In the myths, the founders of the city of Athens are Cecrops, Erichthonius and Erechtheus.
Cecrops (Κέκροψ, Kekrops, Cecrops) – the eldest son of Erechtheus, as well as the brother of Pandora (myth of Pandora here). King of Attica in 1347-1307 BC. He consecrated a wooden statue of the god Hermes in the temple of Athens on the Acropolis of Athens and was the first to define Zeus as the highest of the gods.
Erichthonius (Ἐριχθόνιος, Erichthonios, Erichthonius, Erechtheus) – son of the god Hephaestus and the titan Gaius, according to another version his mother was Attis and due to the uncertainty of his origin, Ovid called him “without a mother created” (prolem sine matre creatam). story, Hephaestus fell in love with Athens, but she did not respond to his feelings, he almost raped her, she ran away, and he threw his seed after her. Gaia conceived and bore Erichthonius, and Athena put it in a box.
Erechtheus (Ἐρεχθεύς) – Revered as Poseidon of Erichthea, is a mythological character who founded Athens after the Great Flood. Along with Cecrops and Erichtonius, he is the patron saint of Athens. In the Acropolis he was revered along with Athens and Poseidon. It was Athena who predicted that Erechtheus would be worshiped as a god. When he defeated and killed the Thracian general Eumolpus, who was the son of Poseidon, the deity of the seas and oceans avenged his son by killing Erechtheus.
Myth of Cecrops, Erichthonius and Erechtheus
The founder of the great city of Athens and its Acropolis was Earth-born Cecrops. The earth gave birth to a half-man-half-snake. His body ended in a huge snake’s tail. Kekrop founded Athens in Attica at a time when the earthquake Poseidon, the god of the sea, and the warrior goddess Athena, the beloved daughter of Zeus, were arguing over power over the whole country. To resolve this dispute, all the gods, led by the great thunderer Zeus, gathered on the Acropolis of Athens. The ruler of gods and men also summoned Cecrops to court to give an opinion on who should actually own power in Attica. Snake-legged Cecrops appeared in court. The gods decided to give power over Attica to the one who made the country the most valuable gift. The earthquake Poseidon struck a rock with his trident and a spring of salty sea water gushed from it, and Athens drove her brilliant spear into the ground and the fruitful olive tree grew from the ground. Then Cecrops said:
“Bright gods of Olympus, the salt waters of the boundless sea roar everywhere, but nowhere can you see the olive tree that bears rich fruit. The olive tree belongs to Athens; it will give wealth to the whole country and will encourage its inhabitants to work in agriculture and cultivate the fertile soil. The goddess Athena gave great good to Attica and let the power over the whole country belong to her.”
The Olympian gods gave Athena Paladas power over the city founded by Cecrops and over all of Attica. Since then, the city of Cecrops began to be called Athens in honor of the beloved daughter of Zeus. Cecrops founded in Athens the first sanctuary of the goddess Athena, the protector of the city, and of her father Zeus. Cecrops’ daughters were the first priestesses of Athens. Cecrops gave the Athenian laws and settled the whole country. He was the first king of Attica.
Cecrops’ successor was Erichthonius, the son of the fire god Hephaestus. Like Cecrops, he was born from the Earth. His birth is shrouded in secrecy. When he was born, the goddess Athena took him under her protection and he grew up in her sanctuary. Athena placed the newborn Erichthonius in a wicker basket with a tight-fitting lid. Two snakes were to guard Erichthonius. Cecrops’s daughters also guarded him. Athens strictly forbade them to lift the lid of the basket; they were not to see the mysterious baby born on Earth. Cecrops’s daughters burned with curiosity; they wanted to look at Erichthonius at least once.
Athens once separated from its sanctuary on the Acropolis; to bring from Palena a hill which she decided to place near the Acropolis for his protection. As the goddess carried the hill to Athens, she was met by a crow and told that the daughters of Cecrops had opened the basket containing Erichthonius and had seen the mysterious baby. Athena became terribly angry, abandoned the hill, and instantly found herself in her sanctuary on the Acropolis. Athens severely punished Kekrops’ daughters; madness overcame them; they fled from the sanctuary, in their madness threw themselves from the sheer cliffs of the Acropolis and killed themselves. From then on, Athens itself guarded Erichthonius. And the hill, which was thrown down by Athena, remained in that place, where the crow reported the goddess singing about the transgression of Cecrops’s daughters; later this hill became known as Lycabettus. When Erichthonius matured, he became king of Athens, where he ruled for many years. He started the oldest celebrations in honor of Athens – the Panathinai.
Erichthonius was the first to harness horses in a chariot and was the first to introduce chariot races in Athens.
Erichthonius’ descendant was the king of Athens, Erechtheus. He had to wage a heavy war with the city of Eleusis, which came to the aid of Imarad, son of the Thracian king Eumolpus.
This war was unfortunate for Erechtheus. Imarad and the Thracians pushed him out more and more. Erechtheus finally decided to turn to the oracle of Apollo at Delphi to find out what he had to do to win. Pythia gave him a terrible answer. She told Erechtheus that he would defeat Imarad only if he sacrificed one of his daughters to the gods. Erechtheus returned from Delphi with the terrible answer. The young king’s daughter Chtonia, full of love for her homeland, learning of Pythia’s answer, declared that she was ready to sacrifice her life for her dear Athena. Filled with deep sorrow for the fate of her daughter, Erechtheus sacrificed her to the gods. ; only his desire to save Athens led him to decide on such a sacrifice.
Soon after Chtonia was sacrificed, a battle broke out. In the midst of the battle, Erechtheus and Imarad met and entered into a duel. The heroes fought for a long time. They did not yield to each other in strength, skill, or courage. In the end, Erechtheus was defeated and Imarad was mortally wounded with his spear. Imarad Evmolp’s father was sad; he asked the god Poseidon to avenge Erechtheus for the death of his son. He quickly flew with his chariot on the stormy waves of the sea Poseidon to Attica. He swung his trident and killed Erechtheus. Thus Erechtheus died defending his homeland. All of Erechtheus’ children also died. His only daughter, Creusa, survived: only she was spared an evil fate.