Erechtheus and His Daughters (page 242)

Chapter 7: The Royal House of Athens

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♠ 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.   Greek Text

ApB 3.15.1 – Apollodoros, Bibliotheke (Library)

When Pandion died, his sons divided their father’s inheritance between them, and Erechtheus got the kingdom, and Butes got the priesthood of Athena and Poseidon Erechtheus. Erechtheus married Praxithea, daughter of Phrasimus by Diogenia, daughter of Cephisus, and had sons, to wit, Cecrops, Pandorus, and Metion; and daughters, to wit, Procris, Creusa, Chthonia, and Orithyia, who was carried off by Boreas.

Chthonia was married to Butes, Creusa to Xuthus, and Procris to Cephalus, son of Deion.  Greek Text

♠ Paus 1.26.5 – Pausanias, Description of Greece

There is also a building called the Erechtheum. Before the entrance is an altar of Zeus the Most High, on which they never sacrifice a living creature but offer cakes, not being wont to use any wine either. Inside the entrance are altars, one to Poseidon, on which in obedience to an oracle they sacrifice also to Erechtheus, the second to the hero Butes, and the third to Hephaestus. On the walls are paintings representing members of the clan Butadae.  (Greek Text)

Il 2.547-48 – Homer, Iliad

the land of great-hearted Erechtheus, whom of old Athene, daughter of Zeus, fostered, when the earth, the giver of grain  Greek Text

Hesiod, Ehoiai (Catalogue of Women) fr 10a.20-21 MW – Hesiodi Theogonia, Opera et Dies, Scutum, p. 227, ed. Solmsen. 3d ed. Oxford 1990.

Simonides 534 PMG Poetae Melici Graeci, p. 277 ed. D. L. Page. Oxford 1962.

Simonides [says] that Oreithuia was from Brilessos and that she was snatched and carried away from Thrace to the Sarpedonian Rock (Transl. Aaron J. Ivey).

Euripides, Erechtheus fr 360 N2 – Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, pp. 467-68, ed. A. Nauck, 2nd ed. Leipzig 1889.

Greek Text

Lykourgos, Speech against Leokrates 100

But if they fall in battle they obtain
A common grave and glory which they share
With many others; whereas she, my child,
By dying for this city will attain
A garland destined solely for herself.
And she will save her mother and you too
And both her sisters. Is it right to scorn
Honors like these? Except in nature’s way
This girl whom I shall give for sacrifice
To save her native land is not my own.  Greek Text

Mor 310d – Plutarch Moralia (Parallela Minora)

Erechtheus was told in a war he had with Eumolpus, that he should have the better of his enemy if he would but sacrifice his daughter. He advised upon the matter with his wife Praxithea, and delivered up his daughter after the manner of a common sacrifice.—Euripides, in his Erechtheus.  Greek Text

♠ fr 50 Aus – Recently discovered fragments of Euripides, cited according to Austin. 1968

♠ fr 65 Aus – Recently discovered fragments of Euripides, cited according to Austin. 1968

♠ fr. 65.90-94 Aus – Recently discovered fragments of Euripides, cited according to Austin. 1968

Euripides, Ion 277-82

Kreousa: What do you ask? I am not weary at my leisure.

Ion: Did your father Erechtheus sacrifice your sisters?

K: He dared to kill the maidens as a sacrifice to their land.

I: How is it that you alone were saved of your sisters?

K: I was a new-born infant in the arms of my mother.

I: Does a chasm of the earth truly hide your father?

K: The blasts of the sea-god’s trident destroyed him (transl. Aaron J. Ivey).  Greek Text

Demosthenes, Funeral Oration 60.27

The considerations that actuated these men one and all to choose to die nobly have now been enumerated,—birth, education, habituation to high standards of conduct, and the underlying principles of our form of government in general. The incentives that challenged them severally to be valiant men, depending upon the tribes to which they belonged, I shall next relate. All the Erechtheidae were well aware that Erechtheus, from whom they have their name, for the salvation of this land gave his own daughters, whom they call Hyacinthides, to certain death, and so extinguished his race. Therefore they regarded it as shameful, after a being born of immortal gods had sacrificed everything for the liberation of his native land, that they themselves should have been found to have placed a higher value upon a mortal body than upon immortal glory.  Greek Text

ApB 3.15.4 – Apollodoros, Bibliotheke (Library)

When Erechtheus inquired of the oracle how the Athenians might be victorious, the god answered that they would win the war if he would slaughter one of his daughters; and when he slaughtered his youngest, the others also slaughtered themselves; for, as some said, they had taken an oath among themselves to perish together. In the battle which took place after the slaughter, Erechtheus killed Eumolpus.  Greek Text

  • ApB 3.15.1 – Apollodoros, Bibliotheke (Library)

 Erechtheus married Praxithea, daughter of Phrasimus by Diogenia, daughter of Cephisus, and had sons, to wit, Cecrops, Pandorus, and Metion; and daughters, to wit, Procris, Creusa, Chthonia, and Orithyia, who was carried off by Boreas.

Chthonia was married to Butes, Creusa to Xuthus, and Procris to Cephalus, son of Deion. Bribed by a golden crown, Procris admitted Pteleon to her bed, and being detected by Cephalus she fled to Minos. But he fell in love with her and tried to seduce her. Now if any woman had intercourse with Minos, it was impossible for her to escape with life; for because Minos cohabited with many women, Pasiphae bewitched him, and whenever he took another woman to his bed, he discharged wild beasts at her joints, and so the women perished. But Minos had a swift dog and a dart that flew straight; and in return for these gifts Procris shared his bed, having first given him the Circaean root to drink that he might not harm her. But afterwards, fearing the wife of Minos, she came to Athens and being reconciled to Cephalus she went forth with him to the chase; for she was fond of hunting. As she was in pursuit of game in the thicket, Cephalus, not knowing she was there, threw a dart, hit and killed Procris, and, being tried in the Areopagus, was condemned to perpetual banishment.  Greek Text

Fab 46 – Hyginus, Fabulae

ERECHTHEUS: Erechtheus, son of Pandion, had four daughters who promised each other that if one met death, the others would kill themselves. Eumolpus, son of Neptune, came to attack Athens because he said the Attic land was his father’s. When he and his army were defeated and he was slain by the Athenians, Neptune demanded that Erechtheus’ daughter be sacrificed to him so that Erechtheus would not rejoice at his son’s death. And so when Chthonia, his daughter, had been sacrifided, the others in accordance with their oaths killed themselves. Erechtheus himself at Neptune’s request was smitten with a thunderbolt by Jove.  Latin Text

Fab 238 – Hyginus, Fabulae

THOSE WHO KILLED THEIR DAUGHTERS: Agamemnon, son of Atreus, killed Iphigenia, but Diana saved her. [The same says that Callisthenes of Euboea killed his daughter for the sake of the country, according to the oracle.] Clymenus, son of Schoeneus, killed Harpalyce, because she served his son to him at a banquet. Hyacinth, a Spartan, killed Antheis his daughter according to an oracle on behalf of the Athenians. Erechtheus, son of Pandion, killed Chthonia in accordance with oracles on behalf of the Athenians; her other sisters committed suicide. Cercyon, son of Vulcan, killed Alope, because of intercourse with Neptune. Aeolus killed Canace, because of incest with her brother Macareus, whish she confessed. Latin Text

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

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