Cecrops I

Cecrops (/ˈsiːkrɒps/; Ancient Greek: Κέκροψ, Kékrops; gen.: Κέκροπος) was a mythical king of Attica which derived from him its name Cecropia, having previously borne the name of Acte or Actice (from Actaeus). He was the founder and the first king of Athens itself though preceded in the region by the earth-born king Actaeus of Attica.[1][2][3] Cecrops was a culture hero, teaching the Athenians marriage, reading and writing, and ceremonial burial.

Cécrops Meyers
Representation of Cecrops I

Etymology and form

The name of Cecrops was not of Greek origin according to Strabo,[4] or it might mean 'tail-face' (cerc-ops): it was said that, born from the earth itself (an autochthon) and was accordingly called a γηγενής (gigenis "native"), and described to had his top half shaped like a man and the bottom half in serpent or fish-tail form. Hence he was called διφυής or geminus.[5][6][7][8][9][10] Diodorus rationalized that his double form was because of his double citizenship, Greek and barbarian.[11] Some ancients referred the epithet διφυής to marriage, of which tradition made him the founder. 


Apparently Cecrops married Aglaurus, the daughter of Actaeus, former king of the region of Attica, whom he succeeded to the throne. It is disputed that this woman was the mother of Cecrops's son Erysichthon. Erysichthon predeceased him, and he was succeeded by Cranaus, who is said to have been one of the wealthiest citizens of Athens at that time.

Cecrops was the father of three daughters: Herse, Pandrosus and Aglaurus. To them was given a box or jar containing the infant Erichthonius to guard unseen. They looked, and terrified by the two serpents Athena had set within to guard the child, they fled in terror and leapt from the Acropolis to their deaths. Some accounts say one of the sisters was turned to stone instead.[12][13]


Culture hero

Cecrops was represented in the Attic legends as the author of the first elements of civilized life such as marriage, the political division of Attica into twelve communities, and also as the introducer of a new mode of worship. He was said to have been the first who deified Zeus, and ordained sacrifices to be offered to him as the supreme Deity. Cecrops was likewise affirmed to have been the first who built altars and statues of the gods, offered sacrifices, and instituted marriage among the Athenians, who, before his time, it seems, lived promiscuously. Pausanias tells us that he forbade the sacrificing of any living creatures to the gods, as well as any sort of other offering, only allowing cakes (πέλανοι) formed into the shape of an ox with horns, called by the Athenians Pelanous, which signifies an ox. He is likewise said to have taught his subjects the art of navigation; and, for the better administration of justice and intercourse among them, to have divided them into the four tribes called Cecropis, Autochthon, Actea, and Paralia. Some likewise make him the founder of the areopagus.[14][15][16]

The Acropolis was also known as the Cecropia in his honor. The Athenians are said to have called themselves Cecropidæ, during the reigns of the five following kings, in his honor.

Patronage of Athens

During his reign which lasted for 50 years,[17] the gods resolved to take possession of cities in which each of them should receive his own peculiar worship. Athena became the patron goddess of the city of Athens in a competition with Poseidon as judged by Cecrops. The two raced ferociously towards the Acropolis and it was a very close race. Poseidon was the first that came to Attica and struck the acropolis with his trident and thereby created a salt sea which was known in later times by the name of the Erechthean well, from its being enclosed in the temple of Erechtheus.[18][19][20][21][22][23][24] After him came Athena who having called on Cecrops to witness her act of taking possession, she planted an olive tree on the hill of the acropolis which continued to be shewn in the Pandrosium down to the latest times. 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. 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.[25]

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.[26]

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.[27]

Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Athens Succeeded by

Multiple Cecrops

The name of Cecrops occurs also in other parts of Greece, especially where there existed a town of the name of Athenae, such as in Boeotia, where he is said to have founded the ancient towns of Athenae and Eleusis on the river Triton, and where he had a heroum at Haliartus. Tradition there called him a son of Pandion.[28][29] In Euboea, which had likewise a town Athenae, Cecrops was called a son of Erechtheus and Praxithea, and a grandson of Pandion.[30][31] From these traditions it appears, that Cecrops must be regarded as a hero of the Pelasgian race; and Müller justly remarks, that the different mythical personages of this name connected with the towns in Boeotia and Euboea are only multiplications of the one original hero, whose name and story were transplanted from Attica to other places. The later Greek writers describe Cecrops as having immigrated into Greece with a band of colonists from Sais in Egypt.[32][33] But this account is not only rejected by some of the ancients themselves, but by the ablest critics of modem times.[34][35][36]

