Aglauros, eldest of the Aglaurides, was Athena’s first Athenian priestess, but she was also the subject of a Mystery tradition. Scholars theorize that Aglauros was venerated at the Acropolis before Athena took up residence. (Thus, the earlier spirit had to “die” in the myth to make room at the top for a new spirit.) She may be obscure now, but Aglauros was once widely venerated, not only in Athens but also in the city of Salamis, Cyprus, and the island of Salamis in the Saronic Gulf.
Having jumped to her death, Aglauros was venerated as guardian of those willing to give their lives for the good of others, particularly young soldiers. (An alternative version of Aglauros’ myth has her giving her life to save Athens.) Athenian youths swore their oath of arms in Aglauros’ sanctuary. In Cyprus, young men were sacrificed to her: they were made to run around her altar until impaled by a priest with a lance.
Aglauros shared her shrines with Diomedes, her husband. She also engaged in a secret love affair with Ares, Athena’s competitor, which produced a daughter, Alkippe (“Bold Mare” or “Courageous Mare”) who was allegedly an exact double of her mother, a perfect replica.
A cave on the eastern side of the Acropolis
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