Part 5, Chapter 3: The Royal House of Athens Notes from Mythology

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Mythology Part 5, Chapter 3: The Royal House of Athens

The first King of Athens was Cecrops, who was half man and half dragon. Both Poseidon and Athena wanted the city for their own. Poseidon created a deep well for the city and Athena gave them the olive tree. Cecrops picked Athena, and Poseidon flooded the city in response. In the early days, women voted with men in Athens; this is why Athena was chosen over Poseidon. Athens had more women than men. Cecrops blamed the disastrous flood on them and decreed that women were no longer allowed to vote. In another story, Cecrops was just a man and he had two sisters, Procne and Philomela.

Procne married a man from Thrace and sent him to escort her sister. On the way, he told Philomela that her sister was dead. She had a pretend wedding and he slept with her repeatedly. He cut her tongue out so that she could tell no one what happened. He imprisoned her near his home and told Procne that her sister was dead. Philomela wove an amazing tapestry that she sent to her sister (the Queen) through a servant. It told the story of what had happened. Procne was enraged. She rescued her sister and they made a plan together:

" She killed [her] child with one stroke of a dagger. She cut the little dead body up, put the limbs in a kettle over the fire, and served them to [her husband] that night for supper. She watched him as he ate; then she told him what he had feasted on." Part 5, Chapter 3, pg. 396

The sisters fled and were pursued. They turned into a nightingale and a swallow. The swallow could only twitter because Philomela had no tongue. The husband was also turned into an ugly bird.

Their niece Procris was married to Cephalus, the grandson of Aelous. Cephalus was carried off by the Dawn. He would not recant his love for Procris and the Dawn was enraged. She dismissed him to make sure that his wife had been faithful. He disguised himself and went to his home. He tested his wife for a long time and when she finally hesitated, he brutally accused her of being unfaithful. She ran away into the mountains and he begged her for forgiveness. Eventually she forgave him, but many years later he accidentally killed her while hunting.

The North wind, Boreas, was in love with Procris' sister, Orithya. Although her father was opposed, the wind swept down and stole her away.

Another sister, Creusa, was caught suddenly in the arms of a man while gathering flowers. Apollo swept her into a cave. She gave birth to a son and, ashamed, she abandoned him in the same cave. Later, when guilt drove her back to the cave, there was no sign of the infant she left. Years later, she was married but could bear no children. Her husband made her go to Delphi to seek the reason why she was barren. There she met a handsome youth named Ion who was an orphan priest of Apollo. Her husband burst in the room and embraced the youth calling him son. The oracle had told him that he was his son. Ion went to Athens bearing the rags he had been wrapped in. Creusa rejoiced that her lost son was found.

Topic Tracking: Women 19
Topic Tracking: Atrocity 12

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