See also


  1. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3.14.1
  2. ^ Parian Chronicle, Marmor Parium 2-4 as cited in Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3.14.1: footnote 1
  3. ^ Tzetzes, Chiliades 5.638 ff
  4. ^ Strabo, Geographica 7.7.1 "Moreover, the barbarian origin of some is indicated by their names—Cecrops, Codrus..."
  5. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 48
  6. ^ Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 6
  7. ^ Aristophanes, The Wasps 438
  8. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses 2.555
  9. ^ Euripides, Ion 1163 ff
  10. ^ Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 111
  11. ^ Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica 1.28.7
  12. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3.14.2
  13. ^ Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio 1.2.5
  14. ^ Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio 8.2.1
  15. ^ as cited in Strabo. Geographica p. 397: footnote 49, "Thus only eleven names are given in the most important MSS., though "Phalerus" appears after "Cephisia" in some (see critical note on opposite page). But it seems best to assume that Strabo either actually included Athens in his list or left us to infer that he meant Athens as one of the twelve."
  16. ^ Eustath. ad Horner. p. 1156
  17. ^ Eusebius, Chronography
  18. ^ Herodotus, The Histories 8.55
  19. ^ Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio 1.24.5
  20. ^ Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio 1.26.5
  21. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses 6.70 ff
  22. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 164
  23. ^ Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. vii.185
  24. ^ Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 1, 115 (First Vatican Mythographer 2; Second Vatican Mythographer 119)
  25. ^ Strabo, Geographica 9.1.6 & 13
  26. ^ Varro in Augustine, De civitate Dei xviii.9 as cited in Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3.14.1: footnote 2
  27. ^ Plutarch, De fraterno amore 11 & Quaest. Conviv. ix.6.
  28. ^ Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio 9.33.1
  29. ^ Strabo, Geographica 9.2.18 p. 407
  30. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3.15.1
  31. ^ Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio 1.5.3
  32. ^ Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica 1.29
  33. ^ Scholia ad Aristophanes, Plutus 773
  34. ^ Müller, Orchom. p. 123
  35. ^ Thirlwall, Greece i. p. 66  
  36. ^ Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Cecrops" This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.'


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In Greek mythology, Actaeus (; Ancient Greek: Ἀκταῖος Ἀktaῖos means "coast-man") was the first king of Attica, according to Pausanias.

Antilochus (historian)

Antilochus (Ancient Greek: Ἀντίλοχος) was a historian of ancient Greece who wrote an account of the Greek philosophers from the time of Pythagoras to the death of Epicurus, whose system he himself adopted. He seems to be the same as the "Antilogus" mentioned by Dionysius of Halicarnassus. Theodoret quotes an Antilochus as his authority for placing the tomb of Cecrops I on the acropolis of Athens, but as Clement of Alexandria and Arnobius refer for the same fact to a writer of the name of "Antiochus", there may possibly be an error in Theodoret.


Cecropia is a Neotropical genus consisting of sixty-one recognized species with a highly distinctive lineage of dioecious trees.

The genus consists of pioneer trees in the more or less humid parts of the Neotropics, with the majority of the species being myrmecophytic. Berg and Rosselli state that the genus is characterized by some unusual traits: spathes fully enclosing the flower-bearing parts of the inflorescences until anthesis, patches of dense indumentums (trichilia) producing Mullerian (food) at the base of the petiole, and anthers becoming detached at anthesis. Cecropia is most studied for its ecological role and association with ants. Its classification is controversial; in the past it has been placed in the Cecropiaceae, Moraceae (the mulberry family), or Urticaceae (the nettle family). The modern Angiosperm Phylogeny Group system places the "cecropiacean" group in the Urticaceae.

The genus is native to the American tropics, where it is one of the most recognizable components of the rainforest. The genus is named after Cecrops I, the mythical first king of Athens. Common local names include yarumo or yagrumo, or more specifically yagrumo hembra ("female yagrumo") to distinguish them from the similar-looking but distantly related Schefflera (which are called yagrumo macho, "male yagrumo"). In English, these trees are occasionally called pumpwoods (though this may also refer to C. schreberiana specifically) or simply Cecropias. Spanish-speaking countries in Central American, Mexico, the Caribbean, Colombia and Ecuador commonly use the vernacular name, “guarumo”.


