Cecropus, Erichthonius and Erechtheus
The founder of the great Athens and its Acropolis was the earth-born Cecrope. The earth gave birth to him as a half-human, half-snake. His body ended in a huge snake's tail. Cecropus founded Athens in Attica at a time when the earth-shaker, the god of the sea, was arguing for power over the whole country Poseidon, and the warrior goddess Athena, the beloved daughter of Zeus. To resolve this dispute, all the gods gathered, led by the great thunderer Zeus himself, on the Athenian Acropolis. The ruler of gods and people also called Cecropus to the court, so that he would decide who should have power in Attica. The snake-legged Cecrope appeared at the trial. The gods decided to give power over Attica to the one who would bring the most valuable gift to the country. Poseidon, the earth-shaker, struck the rock with his trident, and a source of salty sea water poured out of it, while Athena plunged her sparkling spear into the ground, and a fruitful olive tree grew out of the ground. Then Cecrop said:
- The bright gods of Olympus, the salt waters of the boundless sea are noisy everywhere, but there is no olive tree anywhere that gives rich fruits. Athena owns an olive tree, it will give wealth to the whole country and will encourage residents to work as farmers and cultivate fertile soil. Athena gave great good to Attica, let her own power over the whole country.The Olympian gods awarded Pallas Athena power over the city founded by Cecropus and over all of Attica. Since then, the city of Cecropa has been called Athens in honor of the beloved daughter of Zeus. Cecropus founded the first sanctuary in Athens to the goddess Athena, the defender of the city, and her father Zeus. The daughters of Cecrops were the first priestesses of Athena. Cecropus gave the Athenians laws and arranged the whole state. He was the first king of Attica.
Cecrop's successor was Erichtony, son of the god of fire Hephaestus. Like Cecropus, he was also born of the earth. His birth is full of mystery. When he was born, the goddess Athena took him under her protection, and he grew up in her sanctuary. Athena put the newborn Erichtony in a wicker basket with a tightly closed lid. Two snakes were supposed to guard Erichtony. He was also guarded by the daughters of Cecrope. Athena strictly forbade them to lift the lid from the basket, they were not supposed to see the mysteriously born earth baby. The daughters of Cecropus were tormented by curiosity, they wanted to look at Erichtony at least once.One day Athena left her sanctuary on the Acropolis to bring a mountain from Pallene, which she decided to put at the Acropolis for its protection. When the goddess was carrying the mountain to Athens, a crow flew to meet her and said that the daughters of Cecropus had opened a basket with Erichtonium and saw a mysterious baby. Athena was terribly angry, she threw the mountain and in the blink of an eye appeared in her sanctuary on the Acropolis. Athena severely punished the daughters of Cecrops; they were seized with madness, they ran out of the sanctuary, in madness they threw themselves from the steep cliffs of the Acropolis and fell to their deaths. From then on, Athena herself guarded Erichtony. The mountain that Athena abandoned remained in the place where the raven informed the goddess about the transgression of the daughters of Cecropus; then this mountain became known as Lycabettus. Erichtony, having matured, became the king of Athens, where he ruled for many years. He established the oldest celebrations in honor of Athena - Panathenaea.
Erichtony was the first to harness horses to a chariot and the first to introduce chariot racing in Athens.
A descendant of Erichtony was the king of Athens, Erechtei. He had to wage a hard war with the city of Eleusis, which was helped by the son of the Thracian king Eumolp - Immarad.
This war was unhappy for Erechtheus. Immarad and the Thracians pressed him more and more. Finally, Erechtheus decided to turn to the oracle of Apollo in Delphi to find out at what price he could achieve victory. The pythia gave a terrible answer. She told Erechtheus that only if he would defeat Immarad would he sacrifice one of his daughters to the gods. Erechtheus returned from Delphi with a terrible answer. The young daughter of the king Chthonia, full of love for the motherland, having learned the answer of the pythia, announced that she was ready to sacrifice her life for her native Athens. Deeply grieving for the fate of his daughter, Erechtheus sacrificed her to the gods; only the desire to save Athens made him decide on such a sacrifice.
Shortly after Chthonia was sacrificed, a battle took place. In the heat of battle, Erechtheus and Immarad met and engaged in a duel. The heroes fought for a long time. They were not inferior to each other neither in strength, nor in the ability to wield weapons, nor in courage. Finally, Erechtheus won and struck Immarad to death with his spear. Immarad's father, Eumolpus, was saddened: he begged the god Poseidon to avenge Erechtheus for the death of his son. Poseidon quickly rushed on his chariot over the stormy waves of the sea to Attica. He swung his trident to kill Erechtheus. So Erechtei died defending his homeland. All the children of Erechtheus were also killed. Only one daughter of his, Creusa, survived, she was the only one spared by evil fate.