Summary and Keywords
Erechtheus was both one of the ten tribal (phyle) heroes of Athens and a mythical founding king of the city. Originally born from the very land of Attica (gēgenēs / γηγενής), his myths served as a symbol of the developing concepts of autochthony, with his birth demonstrating that the Athenians were the original inhabitants of Attica, and of nationalism, with the Athenians referring to themselves as the “sons of Erechtheus.” His most important myth, as exemplified in Euripides’ fragmentary Erechtheus, has him sacrificing one of his daughters to preserve Athens from the armies of Eumolpus. As a cult figure, in the classical era, he was associated with the Athenian worship of Athena and Poseidon, his name sometimes functioning as an epithet of Poseidon, and he had a major cult in the Erechtheum on the Acropolis. The scholarship on Erechtheus has primarily been concerned with whether or not he was originally combined with another earth-born Athenian king, Erichthonius, albeit with inconclusive results.
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