In Greek mythology, Cecrops (/ˈsiːkrɒps/; Ancient Greek: Κέκροψ, Kékrops; gen.: Κέκροπος) may refer to two legendary kings of Athens:

Cecrops I, the first king of Athens.

Cecrops II, son of Pandion I, king of Athens.

Cecrops, son of Hephaestus.


The Cranaidae are a family of neotropical harvestmen within the suborder Laniatores.


In Greek mythology, Cranaus (; Ancient Greek: Κραναός) was the second King of Athens, succeeding Cecrops I.

Erichthonius Discovered by the Daughters of Cecrops (Jordaens)

Erichthonius Discovered by the Daughters of Cecrops is a large 1617 oil on canvas painting by Jacob Jordaens, now in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp.

The artist was then aged only 24 and still heavily influenced by Peter Paul Rubens, who had produced a version of the same scene in 1616. The work shows Hephaestus's son Erichthonius of Athens being discovered by the daughters of Cecrops I, derived from Ovid's Metamorphoses and the Library of Pseudo-Apollodorus. Jordaens returned to the same subject in 1640 in a work now in Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum.


Erysichthon or Erisichthon may refer to:

Erysichthon of Thessaly, the Aeolid Erysichthon, the son of Triopas

Erysichthon of Attica, the Cecropid Erysichthon, the son of Cecrops I

Erysichthon of Phlegra, the son of Gaia

Erysichthon of Attica

In Greek mythology, Erysichthon (Ancient Greek: Ἐρυσίχθων), also spelled Erisichthon (lit. 'Earth-tearer') was the son of King Cecrops I of Athens and Agraulus. He died childless during his father's reign. He was said to have died in Prasiae (modern Porto Rafti), on the east coast of Attica, as he was returning from the holy island of Delos with a statue of Eileithuia, goddess of childbirth. Of the three ancient wooden images of the goddess that could be seen at her temple at Athens, one was identified as the image that Erysichthon had brought from Delos. According to Pausanias, Erysichthon's tomb could be seen at Prasiae, where his corpse was said to have been buried after his ship had arrived in port.See also


Keqrops (Greek: Κέκρωψ, also incorrectly entitled by the composer Κεqροψ, which can be translated as weaving) is a composition for piano and orchestra by Greek/French composer Iannis Xenakis. Due to the prominent role of the piano soloist, it has often been classified as a piano concerto. It was completed in 1986.

List of kings of Athens

Before the Athenian democracy, the tyrants, and the Archons, the city-state of Athens was ruled by kings. Most of these are probably mythical or only semi-historical.

List of reptilian humanoids

Reptilian humanoids are fictional organisms of varied species in folklore, science fiction, fantasy, and conspiracy theories.

Pandion I

In Greek mythology, Pandion I ( or ; Ancient Greek: Πανδίων) was a legendary King of Athens.

Pandion II

In Greek mythology, Pandion II ( or ; Ancient Greek: Πανδίων) was a legendary King of Athens, the son and heir of Cecrops II and his wife Metiadusa, and the father of Aegeus, Pallas, Nisos and Lycus.


The Pandroseion (pronounced: panδrosion, Greek: Πανδρόσειον) was a sanctuary dedicated to Pandrosus, one of the daughters of Cecrops I, the first king of Attica Greece, located on the Acropolis of Athens. It occupied the space adjacent to the Erechtheum and the old Temple of Athena Polias.

The sanctuary was a walled trapezoidal courtyard containing the altar of Zeus Herkeios (protector of the hearth, of the courtyard) under the sacred Olive Tree planted by Athena. At the west was an entrance stoa from the propylea. In the northeast corner was an elaborate entrance into the north porch and the entire Etrechtheion complex. At the east, there was also a small opening through which the Thalassa of Poseidon could be viewed. The south-east corner gave access to what some thought was the tomb of Cecrops. The sanctuary also contained the sacred olive tree which was presented by Athena to the city of Athens, after her victory over Poseidon in the contest for the land of Attica.


The Synoikia (Greek: συνοικία) was an ancient Greek festival held in Athens commemorating the political unification of Attica. It was also called the Thesean Synoikismos and the Feast of Union, and showed the impact of King Theseus on the formation of Attica and Athens and also celebrated the goddess Athena. During this festival, an “unbloody” sacrifice was offered to the goddess of peace. This festival was celebrated after Kronia—which was used to celebrate the Athenian New Year month, and was the day where there was a reversal of the slaves and masters — on the sixteenth during the month of Hekatombeion, just before the Panathenaia.

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