Cecrops (face with a tail) In Greek mythology, a culture hero, son of Gaea; married Agraulos; father of Erisichthon, Herse, and Pandrosus. Cecrops was half man, half serpent with the torso of a man and the lower body of a serpent.

According to some accounts, Cecrops was the first king of Attica, which was called Cecropia in his honor. He built temples, established the worship of the gods, abolished human sacrifice, and introduced the art of writing. When Poseidon and Athena were contending for possession of the land, Poseidon struck the rock of the Acropolis with his trident, and water (or, according to a variant myth, a horse) sprang forth. Athena, however, planted the first olive tree. Cecrops, who had to decide which god would have the land, conferred the honor on Athena because the olive branch was a sign of peace, whereas the horse was a symbol of war. Pandrosos (all dewy), his daughter, was the first priestess of Athena and had a shrine of her own, the Pandroseum, in the temple of Erechtheus on the Acropolis. She was invoked in time of drought. In her temple stood the sacred olive tree that Athena had created. Cecropia was the original name for Athens, in honor of Cecrops. The word was used for Attica, and Athenians were called Cecropidae (descendants of Cecrops).


Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow– Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante