- To bury dead properly
- In his reign Athena and poseidon competed from patron of the city
- > athena offered the olive and poseidon offered salt water at the acropolis
- > citiens chose athena Chapter 15
- - > reminds us that the land was for a long time more important than the sea
- - - > lasted until Themistocles in the early 5th century convinced the people to spend
the proceeds of newly discovered silver deposits on building a great fleet.
- - > this fleet defeated the persians in 480BC at the battle of Salamis near the harbor of
Athens and made Athens the greatest sea power of the eastern mediterranean, or of the
- The theme of athenian autochthon y appears again in the story about erichthonius an-
other early king of athens:
- > succeded Cecrops
- > Was born in this way:
- - > Athena had gone to Hephaestus’ smithy for repair of her weapons. Missing his ex-
wife Aphrodite, whom he had divorced for adultery, Hephaestus pursued the goddess
lustfully across the acropolis
- - > Although Lame Hephaestus caught up with her, ejaculated on her leg
- - > Athena wiped it off with a piece of wool which she threw to the ground.
- - > Up sprang Erichthonius whose name probably means ‘ the man of wool and earth’
- athena took the infant whom she wanted to make immortal and placed him in a basket,
giving the basket to the daughters of Cecrops
- > Aglaurus (‘shining’ named after kings wife)
- > Herse ‘dew’
- > Pandrosus ‘all dew’
- She warned the three daughters on no condition to look inside basket
- Pandrosus obeyed but other two could not resist
- They saw something in the basket that drove them mad:
- > a serpent which sprang at them or a child with serpent’s tail instead of legs, or a
child entwined by a serpent
- Driven mad and out of terror, Aglaurus and herse leaped from the acropolis to their
- Athena took back the child and raised him herself
- When he grew up she nae him Erichthonius and he became king of athens
- In honor of his ‘mother’ athena, he set up a wooden image of her on the acropolis
where Pandrosus and Aglaurus also had shrines
Observations: The Festival of the Dew Carriers Chapter 15
- The story of the daughters of Cecrops is a good example of a myth that appears to re-
flect a ritual
- > in this case, an annual festival held at the years end on the acropolis called the Ar-
rhephoria (probs ‘festival of the dew carriers’
- - > Two young girls, the Arrhephoroi lived al year long in a special house on the acrop-
olis weaving a robe offered each year to the statue of Athena.
- - > When the festival came, the priestess of Athena sent them at night into a grove of
Aphroite on the north edge of the acropolis.
- - > There they took baskets o their heads, carried them down on a secret stairway cut
in the rock an left them at the bottom.
- - > They then climbed back with a covered basket containing some mysterious thing
- The tidal and myth associated with it are built on the motif of the maiden’s sacrifice,
whit its prominent sexual overtones.
- Entrance into the grove of Aphroite represents the virgin’s loss of sexual innocence
- Instead of actually dying like in the myth, the girls ddie symbolically, to end the virgin’s
life of sexual innocence.
- Sisters die after looking at the serpent in the basket
- Serpent can mean Phallus
- The literal death of the maiden in myth again reflects the death of sexual innocence
- ‘The daughters of Cecrops bear names related tot he shining dew that appears on the
groun in the morning after darkness, the mosture from the dark heaven that nourishes
the coming day’
Procris and Cephalus
- Ovid uses this story to tell a different motif:
- Tells a tale about the harm, to guilty and innocent alike, of uncontrolled sexual passion
in the next generation of Athenian rulers.
- In his version, all three daughters surived after viewing the giant Erichthonius.
- Years later, Mercury noticed Herse in procession and fell in love with her
- When he searched for her on the acropolis, Aglaurus offered to lead him to herse's
bed in return for gold. Chapter 15
- Mercury accepted the bribe but athena, still angry that Aglaurus looked in the basket,
inspired a ferocious jealousy in her.
- Aglaurus tried to prevent Mercury from coming to Herse
- Mercury angrily turned her into stone and went to Herse anyways
- Herse became pregnant and bore Cephalus
- He grew up and married Procris, daughter of Erechtheus
- > usually grandson of Erechthonius
- Before their marriage, Aurora the lustful goddess of dawn (Greek Eos) carried
Cephalus (meaning ‘head’) away to syria where she bore Phaethon to him (usually child
- At first the marriage of Cephalus and Procris was happy
- Cephalus good not believe his good fortune and began to be suspicious
- To test Procris' love he came to her in disguise, tempting her with ever greater rewards
to sleep with him.
- When he offered her a golden crown she at last agreed
- In a rage he revealed who he was and Procris fled to the court of Minos in Crete
- There she attracted the King’s attentions.
- Unfortunately, king Minos could not consummate his passion for his wife, Pasiphae
has placed a curse upon him:
- > instead of semen, he ejaculated spiders and corpions that decoured the genitals of
- Pocris cured him of this curse and in return Minos gave her a magical hound named
Laelaps that always caught what it chased and a magical spear that never missed it’s
- Procris, fearing the anger of Pasiphae soon regretted her behavior and fled with the
gifts back to Athens, disguised as a boy
- although Cephalus still mourned his beautiful wide and the marriage he had ruined, he
coveted the pretty boy (Procris)’s wonderful houng and unerring spear.
- Procris offered to give them up if Cephalus would only slept with him/her
- Cephalus first resisted, then agreed.
- > same fault that his wife had done
- They were happy again for a little while Chapter 15
- But Procris still feared that Cephalus was meeting Aurora (Eos), his former mistress
because every morning he arose at dawn to hunt, a perfect change to meet a lover
- One morn Procris followed him.
- Ovid tells this story twice in the Metamorphoses and in the Ara Amatoria ‘the art of
- > She thinks he’s cheating and goes to confront him
- > but he thought she was a wiled anim