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Page last updated on: March 8th, 2021

The Creation of the Lycabettus Hill in Athens

The Finding of Erichthonius- Detail by Peter Paul Rubens Once upon a time, Hephaestus, the god of fire, had been abandoned by his wife Aphrodite and driven to despair... until one fine day the wheel of fate turned and the goddess Athena paid him a visit in his workshop and asked him to make her some weapons.

No sooner had the goddess entered the workshop than Hephaestus felt a strong passion for her, hoping she would give him her love out of gratitude. Athena, however, was determined to remain a virgin, and therefore shrank from any man. But Hephaestus showed no mercy - he seized her passionately and tried to commit rape, but all he could do was squirt his seed on her thigh... Overcome with shame, Athena wiped the semen off with a piece of wool and threw it away in disgust. As she did so, the semen fell to the ground, fertilized Mother Earth Gaea and a terrible, half-snake-like creature came to life. The creature was named Erichthonius ('erion': wool+ 'chthon':earth).

Athena took Erichthonius, hid him in a basket, and added two serpents to guard him. Then she sent him away to Athens to the realm of Cecrops so that his daughters Herse, Pandrosus and Aglaulus could take care of the child.

Athena had strictly forbidden all to see the contents of the basket, but the three sisters could not help opening it out of curiosity, and quickly looked to see what lay within... But what was their surprise when they saw the monstrous creature! Terrified, the sisters hastily ran away, screaming and jumping from the acropolis to their deaths.

Athena heard the sad news of a white herald raven and out of frustration she changed the raven from white to black. Then she threw a huge rock from the sky, which she carried with her to fortify the Acropolis. From the rock was born the wonderful hill Lycabettus in the center of Athens!

Athena finally took Erichthonius and imprisoned him in a temple and the temple was named "Erechtheion" in honor of the creature.

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