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The Erechtheion

The Erechtheum is the most sacred and mythical of all the temples in Athens. This temple was the most ancient sanctuary on the Acropolis. It was usually called the Erechtheum we are told by Pausanias. Among the inscriptions of the 92nd Olympiad which mention the erection of this edifice, it is not called a temple, but a house, having been built by Erechtheus, who was buried in it.

Erechtheus is represented by Homer as having been a child of the earth, and having been reared by the goddess Athena, who, having received him, shut him up in a bag, and gave him into the custody of the sisters Agraulos, Pandrosus, and Herse, daughters of Cecrops. Agraulos and Herse, moved by curiosity, opened the bag. Seeing the child in the form of a serpent they at once went mad, and threw themselves down from the steepest part of the Acropolis. But as Pandrosus had obeyed the goddess, a part of the temple named the Pandroseum was dedicated to her; and there she received appropriate honors. Agraulos was buried at the foot of the Acropolis. Erechtheus was worshipped in the Erechtheum under the name of Poseidon Erechtheus, as being a son of Poseidon; and one of the family of the Butades, who traced their decent to him, was the hereditary priest of the temple.

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Photos by Owen Tyler

Two Lions rest at one of the entrances.

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Page last updated on May 5, 2000.