Procna and Philomela
King of Athens Pandion, descendant of Erichtonia, waged war with the barbarians who besieged his city. It would have been difficult for him to defend Athens from a large barbarian army if the king of Thrace had not come to his aid, Terei. He defeated the barbarians and drove them out of the borders of Attica. As a reward for this, Pandion gave Tereya his daughter as a wife I will procure. Tereus returned to Thrace with his young wife. Tereya and Prokna soon had a son there. It seemed that happiness was promised by Moira to Tereya and his wife.
Five years have passed since Tereya's marriage. One day Procna began to ask her husband:
- If you still love me, then let me go to see my sister or bring her to us. Go to Athens for my sister, ask my father to let her go, and promise that she will come back soon. It will be the greatest happiness for me to see my sister.
Terei prepared the ships for a long voyage and soon sailed from Thrace. He reached the shores of Attica safely. Pandion met his son-in-law with joy and took him to his palace. No sooner had Tereus told about the reason for his arrival in Athens, than Philomela, Procna's sister, equal in beauty to the beautiful nymphs, entered. Tereya was struck by the beauty of Philomela, and he became inflamed with passionate love for her. He began to ask Pandion to let Philomela go to stay with her sister, Procna. Love for Philomela made Terei's speeches even more convincing. Philomela herself, not knowing what danger threatened her, also asked her father to let her go to Procna. Finally, Pandion agreed. Releasing his daughter to distant Thrace, he said to Terei:
- I entrust you, Terei, my daughter. By the immortal gods I conjure you, protect her like a father. Send Philomela back as soon as possible, because she is the only comfort of my old age.
Pandion also asked Philomela:
- My daughter, if you love the old man-father, come back soon, don't leave me alone.
Pandion took leave of his daughter with tears; although heavy forebodings oppressed him, he still could not refuse Terei and Philomela.
Pandion's beautiful daughter boarded the ship. The rowers struck their oars together, the ship quickly rushed into the open sea, further and further the coast of Attica. Tereus triumphs. Exulting, he exclaimed:
- I won! The chosen one of my heart, the beautiful Philomela, is with me here on the ship.
Does not take his eyes off Philomela Terei and does not leave her all the way. Here is the coast of Thrace, the way is over. The king of Thrace does not lead Philomela to his palace, he takes her forcibly to a dark forest, to a shepherd's hut, and keeps her there in captivity. Philomela's tears and pleas do not touch him. Philomela suffers in captivity, she often calls her sister and father, often calls on the great Olympian gods, but her pleas and complaints are in vain. Philomela tears her hair in despair, wrings her hands and laments her fate.
- Oh, the harsh barbarian! - she exclaims, - you were not touched by my father's requests, nor his tears, nor my sister's concern for me! You have not preserved the sanctity of your home! Take my life, Terei, but know that the great gods have seen your crime, and if they still have the power, then you will suffer the punishment you deserve. I'll tell you myself about everything you've done! I'll go to the people myself! If the forests around here will not let me leave, I will fill them all with my complaints; let the eternal Ether of heaven hear my complaints, let the gods hear them!A terrible anger seized Terei when he heard Philomela's threats. He drew his sword, grabbed Philomela by the hair, tied her up and cut out her tongue so that the unfortunate daughter of Pandion could not tell anyone about his crime. Terei himself returned to Prokna. She asked her husband where her sister was, but Terei told his wife that her sister had died. Procna mourned for a long time the supposedly dead Philomela.
A whole year has passed. Philomela is languishing in captivity, she can't let her father or sister know where Terey is keeping her locked up. Finally, she found a way to notify Procna. She sat down at the loom, wove her whole terrible story on the bedspread, and secretly sent this bedspread to Procne. Procna unfolded the veil and, to her horror, saw on it the terrible story of her sister woven. Procna does not cry, as if she wanders around the palace like a madwoman in oblivion and thinks only about how to take revenge on Terei.
There were just those days when the women of Thrace celebrated the feast of Dionysus. Procna also went into the woods with them. On the slopes of the mountains, in a dense forest, she found the hut in which her husband kept Philomela in captivity. Procna freed her sister and brought her secretly to the palace.
- Philomela is not up to tears now, - said Procna, - tears will not help us. We must act not with tears, but with a sword. I am ready for the most terrible crime, just to avenge both you and Tereya for myself. I am ready to put him to the most terrible death!
While Procna was saying this, her son came in to her.
- Oh, how you look like your father, - exclaimed Procna, looking at her son.
She suddenly stopped, frowning sternly. A terrible atrocity was planned by Procna, this atrocity was pushed by her anger, bubbling in her chest. And the son came up to her trustfully, he hugged his mother with his arms and reached out to her to kiss her. For a moment, pity awoke in Prokna's heart, tears welled up in her eyes; she hurriedly turned away from her son, and from looking at her sister, fierce anger flared up in her chest again. She grabbed her son by the hand and took him to the far corner of the palace. There she took a sharp sword and, turning away, plunged it into her son's chest. Prokn and Philomel cut the body of the unfortunate boy into pieces, part of it was boiled in a cauldron, part was roasted on a spit and prepared a terrible meal for Tereya. Procna herself served Tereya, and he, without suspecting anything, ate a dish made from the body of his beloved son. During the meal, he remembered about the son of Terei and ordered to call him. Procna, rejoicing in her revenge, answered him:
- The one you call is in you!
Terey did not understand her words, he began to insist that his son be called. Then Philomela suddenly came out from behind the curtain and threw her son's bloody head in Terei's face. He shuddered with horror, he realized how terrible his meal was. He cursed his wife and Philomela. Pushing the table away from him, he jumped up from his bed and, drawing his sword, chased after Procna and Philomela in order to take revenge on them with his own hands for the murder of his son, but he could not overtake them. Their wings grow, they turn into two birds - Philomela into a swallow, and Procna into a nightingale. The swallow-Philomela also had a bloodstain on her chest from the blood of her son Terei. Terei himself was turned into a hoopoe, with a long beak and a large crest on his head. Like a warlike Bear on a helmet, the hoopoe has a crest of feathers on his head.