Erichthonios and Pandion I (page 240 with art)

Chapter 7: The Royal House of Athens

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Od 19.518-23Homer, Odyssey

As when Pandareos’ daughter, the pale-green nightingale, sweetly sings when spring has newly arisen while sitting in the thick leaves of trees. After varying [her tone], she pours forth her many-toned voice, wailing for her dear son Itylos, whom she once killed with bronze through her folly, also the son of King Zethos.  (Transl. Aaron J. Ivey)  (Greek Text)

Athens, National Museum 13410: painted terracotta metope from Thermon with Aedon and Chelidon


Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. Antike Denkmäler, vol. 2 (1908), pl. 50.1


Drawing from H.G.G. Payne, “On the Thermon Metopes,” Annual of the British School at Athens, vol. 27 (1925-1926), p. 126, fig. 1

Munich, Antikensammlungen 2638: Attic red-figure cup interior with Aedon and Itys


Drawing from J.E. Harrison, “Itys and Aedon: A Panaitios Cylix,” Journal of Hellenic Studies vol. 8 (1887), p. 440 fig. 1


Drawing by J.D. Beazley showing inscriptions on cup’s interior, from Beazley Archive Pottery Database

A: Hik 60-68 – Aischylos, Hiketides (Suppliants)

he shall think that he hears the voice of Metis, the lamentable wife of Tereus, the nightingale chased by the hawk. Kept from leaving her green leaves, she pitifully laments her accustomed places. She composes the fate of her son: how he died by the hand of his own wicked mother after chancing upon her ill-will. (Transl. Aaron J. Ivey).  (Greek Text)

Ag 1144-45 – Aischylos, Agamemnon

…throughout her life that abounds in wickedness, the nightingale moans, “Itys! Itys!” (transl. Aaron J. Ivey)  (Greek Text)

Euripides fr 773 N­² – Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, pp. 602-4, ed. A. Nauck, 2nd ed. Leipzig 1889.

Greek Text

Rome, Villa Giulia 3579: Attic red-figure column krater with Tereus and the Pandionides


L. Savignoni, “Le collezione di vasi dipinti nel Museo di Villa Giulia,” Bollettino d’arte vol. 10 (1916), p. 340 fig. 3

Beazley Archive Pottery Database

Paris, Louvre G147: Attic red-figure cup by Makron with Prokne and Philomela


Annali dell’Instituto di Corrispondenza Archeologica, vol. 35 (1863), pl. C

Beazley Archive Pottery Database

Konon FGrH 26F1.31 – Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker 1, p. 200, ed. F. Jacoby, 2d ed. Leiden 1957.

Greek Text

Met 6.424-674 – Ovid, Metamorphoses

Since his descent
was boasted from the mighty Gradivus,
and he was gifted with enormous wealth,
Pandion, king of Athens, gave to him
in sacred wedlock his dear daughter, Procne.
But Juno, guardian of the sacred rites
attended not, nor Hymenaeus, nor
the Graces. But the Furies snatched up brands
from burning funeral pyres, and brandished them
as torches. They prepared the nuptial couch,—
a boding owl flew over the bride’s room,
and then sat silently upon the roof.
With such bad omens Tereus married her,
sad Procne, and those omens cast a gloom
on all the household till the fateful birth
of their first born. All Thrace went wild with joy—
and even they, rejoicing, blessed the Gods,
when he, the little Itys, saw the light;
and they ordained each year their wedding day,
and every year the birthday of their child,
should be observed with festival and song:
so the sad veil of fate conceals from us
our future woes.
Now Titan had drawn forth
the changing seasons through five autumns, when,
in gentle accents, Procne spoke these words:
“My dearest husband, if you love me, let
me visit my dear sister, or consent
that she may come to us and promise her
that she may soon return. If you will but
permit me to enjoy her company
my heart will bless you as I bless the Gods.”  Continue reading   Latin Text

ApB 3.14.8 – Apollodoros, Bibliotheke (Library)

Pandion married Zeuxippe, his mother’s sister, and begat two daughters, Procne and Philomela, and twin sons, Erechtheus and Butes. But war having broken out with Labdacus on a question of boundaries, he called in the help of Tereus, son of Ares, from Thrace, and having with his help brought the war to a successful close, he gave Tereus his own daughter Procne in marriage. Tereus had by her a son Itys, and having fallen in love with Philomela, he seduced her also saying that Procne was dead, for he concealed her in the country. Afterwards he married Philomela and bedded with her, and cut out her tongue. But by weaving characters in a robe she revealed thereby to Procne her own sorrows. And having sought out her sister, Procne killed her son Itys, boiled him, served him up for supper to the unwitting Tereus, and fled with her sister in haste. When Tereus was aware of what had happened, he snatched up an axe and pursued them. And being overtaken at Daulia in Phocis, they prayed the gods to be turned into birds, and Procne became a nightingale, and Philomela a swallow. And Tereus also was changed into a bird and became a hoopoe.  Greek Text

Sophokles, Tereus fr 585 R – Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta 4, p. 440, ed. S.L. Radt. Göttingen 1977.

[It is] clearly painful, Prokne, but nevertheless there is need for mortals to contentedly bear divine things. (Transl. Aaron J. Ivey).

POxy 42.3013 – Oxyrhynchus Papyri 42. Texts (2999-3087) – Indexes / edited with translations and notes by P. J. Parsons. 1974.

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Literary sources edited by Aaron J. Ivey, Graduate Teaching Assistant, Department of Classics, University of Georgia, July 2016; Dan Mills, Graduate Assistant, University of Georgia, March 2018; updated by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, April 2021

Artistic sources editied by Frances Van Keuren, Prof. Emerita, Lamar Dodd School of Art, Univ. of Georgia, October 2016

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